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Naika Venant (Facebook)

Longing for home

14-year-old who streamed her suicide on Facebook suffered years of sexual and physical abuse

By WITW Staff on March 16, 2017

An inquest into the death of Naika Venant, a 14-year-old foster child who broadcast her own suicide by hanging on Facebook, has revealed that the teenager had been sent to more than 14 foster homes and endured years of sexual and physical abuse.

According to a report released by the Florida Department of Children and Families on Monday, Venant’s relationship with her allegedly abusive mother Gina Alexis may also have played a tragic role in her death.

“Despite everything that had occurred between Naika and her mother, Naika longed to be home,” the report said. “Naika often told her therapist that she greatly missed her mother and really wanted to go back home.”

The report detailed a number of disturbing incidents, including a case when 4-year-old Naika was left unattended by a male baby-sitter without food or running water. The next year, the child welfare agency was contacted after Naika was sent to the emergency room with an undisclosed chronic health condition. Alexis, reportedly, had called her daughter “a liar and a faker.” When Naika was 6, the report found that Alexis had beaten her with a belt for being sexually aggressive with another child. According to Naika’s therapists, the child told them that she slept in the same room as her mother’s boyfriends and watched “sex movies.”

At the age of 11, Naika reportedly ran away from home out of fear of being beaten by her mother. Alexis then refused to take Naika back, telling investigators that she would beat her if they insisted on returning the child to her. Against the recommendations of caseworkers and Naika’s court-ordered lay guardian, a Miami judge ordered the girl returned to her mother two months later. Last April, Alexis returned custody of Naika to the state — reportedly because she’d had enough of the child’s “behavior.”

Naika hanged herself with a scarf on January 22 in the shower stall of her latest foster home, streaming the horrific scene on Facebook Live. The report concluded that mental health professionals had failed Naika by not sufficiently treating the trauma caused by her abuse and her failed relationship with her mother.

A lawyer for Alexis has questioned the veracity of the report, describing it as “an apparent whitewash of the systemic failures” of the care system.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.


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