August, 21 2017

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Violent boy needs more than 'quick fix'

YARMOUTH - A 12-year-old Nova Scotia boy is in the air this morning, heading for the CINNAMON HILLS Youth Crisis Center in Utah for some intense rehabilitative training.

The boy pleaded guilty Wednesday in Nova Scotia youth court to aggravated assault in a savage attack on an 11-year-old boy on a Yarmouth SCHOOL bus on Nov. 4.

The victim was left unconscious, crumpled on the floor of the bus, after he was punched and kicked repeatedly and his attacker jumped on his head several times with both feet.

The boy also pleaded guilty Wednesday to slashing at a female staff member of the Hebron Residential Centre with a piece of glass from a broken coffee pot in September.

"This person needs more than a quick fix," Judge John Comeau said.

"The most important thing for him is rehabilitation, given his age."

Judge Comeau sentenced the boy to 16 months on probation and ordered that a sample of his DNA be taken.

He did not order the boy to be sent to Utah but Mi'kmaq Family and Children's Services made the arrangements and is paying for his stay.

It is not known how long the boy will be at CINNAMON HILLS, a facility for TROUBLED young people about two hours northeast of Las Vegas in St. George, Utah. Treatment costs $1,600 US a week.

CINNAMON HILLS addresses behavioural, mental health, substance abuse and educational issues in a highly structured environment with 24-hour supervision.

An employee of Mi'kmaq Family and Children's Services said Wednesday it is rare for the agency to send children to the western facility.

Court was told Nova Scotia has nothing to compare with long-term TREATMENT centres in other provinces and states.

"The new centre in Truro is a good place for youth that are out of control," Judge Comeau said.

But he agreed that the Truro institution can't accommodate clients for a long enough period of time.

The provincial centre is able to keep residents for only 30 days, a social worker said.

The boy told the court he had nothing to say. When Judge Comeau asked if he knew that the trip to Utah was for his own good, he replied: "Yes, sir."

"All I can say to you is good luck," the judge said.

"Thank you, sir," the boy replied.

As the boy's flight was to leave at 6 a.m. today, Judge Comeau said the DNA sample could be taken upon his return to Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia has 2,000 children in care, Community Services spokeswoman Vicki Fraser said last month.

Of that number, 21 were sent out of province last year for specialized TREATMENT, usually involving anger management or addiction counselling. That's about average for a one-year period, she said.

Nova Scotia sends kids to centres in Ontario and Alberta and to the Utah facility, Ms. Fraser said.

The SCHOOL bus beating occurred as the bus arrived at Meadowfields Community SCHOOL in Yarmouth. Children screamed for HELP, the assailant fled on foot and the victim was taken to hospital by ambulance.

RCMP said they believed the attack was unprovoked. They later arrested the 12-year-old at the Hebron RESIDENTIAL Centre, where he lived.

Previously, on Sept. 13, the boy trashed a kitchen at the Hebron centre as staff dialed 911.

The boy toppled some kitchen appliances, moved a fridge across the floor, threw rocks at windows while out in the yard and punched another boy in the head.

He picked up a shard of glass from a broken coffee pot and slashed at the female worker, who was able to get out of the way.

His rampage caused damage estimated at $800 to $1,000.

The boy had lived at the centre since the summer. His family lives elsewhere in Nova Scotia.

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