The 16-year-old Australian teen kept in a box for her own safety.

A 16-year-old girl whose family fear for her life have been forced to take drastic action, locking her in a wooden box for her own safety.

The teenager, from a rural town in NSW lives with her mother, Emma and two siblings. On the outside she appears much like any other teenager, but in order to stop her harming herself and others this young girl is locked in a wood-lined bedroom  – essentially a box –  barren of all other furniture except a mattress.

Her mum, Emma Perry has told current affairs show Today Tonight she has no other choice after Stephanie attempted to commit suicide 12 times in just two years.

Stephanie is locked in the small room each night and often during the day. Via Today Tonight.

When Stephanie was a child she was sexually abused, leaving her with mental health issues difficult to control.

As her mental health issues escalated Stephanie began to hurt herself and others and found herself turning everyday objects into dangerous weapons.

Emma, a single mum of three,  tried to get help, but found mental health services in her area lacking and time and time again Stephanie was sent home for Emma to keep safe.

With no other option she was forced to take drastic action.

“We have turned her room into what we class as a safe room,” Emma told Today Tonight.

The windows boarded up, the cupboard the teen tried to hurt herself in disassembled and removed. Her dresser and pretty bed taken out. All her belongings gone.

Instead the room, now lined with plywood is locked each night and whenever Emma feels Stephanie may be unsafe.

The windows boarded up, the cupboard she tried to hurt herself in removed. Her dresser and pretty bed taken out. All her belongings gone.. Image via Today Tonight.

“I don't want to do it, I feel horrible for doing it, I feel like I'm not doing my job as a mum, because I shouldn't have to do it” says Emma.

The 43-year-old says she has no other choice.

“Am I going to get there (into the bedroom) and she's not going to still be with us?”

'”Is this the time I’m going to have to say goodbye?”

Her mother says she has been forced to lock the garage and sheds on their property so that Stephanie doesn’t attempt to harm herself deliberately in them, in their home she has been forced to board up the windows. So that Stephanie cannot access the glass.

The garage and sheds are kept locked. Via Today Tonight.

Stephanie says that she knows why her mother does what she does but that for her it’s like a prison.

“I understand why but sometimes it hurts” she says.


“This is what I call a prison ... because it is. I'm being locked in like I'm in a prison.”

This is what I call a prison ... because it is. I'm being locked in like I'm in a prison.” Via Today Tonight.

Emma says on her Facebook page “Fight for Steph” that Stephanie isn’t locked in her room all the time, just when there is no one to supervise her or when Emma needs to take a shower.

“If Stephanie is feeling like she is about to lose control then she will take her colouring books and ipod into her room and lock the door and to use her refocusing techniques and grounding techniques."

Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t work and we are forced to call an ambulance or police then she gets taken to the nearest hospital where majority of the time instead of being admitted to the Nexus unit she is sent home where I then have to keep her and 2 other children safe.”

Emma says that her small family has the help of a FACS case worker who comes for house visits once a week.

“The FACS caseworker has seen Stephanie’s room” she writes “and we are in the process of doing what we can to make it as nice as possible”.

She adds that the problem is money as she would prefer to spend what little she has on Stephanie’s private psychologist and psychiatrist.

Emma locks Stephanie in the room when she has a shower. Via Today Tonight.

Emma says that what Stephanie needs is more help. On a petition she pleads with NSW health Minister Jillian Skinner for more resources for troubled teens.

She tells Today Tonight that years ago she would have thought what was happening to Stephanie was atrocious, but now she just sees the lack of help available as what is atrocious about the situation.

All she wants to do is keep her daughter alive.


For  help:  Lifeline 13 11 14. Kid's Helpline: 1800 55 1800.