Worker hit with chair raises alarm about violence at Sydney youth centre – Nova Scotia

A worker at a Sydney youth centre is raising alarm, saying staff and residents at the facility are at risk because violent youth are occasionally placed there.

Martha Green has been employed as a youth worker for 14 years, most recently at the Comhla Cruinn Youth Residential Centre. She is currently on leave after she said she was assaulted at the facility last March, and is afraid to go back to work.

“Things have changed; I find the youth more violent,” Green told CBC News in an interview at her home.

The Department of Community Services would not say how many violent incidents have taken place at the facility, which is home to eight young people between the ages of 12 and 18.

Declining an interview, the department said in an email that Comhla Cruinn is a community-based residential youth group home that goes beyond foster care. Children placed there may have “complex emotional and behavioural needs requiring an increased level of supervision and support.”

Green said she doesn’t feel staff at Comhla Cruinn have the training or resources they need to deal with some of the youth. 

However, the department said staff have received extensive training in non-violent crisis intervention, trauma services, suicide prevention and verbal and physical techniques for de-escalation. 

When necessary, it added, the centre can call in extra staff or the authorities for support.

‘Chairs thrown’

Green said her first close call came last October, when a youth threw a chair at a window next to her. The glass shattered but Green was not injured.

The following March brought the assault, she said. “This same youth threw two chairs at me, violently, aggressively. I moved back quickly and it bounced off the wall and hit my knee,” Green said. “Had I not moved, I feel it would have been fatal.”

Green said she ended up in the emergency department, with injuries to her knee and Achilles tendon.

Youth worker Martha Green says the Department of Community Services should not be placing violent children at Comhla Cruinn. (Joan Weeks/CBC)

The resident remained in the facility until there were two more violent attacks, Green said. “One was with another staff and one was with one of the maintenance people that came in.”

Green said she believes some of the children placed at Comhla Cruinn should instead have been at the Wood Street Residential Treatment Centre in Truro — a secure facility that offers long-term treatment and…

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