Treatment Abuse, Behavior Modification, Thought Reform > CEDU / Brown Schools and derivatives / clones

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That's so good, I'm lifting it!
Locate the blind spot in the culture--the place where the culture isn't looking, because it dare not--because if it were to look there, its previous values would dissolve.
Terence McKenna
--- End quote ---

Right On Ginger,

For the benifit of othere - here's a look

Voices from the GULAG
At the moment of Nicholaus? death, staff threw a bucket of water on him? They told him "It?s all in your head." When he didn?t respond, they took a closer look. He was dead.

In trauma-inducing captivity situations, writes reviewer Laura J. Cohen in describing Judith Lewis Herman?s 1992 book Trauma and Recovery, fear is produced "by inconsistent and unpredictable outbursts of violence and by capricious enforcement of petty rules." Captors work to eliminate victims? sense of autonomy by close scrutiny and tight control over their body and bodily functions. What is eaten and when it is eaten, what clothing is worn, timing of sleep and toiletting, all activities of daily living are out of the victim?s control in traumatic captivity. Even when the victim?s basic physical needs are adequately met, this assault on bodily autonomy shames and demoralizes.

Herman states that complete domination over a victim is aided by enforced isolation from the outside world. Captors strictly limit communication with people other than themselves. Solitary confinement, interception of letters or telephone calls, control of access to the media, cause isolation of the victim. Isolation is further increased by depriving the victim of objects of personal importance that symbolize attachment to significant others.

It is perhaps easy to see how this recipe for trauma is applicable to those in political captivity, says Cohen, the hostages, political prisoners, and concentration camp survivors to whom Herman refers. In these situations a primary purpose is to inflict such psychological harm in order to "break" the captive.

Herman also shows how the same methods are applied to women and children in the domestic captivity of family violence. The terror of living with the threat of unpredictable violence, writes Cohen, the loss of a sense of self, enforced isolation, are easily seen as elements of psychological traumatic abuse.

It is also possible to apply Herman?s model to another form of captivity, says Cohen, and she explains how Herman?s recipe for trauma fits another type of incarceration, a stay in a locked psychiatric unit... (or a behavior modification program.)

To understand the impact of this type of psychological trauma and abuse on children in lock-up boarding "schools" or harsh boot camps, it is necessary to view it in terms of the individual children it abuses. The stories that follow convey some of the tragic voices from the gulag. Some of the children I learned about from organizations, state agencies, and news reports. Other stories came to me from readers of a draft version of this book when it was first published on the Internet.

My hope is that readers will be motivated by these stories to demand state and federal reforms guaranteeing the rights of teenagers and establishing reliable public oversight of "behavior modification" facilities for children.

1. How to Drive a Kid Crazy.

Writes one 14-year-old about his stay in a mental rehab facility:

"If you do what they want, you are manipulating. If you don't, then you are defiant. If you walk around the ward, then you are pacing, if you sit down, then you are withdrawn. If you say you're sick, then you're trying to get attention. If you say you're not sick, then you are in denial. If you do your schoolwork right then you are a perfectionist who is obsessive about details. If you make mistakes, then you are sloppy and obviously don't care about education. And you know what? My doctor says this hospital is good for me because it's consistent."

2. Standing Torture

"I had to stand facing a wall for three days, except for going to the bathroom, because I had dust on my chair. My muscles killed me for three weeks. But if you fall down, you'll be shot up with Thorazine or put in seclusion for being defiant. So you stand there, and you have nothing to do but think. I'd pretend I was riding through LA on a bus, and reciting streets in my head, or play chess in my head, or count backwards from 2,000 by sevens. Otherwise you'd go berserk.

Everyone got punished for one person's offenses. [Once] we had to scrub the gym floor with a toothbrush 12-hours a day for three weeks because one girl wanted to run away."

Lyn Duff, whose account was published in Sassy magazine (June 1994), was committed by her parents to a private, for-profit mental hospital. She was sent there after her mother read her diary and found a love poem to another girl.

3. Torture in Restraints

" was put in restraints a lot during my first few weeks at the hospital," writes another teen.

"Every time a staff person told me to do something," he says, "I wouldn't do it. I was so mad about being there that I just said 'no way' to every order. When you don't do as they say, then you get a time out. And then you get put in SR (Seclusion Room) in restraints. It depends on what insurance you got and what the regulations are.

"Restraints are like a belt that goes around your waist and then there are these leather and plastic loops and they attach the handcuffs to the belt. So your arms are behind your back the whole time and you get sore!

"That's during the day. At night it's worse. They put you in five point, which is the loop and leather belt around your hands to attach them to the bed. And the same with your legs and they are spread apart. Then there is a leather belt from around the waist too.

"You stay in restraints for five days, but only in five point at nights unless you try to run or something. If you get them on a Tuesday and you are supposed to get [them] off on Saturday, it doesn't matter because the doctor isn't in and you have to wait for Monday when they come back to work. Unless, of course, Monday could be a holiday."

(This boy?s report was published in 24-7, Notes from the Inside. It is written by kids who have been sent to mental health facilities. The small magazine is funded by the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights.)

4. "Satisfaction Guaranteed"

Four months before MK's death of a blood clot in her lungs, inspectors in Iowa cited numerous violations at "The Academy" a residential program for 162 troubled teenagers.

Violations at The Academy, noted the inspectors, included aggressive restraints. Most restraints,  began with a minor incident, like a child's not putting on a coat. Many ended in injuries to the children, including broken blood vessels, black eyes, and bloody noses. Oklahoma inspectors visiting a resident from their state reported a 2 ½-hour restraint in which five male staff members held down a female resident, one lying across her hips.

In filing a report on M's death, state investigators concluded that "she was made to suffer greater distress than was reasonably necessary." She had been placed at the facility by the state because she was deemed to be "a child in need of assistance."

5. The Inspector Wept

At sites in Bear and Middleton, Delaware and Mount Dora, Florida, KM is caretaker for 130 disturbed children from 24 states. In l992, a team of inspectors sent from New York to his facility in Delaware, told of such deplorable conditions and maltreatment of children that, a year and a half later, city and state officials removed all the New York wards. M. denied most allegations that were made against the school by former staff members, and many parents came to the school's defense.

Nonetheless, staff, when questioned, admitted that they themselves had at times left severely self-abusive or aggressive children in physical restraints for hours, without following safety precautions, because they had too many children in their care.

Reported the New York city inspection team, "One deaf boy, weeping silently, had lain there for hours in an immobilizing wrap mat restraint that had cut off his circulation.

"I cried all the way back on Amtrak," one of the two child welfare officials told a New York Times reporter. "I told my boss, if it's the last thing I do, I'm shutting down their contract."

Eighteen months later, one month before the remaining New York children were removed, an evaluation written by the New York City agency stated that the facility "has enabled C.W.A. (Child Welfare Agency) children to improve." They called the living conditions "satisfactory."

The city agency?s report completely ignored the fact that the State was getting ready to remove all of the children it had placed in the facility. The report noted that the facility used "personal mechanical restraints" that were prohibited by city foster care standards and added that a future visit would check that these measures were not being used on its wards. An agency representative noted that neither the state nor the city had the resources to monitor their care.

"Our main concern was getting New York State kids out," said a member of the state investigation team. "We felt sorry for those who would be left behind."

There are no truth in advertising requirements for lock-up child care facilities.

6. Siberia in Florida

The movie "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" is based on a novel of the same name, set in a remote Siberian prison camp. The novel was written by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn who is also the author of Gulag Archipelago, a three-volume collection of true stories from the vast Soviet prison system. One of the most painful scenes in the movie takes place in a freezing chamber where a political prisoner who has annoyed a camp guard is so cold that his body is constantly wracked by helpless shivering.

Far from Siberia, in Broward County, Florida, a state investigator found at a facility under investigation, "two small rooms across the hall from each other that were called Ice Rooms." The investigator explained: "Each room had a small window and a drain in the floor that was used as a urinal. Children were locked up in the Ice Room for up to ten days at a time."

The facility destroyed children?s lives, she said. In this case, the state of Florida closed it down.

7. Calling "Dr Rush"

Confinement in a small, dark room, is standard operating procedure at many behavior-changing facilities. Restraints are commonplace. It's easy for staff to suggest that confinement or restraint was the only safe way they could control an unruly child. Brookhaven and other psychiatric hospitals operated by National Medical Enterprises, (now renamed), have been the target of several successful class action lawsuits. Some of their patients had their arms or legs strapped down for months at a time. Some were forced to sit motionless and silent for 12-hour stretches. And a medieval-looking device called a "body net" was used to completely restrain others.

When Kelly Stafford entered Brookhaven Psychiatric Pavillion, a two-story building with small windows, she was expecting to get "a brief respite from troubled family relationships." But once the doors closed, Ms. Stafford said, she remained inside for 309 days, many of them behind blackened windows in cruel darkness.

At Bookhaven, another patient, Sherry Sylvester recalls that when she entered the hospital as a 16-year-old, she noticed at a large number of patients spent their days in wheelchairs It took her several day to realize that the patients were not paralyzed, but instead were tied down.

She had entered Brookhaven for treatment of a possible chemical imbalance, and her stay stretched to 422 days. During the days, there were frequent calls for "Dr. Rush! Dr. Rush!" over the hospital loudspeaker. The pages, it turned out were not a call for a particular doctor, but were an alert for hospital personnel to converge and restrain a patient.

She vividly remembers the day Dr. Rush "visited" her. Still new to the hospital, she had refused a nurse's order to leave a room so a group therapy session could be held. The call for Dr. Rush went out over the intercom.

"All these loonies are freaking out and I'm thinking 'God, what the hell is going on. I've got to get out of here.' I was still sitting on the bed when six big guys run in and tackle me."

Sherry was given an injection of thorazine and her hands and legs were tied to her bed with leather restraints. "They stole my innocence that day," says Ms. Sylvester. "If I had been raped, I could attempt the healing process. But my attackers were to remain my jailers for the next 14 months."

8. Life As a Zombie

Because of her experience in lock-up, Rosebud Abigail Denovo became an activist and homeless youth. Shortly before her death, she wrote about her stay at CR. "I was committed at the age of 14 by my parents. I spent nine months there. I was not there because of any real illness; I was there because (basically) I did not get along with my parents and other authority figures.

"Isolation, which was supposed to be used when a person was an immediate danger to self or others, was used regularly as a punishment for refusing to follow staff orders. I was placed in isolation several times."

"Restraints and drugs were used similarly, although Rosebud herself was never drugged. Two years later she had two other experiences with mental hospitals which were worse.

"Many people who were committed to these institutions became almost like zombies, with their entire personalities changed," said Rosebud. "Others became suicidal. Those who emerged relatively psychologically normal were usually able to withstand the mental abuse by uniting with other teenagers there. Fortunately, I was strong enough to remain myself, but these experiences had a lasting, damaging effect on me."

(Rosebud Abigal Denovo?s report was carried by 24-7. The magazine noted that she was shot to death by the Berkeley police on August 25, l992.)

9. A Feeder System for Prisons

The following -- sent to me by email -- is the account of one facility by a professional who calls herself a "veteran of the "bad kids wars." She reflects on the past and future of lock-up facilities for changing young people:

Twenty years ago, I went on tour of a facility in Poland Springs, Maine. Once a chain of six, the business is down to one campus now but there are multiple like it all over the country.

I went on a tour of the facility with a juvenile and his Mother. The young man had several pending criminal charges. All relatively minor. In another state he would have been slapped on the hand and sent home. In our state he was facing incarceration and his parents, relatively affluent, were looking for an alternative.

We were taken on our tour by a resident, ?Chad,? who was 17 and had been in ?school? for two years. He introduced us to ?Karen? who had cheeks smeared with rouge, heavy eye make up and a billboard sign across her front and back that said: ?I am a whore. I whore around for attention. I do this because I hate myself. I hate myself because I am a whore.?

I do not recall the precise explanation for this or how the "treatment" was to have helped Karen. I suspect my horror outranks my memory.... but she was the first of many as we watched the student drill sergeants up close and personal in the faces of other misbehaving "students" shrieking at the tops of their lungs: "YOU are filth. Your are nothing but filth. You are slime. You keep behaving this way and you will DIE!!!"

The students spoke glowingly of their mentor "Tom" a former addict and street kid who was co-founder of the "school." This school was deep in the Maine woods and escaping students were returned by force with all activities at the school stopped and everyone joining in the hunt until the escapee was cornered and returned.

The young man with us who was being interviewed was driving back to town with his case manager, my subordinate, Lisa. He was saying to her: ?My Mother would never send me to a place like that.?

Mother was in [a different] car with me, saying: ?I think that's the ticket.?

Luckily for this young man, Dad was slightly less taken withthe facility than Mom and the young man went instead to a mountaintop boarding school in another state more focused on growth and education.

Others were not so fortunate.

Traditionally, these schools have received their clients/patients/students from state social service and corrections systems as well as local school districts. With health insurance plans and healthy bank accounts, the post war generation is often able to finance these "alternatives" without the help of the state. Thus they are growing.

The facility still exists. Thankfully much smaller.

What is tragic is that the owner is one of many owners of such private schools across this country. They are not new and they do not strictly cater to the badly behaved children of wealthy boomers. The boomers... now in their forties and early fifties, represent just the newest market for those who would exploit our children and perhaps that is a good thing. Perhaps now that children with resources, family and otherwise, are being harmed in this way we will take a look at places that have existed for a very long time but have far more often been paid for with taxpayers dollars to ?care for? and ?cure? and ?modify? the bad kids among us.

Over the years there have been periodic hiccups as social workers and administrators with consciences rebelled and brought their students home. But when children are voluntarily "placed" in these schools by families who can pay in a culture where finding someone else to fix our kids is a habit, they stand to be a growth industry that will act as a feeder channel to the even bigger growth industry of prisons and jails.

                    These ?schools? are a national disgrace."

Boot Camps

10. A Bucket of Vomit.

If teens escape the hell of a high security mental rehab institution, or the hell-fire of a religious behavior-changing boarding school or cult-like "emotional growth" facility, they might end up being sent by their parents to a boot camp, where physical exercise is used to punish a child.

Recently, there have been several high-profile cases of death of children at boot camps. When one teenage girl, Michelle Sutton died of dehydration, her mother Cathy Sutton set up a memorial fund for her daughter and has devoted her life to educating legislators and parents about the dangers of camps that abuse teens.

FOR SEVERAL WEEKS before he died on March 2, 1998, Nicholaus Contreraz, age 16, was suffering from diarrhea and continuous vomiting. For days before his death, he was then made to carry around a trash can containing his vomit and the clothes he had defecated in.

Hours before he died, he was required to stretch out in a "hold" position with his feet on a desk and his face over a bucket of his own vomit.

Moments before he died, he was put into a wheelbarrow and required to make the sounds of an "ambulance." He was being wheeled to a volleyball game and, because he could not stand, the staff "assisted" him in getting the ball over the net.

At the moment of Nicholaus? death, staff threw a bucket of water on him.... They told him "it's all in your head." When he didn't respond, they took a closer look. He was dead.

An autopsy showed 2 1/2 quarts of pus in his partially collapsed left lung.

Abused children, whether privately incarcerated or in public facilities have no voice. Even when an event such as the death of a child occurs, they are afraid to tell what they know for fear of retribution. At the Arizona Boy's Camp, police department records show how hundreds of hours of onsite interviews failed to turn up anything more than suspicions... until finally the truth began to emerge. Children at the camp were afraid to tell the police how the staff tortured and humiliated Nicholas Contreraz until he died in agony.

11. Death Follows Investigators? Retreat.

Paul Choy was 15 when he entered a coma. He was held in a full-nelson by a staff member until he stopped breathing. Paul had been placed at Rite of Passage, a for-profit company that ran its wilderness camp on land owned by the Walker River Paiute Tribe in Schurz, Nevada. Records show that about 300 outsiders, mostly from regulatory agencies, visited the camp in 1992 ? before Paul?s injury. Although it had a controversial past, including investigation of staff physically and sexually abusing some of the young boys in its program, it managed to fend off close scrutiny. In 1990, the camp had sued Mineral County in Nevada for repeatedly sending investigators to the camp to look into complaints of mistreatment or inadequate care. Mineral County District Attorney Craig Jorgenson said the suit was settled when the county agreed to make no further unannounced visits.

12. Pockets Full of Shit.

Several years ago, Pathfinders Wilderness Program, based in Corrales, N.M., came under brief media scrutiny when two teens were evacuated from their program suffering from a flesh-eating infection. The camp in remote northwestern Colorado was disbanded. Participants in the so-called character-building wilderness program for troubled teenagers told investigators they were punched in the face, slammed into trees and made to eat their vomit. Lauren Lee Wittman, 13, of St. Louis, said she and other campers were forced to carry their own excrement in their pockets.

A study of boot camp methods, reports the Wall Street Journal, shows that a military-style code of discipline called "shock incarceration" doesn't work to reduce criminal behavior. In general it is no better than prison at keeping participants out of trouble in the future, the report concluded. It also noted that "the biggest black eye (for boot camps) came from abusive treatment.

Larry Meachum, who heads the U.S. Justice Department's correctional programs office and helped kick off the boot camp concept in 1993 when he ran Oklahoma's prison system is now a critic. Meachum notes that "sidewalk discipline" can include physical exercises that push a teen too far beyond their physical limits and into injury. One newly arrived, flabby inmate, says Meachum, was ordered to drop to the ground and do 100 push-ups. Another was forced by guards to stand in the sun long enough to get serious burns on his shaved-head.

In Arizona, a study by corrections director Terry Stewart found that nearly 70 percent of 1,253 offenders admitted to the boot camp program during a three-year period were back in custody within four to seven years for new crimes or technical parole violations.

13. "Hurting Our Parents."

A few teens choose to go to boot camp on their own. Keri thought the discipline would be "good for her." In an email, she described what boot camp was like, and her experience with the most dangerous part of "survival camp",  the people who ran it.

I went to survival camp five years ago when I was sixteen. It was a three-week-long program in Idaho. My experience was definitely a negative one in most ways. The weird part was that I went voluntarily. I wasn't sent by my parents. I was under the impression that it was an Outward Bound type experience. When I called the school to ask them about the program, I told them about myself and asked if the program was appropriate for me and of course they said it was perfect.

Going into the program, I knew what my physical condition was going to be. I had to get a waiver signed by my doctor saying that I could physically handle hiking up to twelve hours a day and going for up to three days without food. I knew I'd be out there with nothing and that I might have to eat things like mice and snakes. I also knew I was going to be strip searched. I can't complain about those things because I knew about them before I went. My issues are with the way I was harassed and insulted and demeaned verbally and emotionally. I also take issue with this kind of treatment being "rehabilitative" in any way.

Throughout the time I was there they accused me of having eating disorders, throwing up on purpose after they forced me to drink a gallon of water in five minutes, lying, and being sexually promiscuous ¾ none of which were even close to being true.

The biggest problem with these programs is that they target kids as being the source of all the problems in society and in their homes. It doesn't even occur to them that violent and emotionally disturbed kids come from violent and emotionally disturbed parents. I, along with other kids in my group, were stopped numerous times in the middle of hikes to be lectured about how we were destroying our families, and how we were HURTING OUR PARENTS. I was told that I was lucky that I have parents who love me and care about me and would do anything for me and that when everyone else was gone it was going to be my family that was still there for me.

1) I'm adopted. 2) I was sexually molested by my adoptive father. 3) My adoptive mother has tried to kill my sister and may have tried to kill me. (I'm not sure.) I've listened to her talk to therapists about her desperation and how she didn't think any of us (her or my siblings) should be here and she was afraid of what she might do. I've sat before in the back seat of the car while she was in a rage, knowing that she was thinking how easy it would be just to drive into the middle of oncoming traffic. 4) My adoptive mother has tried to kill herself and spent six months in a mental institution when I was four. At that time I was left with my adoptive father (the one who was molesting me) as well as a baby-sitter who was also abusive. 5) I spent the rest of my childhood listening to her insult me. Threatening to put me into foster homes, telling me I'm a fuckup, fat, ugly, etc. Anything you can think of for hours every day.

My point is that it's kids with histories like mine who end up in survival camp programs. And if there is any "success rate" like they claim, I'm sure it only lasts until these kids have children of their own and repeat the cycle. And the counselors who run these programs are either sadistic and have the same sicknesses my parents have, or else they're incredibly, dangerously ignorant. Either way, they're obviously not qualified to deal with what a lot of these kids have been exposed to in their lives.

Also, at the end of the three weeks one of the counselors told me she thought I should be held back and be kept in the program longer because I hadn't "changed" enough, even though I was in the program by my own choice. That shows that they're operating by rote and not even thinking about what they are saying or doing.

Because I've had experiences that I feel to be much worse than the ones at survival camp, I don't feel like I was really traumatized by the experience. I'm resentful of it because it was so blatantly wrong, but I don't have flashbacks or anything. It just makes me think if Susan Smith hadn't drowned her two boys she might have sent them to one of these programs instead, years down the road. "Maybe if her kids had been better behaved she wouldn't have had to kill them." That's the mindset of the people running survival camps, which is pretty stupid.

This mindset is the same one that drives parents to do the unthinkable: send their children into private incarceration where, behind closed doors, and far from public scrutiny, the teen's soul is silenced.


Long Term Effect on GULAG Survivors

14. "No one ever seems to believe me."

No one is following these abused children back out into society. What kind of lives are left for them out in the "real" world? Scared to death, and back, they may constitute a sub-class of teens who may be unable to readjust to the "normal" world. Walking time bombs of suppressed rage and anger, they may explode when certain words or events trigger a flashback. This sub-class of teenagers who have had their behavior abruptly changed in violent ways has not been studied. They constitute a growing subculture that may be increasingly isolated in a world that is rushing headlong into the 21st Century.

After years of abuse, some GULAG-survivors suffer the added pain of disbelief and denial from others when they try to talk about what has happened to them. After an early draft of An American Gulag was posted on the Internet, I received the following e-mail:

I've only just started reading [your book], and the tears stream down my face. I know I won't be able to swallow it all in one sitting, but do plan to return for more chapters as I am ready. I survived one of those "schools."

Sometimes, I don't know what to do. I've lived in this horrible, shameful fear for the last ten years, and no-one ever seems to believe me. They laugh in my face when I say the word "brainwashing."

I know you'll believe me, and I know you won't laugh. I just wanted to thank you for that, and for giving a voice to those of us that were denied one.

15. I ?Became? One of Them to Survive.

Some GULAG survivors take years before they can gain enough emotional distance to describe the abduction process. "D," who chose to remain anonymous, explained by email what happened after he was abducted twenty-five years ago.

I was abducted by The Seed in Miami Fla. when I was 15. My parents gave custody over to them, I was removed from school & turned into a 'good kid' & remained 'good' until I turned 18.

My parents friends had a daughter who I'd met once. She told them she "knew" I was on drugs & that The Seed could help me. I was using drugs but IMO [in my opinion] was not outta control. I had a part time job at the time that my dad used to drive me to. He told me one day that he had to pick up a couple people to drive up there.

He stopped at a house & picked up these two HUGE guys, & they both got into the back seat with me, one on either side, me in the middle. It was at that point that my dad told me there was a change of plans. They took me to a Blimp Hanger (Goodyear) where this Org. had been donated space. It had about 1000 kids in it on metal folding chairs. Boys on one side, girls on the other. They talked to us 12 hours a day, made us sit in these chairs the whole time, with no bathrooms.

They gave us PB&J & bug-juice (peanut butter and jelly and watered-down kool-aid) for breakfast, lunch & dinner. I was put into a foster-home with about 12 other boys. The foster-folks kept us up for more hours, talking to us. I ran away the 2nd day & was captured by the foster-folks, They grabbed me in a public place & nobody did nothin' to stop 'um. It was at this point that I became VERY untrusting of ANYBODY!

I acted very sorry for running, had my hair cut short that day & 'became' one of them to survive. I was allowed to go back to school after about 3 weeks. I was forbidden from speaking to my old friends except to say, "I love you, or The Seed loves you." I was watched very closely by everyone...there were about 16 other 'seedlings' in my school. We talked very little. It was impossible to confide in any of them because we didn't know who was a spy.

I "graduated" after 5 mos & 8 days. I stayed straight until I turned 18, then became an alcoholic. I kicked booze at 20 & started shooting drugs.., never did BEFORE the Seed! I kicked coke & heroin at 24. -- The Seed was closed down because the owner was busted for selling cocaine.

16. Dragged From School Screaming for Help.

To understand what these children have suffered, parents need to take a moment to put themselves in the child's shoes. The child has been abruptly taken from the family. For a fee ¾ typically $10,000 ¾ parents can have their child abducted by experts: former green beret, police, narcotics agents and others whom experts say, know how to "take down the enemy." Some escort services charge less, and teens may be transferred in "batches" ¾ chained to their seats in a reconverted bus, for example ¾ or with a parent as part of the escort-team. The San Francisco Chronicle explained the escort process as kidnap with this headline: "When Parents OK Abduction." The phrase the schools use is "a transfer service." If the child resists abduction, they may be shackled, handcuffed or drugged.

Should teens have the right to be free of the fear of abduction in their own home? Should they have the right to be free of the fear of abduction from school?

On April 24, l998, a teenage girl was dragged, screaming in terror, from the sidewalk on East 71st Street in New York City by three men and a woman. She had just left school for the day. She was dragged toward a black sedan with dark tinted windows that obscured a view of the inside. Still screaming, she tried to call for help from people passing on the street.

People, startled by this violence, stopped to watch but no one tried to help the teen. As a crowd gathered, the girl was pulled toward the car. She tried to hold on to a black rod iron fence in front of a brownstown, then tried to hold onto the top of the car as the three men and the woman pushed her into the back seat. Her screams brought neighbors on this upper east side street to their windows. One was the U.S. features editor for the London Times. He ran down to try and help her.

Several friends of the girl, standing to the side of the crowd, were weeping. When the reporter, aghast, tried to find out what was happening, he was told by the crying teens that it was "an intervention."

He called it an abduction. A police officer who appeared as the young girl was forcefully shoved into the car stood to the side watching as the door slammed shut and the car sped off. The reporter took down the license number, tracked down the abductors ¾ an "escort" service ¾ and traced the girl to a behavior modification facility in upstate New York. "The Foundation" claims that it practices the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program.

What is the impact of the 12-step program on a teen?

17. "I Am Insane and Realize I Always Will Be."

I learned about schools that apply the 12-step program from a parent who withdrew her son from the same facility after only four months. We began exchanging email after her son had been at the school for seven weeks.

"Elliott?s" parents had enrolled him in The Foundation's "emotional growth" program for 18 months. As their concerns rose, they decided it would only be for 12 months. Four months after he entered the school, their son was brought home by his parents. His mother exchanged a series of email with me for two months before deciding to pull him out of the program. It forced a life-change for her as well. She was given use of a mountain cabin in New Mexico and took her son there for six months to help recover from the traumas of the program. The following excerpts from her email series shows a growing level of concern which led to her son?s removal from the school.

* * * * *

Dear Alexia, -- As our son has only been at this "emotional growth" school for 7 weeks, I have nothing to report and am really hoping that since I spent a year researching these programs, I have selected a good one. I knew from DAY ONE that he would not be leaving the U.S., those other programs sounded very strange from the start.   We couldn't talk to him for the first 4 weeks, but have talked to him once a week since that time. We are going up there this weekend for New Parents Weekend and will be able to spend several hours with him on Saturday. I think we are expected to go up again in another 4 weeks for family counseling. We were encouraged to commit to an 18-month stay, but I am bringing him home by Christmas at the latest.

I still don't think that any parent would have their child abducted or sent away without firmly feeling that it was the best thing for the child. Maybe there are some parents out there who only want the kids out of the way, but I think the majority of parents take a long time to come to that gut-wrenching decision. The day that my husband took our son to [the school] will always be the lowest and saddest day of my life.

My son is only 15 and says that he has been smoking pot since he was 12. We are an upper middle class family (so typical of your book), both parents intact and very involved with our children. We tried handling this on our own once we found out what he was doing, but were advised by the deputy at his school, to get him away from his peer group for a while. He was currently failing every subject he was taking in 10th grade.

My son already has 2 felony charges and 1 misdemeanor against him for things he did two years ago (being part of a group that took a golf cart during the night to ride around the golf course knocking down flags and possession of marijuana). We live in a very small affluent town and they do not tolerate any crime at all.

* * * * *

We did get a very disturbing letter from him on Saturday, actually only parts of it were disturbing. He said that he has now found religion and has become a very active Catholic spending 14 hours per week in the chapel. Fourteen hours in any church would bother me. I even consulted with a Catholic Priest today who told me that this is not a healthy sign.

* * * * *

I think I might have mentioned it to you that [the counselor] considered my son's crying with us that day to be very "manipulative." She said that he was much too old to cry like he did. I would personally be very worried about the 15 yr. old who didn't cry after not seeing his parents after 8 weeks, but guess that I am not the so-called expert here?

My husband cries and he's 47. She has no idea that one of the things we told my son when we were there was that his grandmother (by marriage) passed away and we wanted to wait and tell him in person. He was not close to her, but she was still one of the only 2 grandma's he had ever known, that made him cry. She didn't even know that and still made a judgment call from what she saw. This has really bothered me as he's a very sensitive young man and I so hope that she didn't tell him he was being a baby and manipulating by crying.

* * * * *

Well, I called [the counselor] yesterday to finalize a time for our session on the 26th and mentioned that we were counting on spending time with him outside of the counseling atmosphere afterward. Her reply to me was, "Well, we will have to see how the counseling goes. If your son cries and carries on, we will have to ask you and your daughter to leave. Otherwise, if he behaves, you can stay for lunch."

[At the counseling session:] His first sentence was, "I am insane and realize that I will always be insane." My daughter and I almost came out of our chairs. He was referring to his prior drug use. During the "session" [the counselor] asked my son if he felt he was an "addict" to which my son replied "yes" and started crying.

I am concerned about the long term ramifications on a 15 yr. old being told that he's "insane."

The counselor very casually asked my son if he had ever had any sexual activity and again, my daughter and I almost lost it. He got very embarrassed and said that he had never been with a girl. I could have just died for my son. I can't imagine what it was like to have been asked that question in front of your mother and sister.

The worst of all was that the counselor referred to my son as "damaged goods" that need to be fixed. Those words will haunt me forever.


I am definitely not trying to sing their praises, but for my own sanity and peace-of-mind, I have had to try and see some positive out of this horrible experience.

He is physically safe, but I am not sure about his mental well-being and his spirit. My 21 yr. old daughter is terribly upset with the entire situation. She called me at midnight last night after returning to college almost hysterical about my getting him out of there.

* * * * *

[The teens were asked to list all the bad things they had done in their life.] He feels that the other kids have done so many more things than he has, and I wouldn't be surprised if he had to make something up just to keep up with them. I might add that my husband thought we were *weird* for thinking that way, but I think it's a real possibility and I had considered it. I have a feeling we will know what's true and what isn't when we hear this list. No, I can't imagine having to write a list of all of the "bad" things I did as a teen. My daughter said the same thing ¾ she said that there would be no way she would tell us everything, that some things are just better left unsaid.

* * * * *

My son cried quite a bit on Saturday and the counselor told me yesterday on the phone that that was his way of "manipulating" me. I am so tired of every program for troubled teens using that word. I prefer the word persuade or convince, but something about manipulating that sounds so devious. I told her that he must be quite an actor to be able to turn the tears on and off that way and that I too must be quite manipulative since I cried the entire time.

* * * * *

Anyone in an administrative position atThe Foundation is on the 12 step program themselves. They are all ex "somethings" which is why they are so gung-ho on this program. They are living it. I had an educational consultant warn me that she didn't like their form of counseling ahead of time, but I chose not to listen after hearing all of the glowing remarks from other parents.

In fact, my husband was required to sign a statement that said our son did not require substance abuse counseling, that he was at the school for a drug-free education. I asked my husband why he signed it and he said he had to as part of the registration process. That's the only reason my son has been there, substance abuse.

* * * * *

We talked to [my son] tonight, he was feeling very badly about the fact that a new boy's family came up for their New Parent's Weekend seminar and were allowed to take him off property for dinner. My son stood up at the table and asked why we hadn't been allowed to stay longer on Thursday and the reply was, "There were too many emotional ties with us and that it wasn't in his best interest." How does a 15 yr. old process crap like that????? Too many emotional ties with his mother and sister. . . what an unusual situation. I can hardly wait to get him out and now my husband finally agrees. We are putting all of the plans in motion tomorrow with regards to schooling, etc.

* * * * *

I researched these schools for almost one year, but have come to the conclusion that you really don?t know what they will be teaching until your child is actually in there. I can?t begin to tell you how many discrepancies as to things we were told ahead of time that have changed now.

He said that three boys ran away during the night before I picked him up and that someone was always running away. He said many kids feel that going to jail was better than being at the facility, which is why they would risk running away if they had been court-ordered to the school.

* * * * *

I just hope and pray that 4 months wasn't long enough to destroy his spirit and that he doesn't really view himself as an "addict" or "damaged goods that need to be fixed." He has heard how wonderful he is from us for 15 years, so hopefully, 4 months won't have done any permanent damage.

* * * * *

A month later, after receiving confirmation that a refund of tuition from the school had arrived in the mail, she sent me "the rest of the story" in another, long email.

Alexia, I have two requests from you about the information I am going to share with you; total anonymity and accuracy. Please don't take any of this information out of context. I know that your passion is in uncovering the truth about these schools and helping kids, but I want whatever I tell you to be relayed truthfully, as I am confident that if anyone from the facility would read this information, they would definitely know the source and I would never want to relay false information (the truth is bad enough, in my eyes.) We don't talk about the school much anymore, as my son now gets very upset even discussing it. When he first came out, I was very concerned as to the possibility of long-term damage from what he heard and saw while there, but I think he's young and resilient enough that most of it will fade away with time.

The good . . . I feel the academic program at the facility is excellent. The principal runs the school, and though she is severely understaffed, she seems to be well-educated and personally involved in the educational endeavors of each student at the school. When my son first arrived at the school, his academic self-confidence was at an all time low. He lost a lot of time with his major concentration being Party 101 and was very far behind academically. He now realizes that he is capable of doing the work and is very smart. We always told him that, but when you only hear it at home, you don't always believe it. He scored very high on the standardized tests that were given to him and he did very well in all subjects during his 4 month stay. Academics are a No. 1 priority at the school and I find this a plus. The music program at the school is one of the best I have ever heard.

The rest of the story . . .My son has not relayed one positive comment (aside from academics) that was said to him or that he heard during the 4 months. All staff members are 12-steppers with varying histories behind them and what sounds to me like major chips on their shoulders. Some of the staff members have very disturbing pasts which were described in great detail to the kids. I found this most inappropriate. The entire school is run on the 12-step program in everything that is done, 24 hours per day. Prior to enrolling my son, I "thought" I understood the 12 step program, but now I know that I did not. Actually, I am not so sure that I didn't understand it, but I was not sure of how their staff/program interpreted the 12 steps.

During my son?s first telephone call home, he was quietly crying and kept telling me they were telling him he was "insane." I was certain that he was simply misunderstanding them and promised to talk to his counselor about it. He told me that not only did all of the staff tell each of them they were insane and always would be, but each of the students told the other kids that all were insane also. I knew in my heart that my son was mistaken, but unfortunately, he was not. After going out and obtaining everything I could on this 12-step program, I read that one of the steps states that you need to ask for help in returning your life to sanity. During my next conversation with my son, I kept telling him that they meant that he had been doing some "insane" things while high, but that he most certainly was not insane. He kept telling me that that's not what they were telling him. Well, they weren't.

They feel that these kids who were on drugs are full-blown addicts and that an addict is an insane person and always will be. No hope . . . nothing. He said they were told they would never be able to even sit and have a beer, they were addicts PERIOD It doesn't matter that they are only kids and that maybe they aren't "addicts." He was never given a message of hope ¾ - only gloom and doom for the future. They were told that they were the "rejects of society" and that's why they were there. I think I mentioned to you that our so-called family counselor referred to him (in front of him) as "damaged goods" that needed to be "fixed."

We were told that no one was ever forced to attend the religious services offered. We were also told the kids had a choice of Jewish, Catholic or Methodist services. My son has indicated that he attended church for approximately 14 hours per week, 2 hours per day and none of it was voluntary. Only 2 hours per week were other than Catholic services. Everyone had to attend everything. I asked about Jewish students and he said they had to attend the same. He said that sometimes he would go to an extra service on a Sunday night just to get out of Study Hall. The kids were in Study Hall hours on end each day. They had to sit in a chair and study. Everyone had to ask permission to go to the bathroom and they were not always allowed to go when they asked. Upon arrival at the school, your "shadow" had to go to the bathroom with you. Doors were never allowed to be closed.

Kids are encouraged and praised for "bringing someone up at the table." This is the meal table and if someone has done something you don't like, you bring them up on it. My son said these were always crying and shouting bouts that literally gave him an upset stomach while he was eating. My daughter and I witnessed one of these sessions during our last visit and we were shocked. My son later told us that this was mild compared to most days. A girl brought herself up on charges that she had "lusted while walking down the hall" and "judged someone wrongly." She was crying and asking for help while we were eating our macaroni and cheese. My son said he had to tune them out so that it wouldn't ruin his meal. We noticed that other kids would jump on the bandwagon and start criticizing someone after a charge had been brought up because it gave them brownie points to do so. These are the informal counseling sessions that were praised as being such "effective counseling." Effective for whom?

My son said that each staff member was nice to him and no one ever did anything to physically harm him. The most severe form of punishment at the facility was wrapping someone in a blanket. This was done only as a last resort or if a student was a physical threat to himself or someone else. They were wrapped in a blanket and secured with duct tape and remained that way for many hours. We were made aware of this at the Parent's Seminar after the first month. We were not told that the kids were not allowed out [of the blanket] to use the bathroom. My son said he thinks the kids had to go in the blanket. I am not positive of this, but he seems sure of it.

The only punishment we were told about in advance was placement in the corner. My son was made to spend 1 1/2 days in the corner due to his throwing a small clear candy wrapper out of the car window on the way to an AA meeting. Some children have had to spend several weeks staring at the wall! My son was told that his punishment for the wrapper was that he had to pick up 500 pieces of trash at the school within a certain period of time. Well, my son has been taught that there are germs in trash and was not anxious to pick up the trash. Since he didn't start his trash pick-up on time, he had to sit in the corner for a day and a half. They must miss all classes (zeros for each class missed) and eat their meals in the corner as well. I am all for consequences of your actions, but the zeros for the classes didn't sit well with me as they were very adamant about him not missing one 45 minute class during our second visit. We argued that we had flown across the country to visit and wanted an extra 45 min. They insisted that his class was more important. This was the same visit when he was later told that we were really not allowed to stay because there were "too many emotional ties involved."

We were told ahead of time there were 8 boys/men to a dorm room. We knew this was a lot, but went with it. During our first visit to the school, there were 12 boys in his room. His dorm was in actuality a trailer. It was extremely crowded, but clean. When we moved him out, there were 10 boys in his dorm. The room was very crowded. I might add that each "dorm" had only 1 bathroom.

My son said that once the staff members were aware of his impending departure, he was treated differently by most. I asked for examples and he really couldn't give me any, except that they were just "different." He said that no one ever leaves the school early and that most are there well beyond the recommended 18 months. There are students that have been there for 3-3 ½ years. The Director told me that the average stay is now 2 1/2 years. We met several of these students and they were definitely the "cold potatoes" or "Moonies" that have been described in your posts. They were extremely polite and nice people, but they appeared very unsure of themselves to us. My son said that the kids who have been there over a year, are convinced that they CAN'T make it on the outside and are actually scared to leave for fear of failure.

I am not sure if I have relayed our first traumatic incident at this school, this was actually my first real doubt. My son had been at the school for 3 1/2 weeks and we were anxiously awaiting his first call. We got it at the 4-week mark (right on time), but I instantly knew something was wrong aside from being homesick. He sounded physically sick and I questioned it. He said he had been sick for weeks, but that everyone kept telling him to "grin and bear it." He said they were letting him see the doctor the next day because he kept insisting that he was sick. Well, I called early the next morning to see what the Dr. had to say and was told that the doctor said he had a bad case of strep throat and needed rest and medication. They let him stay in the infirmary that day, and told me that he would get antibiotics by noon. Well, no one went to get his medicine until late that night while he laid on a cot and had a high fever all day. The nurse was very kind to him and stayed with him the entire day, but no one left to get his medicine (it was a 10 min. drive into town.) I offered to pay for a cab to get the medicine to him, but was told that they would do it ASAP. I was furious to find out that he didn't receive his first dose of medicine for approx. 12 hours after the doctor's diagnosis. When I called to complain to the Director the following morning, I was told that in no uncertain terms that "this is how it was and that if I didn't like it, I better come up there immediately and take my son home." Can you imagine. What a first impression?. .My son obviously got well, but I know that strep throat can lead to many serious conditions such as rheumatic fever if left untreated.

I think I mentioned to you the fact that my son said many kids would try and run away just in hopes they would get caught and sent to jail rather than stay at the school. He said that even kids who had been at the school over 9 months, still ran away at times. My son told me the only reason he didn't seriously try and run was that he knew we would worry about his whereabouts. I think he was also scared to try.

My son said that most of the kids there have severe anger problems? In light of the recent turn of events with the teen violence in schools, maybe many of these kids do belong there. For my son, it was absolutely the wrong choice and I will always regret sending him there. I spoke to probably 10-15 sets of parents with kids at the school or who had been to the school and felt it had saved their lives. I knew that I had done months of homework and checked every expert possible to look into this school. That's what is so frightening about this whole process . . . I didn't make this selection overnight.

First and foremost, I consider myself a good parent, I was turning "my baby" over to these people for a year and didn't do it lightly. With all of my research, calls, etc., look at what I have discovered once we were inside. I don't think you can ever be confident or trust anyone 100% when you entrust them with your child. Looking back, I guess it was better than his getting arrested (which he's the first to admit was just around the corner again) and going to the county facility, but it cost us a lot emotionally as well as financially and for what? For him to be told that he's a reject and will always be an addict?

I do want to add that I asked the principal for a letter of recommendation for my son's new school in the fall. I told her that they realize that he had only been at [the school] for 4 months, but they wanted to know what kind of student he was, what was his level of motivation, did he turn in his assignments, etc. while he was at the school. She refused to accommodate them with this letter and said it was against her policy. I might add that my son didn't get blackout even once during his 4 month stay. You get blackout [and are kept] from calling home when you don't turn in a homework assignment.

I was told that he was an exemplary student while there from one counselor, yet she wouldn't comply with this small request. She said that my son "would be the one to suffer" from our early withdrawal and it almost sounds like she was making sure of it.

18.  Inside PROVO Canyon   "My whole life since has been an ceaseless struggle to forget, [and] to regain my dignity and my belief in a social system that broke its implied promise to protect and nurture me."

19. I feel angry and really want to sue.

Here's my basic story, i just don't know what to do.

I got in some trouble at home. I was a honor student, a varsity football player, but i had disagreements with my parents. I was committed to a local hospital and i went through the courts to get out. This is when my parents had me arrested for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. This was the second time and possible because of the coercion of tough love.

This time I was sent to Utah where i spent the next nine months at . Things went up and down for months but it all came to a climax when i was beaten by a "chaperone" while being held down by three other "chaperones."  This was for swearing. I was bleeding and still
have a scar. After this things took a turn for the worse and i was constantly taken down and physically abused. I finally broke down and begged and begged to be transferred anywhere else.

I was then sent to Brightway, the brother in law of the owner of (X) program. At Brightway I was told I was going home. A week later i found out they were telling my parents the whole time I was
being sent to Samoa. Hurt I left crying and then after cussing out my therapist while lying on the floor I was repeatedly kicked by the director while being told "you need to learn some respect" over and over again. There were about 10 other guards kneeing me and hurting me when all of this started from me being on the ground.

I was sent along to (name withheld) where i went through the usual abuse of that program. Being refused medical attention, malnutrition, tortuous exercise, etc. I moved though levels very slowly because I was already in the institutionalized mindset. Its really hard to improve when there isn't much to improve on. Finally I was able to scam my way out through the fact my 18th birthday was coming up and my parents were running out of money. But I left on the lowest level, its kind of funny I was in college a month after I got out and i was fully supporting myself after 6 months.

What I'm really looking for is help. I want to sue and I don't know my rights.... I want revenge so bad and I want those programs to be closed. They do nothing more then hold kids. Parents with no
parenting skills, too much money, have a chance to lock their kids away and when the kids come out they come out with nothing but painful memories....   XPROGRAM

Tragic Roll Call - List of children who died at wilderness/boot camps, as compiled by the parent of one child who died:

It was said to Candice Takeuchi, Mother of DeeDee, who died at Vision Quest
on June 28, 1995, "This program is in the Best Interest of Your Child."
I'm sure the same was said to Julie Vega, Mother of Nick Contreraz, who died
at Arizona Boys Ranch on March 2, 1998.

What about the following documented deaths? There are more, but we just
don't have the information.

Lorenzo Johnson (17), Arizona Boys Ranch, June 27, 1984
Carlos Ruiz (13), Vision Quest, December 16, 1994
Mario Cano (16), Vision Quest, April 27, 1984
John Vincent Garrison (18), Vision Quest, June, 1990
Bernard Reefer (age unknown), Vision Quest, November 24, 1980
Robert Zimmerman (age unknown), Vision Quest, November 24, 1980
Charles Lucas (age unknown), Vision Quest, November 24, 1980
James Lamb (age unknown), Vision Quest, November 24, 1980
Tammy Edmiston (age unknown), Vision Quest, September 11, 1982
Leon Anger (age unknown), Vision Quest, September 16, 1984
Danny Lewis (16), Vision Quest, June, 1989
Nick Contreraz (16), Arizona Boys Ranch, March 2, 1998
Eric David Schibley (17), Vision Quest, November 24, 1980
Chad Andrew Franza (16), Polk County Boot Camp, August, 1998
Robert Doyle Erwin (15), Vision Quest, November 24, 1980
Lyle Foodroy (age unknown), Vision Quest, November 24, 1980

Listed as found and documented by Mother of DeeDee Takeuchi, who died at
Vision Quest on June 28, 1995.



Antibody, I've just finished reading this page of thought-provoking, revealing, and disturbing information...Thanks, Fr13


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