Don’t Let Gabriel Myer’s Story Be Repeated

Don’t let Gabriel Myers’ story be repeated
May 29, 2010|By Brian J. Cabrey

Well, it’s been more than a year since the suicide death of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers, and what have we learned? What do we know now to prevent this sort of tragedy from ever happening again? Lest we forget, on April 16, 2009, little Gabriel hung himself with a shower hose in the bathroom of his foster home in Margate, Florida.

Gabriel had been the victim of sexual abuse and neglect, which resulted in him being placed in Florida’s foster care system. While in foster care, he was regularly “medicated” with multiple psychotropic drugs to deal with his escalating behavioral problems, which were in and of themselves predictable if anyone was paying attention.

In August 2009, the Gabriel Myers Work Group, appointed by DCF Secretary George Sheldon, issued its first report, confirming what most children’s advocates had known and decried for years, that the state routinely used mind altering psychotropic drugs, most not tested or approved by the FDA for pediatric use, to control and manage unruly foster kids rather than treat their underlying problems. While it was good for some light to finally be shed on that abhorrent practice, it only exposed half of the problem.

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That is until last Friday, when the Gabriel Myers Work Group issued its second report, confirming another longtime complaint of children’s advocates. The task force found that the state failed to provide adequate treatment to little Gabriel for the sexual abuse he had suffered and failed to prevent him from acting out sexually against other children, something it is common for child victims of sexual abuse to do.

Sadly, little Gabriel was not alone as all too often the child welfare/foster care system fails to provide child victims of physical and sexual abuse with adequate treatment, if any at all. If they did, not only might the victim children recover as fully as possible to become productive members of society, and other children be spared the same victimization, but in Gabriel’s case, he very likely would still be alive.

The question for us now is what is the state of Florida going to do about it? Now that the task force has confirmed what many of us have long complained about and we know what went wrong, what will DCF do to change its practices so that we don’t have catastrophic failures like this in the future?

Kudos to Secretary Sheldon for appointing the Work Group, and kudos to the Work Group for exposing the real problems that led little Gabriel to take his own life at just 7 years old. Darts to lawmakers for not following and implementing the Work Group’s recommendations, and for not passing the proposed Florida Children’s Legal Representation Act endorsed by the Florida Bar.

Sadly, the Florida Legislature has not yet learned the lessons from Gabriel’s death, which means this tragedy will surely repeat itself. Unacceptable! Florida’s foster children deserve better, and as Floridians we should be demanding better of our elected and public officials. One child lost is one too many.

Brian J. Cabrey is vice president of Florida’s Children First, a statewide child advocacy group.

About yvonnemason

Background:  The eldest of five children, Yvonne was born May 17, 1951 in Atlanta, Georgia. Raised in East Point, Georgia, she moved to Jackson County, Ga. until 2006 then moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida where she currently makes her home.  Licensed bounty hunter for the state of Georgia. Education:  After a 34 year absence, returned to college in 2004. Graduated with honors in Criminal Justice with an Associate’s degree from Lanier Technical College in 2006. Awards:  Nominated for the prestigious GOAL award in 2005 which encompasses all of the technical colleges. This award is based not only on excellence in academics but also leadership, positive attitude and the willingness to excel in one’s major. Affiliations:  Beta Sigma Phi Sorority  Member of The Florida Writer’s Association – Group Leader for St Lucie County The Dream:  Since learning to write at the age of five, Yvonne has wanted to be an author. She wrote her first novel Stan’s Story beginning in 1974 and completed it in 2006. Publication seemed impossible as rejections grew to 10 years. Determined, she continued adding to the story until her dream came true in 2006. The Inspiration:  Yvonne’s brother Stan has been her inspiration and hero in every facet of her life. He was stricken with Encephalitis at the tender age of nine months. He has defied every roadblock placed in his way and has been the driving force in every one of her accomplishments. He is the one who taught her never to give up The Author: Yvonne is currently the author of several novels, including:  Stan’s Story- the true story of her brother’s accomplishments, it has been compared to the style of Capote, and is currently being rewritten with new information for re-release.  Tangled Minds - a riveting story about a young girl’s bad decision and how it taints everyone’s life around her yet still manages to show that hope is always possible. This novel has been compared to the writing of Steinbeck and is currently being written as a screenplay. This novel will be re-released by Kerlak Publishing in 2009  Brilliant Insanity – released by Kerlak Publishing October 2008  Silent Scream – Released by October 2008- Slated to be made into a movie Yvonne’s Philosophy in Life - “Pay it Forward”: “In this life we all have been helped by others to attain our dreams and goals. We cannot pay it back but what we can do is ‘pay it forward’. It is a simple
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2 Responses to Don’t Let Gabriel Myer’s Story Be Repeated

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