A startling report from Florida’s Department of Children and Families described an often violent and emotionally abusive relationship between a 14-year-old girl and her birth mother – a relationship they say led to the teen committing suicide and streaming it live on Facebook from inside a Miami Gardens foster home.
Naika Venant used a scarf to hang herself from a shower stall in the early morning hours of January 22nd, broadcasting the event live on social media for people to see. Late Monday night, DCF released their findings from an investigation into the teen’s death.
"Despite everything that had occurred between Naika and her mother, Naika longed to be home,'' said the report, written by members of a Critical Incident Rapid Response Team that was deployed by agency Secretary Mike Carroll after the child's death in January. "Naika often told her therapist that she greatly missed her mother and really wanted to go back home.''
According to the Miami Herald, the relationship between Venant and her birth mother, Gina Alexis, was often tumultuous – being called to their home starting when Naika was just four years old. The following year, Alexis reportedly called her daughter a “liar and a faker” when she was in the emergency room for an issue, threatening to send her back to Haiti.
Venant was removed from her mother’s home three separate times, starting at the age of six after she reportedly disclosed she had watched “sex movies” with her mother’s boyfriends. She was returned to the home a year and a half later.
The teen ran away from home in 2014, saying she was afraid her mother would abuse her again after her younger brother got hurt while she was babysitting. Despite Alexis saying she did not want to take her daughter back, a judge did return her months later.
An attorney for Alexis denies the allegations against his client.
"Naika was a girl so well known to the system, she was in 14 placements in nine months – none of these placements were therapeutic foster care placements,” said Howard Talenfel.
Talenfel says the report was a clear attack on Naika's mother, adding the state’s privatized system is responsible for the teen’s death.