Author Topic: My experiences at a boys home (Anchor Academy)  (Read 4777 times)

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Offline JordanH

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My experiences at a boys home (Anchor Academy)
« on: August 12, 2010, 02:55:58 PM »
Hello, my name is Jordan Harrell. After reading a lot of the posts on this forum (both about the Anchor Academy and other homes) i decided i would try and share my experiences and what did/has happened and what is happening to me today because of it. I wanna start off to say that i was never a perfect teen. As nobody ever is. I never did drugs, never drank, never experimented with weird things or got into obsessive amounts of trouble. With that being said, here is what i learned.

I was at the Anchor Academy from January of 2003 to June of 2005 when i graduated high school. I will touch on that first and for most. While you do get to accelerate at school if you so choose, there has been one hamper on my life from their school. They use the ACE packets, and as such, they ARE NOT accredited. Some people may not realize what this means, but to me, it means a great deal. I found out after graduation that when i try to apply to A LOT of schools, they require that i have a state accredited diploma. So, because i do not have one of those, i had to get a GED. Not a massive deal, but not one of the more pleasant experiences. A lot of years of high school that didn't really amount to much in the end. I am not saying im some kind of genius, not saying anything like that...just stating the facts from my point of view anyways.

Upon arriving at the Anchor, i had every personal belonging i had ever owned stripped from me. They took my wallet, my pictures, my friends phone numbers, everything. Literally. Not a big deal, but then as a 15 year old kid it seemed a big deal at the time. I was given a hair cut (which i must say was needed) and set up with a guide. Let me get right down to the good stuff. The Anchor had multiple levels of "leadership" and "communication" levels. I will start with leadership.
 
1. Leadership: The basics of leadership at the anchor were pretty straight forward, its a tier based system, the higher your "rank" the more privileges/responsibilities/"power" you were given. When you first arrive there, you are placed under someone called a "guide" and you are his "student". As a student, here are the basics of your rules to follow as far as the "guide" is concerned. You MUST stay withing 5 feet of your guide at all times, this is a 24/7 policy. If you go outside of the 5 foot radius, you can be given "complaints" (a point system for keeping track of the bad things you do, the more complaints you get, the more trouble you are in.) If he doesn't like what you are saying, your guide is allowed to put you on silence whenever he sees fit. While on silence you are not allowed to talk without raising your hand. If you do, you get more complaints. You MUST follow whatever instructions your guide tells you to. For example. One of my first guides i ever had once told me to go stand over by my bunk. Just so happens, my bunk was more than 5 feet away from him. Upon arriving at my bunk, my guide told me that i was more than 5 feet from him, so i got complaints for it. When i asked why i was getting complaints for doing what i was told, he gave me more complaints for talking without raising my hand (i had been put on silence). After that, he told me to bend over and put my nose on the bunk. In this position, you must keep your legs straight, and bend over to put your nose on something. Try it with a table for instance. After standing in that position for long enough, it will bring tears to even the strongest of people. After getting off orientation (students, which could take anywhere from 3+ months, 3 months was usually the minimum) you were promoted to what was called a "single". As a single, you were put into a crew (will explain a few) and given free roam of the area within certain limitations (which there were plenty of). If you did well as a single, you were promoted to a guide. I wont go further into that since i have already explained. If you continued to do well ( and were an admitted christian might i add...i will go into more of that later too) you were promoted "maybe" to a crew leader. A crew leader had the same basic function as a guide, except he was in charge of 5-8 singles, guides, and students. He had the same authority over every member of his crew, and also every persons in the anchor who were a lower rank than him. He could put a guides nose on something if he so choose, give out complaints as he saw fit (didn't need to be justified, nobody every justified most the complaints). So you can think of him as a "guide" for 5-8 students. I am skipping a lot of the deeper detail, i can go into that later if anyone requests it. There were usually 5-8 crew leaders or more at any give time. Alot of people to watch out for...just on that tier alone. Next you had a dorm leader. Dorm leaders were in charge of the entire dorm, usually 50+ students. They had all the power that crew leaders have, only they had it over crew leaders as well. Pretty self explanatory. After that came the staff, doesn't need much explanation on that one.

2. Communication Levels: There were a total of 6 communication levels. I will start from the bottom. If you did something really bad, you were placed on "super separation". While on super separation, you were not allowed to talk to ANYONE but your crew leader, the dorm leader, and staff. If you did, you got complaints. If you LOOKED (yes i mean looked, like with your eyes) at anyone other than those people, you were given complaints. Alot of complaints too might i add. Do you have any idea how hard it is to not LOOK at someone? I mean you cant even acknowledge their existence.  If they talked, you cant respond, if they told a joke, you cant laugh, nothing, without getting complaints. Next in line was "separation". Same basic principles as super separation, only you could talk to all crew leaders, instead of your own. After separation came orientation student. Same basic principle as separation, except you could talk to any "number 1's" that you wanted to, and your guide, regardless of his communication level. Anyone else that you looked at or talked to, you got complaints. Oh and by the way, if you talked to someone you weren't allowed to, you got swats. With a paddle. They had two wooden paddles. One was smaller named smiley, the other was significantly larger named Proverbs. By the way, this goes without saying i would think, but when kids were getting swats with those, you could hear them all the way on the other side of the dorm. After orientation student came a single. Pretty much the same communication levels as a student, just didnt have to follow someone around all the time. After that was a "number 2". They were allowed to talk to everyone who was a level 2 and above. So if you were a level 2, you could talk to all level 2's and all level 1's. If you talked to or looked at anyone not of those ranks, you had the same punishment as the lower ranks. And last was a "number 1". They were allowed to talk to everyone, with the exception of separation/super separation, unless they were a crew leader.

Now, for the punishment section of this page. Please understand, that while i did not have most of these things done to me, i was around it more times than i would have ever have liked, and i was sometimes put in charge of seeing these punishments executed. The one everyone remembers most is probably peanut butter sandwiches and water. If you did something wrong, as far as school or whatever a staff felt was appropriate, they put you on peanut butter. That was nothing but a peanut butter sandwich (TERRIBLE might i add, you had to choke it down, it was not jiffy peanut butter) and water. You could be put on that for as long as the staff so desired. Which could be months. I can name people, names i will remember forever, who were on peanut butter sandwiches for months. I remember one boy was on it for 6 months straight. He started gagging whenever he tried to eat, so whatever he didn't eat ( he was required to eat 2 each meal) they put them in a plastic bag which he carried around until he ate them all. I can remember him having 15+ sandwiches in that bag. It was disgusting to see. Red shirt was another one that everyone feared. For good reason too. I remember one boy who was on redshirt for over 2 months. You only get 1 red shirt, and 1 pair of pants, which you have to wear all day and all night, every night. They get washed once a week, if i remember right. You did pt (physical training) around the clock. You slept for about 3 hours a night. This is where a part of me goes out to every boy who was ever on this. You usually got put on this for running away, although i remember one boy got put on it for cheating in school and just being a little bit more rebellious than they liked. They tied your feat together with rope, and made you carry a broom over your head everywhere you went. You had to hop around. You stood at the end of your bed with your nose up against your bed while everyone else slept, you ran laps a lot, we are talking like 10 miles a day of laps. They made you dig holes with a spoon, while standing up. You had to bend over and dig the hole while keeping a straight leg. I remember that while one boy on redshirt was doing this, the staff members fed his peanut butter sandwiches to the dog in front of his face, so he didn't get to eat that meal. They would make you dig those holes with spoons, fill them back up with your spoon, and then dig a new a hole, over and over. I remember one boy ran away once ( granted he stole a car to get away...makes you wonder why he wanted to get away so bad) and when they caught him, they tied a rope around his waist, and dragged him around like a dog for...what...2 months? There are alot of things i could say about punishments, but i would keep you reading for hours. If you want to know more, please by all means, let me know. I wonder if anyone who reads this from the anchor remembers the foxy five, or "brother willy's" weekend duty. Or his morning PT. I would love to see that.

The work ethic was valuable. I will say that. They taught you how to work. Granted, in today's world it would be considered slave labor, considering you never got payed for it, even though they often did. Have you picked rocks out of a field for 12+ hours in the blistering heat with people riding you about getting it done faster. There were very few breaks, and very little compassion, and zero money. In the 2.5 years i was there, i never saw a dime. Even though generally you worked for at least 4 hours a day, except, wednesday and Sunday (cause of church). I had to dig trenches, tear down buildings, lay piping, build cabinets, mow lawns, sand blast, and every sort of general cleaning you can think of. I am not saying the work experience wasn't valuable, but you never saw a reward for your effort outside of calloused hands and a sense of accomplishment.

The food, so long as you were not on peanut butter, was very good. They certainly did a good job with food. They kept your bellies full, with a wide variety of courses. The lady staff members did a wonderful job cooking.

There were no fences, there were no guards, you were free to run. Only you were 35 miles from the closest town. And if they caught you, which they ALWAYS did, you got put on redshirt. If you didnt die to the elements in the process.

To touch on now a days, the anchor certainly holds a spot in my memory, it always will. Still to this day i have nightmares about going back there, about the things i went through, and the things i saw others go through. I was rarely in alot of trouble there, i tried to steer clear of it, but i was often around others getting into it. I saw things that would make parents cry. Still to this day i feel terribly guilty about not trying to do more. I have this feeling like i should be trying to help those kids, be trying to get them out of there, but i dont know what to do. I could talk for hours about the struggles young men go through while there. Even while writing this there is a pain in my heart that goes out to all those kids who are sent there. Im not saying some of those young men don't need someone to take them by the hand and lead them in the right direction, but i dont think that this boys home goes about it in the right way.  Interesting enough, some people will read this and try to say that i am lying, try to say that i dont know what i am talking about. I dare someone to say that to my nightmares, tell it to the hundreds of boys who have gone through there and now have some sort of anxiety problems. "tough love" is only effective when the person its being done to, knows it is out of love, not when they are so terrified to do anything different they conform out of fear.

And on a last note, religious beliefs set aside, the Anchor Academy for Boys DOES force their religion and their beliefs on you. If you do not believe like them, then you will never gain rank, you will never be treated with respect. The staff there only want you to believe as they do. There is no such thing as a Mormon or Catholic there. If you get caught thinking like that, or trying to follow another religion, or trying to speak about what you believe, the punishments are severe. As bad as what i have listed above. Please, for your children, do not force religion down their throat. From personal experience, it will only make things much worse.

Well, i will end it there, i could keep writing for days, very literally, and fill up pages and pages of information, but most people dont want to read it. This is my attempt to tell the world about what happened to me and what i saw. Take it as you will, there it is. Thank you for reading. Sorry for any typo's, i got kinda emotional writing some of this. The pain is still very real, even 5 years after the fact.

Jordan
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Pile of Dead Kids

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Re: My experiences at a boys home (Anchor Academy)
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2010, 03:41:06 PM »
Quote
I have this feeling like i should be trying to help those kids, be trying to get them out of there, but i dont know what to do.

Moderately cheap, easy, and legal: Take a high-powered megaphone and inform the kids that what they are going through is, in fact, abuse, at 120dB. Tell the whole place whatever you want.

FYI: They moved.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
...Sergey Blashchishen, James Shirey, Faith Finley, Katherine Rice, Ashlie Bunch, Brendan Blum, Caleb Jensen, Alex Cullinane, Rocco Magliozzi, Elisa Santry, Dillon Peak, Natalynndria Slim, Lenny Ortega, Angellika Arndt, Joey Aletriz, Martin Anderson, James White, Christening Garcia, Kasey Warner, Shirley Arciszewski, Linda Harris, Travis Parker, Omega Leach, Denis Maltez, Kevin Christie, Karlye Newman, Richard DeMaar, Alexis Richie, Shanice Nibbs, Levi Snyder, Natasha Newman, Gracie James, Michael Owens, Carlton Thomas, Taylor Mangham, Carnez Boone, Benjamin Lolley, Jessica Bradford's unnamed baby, Anthony Parker, Dysheka Streeter, Corey Foster, Joseph Winters, Bruce Staeger, Kenneth Barkley, Khalil Todd, Alec Lansing, Cristian Cuellar-Gonzales, Janaia Barnhart, a DRA victim who never even showed up in the news, and yet another unnamed girl at Summit School...

Offline JordanH

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Re: My experiences at a boys home (Anchor Academy)
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2010, 04:48:41 PM »
Quote from: "Pile of Dead Kids"
Quote
I have this feeling like i should be trying to help those kids, be trying to get them out of there, but i dont know what to do.

Moderately cheap, easy, and legal: Take a high-powered megaphone and inform the kids that what they are going through is, in fact, abuse, at 120dB. Tell the whole place whatever you want.

FYI: They moved.

Ya, i am aware that they moved. My time there was just coming to an end when they began wanting to talk about moving to MO. Thats not a bad idea, the problem is that i no longer live near them. And i have a family now, children and a wife, i am no longer able to just pick up and leave. I was thinking about getting in touch with some of the kids i remember and seeing if we couldnt do something legal about it. But i am not sure how well anything will happen. I dont want money, i dont want to sue or anything like that, i just want the knowladge that no other kids are going to have to go through what i did.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Oscar

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Re: My experiences at a boys home (Anchor Academy)
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2010, 05:15:46 PM »
We have found that facebook / myspace groups for former detainees as you properly felt like are helping. The problem with these places are that you have to have lived in one to understand how massive the emotional abuse is.

The boys properly came from all over the states and once they left they were alone. The Internet knows no borders and if they won't negative publicity on the two big networks, the possibility exist to place a homepage abroad and settle with referrals on the community networks.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline JordanH

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Re: My experiences at a boys home (Anchor Academy)
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2010, 05:45:28 PM »
Quote from: "Oscar"
We have found that facebook / myspace groups for former detainees as you properly felt like are helping. The problem with these places are that you have to have lived in one to understand how massive the emotional abuse is.

The boys properly came from all over the states and once they left they were alone. The Internet knows no borders and if they won't negative publicity on the two big networks, the possibility exist to place a homepage abroad and settle with referrals on the community networks.


i have thought about starting a facebook page for former students. I thought maybe it would help to talk to others who had been there. See if there isn't anything we can do. As you can see i spent my fair share of time there, and know plenty about the program. Im curious if a page on facebook explaining a little bit about the program with statements from former students would change parents minds. I dont know...something to think about none the less.
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Offline Oscar

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Re: My experiences at a boys home (Anchor Academy)
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2010, 05:57:24 PM »
The groups themselves withtheirs debates can do little like talking here will do little about the parents decision process because they will not seek dialogue. Here on Fornits some posters will sadly offend them and scare them off.

However, we have found that the wiki database is an important tool. Whenever a question arise about the specific facility on a webpage our seach engines find it and then we answer polite mentioning that the parents should see what former students say and use the wiki datasheet as reference.

Because the parents want the best for their children and they are entitled based on the number of kids who have died in programs to be scared and worried they will read the contents of the groups. Then it is only a question about writing about the abuse in a downplayed tone, so they are not scared away.

I guess that references to various datasheets on the wiki are now numbered in thousands. There must be articles and threads on message boards beside this one where a reference to the wiki can be inserted.
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Offline JordanH

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Re: My experiences at a boys home (Anchor Academy)
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2010, 06:28:00 PM »
Sounds like a pretty good idea to me. I am surprised to find so little on the internet about Anchor Academy. They have been around for over 10 years, and have certainly seen a fair share of boys come and go. And i know for a fact that they have had plenty of trouble with states not liking them as well.
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Offline Oscar

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Re: My experiences at a boys home (Anchor Academy)
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2010, 03:22:31 AM »
I will set up daily google alerts about their facility and see if I can catch something. If you use google maps combined with Google Street view on Vanduser, Missouri, you can actually see the boys working on the lawn in front of the facility.

--update--
KD came back with an update of the Wiki just before.

Here is a resume of his findings.

The program started out in Texas and they were involved in some dispute about a property. There were also health regulation violations. It was around the time of tougher regulation in Texas so there could be more to this story.

They moved to Montana in 2001. After a short while the police had to go out there and take a boy who ran around with a knife.

In 2004 a staff member was charged with sexual assault. On Topix the reason for their move to Missouri is that Montana started to ask for a small fee so they could cover the costs of rubber stamping approval of residential facilities. Is there more to this story?

We could really use some sources so we can find addictional information.
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Offline JordanH

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Re: My experiences at a boys home (Anchor Academy)
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2010, 12:13:35 PM »
Quote from: "Oscar"
I will set up daily google alerts about their facility and see if I can catch something. If you use google maps combined with Google Street view on Vanduser, Missouri, you can actually see the boys working on the lawn in front of the facility.

--update--
KD came back with an update of the Wiki just before.

Here is a resume of his findings.

The program started out in Texas and they were involved in some dispute about a property. There were also health regulation violations. It was around the time of tougher regulation in Texas so there could be more to this story.

They moved to Montana in 2001. After a short while the police had to go out there and take a boy who ran around with a knife.

In 2004 a staff member was charged with sexual assault. On Topix the reason for their move to Missouri is that Montana started to ask for a small fee so they could cover the costs of rubber stamping approval of residential facilities. Is there more to this story?

We could really use some sources so we can find addictional information.

Ya i can add some information to that. The sexual assault case was done by the staff member Justin Davis Peterson (pretty sure i remember the name correctly). The boys name was Timothy (one of the boys) and i will leave out the rest cause i guess its not really my place to say. I was there when this all happened. Woke up one morning and he was gone.  As far as Missouri goes, when i was there they were talking about running a cotton gin for some people who owned one. Word has it that they were actually going to be giving the boys who worked there money, although i left and never heard anything further. The reason they gave everyone that they were moving is because the heating bills in MT were growing out of control, and they just couldn't keep it going anymore. In my opinion, that's a load of bull, but i have no proof. Last i heard, upon moving to MO, they tripled or quadrupled their staffs salary. No doubt because of the above mentioned cotton gin and its increase to their income. As far as Texas goes, the state stepped in and booted them out if i remember right. They state was going to close them down, so they left before it could happen.

Also, this is their new website. Its pretty vague. And judging from what i remember of the staff, they are fairly computer illiterate. http://www.anchoracademymo.org/

Another website to possibly check out is:
 http://www.topix.com/forum/city/vanduse ... 8LBLS6D3RO
also
http://www.kfvs12.com/Global/story.asp? ... v=menu51_2
and
http://www.heal-online.org/anchor.htm
and lastly
http://www.havredailynews.com/articles/ ... anchor.txt

Anchor Academy IS a Roloff home. Its not just a spin off, it was actually opened originally back in...i think the 70's if i remember right, maybe even earlier. Texas shut it down for child abuse among many other allegations. Dennis McElwrath is the superintendent and Trevor Spencer is the co-founder / pastor.


*Edit*
I found these as well. These are involving the sexual assault case.
http://www.havredailynews.com/cms/news/ ... 16878.html
http://www.havredailynews.com/cms/news/ ... 16863.html
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Offline renad1997

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Re: My experiences at a boys home (Anchor Academy)
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2010, 11:08:12 PM »
My son was at Anchor a couple of years ago.  I agree with yall, something definitely needs to be done.  Here is a post that I put on another page.  This is how I feel and a little bit about our story:

The people that have never had any dealings with Anchor really don't know what goes on there.  We sent our son there 2 years ago.  When we went to check out the program, we felt like it was a great place.  The boys seemed well mannered.  We were told what we wanted to hear.  We thought it would be great place for our son because he had problems with defiance.  He wasn't a REBEL but he was an ADHD child that needed some direction.  We are a Christian family and our children have been brought up in a Christian home and church.  We took money out of my husbands retirement to send him there.  This was the biggest mistake of our lives.  There IS abuse there.  I don't care what a child has done, YOU DO NOT TIE THEM UP!!!!! There are other options!!!!  We were told there would be counseling in which there was not.  For breakfast they ate Raw oats and milk.  For 3 1/2 months of the 4 months that my child was there he had Mostly Peanut butter and water for meals.  We paid them thousands of dollars and my child ate raw oats and peanut butter sandwiches.  These are children not criminals.  Number one, you do not allow children to totally be over another child.  They are Children.  My son could not speak, address or even look at the other kids for four months.  In prison, at least you can carry on a conversation with people.  They allow the guides and leaders; in which are children;to be responsible for the discipline of the other children.  The adults allow the guides and leaders man handle the kids that are under them. They give way too much control to the kids that have learned how to play the system. MY son was pulled off the commode while having a bowel movement because he took more that 3 minutes.  So again we gave them thousands of dollars to allow other children to do their job.   There are way too many kids and not near enough staff.  If you have a kid with adhd then you know how easily distracted they can be. This does not make him a REBEL.  So naturally his complaints piled up especially when the complaints were given to him by the kids the were "IN CHARGE". The exercise was way to intense.  They made them exercise around the clock.  They wouldn't allow them to drink enough water during the exercises.  Im a nurse and from what I have been taught, Peanut butter sandwiches and water, raw oats and milk is NOT enough food for that amount of exercise.  When my son came home he did not have an ounce of fat on him.  In fact he was malnourished.  Im sorry; That is ABUSE.  There are plenty of programs out there that can get across to these kids.  The Punishment should fit the crime.  And it doesn't there.  In fact when we went for our visit and we asked for a meeting with BRo. Dennis because we thought there was a problem maybe with his guide, we were told that were undermining his authority and he didn't know if he wanted our son to stay because of it.  During our meeting Bro Dennis blasted me because I was asking all the questions.  I was told our child was just a REBEL.  My child is not a REBEL!!  In fact to this day my child still has nightmares about that place.  In fact, He would cry if you even discussed Anchor with him. They did teach the Bible but in my opinion they hide behind the Bible. They also make these kids work long hours at the cotton mill and are not paid for it.  Sounds like a  child labor issue to me.   If my child is such a rebel why is he done with high school and in college at 16 years old.  No thanks to Anchor.  If you went to Anchor and had a good experience; thats great.  Not everyone did!!  You cant let children have that much control over other children.  By the way we pulled our son 4 months into the program.  Praise God, we got him out of there.  Yes my son had problems, but no one deserves to be treated like that.  Like I said the punishment should fit the crime.  No matter what a kid does, you don't tie them up, You don't pull someone off the commode while trying to use the restroom,  You don't allow other kids to control there every move.  You don't allow kids to manhandle other kids because you cant.  They even made my son do so much exercise It caused a testicular hernia.  You also should make sure these kids are getting enough food to justify the exercise.  By the way Bro Dennis did verify all of things were told to be correct.  Funny how he didn't tell us everything when he first met him.  We were told they had no connection to Roloff homes in TX.  If this is true why did they go to Corpus Christi for Founders day while my son was there.  My son is at Youth Challenge Academy now.  He make platoon leader and squad leader right off.  He has not gotten the first citation against him the entire time he has been there.  No we didn't send him there because he was defiant or a REBEL.  He wen't to finish high school and start college early.   The staff loves him.  They have nothing but great things to say about him.  There are children there that are defiant and rebellous.  If they can get to these kids without the extremes that Anchor uses, Anchor could do the same.  I don't see ycp tying kids up.   They get plenty to eat.  They receive real counseling every day.  They make sure they have plenty of water.  The kids aren't touched by staff or other children.  There is an adult with them at all times.  The do exercise but in moderation.  The punishment fits the crime.  By the way, when we withdrew our son for Anchor they refused to refund us any of the thousands of dollars that we paid up front.  Sounds real Christian-like to me.  So if any of you are thinking about sending you child here.  Please be VERY vigilant.  Do your research and go with your gut feeling.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »