Saturday, June 2, 2007

Caleb's Memorial Website

Please visit Caleb's memorial website. You can light a candle or leave your comments in support of his family.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Alternative Youth Adventures - Staff Comments

The Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse (CAICA) has reported on the death of Caleb Jensen at Alternative Youth Adventures (AYA) (click here), a wilderness program located in Colorado.

Caleb was sent to this program by the State of Utah Juvenile Justice System.

According to news articles the State of Utah was well aware this boy suffered from skin infections. However, staff at AYA failed, again according to news articles, to seek medical attention for Caleb when he showed signs of illness.

Caleb asked to go home, saying he needed to go home. He wrote disturbing letters to his mother about how he was forced to hike all day until he was exhausted and how he had to lick his drinking cup clean and then use dirt to scour his cup. His grandmother commented she felt her grandson was treated like an animal.

Isabelle Zehnder, the Founder and President of CAICA, commented on an article about his death. She was met with opposition by what appears to be a staff member at Alternative Youth Adventures (AYA). Click here for excerpts of their dialog.

Further, she received three e-mails from someone identifying themselves as "Blame Game". In the first e-mail, "Blame Game" stated that AYA was not to blame and proceeded to try to put the blame on Caleb's mother, and tells Isabelle to "quit pointing fingers until you know what really happened." She continues blaming the mother for his demise.

Comments on this Blog are moderated, as are all CAICA blogs. Bloggers have a choice of the content they will and will not allow on their Blogs. While I welcome comments, I do not welcome comments that serve to hurt people. I welcome comments that serve to help bring about change.

Pointing the finger at a grieving mother who had no control over what happened during the last days and hours of her son's life, and a mother who was not even notified until five hours AFTER her son was air-lifted, is wrong and serves no good purpose.

Every parent deserves to be immediately notified if something is wrong with their child. Caleb was not given the chance to live the better life he longed for and wrote about. He never made it home to wear his PJs and curl up to watch TV with his family, what he said he longed for in his last letters to his mom.

Instead he was allowed to suffer and his medical needs were not attended to, according to a May 12, 2007, Salt Lake City news article written by Nate Carlisle, "Colorado authorities say Jensen died from a staphylococcus infection. Personnel at the camp, Alternative Young Adventures, observed signs of the infection, according to a state agency, but neglected to properly care for it."

"Blame Game" states "... AYA is not solely to blame. They should have their license reinstated!!!"

The second e-mail received from "Blame Game" she/he quotes:

NOTE: CAICA President, Isabelle Zehnder, has read many letters from children to their parents and has seen a pattern where children appear to be completely broken, begging for "Mommy", pleading to come home. These are not normal letters written teenagers. These are letters written by teenagers who have been broken and who are desperate for help. Sadly, some not only never get the help they need, they have died in the process.

Blame Game indicated that these children are "criminals!" and went on to say that when they commit a crime the system deems they need their voice taken away, and their freedom.

Caleb, according to a May 12, 2007, news article, was not violent, he did not commit an egregious crime. He was guilty of getting involved with a group of kids, he wanted to fit in. They dared him to steal something and he was caught. He was issued a sentence but did not follow the terms of the sentence. The State of Utah court sent Caleb to AYA without his mother having a choice in the matter.

And in his/her third e-mail, Blame Game quoted Isabelle as saying:

Cause of Death: Preliminary cause medical negligence. Blame Game stated: THAT IS NOT TRUE!!!!!!!!!!! Publish the truth! I'm sure you won't even allow this post because you are afraid that there may be another side to this story, this side you are ignoring."

CAICA is not ignoring facts. To the contrary. We are seeking facts so we can provide them to the public.

We are certainly not afraid of the truth. Again, to the contrary. We seek the truth.

The definition of Medical Neglect is the failure to provide appropriate health care for a child although financially able to do so.

Caleb's death falls in this category - Caleb should have received medical attention for his illness. The State of Utah was informed he had a history of staph infections and were responsible for the placement of this child into AYA.

Caleb died of natural causes, meaning his death was not a homicide, suicide, or caused by an accident. He did not receive medical attention in a prompt manner, hence his death, according to what we know so far, was due to medical neglect. The failure to provide appropriate health care to a child when there were funds to do so.

In the future, please be aware that comments will not be posted that serve to hurt others. Comments that state facts that were either written in a news article or an official state report will be considered for this Blog. Comments seeking a solution to the problems facing these children will gladly be considered for this Blog.

Isabelle Zehnder
Founder and President
Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse (CAICA)