Old 22nd August 2003, 17:40   #1
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Boy Dies In DCFS Custody, Suicide

Boy dies in DCFS custody

12-year-old hanged himself at hospital

By Steve Silverman
Pantagraph staff

BLOOMINGTON -- Twelve-year-old Ronald Hamilton was buried Thursday, about two months after the state removed him from his home to ensure his safety.
The Bloomington boy died Aug. 15 from massive injuries he suffered a few days earlier when he hanged himself with bed linen at The Pavilion, a psychiatric hospital in Champaign, according to court records.

He'd been under a suicide watch, records said.

Ronald's mother, Angela Hamilton, said her son had no history of mental illness, but his psyche rapidly deteriorated after he and his 10-year-old brother were placed in foster care in Ivesdale, a small village on the Champaign-Piatt County line.

"I don't think he meant to do it," she said. "He was trying to make a plea for help because he didn't want to go back to the foster home."

Angela Hamilton contends that the state Department of Children and Family Services overreacted by removing her sons on June 17.

Hamilton denies having an anger-management or substance-abuse problem, or exposing her children to domestic violence, as prosecutors alleged in seeking temporary custody for DCFS.

Judy Renner, chief prosecutor of the abuse and neglect division of the McLean County state's attorney's office, could not be reached for comment.

Ronald's death highlights the dilemma child welfare officials face on a daily basis.

They have to weigh the dangers of allowing a child to remain in a potentially dangerous situation against the trauma a child can suffer when suddenly taken from his or her family.

"It's tough to adjust, certainly," said DCFS spokeswoman Jill Manuel. "I think some of these kids handle these adjustments better than others."

"This has not happened before on my watch, but you always live with the hypothetical possibility that it could," said McLean County Circuit Judge Ronald Dozier, who presides over abuse and neglect cases.

"You also live with the hypothetical possibility that if you leave the kids in the home, they could end up dead," the judge said.

Family problems

In the early 1990s, Angela Hamilton's three sons were removed from her home. She acknowledged that she was unable to provide adequate care because of a drinking problem.

She said she regained custody 10 months later after going through treatment. Hamilton said she stayed sober for eight years before she started drinking again about a year ago; she claimed alcohol hasn't been a problem.

According to court records, DCFS was called in May after Angela Hamilton was arrested in connection with an altercation in which she and her sister rear-ended each others' cars and then got in a fight.

Ronald and his 10-year-old brother -- the third son is now an adult -- reportedly were present during the fight.

Interviewed by authorities, the boys reported domestic violence in the home. They recalled arguments between their mother and her boyfriend and described an incident in which he caused a cut by accidentally hitting her with a phone, court records said.

Angela Hamilton insisted her boyfriend is not abusive.

"He never hit me, he never hit the kids," she said.

But DCFS wasn't convinced, and the boyfriend refused to get a domestic violence assessment or participate in services.

A safety plan was implemented barring him from living at the home and having contact with the children, court records said.

The children were removed about two weeks later after a DCFS worker saw the boyfriend at the home for a second time in the presence of the children.

Angela Hamilton claimed her boyfriend stopped by while the boys were out, and they came home unexpectedly before he had a chance to leave.

Angela Hamilton said Ronald was extremely unhappy in his foster home and repeatedly asked to come home during their weekly visits.

She said Ronald was sent to The Pavilion for an evaluation in July after lashing out by becoming unusually aggressive toward his brother.

He then was returned to his foster home in Ivesdale.

Angela Hamilton said her son was returned to The Pavilion after she visited with him on Aug. 5 at her home.

She said DCFS did not notify her that he returned to The Pavilion until Ronald hanged himself on Aug. 11.

He spent several days on a ventilator before he was removed from life support on Aug. 15.

Ronald's brother is now being cared for by his maternal grandmother.
Tis a sad day indede.

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Old 22nd August 2003, 18:32   #2
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That's sad...

He'd been under a suicide watch, records said.
Wonder The Pavilion is run by the FBI/CIA

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Old 22nd August 2003, 18:44   #3
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I blame the parents.

I am so important I feel the need to let it be known like a liberal discovering the internets for the first time. Uh hur hur hur. I also wash myself with a rag on a stick.
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Old 22nd August 2003, 20:43   #4
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I blame violence in the media/video games and rap music, but mainly rap music
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Old 23rd August 2003, 02:48   #5
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That is so sad..... When I was in that hospital a few years ago, a friend of mine hung herself because she was having serious problems at home.
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Old 23rd August 2003, 02:52   #6
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My parents were great to me and I was extremely suicidal a few years back I'm happy now, but you can still send me cards if you'd like

p.s. I love the above poster
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Old 23rd August 2003, 11:36   #7
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That poor little kid......
Parents should've known better, it makes me sick when I hear about parens abusing their kids, its just sick no ther word to describe it. She should of got counselling or something.

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