Author Topic: Addie Harris???  (Read 10831 times)

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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #60 on: June 02, 2006, 11:35:00 AM »
Quote
On 2006-05-31 16:35:00, babylove wrote:

"What would you have me say? You are just as much of a bully as you accuse John of being! Because I feel differently then you, you call names and make accusations, how is that any different then what you accuse MMS of doing?"


yes` s`ir John tau`ht me good.  HONESTY is KEY  u can F`EEL wha`t u FEEL but JOH`N Hurt people! and as yo`u say is A B`ULLY.  u are saying this is not t`ue e`ven after news art`icles have bee`n written, ex[perts are appalen and you h`ear girls saying JOHN HURT THEM  even in early times like when you were there!!  What is wrong with you?>   you might not FEEL LIKE Jo`hns way of treated girls made you de`pression and enxiety and Post Trauma disoreder in your life but how can you 'feel' like what he did is not WRONG becuz YOU DIDNT FEEL IT AND since u kn`ow about oth`ers now.  This is not rocke`t science.  u don't have to be the person rape`d to know that it hurts even if the guy w`ho rape`s u censors u into saying its a g`ood thing becuz to say it hurst is manipulative.

dont u DARE COMEPARE ME TO THAT EVIL MAN, I don't pretend to be able to help kids with serious problems and U are FREE TO END THIS CONVERSATION>  FREE IS NOT WHAT GIRLS THERE NOW KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT.
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Offline babylove

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« Reply #61 on: June 02, 2006, 12:35:00 PM »
Again you would have me say something that I do not see as true. I did not feel that John caused abuse. Mike, Deb, Gary and Colleen were all apart of daily life, John even less so when I was there. Obviously things have changed seeing as how John and Colleen are the only two founders left. I hear what you and some of the other girls are saying and that is your reality, not mine. So for me to post things about John or MMS that are as negative as what you and some others write is just wrong. It goes against everything that I stand for in my life. MMS was not a walk in the park. It was hard and at times and really sucked, but it taught me to appreciate what I had before I went, and what I have made for myself and my family since I was there. I am a better person due to my experience, which includes all the people I met at MMS.
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Offline katfish

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« Reply #62 on: June 02, 2006, 03:34:00 PM »
inerject a few quick points, I think regardless of subjective MMS experience the efficacy of MMS like methods are widely debunked, so while anecdotes like Shayna's may be bothersome, annonymous, it's irrelevant if we are to look at this from the standpoint of efficacy and well as ethics coming from the mental health profession.  

I spend much time arguing this same point until I came to dicsover mental health professionals dealing with this issue and places like MMS... understanding proven mental health treatment and the validity of my points made  this easier, though I did continue to debate if only b/c I don't want parents who read this forum to think MMS is great for everyone or that their is any proof to suggest it works... quite the contrary is true and the risk of damage to your child is great.

For whatever its worth, I don't beleve Shayna had a mental illness, coming from that place that could explain the diverging subjective experiences.

So, while I don't endore coercion MMS style (and other facilities) regardless,  as I don't beleive it is ethcial while dealing with any  emotional or behavioral disorder either, if your child has a mental illness MMS is a frightening prospect.  I am 100% morally opposed.  I would never ever willingly subject my child to such forceful & punitive treatment as 'care'. kat[ This Message was edited by: katfish on 2006-06-02 12:50 ]
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Offline babylove

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« Reply #63 on: June 02, 2006, 04:40:00 PM »
"For whatever its worth, I don't beleve Shayna had a mental illness, coming from that place that could explain the diverging subjective experiences."


Thanks for that vote of confidence Kat!

By the way, how the hell are you?

-Shayna
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Offline katfish

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« Reply #64 on: June 02, 2006, 05:19:00 PM »
Quote
On 2006-06-02 13:40:00, babylove wrote:

"



"For whatever its worth, I don't beleve Shayna had a mental illness, coming from that place that could explain the diverging subjective experiences."





Thanks for that vote of confidence Kat!

Not to be a jerk, but what do you mean by this...   I was diagnosed with a mental illness before and after MMS, that's why I make the distinction.  A lot of girls had some type of disroder. thats why MMS is of such concern to me now in terms of their (lack of) capacity to deal with real imabalances.

Quote

By the way, how the hell are you?



-Shayna"


I'm damn good, esp today (its my day off- yay!)


yea, what can I say, I've lived in NYC for about 10 years now, went to college here... law school next fall- considering mental health law although I'm passionate about human rights... we'll see.  No kids yet, want to get my education out of the way first.  In a relationship with the girlfriend for 6 years now, 2 doggies, 2 cat...Quality of life is improving.  NYC is damn expensive and I don't make  much- I work with mentally ill adults at a shelter, which I  LOVE LOVE LOVE, but can't see myself in direct services forever. For now I could not ask for a better program director, supervisor or co-workers, or clients (for the most part).  I actually look forward to work, which has never been the case before... bad bosses.

Trying to run a non-profit I co-founded, CAFETY effectively on the side dealing with unregulated res. treatment facilities,- kind of difficult.  So far so good though, great bunch of former program kids with the most compelling stories you will ever hear- powerful group... And then working for the other  Org, same issue, A START in FL which has been an amazingly fullfilling experience because of the community I've been exposed to, the opportunities and (truthfully) just the level of significance in terms of a stepping stone for me.  My grades in college were quite average, so the fact that I've been introduced to people who can vouch for me & my abilities has been a real blessing.

My past had a lot of ups and downs, more downs- I was a huge wreck after MMS and did the drug think for a year, was down and out for several years after that, but somehow made it through! It was rough trying to make sense of things...  I don't speak with my dad any longer (very long sotry), my mom and I have reconnected over the past several years and that's been really important to me.

Ideally I'd like to move out of city eventually.. too damn loud!  It's working for now though, I'd like to move to a city like San Fransisco I think, somewhere slower paced.

I thin you'll appreciate this- you strike me as the sailing type. My g/f sails so this fall we're taking a trip down to the Meditarannean (sp?) with her brother and sister in law and rent a sail boat
and sail from island to island for a few weeks. Beside my terror of the ocean & getting lost at sea, I think it'll be fun!

what about you??  what up on the west side????
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Offline babylove

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« Reply #65 on: June 02, 2006, 05:48:00 PM »
The only thing I meant from my comment was I had/have enough issues with out adding another to the pile!

Anyways- I am good. Married for 8 years now. I have 4 kids. Reed is 8 (you can do the math there), Erin is 6, Sophia is 4, and Sydney is
2 1/2. We live just north of Seattle and love it. WE bought this house last summer and it was a good thing. Enough room for everyone and the dog.

I have been working as a nurse for the past few years and hate it! So this fall I am opening my own preschool. It has been a lot of hard work, but is much more suited to our life fight now. My husband Jay works for Microsoft (so you must have hit a sensitive note with the comment to Jessica). He has been there for 6 years and likes it quite a bit.

I have a good relationship with my parents. They are still here in Seattle. So my kids see them a couple times a month. It took having the kids though to get to a place where we were even talking again. I didn't do so well after MMS either. There really was not "plan" when I came home. I ended up living with friends then boarding school then in my own apartment all too graduate high school. I just was never able to live with my parents again.

I was at the alumni reunion this past summer. It was very strange. John and Colleens girls are very cute. But living in that very small town they don't get much interaction with other children their own ages. It will take its toll on them, the whole small town thing that is.

I've talked with Katie H on and off since we left the school. I also talk with Addie periodically. A friend of mine saw Ashley a year or so ago at REI. They spoke for a while; I guess she is living in CA now. Nadine is out here. Jessica lives about 15 minutes from my house. They were over for Easter.

I think it would be fun to get together with everyone, not at MMS (since that is a very sensitive subject). What do you think?

Here is my email [email protected].

It's funny, I had know idea that this forum or any of this was going on. I just was surfing the web one day and came across it. Of course then someone asked about Addie and I couldn't keep my mouth shut.

E-mail me a picture. I'd love so see what you look like theses days.

Love always and forever,
Shayna
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Offline katfish

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« Reply #66 on: June 02, 2006, 05:57:00 PM »
this is me

 http://www.myspace.com/kitkatconsumerism

reunion sounds great!  I hope to get out to LA sometime next year- maybe something in CA could work.

Also, I can't save your e-mail b/c my pc is getting fixed, but you may want to write out the @ as 'at' b/c spammers will get your e-mail this way and you'll get bombarded!

I'm glad you posted, it's nice to get back in touch...
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #67 on: June 11, 2006, 07:05:00 PM »
Quote
A lot of girls had some type of disroder. thats why MMS is of such concern to me now in terms of their (lack of) capacity to deal with real imabalances.


<



and thats what i'm saying to babylove and everybody!  people who can handle being yelled at and terrorized are the people who are not mentally ill mostly or not extra sensitive.  so i think that everyone even if you didnt think john was abusive, or not abusive to you or that mms was bad HOW CAN YOU STAND IT TO IGNORE THE FACT THAT IT WAS BAD FOR SO MANY and that they meaning john and colleen LIE ABOUT WHAT THEY CAN DO?  terrorizing and punsihsing people into changing is NOT TREATMETN OR THERAPY, i dont care what BL or anyone says.  PEOPLE HAVE DIED BECUASE OF JOHN, I know this, not in the program BUT AFTER BECAUSE OF JOHN BEING NEGLECTFUL? NEGLIGENT? BASICALLY A LIAR!
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Offline BarnardlyB

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« Reply #68 on: June 11, 2006, 11:02:00 PM »
Many of us agree with you anon,
I see where you are coming from and hear your point in a general, overall experience.
Yet, many girls had a good time at MMS and their experience was very different from yours.
As babylove asks over and over, why treat the girls who you dissagree with, with the same view and attituide you blame john for??  why critize and ridicule us the same way you believe John treated eveyone, esp you????

We all have our own views and im personally willing to do what it takes to make this even.....
even if it means running backwards laps... :lol:
I don't know where to begin but I can find a way and im willing.
I didn't think this site was supposed to be about 'im right your wrong' but if it has to be...lets do this.   No one here is right and no one is wrong.....each of us wants the other to see all points and views...lets ALL try and do that.
I personally feel connected to all the girls I went to MMS with, even the ones I interned with, no  matter what we all have that connection.  Lets not let a simple thing as a different view split us all in half....
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #69 on: June 12, 2006, 01:10:00 AM »
yyeea i do see that kind of Betsy.  i just feel like if like idont undertsand how people dont think being LOCKED UP and then PUNISHED to make us change, and not given REAL THERAPY and who were really vulnerable. i dont understand how someone, anyone not be very very bothered by that. if they also understand that their friends and others were severly hurt and scarred
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #70 on: June 18, 2006, 12:22:00 PM »
I suppose early I may have felt like "waging a war" against MMS. However, I am 30 years old and havent got the time, money, or energy to wage a war. I think it is funny because if you read anythng I have written you can clearly see that I take a neutral stance on any issue but do have some acknowledgement that some wrong doings went on during my stay at the school.

Anger about situations kind of left about 4 years ago. Maybe it's that I am a mother. It may be because I grew up a little and see people as people who are capable of making mistakes. I have no idea. I just know I asked if anyone had seen Addie and this argument was a brush fire of mean statements.

Sometimes I wonder if people are angry that they are stuck as a teenager mentally? I know that they say we stop growing emotionally when we use or drink, but we have no excuse to act like a child.
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Offline babylove

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« Reply #71 on: June 18, 2006, 01:12:00 PM »
I spoke with addie a few days agao. Do you want her info?
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #72 on: June 18, 2006, 01:24:00 PM »
Yes. Email it to [email protected]
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Offline katfish

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« Reply #73 on: June 18, 2006, 08:20:00 PM »
Quote
On 2006-06-18 09:22:00, Anonymous wrote:

Anger about situations kind of left about 4 years ago. Maybe it's that I am a mother. It may be because I grew up a little and see people as people who are capable of making mistakes. I have no idea. I just know I asked if anyone had seen Addie and this argument was a brush fire of mean statements.

Sometimes I wonder if people are angry that they are stuck as a teenager mentally? I know that they say we stop growing emotionally when we use or drink, but we have no excuse to act like a child.


Yea, I'm definitely not as outraged anymore, I've vented considerably on this site... I think I'm defintely still angry that this continues to happen, but it's less about me... While people make mistakes I don't find that to be excusable in any way...

In addition to drinking and drugging being soemthing that developmentally effects a person, trauma has the same effect as well... I can only assume MMS developmentally impacted many girls in this respect in addition to addiction or co-disorder as well. Ones 'excuse' may be anothers 'rationale', I think it's hard to say one way or the other unless you are that person or are close to that person...not always, of cousre...I think there have also been  a number of posts by recent alumni who are indeed quite young, I think this may possibly help explain some of what you talking about here, in addtion to possible abuse of substances.  I would not be so presumptiuous as to assume this is the case- we have no way of knowing if someone is actively acting out addiction.  I would also hesitate if only because MMS is 12 steps based and their is so much guilt arround this issue, regardless of whether or not one was in fact 'addicted' and it appears to me to be a bit antagonistical.
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #74 on: June 19, 2006, 03:29:00 AM »
I have to say that I'm very confused by the former poster Sarah.  I think  a lot of girls have done one heck of a job around this issue and around MMS.  Heck, Claire spoke to reporters.  Quite a number of girls have made themselves available to speak with the press and shared their story with Congress.
I kind of feel like your just being a negative nancy for reasons unknown to me.

 - -


At Some Youth ?Treatment? Facilities, ?Tough Love? Takes Brutal Forms
by Michelle Chen
Children?s advocates are taking aim at privately run programs that treat kids with a range of problems as delinquents who need to be straightened out by force.

Nov. 21, 2005 ? If this was therapy, it sure didn't feel like it. From September to January, Claire Kent spent her days digging up tree stumps from a barren field, her mind and body battered by the elements. The work was part of her "treatment" for the drinking and sex that had landed her at a boarding school for "troubled teens."

In the Montana woods, Kent and a couple dozen other adolescent girls had been committed by their families to a disciplinary program that included chopping wood, exercising to the point of physical breakdown, and being regularly bullied and insulted by "counselors" ? all in the name of what the private treatment industry calls "emotional growth."

"It was just based on, 'How badly can I scare you?'," said Kent, now in her late twenties and still suffering from anxiety that she attributes to her experience. During her two-year stay, she said, "they gave me the reality that life was just completely unfair and was going to keep being that way."

The facility where Kent was held, the Mission Mountain School, is still in business today. Though staff declined repeated requests for comment, the recent explosion of hundreds of other so-called "private residential treatment facilities" speaks to the growing popularity of the "tough love" approach to "reforming" youth. Behavioral health experts estimate that the industry deals with roughly 10,000 to 14,000 children and teens, charging typical tuition rates of tens of thousands of dollars per year. The patrons are anxious parents hoping for a solution to issues ranging from attention deficit disorder to drug abuse. Worth approximately $1 billion, emotional growth programs thrive on the promise of turning "bad" kids "good."

Though some mental health professionals believe residential treatment could be helpful in extreme circumstances, horrific experiences reported by young people confined to unregulated facilities prompt questions about who is caring for them, and who is held accountable when care becomes abuse?

"It appears that there's a growth industry of very harsh kinds of programs that are using confrontational therapies, incredibly strict discipline, the kind of exhaust-them-until-they-break-down kind of [practices]," said Charles Huffine, an adolescent psychiatrist with the advocacy coalition Alliance for the Safe, Therapeutic and Appropriate use of Residential Treatment. "These are practices that are much more akin to certain kinds of harsh prison conditions than they are to anything that would be remotely considered therapy."

Private residential treatment facilities take various forms, from camp lodges in Montana to militaristic disciplinary compounds on foreign territory. The main defining features are physically isolated campuses and in many areas, virtually no formal government oversight.

Growing alongside the teen "help" industry is the political and legal backlash against tactics that some view as cruel and bizarre. In recent years, several facilities have closed following abuse investigations. Activists are also promoting the End Institutionalized Abuse Against Children Act, which would fund state and local monitoring of treatment facilities, along with the Keeping Families Together Act, which would enhance access to community-based behavioral healthcare. Yet youth advocates and former program participants caution that legislative action would merely dent the complex culture surrounding institutions that aim to "fix" youth.

At especially harsh facilities, said Huffine, once adolescents are inside, "as human beings they have no rights. They cannot stand up and say, I have been slimed, I have been harmed, I have been hurt, I want out of this."
Rules and Consequences

One night, a few months before his high school graduation, Charles King was awakened by strangers, handcuffed, and told he was being taken somewhere to get help. When his escorts released him, he found himself in another country, locked in a concrete compound, watching a dismal parade of shaved-headed youngsters marching silently in a line.

King's new home was Tranquility Bay in Jamaica, part of a network of behavior modification facilities tied to the Utah-based corporation World Wide Association Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASPS).

"You weren't allowed to talk, you couldn't call home to your family," recalled King, now in his mid-twenties. "You weren't allowed to do anything, basically, without permission ? and if you did, there were consequences."

"Consequences" is the term WWASPS facilities prefer instead of "punishment." Under a point system, participants theoretically earn privileges for following rules and suffer consequences for breaking them: completing intensive chores or sitting obediently through self-help "emotional growth" videos might after a few months earn a kid the prerogative to call home.

But King recalls the consequences more clearly than the rewards: spending days on end in detention, known as "observation placement," lying rigid with his face plastered to the floor, under the surveillance of domineering staff. Seared in his memory, and reported by other former detainees, are the frequent screams of boys and girls who endured special disciplinary sessions in isolation at the hands of staff.

"They thought they were going to die; that's what it sounded like to me," King said.

In California, families of former participants have sued WWASPS and several affiliated schools, claiming abuse and inhumane living conditions. Though children's advocates consider WWASPS schools an extreme example of behavior modification programming, the company's promises of bringing "structure" to kids' lives are common throughout the industry.

Dismissing the allegations of mistreatment as groundless, Director Jay Kay told The NewStandard that Tranquility Bay "has assisted kids and families in ways hard to put into words." He continued, "We are about character-building, emotional growth, therapy and family values."

WWASPS President Ken Kay, Jay's father, argued that compared to psychiatric treatment or the prison system, the WWASPS approach is in fact a more humane way to modify destructive behavior in young people.

"It's extremely necessary in society," he told TNS, "to have something between running rampant with negative behavior and juvenile detention or mental lockdown."

On the issue of human rights, the elder Kay remarked, "Children have the right to expect that when they're getting so far out of line, someone is going to rein them in a little bit."
A Tight Leash

According to critics in the mental health community, even programs that are not outright physically abusive can still be degrading and traumatic, especially for vulnerable adolescents already struggling with emotional issues.

Intensive "wilderness" activities, for instance, are billed as a method of building maturity, but some former program participants say that they serve mainly to break spirits.

"It was really about establishing authority and control," said Kathryn Whitehead, who entered Mission Mountain after a suicide attempt at age 13. The work and exercise programs, she said, aim to exhaust girls until they "can't hold anything in. So, you purge yourself of whatever demons you're carrying."

Claire Kent said her stump-digging assignment was the penalty for not giving the staff a detailed enough account of her sexual history ? a requirement for all participants.

Between labor sessions in the woods, Kent described navigating a constrained social system in which girls were forced to "disclose" all secrets. Staff routinely rebutted confessions with accusations of lying or withholding information, she said, so girls wound up spinning made-up stories of abuse or family dysfunction just to gain a counselor's approval.

The pressure to confess, Kent said, was compounded by the stress of obeying seemingly arbitrary rules. When the staff deemed excessive toilet use a punishable offense, for example, she recalled that girls resorted to soiling themselves to avoid going to the bathroom.

"They used fear to change us," she said. "We were not changing for positive reasons."

But Larry Stednitz, an educational consultant who refers parents to youth facilities and has visited Mission Mountain, defended work regimens as a useful way of keeping kids occupied. "If you don't structure things pretty tightly," he said, "you're going to have problems."

Indeed, some former participants feel that this structure benefited them in the long run. In an essay featured on the strugglingteens.com website, which is run by educational consultants, former Mission Mountain participant Kristie Vollar used language similar to Whitehead's to argue that the intense stress helps girls by making them "physically, mentally and emotionally worn out until there isn't enough energy left to hide 'what's really going on'."

Such positive perceptions do not surprise Kent; she takes them as evidence that the program succeeds in inducing total, self-obliterating submission. "The other 30 girls there, you know, were believing in the program," she recalled. "You eventually believed in it, too: that you were this rotten, filthy, horrible kid, and that Mission Mountain saved your life."
Credibility Gap

An undercurrent of distrust runs through the controversy over these authoritarian adolescent management facilities. Program administrators suggest that troubled youth cannot be trusted to act in their personal best interest and insist that complaints of mistreatment should be viewed with similar skepticism.

Ken Kay countered abuse allegations by pointing to the results of parent questionnaires administered by WWASPS. According to parents, kids have what he calls "a huge history of manipulation and misrepresenting the truth." These youth, he concluded, "have a bad habit of lying to their parents, their school people, to their friends? And so I don't expect that, you know, they are going to stop lying."

For 18-year-old Sean Hellinger, who languished for about two years in residential treatment ? first at a Montana-based WWASPS institution called Spring Creek Lodge and later a similar program in Utah? advocating for himself led to a catch-22. Each complaint about severe and humiliating treatment by the Spring Creek staff, he recalled, would run up against the presumption of "manipulation." It was futile to protest to his parents, he said, because staff would inevitably convince them he was lying to get out of the facility.

"You can't talk to the outside world, and when you can, it's all censored," he said. "And your parents don't believe you?. I was ignored, betrayed."
Parental Misguidance

Advocates calling for tighter regulation of residential facilities say that some programs bank on desperation and lure parents with deceptive advertising. Critics of the industry say consultants and recruiters market programs to families by rapidly "diagnosing" serious emotional problems in children and sometimes offering help in securing a fast tuition loan. Meanwhile, parents are left unaware that the program is not clinically licensed, or lacks an adequate trained staff.

Nicki Bush, a psychology graduate student who interned at a rural residential treatment facility, said administrators convinced parents to sink their savings into behavioral treatment that their children supposedly needed. While many children did have serious psychological disorders, she observed it was not uncommon for kids to end up at the facility "because they were having sex with some 20-year-old guy, and [the parents] found a joint, or something like that."

Cristine Gomez, one of the plaintiffs in the WWASPS lawsuit, said aggressive marketing persuaded her to send her son, who was having trouble in school and suffering from attention deficit disorder, first to Spring Creek Lodge and eventually to Tranquility Bay. She told TNS, "I took for granted that they were licensed and regulated? I assumed that somebody was keeping track of basic indications of the safety of the children."

In the end, troubling letters describing the conditions in the Jamaica facility compelled her to bring her son home. Four years later, she said he suffers from deep psychological trauma and refuses to speak openly about the experience. Calling the decision to send her son away "the biggest mistake I ever made in my life," Gomez said, "It's just the opposite of what our intent was, what we were sold."
The Cost of Reform

Although several months of residential treatment might at least temporarily stem problematic behavior, experts warn that short-term "success" could mask long-term scars. Some survivors of the treatment experiences report recurring nightmares, anxiety attacks and depression.

In King's case, the cost of survival at Tranquility Bay was emotional desensitization. "After the first month, it broke me," he said, "and after that, I was numb to, you know, anything that was happening." The experience also stoked an angry desire to return to the lifestyle that his family had previously disapproved of. "It almost made me dream about doing those things again," he said, "instead of what it's supposed to do."

Some mental health advocates say oppressive rule systems, in which youth are subjected to constant punishment and accusations of dishonesty and immorality, could crumple an adolescent's social development.

Hellinger characterized the rules imposed on him as "totalitarian. You say what you're allowed to say, which is, you know, that you agree with everything they say." The staff members, he said, "wanted me to be their little programmed machine."

Yet proponents of residential treatment argue that while "tough love" might not feel good, it is necessary to reform a self-destructive teen.

Bob Carter is convinced that a residential program in rural Utah transformed his son from an unruly teen into a responsible adult. He believes the program's key feature is "a positive, conformist sort of element," which becomes "indoctrinated by the kids themselves." Soon, he explained, "they create an environment where the kids more monitor each other than anything else."

But in Huffine's view, "turning kids into narcs is not a good thing, in terms of how you want to help kids? establish some sense of their own social ethics."

Bush said that while a young person could eventually learn to adhere reflexively to rules in a confined environment, conformity itself is not a healthy goal. "You might condition? a rat or a monkey to do something if you punish them enough," she commented. "But it doesn't mean there's been some insight or great growth."
Curbing "Emotional Growth"

Mental health advocacy groups say that in order to prevent mistreatment, the government must hold private treatment facilities to some clinically based standard of care. As an initial step, they are pushing the End Institutionalized Abuse Against Children bill, which would provide seed money to develop state-level regulations.

While some service providers, including WWASPS, have publicly supported moderate state-based regulation, the industry group National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs has contended that bureaucratic monitoring could hinder innovation, and that the government should defer to the industry's own internally developed guidelines.

But Robert Friedman, chair of the Department of Child and Family Studies at the University of South Florida, warned that given the evidence of mistreatment, "there's a danger that if left to self-regulate? there may be the illusion that there's adequate accountability. And that, in some cases, could be worse than at least not having any illusion."

Nonetheless, youth advocates say legal restraints will accomplish little unless the government strengthens and expands the youth behavioral health system.

Mental health experts note that the parents who enroll children in private facilities typically lack insurance coverage for complex therapies. Meanwhile, openings in local mental health programs are so limited that thousands of families struggling to address their children's problems have felt forced to turn them over to the child-welfare or juvenile-justice systems so the state can provide appropriate treatment.

Amid these resource gaps, Friedman said, the growth of the residential treatment industry indicates the need to "develop services and supports close to home, so that families can get the help that they need."

Last year, research by the National Institutes of Health found that while coercive, fear-inducing treatment programs have not proven effective and could aggravate delinquent behavior, more holistic, family-centered approaches have demonstrated positive results in at-risk youth. One federal legislative proposal, the Keeping Families Together Act, would lift restrictions on a special Medicaid waiver to help families use public funds to access community-based treatment.

But enhancing treatment options is only part of the picture, according to Shelby Earnshaw, who underwent a behavior modification program as a teen and now directs the advocacy association International Survivors Action Committee. What fuels the private treatment industry, she argued, is a societal willingness to stigmatize youth with behavioral problems.

Parents who are desperate to "correct" their children, she said, tend to believe that a misbehaving teen is "not worthy of being treated as well? as a kid who didn't do drugs [or] who didn't get involved in crime. I have a big problem with that. Those kids need more help. They need to be treated better."
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