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'Tough love' schools close in Mexico on abuse allegations

By Letta Tayler
Latin America Correspondent

September 13, 2004

MEXICO CITY -- Three Mexico-based schools for troubled U.S. teenagers were closed during the weekend by Mexican authorities for alleged abuse, fueling a controversy about foreign-based "tough-love" facilities for young Americans that operate outside U.S. jurisdiction.

Acting on multiple complaints of emotional and physical mistreatment, Mexican authorities on Friday raided two drug-rehabilitation schools and a behavioral modification center in Baja California, about 60 miles south of the U.S. border.

By yesterday, the schools were shut and all 584 U.S. teenagers returned to the United States, though some teens were awaiting their parents in San Diego.

At Casa by the Sea, a behavioral modification program that 536 of the U.S. youths had attended, authorities found "various irregularities" and four residents who "showed problems of physical and emotional mistreatment," according to a statement from the Mexican Migration Institute.

Youths at Genesis, a Christian program for substance abusers in Rosarito Beach, also complained of mistreatment, the statement said. Several residents and the director of the second drug-treatment center, Casa La Esperanza in Ensenada, lacked papers to work or live in Mexico, it said.

Many parents and students praise tough-love programs such as Casa by the Sea. But some former students and their parents told Newsday that Casa by the Sea routinely denied residents basic hygiene, psychological counseling, medical treatment and adequate sleep, fed them food contaminated by insects and subjected them to "brain-washing."

For infractions such as scratching one's head, teens were forced to sit in uncomfortable positions for hours, they said. Others were dropped to the floor from a distance of 2 feet - or forced to walk on a court without looking right or left while guards they had to call "fathers" struck them with basketballs, they said.

"I was scared out of my mind the whole time," said Tom Castellano, 16, of Seattle, who spent six weeks at the school in May and June. "I came out ... traumatized beyond belief." He said he believed supervisors caused the bruises or broken bones that he saw on some residents.

Casa by the Sea, which charged $2,390 per resident each month, was run by the Utah-based World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools, or Wwasps.

It is the ninth program either run by or reportedly affiliated with Wwasps that has closed or broken with the group in recent years after being investigated for abuse or irregularities. Wwasps still operates seven schools in the United States and abroad, including Ivy Ridge Academy in Ogdensburg, N.Y.

The U.S. Consulate in Tijuana had received complaints about the schools in Mexico but found no evidence of mistreatment during periodic inspections, a spokeswoman said.

While not ruling out isolated instances of mistreatment, Wwasps president Ken Kay defended his schools' tough programs, though he conceded, "It's not for everybody." He labeled complaints "manipulations" by "kids who have a history of misrepresenting the truth."

Tough-love schools are mushrooming abroad, in what some child advocates call an effort to lower operating costs and evade strict regulation. U.S. officials have no oversight, and host country regulations "may not ... meet the standards of similar facilities in the United States," warns a U.S. State Department advisory.

Several parents said they were lured by slick brochures and interlinked Web sites into giving Wwasps sweeping authority over their children. "They prey on parents who are vulnerable and desperate to get help for their children," said Geri Robles of Mission Valley, Calif., who yanked her son from Casa by the Sea after two weeks last spring.
Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.

The Troubled Teen Industry / BETHEL / Darrington / WWASP
« on: September 01, 2004, 10:06:00 AM »

Open Free for All / Sweet Revenge on speed dial
« on: August 31, 2004, 11:37:00 AM »
For all of you who occasionally have a really bad day when you just need to take it out on someone: Don't take that bad day out on someone you know, take it out on someone you *don't* know! Now get this.

I was sitting at my desk, when I remembered a phone call I had to make. I found the number and dialed it.

A man answered nicely saying, ''Hello?' '

I politely said, ''This is Patrick Hanifin and could I please speak to Robin Carter?''

Suddenly the phone was slammed down on me! I couldn't believe that anyone could be that rude. I tracked down Robin's correct number and called her. She had transposed the last two digits incorrectly. After I hung up with Robin, I spotted the wrong number still lying there on my desk. I decided to call it again.

When the same person once more answered, I yelled, ''You're a jackass!'' and hung up.

Next to his phone number I wrote the word ''jackass,'' and put it in my desk drawer.

Every couple of weeks, when I was paying bills, or had a really bad day, I'd call him up.

He'd answer, and I'd yell, ''You're a jackass!''

It would always cheer me up.

Later in the year the Phone Company introduced caller ID. This was a real disappointment for me, I would have to stop calling the jackass.
Then one day I had an idea.

I dialed his number, then heard his voice say, ''Hello.'' I made up a name. ''Hi. This is the sales office of the Telephone Company and I'm just calling to see if you're familiar with our caller ID program?''

He went, ''No!'' and slammed the phone down.

I quickly called him back and said, ''That's because you're a jackass!''

The reason I took the time to tell you this story, is to show you how if there's ever anything really bothering you, you can do something about it. Just dial 823-4863.

The old lady at the mall really took her time pulling out of the parking space. I didn't think she was ever going to leave.
Finally, her car began to move and she started to very slowly back out of the slot. I backed up a little more to give her plenty of room to pull out. " Great," I thought, she's finally leaving. All of a sudden this black Camaro comes flying up the parking isle in the wrong direction and pulls into her space.

I started honking my horn and yelling, ''You can't just do that, Buddy. I was here first!'' The guy climbed out of his Camaro completely ignoring me. He walked toward the mall as if he didn't even hear me. I thought to myself, "This guy's a jackass.
There sure a lot of jackasses in this world."

I noticed he had a ''For Sale'' sign in the back window of his car. I wrote down the number. Then I hunted for another place to park.

A couple of days later, I'm at home sitting at my desk. I had just gotten off the phone after calling 823-4863 and yelling, ''You're a jackass!'' (It's really easy to call him now since I have his number on speed dial.) I noticed the phone number of the guy with the black Camaro lying on my desk and thought I'd better call this guy, too.

After a couple rings someone answered the phone and said, ''Hello.''

I said, ''Is this the man with the black Camaro for sale?''
''Yes, it is.''

''Can you tell me where I can see it?''

''Yes, I live at 1802 West 34th street. It's a yellow house and the car's parked right out front.''

I said, ''What's your name?''

''My name is Don Hansen.''

''When's a good time to catch you, Don?''

''I'm home in the evenings.''

''Listen Don, can I tell you something?''


''Don, you're a jackass!'' And I slammed the phone down.

After I hung up I added Don Hansen's number to my speed dialer. For a while things seemed to be going better for me. Now when I had a problem I had two jackasses to call. Then, after several months of calling the jackasses and hanging up on them, it just wasn't as enjoyable as it used to be. I gave the problem some serious thought and came up with a solution:

First, I had my phone dial Jackass #1.
A man answered nicely saying, ''Hello.''

I yelled ''You're a jackass!'' but I didn't hang up.

The jackass said, ''Are you still there?''

I said, ''Yeah.''

He said, ''Stop calling me.''

I said, ''No.''

He said, ''What's you name, pal?''

I said, ''Don Hansen.''

He said, ''Where do you live?''

''1802 West 34th Street. It's a yellow house and my black Camaro's parked out front.''

''I'm coming over right now, Don. You'd better start saying your prayers.''

''Yeah, like I'm really scared, Jackass!'' and I hung up.

Then I called Jackass #2. He answered, ''Hello.''

I said, ''Hello, Jackass!''

He said, ''If I ever find out who you are...''

''You'll what?''

''I'll kick your butt.''

''Well, here's your chance. I'm coming over right now Jackass!'' And I hung up.

Then I picked up the phone and called the police. I told them I was at 1802 West 34th Street and that I was going to kill my gay lover as soon as he got home.

Another quick call to Channel 13 about the gang war going on down W. 34th Street.

After that, I climbed into my car and headed over to 34th Street to watch the whole thing. Glorious watching two Jackasses kicking the **** out of each other in front of six squad cars and a police helicopter was one of the greatest experiences of my life!

Name withheld to protect the guilty.

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