Serious Attacks On Staff In PA Detention Center, Schools


Youths at the Pennsylvaina’s Shuman Detention Center have attacked staff members five times this year, stabbing a nurse with a pen once and kicking a youth care worker in the head so hard he suffered a concussion, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In December, a worker trying to disarm a teen who had a sharp piece of sheet metal was punched in the face several times, and now faces surgery for an injured shoulder. Some worry these incidents reflect an increasingly dangerous work setting, but Director William T. “Jack” Simmons said the assaults do not signal an unusual increase in violence at the center: “This is detention. We have incidents all the time between residents and staff. That’s not newsworthy.”

The current rate of assaults puts Shuman on a pace similar to the 105-bed Youth Study Center in Philadelphia, which reported 37 assaults on staff members in 2007, none requiring hospitalization. State officials say Shuman, with 130 beds, reported only one assault on staff in 2007. Jim Rieland, director of Allegheny County Probation, has seen other evidence of increasing attacks on authority figures by young people. Last year, 245 reports of assaults against teachers in the county were referred to the probation office, compared with 102 in 2002. He said. “When you have in the school environment a student who is willing to put their hands on a teacher, it signifies to me a complete breakdown of social control.”


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