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Mother of 7-y-o appeals for help

Published:Saturday | April 21, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Armani Stephens shot in head in 2008, facing behavioural problems
Talcia Atkins holds up a photo of her son, Armani Stephens.- Photo by Christopher Thomas

Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:A mother is desperate to get help for her seven-year-old son, who has been showing signs of behavioural problems since he was shot by gunmen four years ago.

Talcia Atkins of Montego Bay, St James, says her son, Armani Stephens, was shot in the head in August 2008 while holidaying with relatives in Rosemount Crescent in the parish.

"Around that time, I got worried and I called his grandmother, and when I called, they weren't telling me anything, so I got angry. Then they told me he had been shot," Atkins recounted.

"I went to the Cornwall Regional Hospital, and he had been shot to the left side of the head. He was there until they did a minor surgery and they removed the pellets from his head. They sent him home after the surgery; they didn't put him on any follow-up or anything; he just got some medication and came home," she continued.


Atkins added that some four months later, Armani became very disruptive and violent toward his two siblings and his classmates.

"He hurts himself, his brothers, other kids around him, everybody. He takes things that you haven't given to him, both at home and at school," she revealed.

"Once they called me at the school; he had injured a little boy by throwing a stone in the boy's back, and he 'chucked' another boy into a wall at school and burst his head."

Shortly after the shooting incident, Armani went to spend time with his grandmother, and, on this occasion, swallowed a screw, necessitating surgery to have it removed. Then, in June 2011, he was hit by a car causing damage to the nerves in his right eye.

So far, Atkins has taken him for examinations and cranial scans, and the results have revealed nothing physically unusual.

"My bank book is now closed, and the only reason I'm surviving right now is because of my fiancé, and I've told him I don't want him to get involved because it's not his child," said the mother, even as she revealed that Armani's father is not involved in taking care of his son.

But Dr Beverley Scott, child and family therapist, believes Armani could be experiencing trauma from the incident, and could be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

She said PTSD manifests itself in reliving the experience in a way that would cause the child to be frightened when he hears sounds like gunshots.

"He's reliving the trauma, and that would make him aggressive, and that would make him physically abusive," stated Scott. "He needed counselling as much as he needed the medical treatment ... . He would need intervention right now."

However, Miss Atkins is currently planning to go on an overseas work programme in the hope that Armani can get medical treatment in America.

"If I have to give up my life for him to go into America, I will. I will move mountains for him to get into America. If he dies, it only makes sense for me to die too, because I see nothing more to live for," she stressed.

If you are interested in helping Armani Stephens, contact his mother, Talcia Atkins, at 847-4771, or grandmother Pauline Williams-Atkins at 605-5589.