Author Topic: VisionQuest Deaths  (Read 22022 times)

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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2006, 03:48:00 AM »
I also worked for the VisionQuest Hat Corps in Pennsylvania.  CCY.  And please don't misunderstand me as condoning or excusing the deaths that have occured.  I was shocked to see how many kids have died there.  It's tragic.  However, the kids that died in the ocean was definitely from an accident resulting from the weather.  And you have to remember that the kids placed at these things are not angels.  They are highly manipulative and many times violent.  When you read that a kid said he needed to stop doing something or have a drink, it seems like a no brainer.  The kid says he needs to stop, and so he should be allowed to stop.  But there are often only 3, 2, or 1 staff working with upwards of 20 kids.  Kids say they need to stop doing things all the time, so it's very hard as a staff member to gauge when somebody is telling the truth and when somebody is just trying to get out of doing something.  As far as bad restraints go, yes there are staff who go too far, but a lot of these kids aren't the small helpless kids you think of.  When I worked there, there was one kid who jumped a drill instructor, choked him out and attempted to steal his car.  Again, I'm not trying to excuse anything, but the issue is not black and white.
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2006, 08:02:00 AM »
And what are your credentials and experience working with alleged 'juvenile delinquents'?
The staff didn't check the weather report that day, before taking these 'violent' kids out?
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2006, 08:18:00 PM »
SeaQuest took place on a boat in the middle of the ocean, much like college Semesters at Sea.  For the most part, they're in the ocean; it's not a matter of going out for a couple hours a day.  And it's ludicrous to think that staff would willingly and with premeditation, go out on the ocean when a storm was coming.  
  I don't believe I ever used the term "juvenile delinquents."  My credentials are that I have worked with at-risk and adjudicated youth for five years, and I have a master's degree.  I have no wish to get into an arguement with you about the greatness of VisionQuest nor the infallibility of its staff.  It was my intention only to add another perspective to what appears to be an intelligent discussion.  
  I care very much about the kids I have worked with and have sought always to do nothing more than get them home with the tools to stay there.  I consider every former kid I have worked with that is now in jail or prison a personal loss.  I am not some heartless bully on a power trip who looks down on kids in placement.  I have always tried to show them respect and dignity and based on the respect that I generally earn from them, I would say I am pretty successful with that.  I resent the implication that I don't care about them or look down upon them in any way.  Many of the kids I've worked with were some of the most intelligent and all around greatest people I've ever met.  But, don't get it twisted, they can still be extremely manipulative, volatile, and yes, violent.  My only point is that the issue is not as black and white as it may appear.  
   I look forward to continuing in an intelligent discussion about the issue and hope that there will be no further personal attacks.
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Offline AtomicAnt

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« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2006, 02:05:00 PM »
Quote
On 2006-04-30 17:24:00, tbuster1269 wrote:

"I really do not know if I should say this, but I  worked for visionquest about 10 years ago.  I was a drill instructor at their boot & hat camp in Pennsylvania.  I remember a boy that died there in March or April 1997.  We were told the boy had a malfunctioning heart and there was no way it could be detected.  It really hit the personnel and the kids that were there pretty hard.  I eventually left because of it.  I was there to help these kids, not hurt them.  I am a former Marine and remember the camp being set up just like Marine boot Camp.  I can honestly say that I never took part or saw any unnecessary physical contact with the kids.  Everytime there was a physical altercation, it was because one of the kids would put there hands on a staff member or would blatantly refuse to follow orders.  Of all the staff members I met, whose names I cannot remember, none of them were there to hurt the kids.  They were interested in the kids future and fixing whatever was wrong with them.  The reason I even am on this site is because I have a friend who has a completely, utterly out of control child that needs to be given some direction.  I was totally unaware of these deaths.  Is the place still open?  Does anybody know"


The part about a 'physical altercation' for 'blatently refusing to follow orders' is a red flag here. How physical would they get; presssure point pain infliction, takedowns, restraints? I don't think I'd like anyone getting physical with my kids just because they refuse to do something they were ordered to do.

I don't like the idea of boot camps for teens at all. There is not much research, but most of what there is states boot camps have a higher recidivsm rate than detention centers or other alternatives and that boot camps can often do more emotional harm than good to already vulnerable and disturbed teenagers.

Teens are just not old enough or mature enough to 'get' the lessons that boot camp tries to instill and come away with the belief that the DIs are just being mean to the kids for the sake of being mean and forcing them to obey.  They come out of these programs angry.
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2006, 05:33:00 PM »
While that was not my post, I think I can answer some of your questions.  Yes, a physical altercation, in other words a fight between kids, is a reason why someone might be restrained.  The state of Pennsylvania considers it a form of abuse to allow kids to fight in placement.  Failure to follow instruction is not a justification for a restraint.  However, depending upon what the order was, it can be justification for an escort.  This can lead to an aggressive response from a trooper, which is justification for a restraint (as far as policy and the law goes, I'm not making a value judgement on that personally).  As far as whether teens are mature enough for boot camp and their reaction to it, I have to respectfully disagree with you.  I was 17 when I went through boot camp (in the Army).  I was able to succeed as are most kids who go through placement boot camps.  Whether it's for the military or placement, boot camp is a process, depending on the quality of their DI's (and this is definitely problematic) kids come away with all the benefits and knowledge that boot camp is meant to instill.  When I worked in a non boot camp facility, I had many kids that had been through boot camp and they viewed it much the same as I viewed my Army boot camp experience, they were happy as hell to leave, but looked back on it with a fondness.  Boot camps do have a high recidivism rate, although I would be very suprised if it was higher than detention centers, which operate very much like jails with almost no treatment component and are generally used only to house youth for short periods of time--in other words they are used for weekend sanctions or as holding areas during court, or after court until the youth is given a permanent placement--the problem with boot camps as far as recidivism goes, as is the case with all placements, is that it provides a structural framework within which a youth can experience success, and yes feel safe.  
Upon completion, they are sent home with no further support, and so the support system under which they experienced the change is gone, and they're right back in the same environment that created their problems in the first place.  There has got to be a greater emphasis on in-community supports.  I'm not talking about punitive things but after-school rec and arts programs, things like that.  Providing kids with a continued environment in their communities where they can succeed, feel cared about, and mentored is the ONLY way to instill lasting change and stop the cycle.
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Offline youthadvocate

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« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2006, 05:41:00 PM »
just so everyone knows, I am the second ex-visonquest drill instructor, and poster of the previous post.  I just signed up, so i wanted everyone to know that my posts will be under this screen name from now on.  Love the discussion, and I hope we can come to some well thought consensus on what changes should be made.  The system is badly broken, and I'm down for helping to get it changed.
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Offline AtomicAnt

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« Reply #21 on: May 14, 2006, 11:28:00 AM »
Florida Boot Camps recidivism = 87 percent
Missouri State JDCs recidivism = 32 percnet
 
The receidivism rate varies greatly by State and specific program. Missouri's program involves using smaller, decentralized facilities that are either in or near the youths' home neighborhoods. They treat kids like kids. They don't mix hard core offenders with first time offenders and keep the younger kids away from older kids.

Florida, on the other hand, has the second largest population of juvenile offenders incarcerated (California has the highest). Many kids are in adult jails. The State just passed measures closing their boot camps after 14 year old Martin Anderson was killed in one by DIs. The death was video taped and released to the press. You can find details on this very easily be Googling the kid's name. The Miami Tribune has run many articles about it.

Amnesty International and HRW (Human Rights Watch) have both condemned the California Juvenile systems for pervasive child abuse and human rights violations. In one prison, kids were kept in tiny solitary cells for 23.5 hours per day and the other 30 minutes were spent in cages on the roof.

I agree that more community based, post camp support is needed, but go to
 http://www.rickross.com/reference/teenb ... oot11.html

and look up the Baltimore Sun expose about Maryland boot camps. The extensive after care was largely unattended by the hard core, ghetto kids in the program. Most ended up in adult jail. Read how the kids were treated and know that Maryland closed all their boot camps as a result of the Sun's articles.

BTW, I grew up in Crawford County, PA. I am very familiar with Venango, County.
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Offline youthadvocate

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« Reply #22 on: May 14, 2006, 03:50:00 PM »
I read the article and the program sounds horrible.  I don't know who thought that it would be a good idea to abuse kids to "help" them, which is exactly what that is, but I think they should go through that program and see how well it helps them.  They don't do that sort of thing in actual military boot camps, I think it's a horrible idea to do in juvenile boot camps.  
I'm with you on the California thing, too.  The California Youth Authority is one of the most jacked up entities known to man.
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #23 on: June 09, 2006, 09:30:00 PM »
I tend to agree with AA. i am not doubting the fact that the marine drill instructor wants to help kids, and i feel bad for the guy because he seems to be deeply personally effected by the incident, but the philosophy behind these places seems so wrong. If you have a kid who is angry and does not want to be there, of course they are not going to follow orders. This is why trying to make them helps nobody.
If the place is understaffed and the kids are there because they are at risk, it is a system which is asking for trouble. Instead of hiring ex marines (even ones with their hearts in the right place) why would these places not hire people wth specific specialist training? Or why not professional counsellors and youth workers there with the drill instructors? What can drilling a kid teach them about thinking through the consequences of their actions anyway?
most guys who go into the miltary are there because they want to be and are attracted to a career with structure and order. This is not the case with delinquent kids. Tough love is not the only answer!
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #24 on: June 10, 2006, 12:18:00 PM »
Exactly. There is a huge difference between a volunteer recruit who is thinking past the boot camp towards a career in the military, and a disturbed teenager forced there. There is also a huge difference in boot camps for kids and real military boot camps.

These kid camps force confrontation with kids. Kids are kids. They don't have the self control of adults, yet. There is bound to be trouble.

Boot camps for kids appear to work only because they use fear and intimidation. Forced compliance does mean real internal change.

I understand the rational that believes boot camp is a team building and confidence building experience. The problem is that the teenagers do not. They don't see the experience in the same way. They see it as arbitraty punishment and DIs being mean for the sake of being mean.

Teens are 'fairness experts' in their own minds. Group punishment is not team building for them. By nature teens are self-centered. They are supposed to be at this age as they are focused on figuring out who they are and where they fit. This is normal. So, holding the group responsible is viewed as holding 'me responsible for someone else's actions.' To a teen, this just unfair.

It is a totally different psychology and must approached that way. Ex marines and other military folk don't get this. Because they successfully completed basic training and had good careers, they want to share their feelings of success and pass this on. What they forget is that not everyone views the world the same way, nor can they be forced to.

Personally, I have never been through a boot camp or program but I know with 100% certainty that the experience would have been harmful to me; because I know me. I also suspect that I am not the only one like me. So the one-size-fits-all approach just doesn't cut it.
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Offline AtomicAnt

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« Reply #25 on: June 10, 2006, 12:19:00 PM »
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Exactly. There is a huge difference between a volunteer recruit who is thinking past the boot camp towards a career in the military, and a disturbed teenager forced there. There is also a huge difference in boot camps for kids and real military boot camps.

This was my post. I forgot to log in.
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #26 on: June 10, 2006, 02:27:00 PM »
***So, holding the group responsible is viewed as holding 'me responsible for someone else's actions.' To a teen, this just unfair.

Not just teens, anyone would see it as unfair.
That's like the police coming into a bar and arresting everyone because they didn't control the guy who drank too much.

There is one purpose for this technique- peer pressure/control. They're banking on the kid getting so much shit from his peers, who were punished for his mistakes, that he'll step in line. Makes their miserable job easier.
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #27 on: June 11, 2006, 09:00:00 AM »
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On 2006-06-10 11:27:00, Anonymous wrote:

"***So, holding the group responsible is viewed as holding 'me responsible for someone else's actions.' To a teen, this just unfair.



Not just teens, anyone would see it as unfair.

That's like the police coming into a bar and arresting everyone because they didn't control the guy who drank too much.



There is one purpose for this technique- peer pressure/control. They're banking on the kid getting so much shit from his peers, who were punished for his mistakes, that he'll step in line. Makes their miserable job easier.



"

I have to disagree with that. In an explicit team environment, if one member fails, it is because the team failed that one member. So, the entire team receives the consequences. The idea is to promote the idea that the team must support all of its members. I have never been in the Military, so it would be nice to have one of the DIs weigh in on this. I think soldiers are aware that this is the premise under which basic training takes place and so they are not as likely to become angry about it. In battle, their lives could depend on it.

If there is a time to be somewhere and one team member is late because he slept in, the team loses. The team has to take the responsibility to ensure everyone wakes up and is on time.

Whether this actually promotes unity in a team or not is debatable. They might end up hating the 'weaker' member/s. Or, they may become a close, tight knit team.

I have worked with departments where communication could be good like this. Co-workers would inform missing members (on vacation or traveling) with information they needed for the first day back. They would send e-mail or leave messages on home phones. Other departments I have been in don't and the unsuspecting co-worker might come to work inappropriately dressed, or blind-sided by a morning meeting,for example, because they did not 'get the memo.'
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Offline AtomicAnt

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« Reply #28 on: June 11, 2006, 09:03:00 AM »
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I have to disagree with that. In an explicit team environment ...

Once again, I forget to log in. That was me.
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #29 on: June 11, 2006, 09:21:00 AM »
the idea of any di trying to provoke a delinquent kid also strikes me as pretty useless because, of course they are likely to bite back. ( i am not suggesting that all DI's do) Lack of impulse control is the reason why the kid is there. There is also a difference between penalising a kid for not contributing to some kind of team effort, and Bullying a kid into some kind of pissing contest because their sense of manhood is threatened and then punsihing every kid when that one kid looses it . It also strikes me as being the worst kid of cowardice to pick a fight with a kid when it is quite clear that they have no power. From where i sit this is completely unjust and teaches kids that the biggest bully wins.  This can hardly socialise any one. It is not even a lesson in mental toughness.
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