The mother of Naika Venant, a 14-year-old who streamed her suicide on Facebook Live, blames the Florida foster care system for her daughter’s death.
“I am sick and devastated. I have trusted Florida foster care people to care for my baby. Instead she kills herself on Facebook,” mother Gina Alexis said while crying during a news conference with the Miami Herald. “I have to bury my baby.”
The Herald states that Venant has been under the state’s care since 2009.
Venant had been in and out of ten foster homes since spring of last year. Her most recent placement was an unidentified Miami Gardens foster home, where she committed suicide in the bathroom.
Alexis’ attorney, Howard Talenfeld, said Venant had been a victim of physical and sexual abuse.
Venant told her mother she had contracted a urinary tract infection and had been raped in one of her former foster homes.
A police investigation revealed Venant had been sexually abused by a 14-year-old boy who lived in the same home.
“We first need to look more than anywhere else at what is going on in our backyards in Florida,” Talenfeld said during the conference. “Facebook is a method of communication, a method where the message was sent, but the reality is Facebook didn’t rape her. Facebook didn’t fail to provide her services. Facebook didn’t take her into care promising her a better life.”
A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Children and Families declined to comment on Venant’s case, citing confidentiality concerns, but department Secretary Mike Carroll said there is an investigation underway.
Other incidents of this troubling trend have transpired recently.
An aspiring actor in Los Angeles, California, committed suicide on Facebook Live following his arrest on suspicion of sexual assault the day after Venant’s death.
A 12-year-old from Georgia also streamed her suicide through a site called Live.me on December 30, three weeks before Venant’s death.