U.S Department of State reiterates commitment to safety of U.S children abroad, following allegations that American children faced abuse at a Jamaican boarding school

The U.S Department of State is reiterating that its overseas embassies and consulates have no higher priority than the safety and welfare of U.S children living abroad.

The statement comes amidst allegations of abuse made against an American based school for children with behavioural problems, operating in Jamaica.

The institution, located in St. Mary, has been in operation for several years.

It is the second such institution for troubled children to come under scrutiny in recent months.

In April, 7 American boys were removed from the Atlantis Leadership Academy in St. Elizabeth following allegations of abuse.

Five employees of the school were charged with child cruelty and assault. The case is still before the courts.

The institution at the centre of the most recent allegations reportedly has American and Canadian children living there.

According to its website, it is a private Christian boarding school that provides behavioural, therapeutic and educational services to children and young adolescents in a safe and nurturing environment. 

The school says it aims to empower and equip youth to make positive decisions through the development of the physical, mental, social, and spiritual faculties.

However former and current wards have allegedly told a different story.

An attorney representing the guardian of a teen girl at the facility told IRIE FM News that wards at the facility have allegedly been facing abuse and mistreatment.

Dawn Post says she has interviewed several former students and recounted the experiences of some of the former wards of the facility.

The accounts include reports of alleged restricted access to meals.

The attorney says another issue with the facility is that parents and guardians have allegedly left  adopted children there.

Ms. Post says in many instances, these children who have turned 18 – thus aging out of the institution – face challenges securing their return to the United States.

She is seeking to have the 17 year old daughter of her client removed from the facility, but was reportedly met with resistance from the operators of the institution.

IRIE FM News reached out to the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) which indicated that it became aware of the allegations of sexual and physical abuse in March and has opened an investigation into the matter.

The CPFSA said however that it did not have any evidence as yet to substantiate the claims.

On the matter of Ms. Post trying unsuccessfully to remove the teen ward of her client from the facility, the agency said it is aware of the attempt and has offered guidance to Iowa Child Protective Services regarding how to proceed with effecting the release of the teen.

Meanwhile, in response to a query regarding the Youth of Vision Academy, the U.S. Embassy confirmed that it is aware of the institution that operates in St. Mary.

The embassy said its consular section works closely with the CPFSA and other relevant Jamaican authorities to monitor facilities that fall under Jamaican jurisdiction.

It added however that due to privacy concerns, it was not in a position to comment further on the matter.

Calls to the phone numbers listed for Youth of Vision Academy went unanswered.


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