FASD In The News, CBC: ‘He will die with no help’: family issues plea for Edmonton teen gang member

Aiden poses with a gun in an undated photo (Aiden’s family)

A teenager riding an Edmonton light rail transit system train points a gun at his own head.

The photo is one of many that show Aiden, now 16, posing with guns, gangsters or wads of cash.

In January, he took a gun to school.

As the teen sinks deeper into a lifestyle of gangs, crime and drugs, his family says the Alberta government is failing to adequately intervene.

Alberta’s department of Children’s Services says Aiden, who has fetal alcohol syndrome, frontal lobe damage and various psychological disorders, doesn’t currently meet the criteria to receive treatment in a secure facility.

It’s only a matter of time before  Aiden  hurts himself or he hurts somebody else– Aiden’s aunt

His aunt and grandmother, who took over guardianship from his mother a year ago and currently don’t know his whereabouts, insist the evidence shows otherwise.

“It’s only a matter of time before Aiden hurts himself or he hurts somebody else,” said his aunt, Chelsea.

“If something is not done I’m going to have to be the one to identify his body. I’m going to be the one picking out his casket. He will die on the streets. He will die with no help.”

Pseudonyms are being used because Aiden and his family are involved with the child welfare system.

Chelsea compared their situation to the case of a 15-year-old boy who allegedly stabbed an Edmonton bus driver in September.

His family later told CBC they repeatedly warned provincial authorities he was a risk but sufficient intervention was still not provided.

In Aiden’s case, Chelsea said services that require her nephew’s voluntary participation don’t work and long-term counselling in a secure facility is difficult to access.

Lawyers frequently secured his release or hospital staff concluded he was not a threat, she said. When they did manage to get him into a court-ordered detox program or into the Alberta Hospital psychiatric care facility, the 10- to 30-day stays weren’t long enough, said Chelsea.

“I am in desperate need of your help!!!” Chelsea wrote in emails to provincial and federal politicians last month. “He needs to be locked away from the drugs and gang life so his brain and body can begin to heal.”

The letter summarizes Aiden’s downward spiral, which is documented in a thick purple binder compiled by his aunt and grandmother.

Report cards early on described him as a bright boy who lied and bullied classmates as his impulsive, destructive behaviour escalated. He once tried to flush a cat down a toilet, family said.

His early years were spent in an abusive household. Aiden was later placed in a string of group homes and residential treatment programs as convictions piled up for offences such as car theft and assault with a weapon.

An encounter with a resident in a group home led to Aiden’s initiation into a gang, said Chelsea.

Took gun to school

“(Aiden’s) first task was to steal a car,” his aunt wrote in the letter to government officials.

She said he has since stolen hundreds of cars, sold drugs and robbed people at knife point to make his way up the gang ladder.

In January, Aiden apologized for bringing a gun to school, in a neatly pencilled letter to a school board superintendent.

 

“It was reported to the teachers that a student was carrying a firearm at the school,” wrote Aiden. “That student was me. I am deeply sorry for causing that incident.”

Aiden was expelled. A letter from the board noted that reinstatement could only occur “if the safety of students and staff are ensured.”

Chelsea said Aiden has overdosed on fentanyl, self-injured by cutting himself and repeatedly told her he wants to kill himself.

“He doesn’t care if his terrible lifestyle lands him in the morgue … and why should he?,” she wrote to politicians. “He was born without the ability to fully use his brain, he does not have the ability to make appropriate decisions (or) control his anger.

“He’s taken so many drugs that what little brain power he has left has been turned to mush.”

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