8.1 Medina Case Study

Medina Case Study

Paulo Medina, Age 10, Date of Birth: Sept 24,
224 Sunny Lane London, ON
School: St Mary of the Vale School
Parents: Andre’ Medina (c) 519-333-1234
Sybil Medina (c) 519-333-4321


Boy holding jacket
Photo by Joseph Gonzalez Unsplash License

Andre’ was previously married to Sybil for 12 years.  They had Paulo together 2 years into the relationship.  Paulo is now 10 years old.  Andre’ and Sybil’s relationship broke down due to the extreme stress of Sybil’s addiction to OxyContin.  Paulo was exposed to years of his mother’s addiction.  Andre’ tried to support Sybil encouraging her to get help. She was referred to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) when she was found unconscious and ended up in hospital but never followed through.

Sybil was gripped by the addiction and could not respond to Paulo emotionally, she rarely said she loved him or nurture him by hugging him. In fact, she was easily frustrated and yelled at Paulo for little things like getting his shoes on or getting to bed.  Paulo tried to be cooperative and compliant to please Sybil to get her attention and affection. When she asked for his help to get her “stuff” he was always ready to go.  Paulo was left unattended numerous times either at home, in a car or with people she did not know while Sybil sought the opioid. On one occasion, Sybil even sent Paulo to purchase the opioid.  He was happy to help his mother and felt like a big boy doing jobs.

He told his best friend, Riley at school about some of the things he got to do with his mom, sometimes being left alone, “but only because he was a big boy”. He didn’t know why she always had to pick stuff up, he just knew she needed something, and his mom told him not to tell anyone what they did when they were together.  Riley told his mom, who was going to tell Ms. Petite, the boys teacher.  When talking to Ms. Petite about the boys, she said that occasionally she was worried about Paulo.  When Ms. Petite wanted examples, she became worried about her own family and what might happen if she said something, so she back tracked and just said that poor Paulo just didn’t seem to get a lot of attention and loving at home.  You know he only seems to have one friend, her son, Riley, she said.  They both agreed that Paulo is a sweet boy and didn’t deserve to be anything but loved.

Andre’ often overworked believing that financial stability was the route to supporting his family.  Then he needed to because Sybil was draining their bank accounts to pay for her addiction. With Andre’ overworking, this left Paulo with his mother and her erratic behaviour due to her addiction.  Andre’ finally realized he could not leave Paulo in Sybil’s care for his safety and decided to leave the relationship. He spent the week packing his and Paulo’s things.  He tried to get Sybil to organize what she wanted to take during the week, but she wouldn’t engage begging him not to leave.  The day he was leaving with Paulo they got into a massive fight.  They were screaming at each other saying unimaginable things.  When Andre’ turned to leave Sybil jumped on his back and started clawing at him.  He was spinning around the room with her and finally dropped himself on the floor landing on top of her.  It knocked the wind out of Sybil.  She was gasping for air.  When she was laying there Andre’ kicked her two times saying she was a lousy piece of sh*t.  Paulo was initially outside playing in the moving truck his dad had rented, waiting for his dad, but he could hear the screaming.  He started to cry and opened the door to the house.  He was frozen in the doorway when he saw his mom on his dad’s back and then his dad falling on top of her and she couldn’t breathe. He began to scream at his dad when he kicked her, and remained sobbing as Andre’ pulled it together, grabbed Paulo and left.

When Andre’ left Sybil, Paulo was 6 years old.  He sought custody of Paulo due to the addiction and requested supervised access. Sybil’s addition was a big part of the custody hearing and it was also brought up that Sybil was sexually abused as a child and left home at a very young age. He was granted custody, and Sybil received unsupervised access every other weekend and on Wednesdays. This caused significant stress for Andre’ as he worried about Paulo’s well-being while on access visits. As Andre’ predicted, Paulo would spend all his time watching TV and eating junk food during his access visits with his mom. He would often come home hungry and misbehave, resulting in terrible Sunday evenings for both Andre’ and Paulo. Andre’ was at least thankful that Paulo would tell him about the visits.

When Paulo was 7 years old and visiting his mother, he fell off a trailer hitch and bumped his head badly, resulting in a concussion. His mother did not take him to the hospital or the doctor. When Andre’ picked him up, he took him to the hospital and reported the incident to CAS. Paulo reported that his mother was hanging out with her friends and no one thought it was bad enough to go to the hospital. CAS offered group counselling for Paulo, due to the separation between his parents but Andre’ never followed through.

When Paulo was 8 years old, he was hit by the car his mother was driving. Sybil thought he was in the car when she was backing out of a parking lot. A bystander called the ambulance. Sybil was charged with driving while under the influence of narcotics. Paulo sustained a broken arm and a concussion. Andre’ petitioned the court for supervised access due to Paulo’s safety in the presence of his mother, and it was granted. Sybil was ordered to enter drug rehabilitation. Supervised access would be held at Children’s Connections Centre. Sybil did not attend drug rehabilitation stating that she wasn’t ready.

Paulo was 9 years old during a supervised access visit at the Children’s Connection Centre when his mother overdosed on opioids. She was found in the women’s washroom. She was unable to be revived, no Naloxone kit was available on site. Emergency services arrived but could not revive her. She was taken to hospital leaving Paulo at the Centre. Andre’ picked up Paulo and told him that his mother had died.

Paulo never talked about his mother’s death. His father, Andre’ found Sybil’s death to be a relief given the years of addiction that she had suffered and the chaotic effect it had on the family. As such, he had no intention of discussing it. The school contacted Andre’ and offered grief counselling for Paulo. Andre’ said that it wasn’t necessary. Paulo did not attend.

Paulo began a downward spiral after the death of his mother. He was getting into trouble at school, often being sent to the principal’s office. Just before Paulo’s tenth birthday, he was suspended for telling the principal to “f–k off” when asked about a conflict with another student.

When Paulo returned to school, he drew a picture of a dagger on the principal’s office door in permanent marker. Andre’ couldn’t believe what was happening. When the principal called to book a meeting with him, he talked to Andre’ about getting Paulo some help such as counselling.  Andre’ said in an angry tone, “he doesn’t need counselling, he needs discipline”.  Andre’ went to the school for the meeting with Paulo and the principal and the school counsellor, Ms. Doxtator, CYC. Paulo ran out of the school, down the road and then into busy traffic. It is only a miracle that he wasn’t hit by a car. Andre’ was furious and ran after him with the principal and Ms. Doxtator not far behind. Andre’ grabbed Paulo by the shoulder and squeezed so hard, yelling at him saying that he was such an idiot for running into traffic. He yelled at him the whole way back to the school, saying that he “had it” and was going to a boarding school for bad kids. Paulo was crying, rubbing his shoulder, which was already starting to bruise.

When they were back on school property, the principal said, “let’s all take a big breath, and looking at Mr. Medina, he said quietly, you need to calm down, yelling at him is not helping”. At that point, Andre’ said, “we’re not staying, we’re leaving”.


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Child Maltreatment: An Introductory Guide With Case Studies Copyright © 2023 by Susan Loosley and Jen Johnson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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