Today, during KFYO News, you heard yet another story of abuse out of the Lubbock State Supported Living Center (formerly the Lubbock State School). This time, two men have been charged with harassment and injury to a severely mentally disabled client under their care. Video surveillance was provided as evidence, showing the men repeatedly dumping the client of the couch, and smiling as he tries in vain to climb back up. Of course the employees claim they were just trying to get the man off the couch, and not in fact reveling in his frustration, but somehow I get the feeling that this kind of treatment wasn’t in their training manuals.

Growing up, I lived next to a home operated by a private business that placed mentally disabled clients in a “residential living environment.” Three or four clients lived in the house with their caretakers, who were hired to live with and care for the disabled men and women. On multiple occasions we witnessed caretakers laughing as they pushed the patients down, into walls, and onto vehicles. There was also numerous times caretakers slapped and hit the disabled clients, coupling the physical attacks with verbal abuse.

It took several incidents involving the police and countless alarmed, angry phone calls from my father and neighbors before anyone took notice of the problem. Over two years after the first police report was filed over the caretakers, the home was finally shut down and reopened under new staff and management. My point is, a private business actually employed these workers, and the mistreatment only stopped after their supervisors were held responsible.

I understand that working in an environment as difficult as a mental care facility would quickly become taxing and frustrating. I realize that “by the book treatment” doesn’t always work the way it should. I would even settle with the fact that the use of force is probably a very common and necessary tool in these facilities. However, when you have numerous employees who not only treat their clients inhumanely, but delight in their subordination and abuse, your facility has some major problems.

I’m sure these incidents are not hidden from the management’s view, and as we’ve seen over the past few days, management at the Lubbock State Supported Living Center frequently turns a blind eye to this unprofessional treatment. I feel that if the state truly expects a change from the Lubbock State Supported Living Center, more than just low level employees will have to be held accountable.