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The Troubled Teen Industry / Reporter looking for survivors in MN
« on: March 09, 2014, 01:56:20 PM »
A reporter in Minnesota is looking for survivors there who might be willing to talk about their experiences, or survivors who were sent to programs in that state.  I haven't posted in some time, but Ursus and Psy should be willing to vouch for me.   

The Troubled Teen Industry / Medical links between abuse and health
« on: February 04, 2011, 03:57:36 PM »
Events of violence and abuse in one's past (or present) are linked to health consequences that can endure for a lifetime. An emergency medicine physician at The Academy on Violence and Abuse (http:// has documented the effects of violence and abuse on nearly every system of the body: cardiovascular health, allergies, neurological, OB-GYN, mental health, chronic pain and more. The AVA finds that medical practitioners rarely investigate whether a patient's, oh, say, heart disease might have its origins in the stress effects of abuse in the patient's past--nor do practioners tend to know how to treat it. This is an emerging field in medical practice, and more research is needed.

My purpose in posting this is so that survivors may be informed that present-day health problems may result from past abuse and violence.  

See a (complicated) diagram of health effects here:

Important study call the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) that proved the link between adverse experiences in childhood, and health and behavioral outcomes later in life:

Feel free to PM me with questions, if you prefer.

Auntie Em

Current Location:  580 North Main Street, Parowan, Utah  84761
Owners/Directors:  Travis Milne, Keith Burgess, Cory Krandall
Phone:  435-477-9167

Apparently was previously known as Lost and Found Youth Academy.
680 West 300 South, Milford Utah  84751 435-387-2223
Relocated 11/6/09.  

Please help if you can.

Auntie Em

The Troubled Teen Industry / Sexual Abuse in Programs
« on: August 10, 2010, 05:15:29 PM »
In the fall of 2009, the State of Oregon documented that Mount Bachelor Academy was routinely forcing youths to engage in sexual role play, specifically making young women dress in French maid outfits and do lap dances on male students as "therapy" for "promiscuity." Oregon DHS evaluated MBA's program, and determined that it fit the Oregon definition of child abuse--and they ordered the program closed.

MBA used the same program structure, supervision, and staff training as other Aspen facilities, and this is not an isolated incident of sexual abuse of children in programs.

Can you all assist me in developing a list of incidents of sexual abuse in programs? This might include anything from sexual assault, to peeping on students, to forcing students to discuss sexual experiences (especially in group settings).

If this topic raises distressing memories or makes you anxious, please take care of yourself and talk to a friend or skip reading this thread. I do not want to hurt anyone by asking these questions. It worries me that the trolls will try to de-legitimize this issue, and may launch personal attacks. I hope they will conduct themselves with more decency than that.

Auntie Em

A juvenile justice study relevant to incarcerating youth in programs. Long-term study with more than 1300 youth.

Auntie Em

New Data on Sanctions and Services Supports the Use of Non-Institutional Alternatives
Mar 9, 2010, LaWanda Johnson

Does placing youth who commit offenses in expensive, out-of-home placements improve their chances of not reoffending? New preliminary data from the Pathways to Desistance study reported by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice suggests that, compared with probation, the answer may be “no” –even for youth who commit serious and sometimes violent offenses.

The data found that institutional placement – which includes both correctional and residential treatment facilities - appears to have no advantage over community-based services in addressing delinquency. For youth involved in ‘low-level’ offending, institutional placement raised their level of future offending by a statistically significant amount.  The study also found that most youth with serious felony offenses ceased to re-offend after their contact with the system, regardless of the intervention.  

“We see a lot of variability in these [youth], which means there are a lot of places for successful interventions and a lot of places where we can promote positive changes,” said University of Pittsburgh Professor Ed Mulvey, the Principal Investigator of the study.  “But as long as we continue to create policies that say once a kid commits a certain kind of crime that they are on the road to adult criminality, that’s just a bad assumption from the start.”

The Pathways to Desistance study is a multi-site collaborative project which followed 1,354 juvenile offenders for seven years after their conviction. The research is the most intense look to date at the results of sanctions and services provided to youth who have committed serious offenses. Dr. Mulvey believes it can be used to dispel the commonly held beliefs that these youth are destined for a life of serious criminal offending.

“This study underscores the importance of taking into account individual and developmental differences—that adolescents change, they grow out of these behaviors that got them into trouble, and can turn their lives around.  Youths who have committed serious offenses are not all the same, and not all headed for the same life of adult crime,” said Laurie Garduque, Director of Juvenile Justice for the MacArthur Foundation’s Program on Human and Community Development.

State advocates say the research supports many of their current reform efforts, and believe the study will help juvenile justice leaders steer systems struggling with conditions in juvenile institutions and help policymakers better manage dwindling public safety budgets towards better, more effective choices.

“We have been too heavy-handed with our use of out-of-home, institutional placements for youth,” stated Sarah Bryer, director of the National Juvenile Justice Network. “These findings support discontinuing the use of these types of placements in most cases, and provide political coverage to legislators who want to solve budget problems and help kids. They can be ‘tough on crime’ by supporting community-based alternatives.”

Reducing out of home placements: saving money and reducing re-offending in Illinois

States participating in the Models for Change Initiative have prioritized “right-sizing” their juvenile justice systems with innovative practices that have led to thousands of youth being diverted from out-of-home and institutional placements.  This has had significant cost-saving benefits, and has contributed to reductions in recidivism.

Since 2005, Illinois has been decreasing the number of youth committed to its state facilities by providing fiscal incentives that encourage communities to treat and rehabilitate their youth in community-based settings. Through Redeploy Illinois, a program supported by Models for Change grantees, Illinois youth who have committed serious offenses - that would have otherwise landed them in one of the state’s juvenile facilities—have been diverted to programs in their home communities where they receive help, guidance and supervision. After years of being a successful pilot program, legislation enacted in January 2010 made it a permanent program and permitted all of the state's 102 counties to apply for Redeploy Illinois services.

Tailoring interventions: assessment helps direct expensive interventions where most appropriate

In line with one of the Pathways report’s key findings – that there is no “typical” justice-involved youth -- other Models for Change states have been adopting risk/needs assessment tools to help determine the risk level and criminogenic needs of youth who offend. One such tool, the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY), is being used by probation officers and court officials in Louisiana to guide out-of-home placement decisions in hopes that use of these placements are restricted to those at highest risk for serious re-offending. According to Dr. Gina Vincent, co-director of the National Youth Screening and Assessment Project, tools like the SAVRY are needed to decrease subjectivity and increase the likelihood of successful community supervision and service delivery. She is conducting a study which examines if probation officers and court official are using SAVRY to its full advantage in Louisiana and to determine if this leads to lower placement and recidivism rates. She is conducting the same study in Pennsylvania using a similar tool, the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI).

“The SAVRY and YLS/CMI are not just risk assessment tools; the tools help probation officers to make objective decisions based on the research that we know about youthful re-offending. It is the quintessential example of translating research into practice,” says Dr. Vincent. “Research indicates that human judgment is not a good indicator of who is really at-risk of serious re-offending. This tool enhances one’s ability to tell who’s most likely to reoffend, who will need the most intensive level of intervention, and which types of services are most likely to decrease one’s chances of re-offending.”

Pathways research highlights need for more innovation

Several states and jurisdictions have already begun rethinking how they handle juvenile offenders, including New York City, which recently announced plans to merge the city’s Department of Juvenile Justice into its child welfare agency in hopes of having a more therapeutic approach toward delinquency that will send fewer youth to institutional placements. Campaign for Youth Justice executive director, Liz Ryan, believes more states should follow suit.

“Why are states continuing to invest millions in a strategy that simply doesn’t work?” said Ryan.  “This study underscores the reasons why these large juvenile correctional institutions should be closed.  It’s an abysmal failure, it’s a poor investment and it’s a waste of taxpayers’ dollars. Furthermore, it harms kids.  States can and should do better.”

Funded in part by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Pathways study, which includes more than 24,000 interviews, covers a wide range of topics including psychological development, mental health, behavior, attitudes, family and community context, and relationship. The study has produced several briefs on serious adolescent offenders intended to provide policymakers and practitioners with analyses to help in the development of a more rational, effective and developmentally appropriate juvenile justice system. For more information on Pathways to Desistance, please write to the project coordinator, Carol Schubert, at [email protected].

The Troubled Teen Industry / Pregnant in a program?
« on: January 14, 2010, 07:02:20 PM »
Did any of you ever know of a girl getting pregnant while in a program? If so, what happened to her?

Were some girls sent to programs because they were pregnant? What happened to them?

Were female students on birth control?

My apologies for the intrusiveness, but these are not idle questions. I'm asking for a reason.

Auntie Em

Time and time again we hear about deaths in programs run by the troubled teen industry. Time and time again, we learn that an educational consultant has been pivitol and in placing that child in an abusive or deadly program. It's time for educational consultants to be held legally accountable for the referrals they make.

With all the investigations, lawsuits and prosecutions in progress, I would think edcons would realize the legal system will be scrutinizing their role.

Auntie Em

The Troubled Teen Industry / Toxic Parents
« on: October 21, 2009, 01:32:49 PM »

Auntie Em

New York Times
October 20, 2009

When Parents Are Too Toxic to Tolerate

You can divorce an abusive spouse. You can call it quits if your lover mistreats you. But what can you do if the source of your misery is your own parent?
Granted, no parent is perfect. And whining about parental failure, real or not, is practically an American pastime that keeps the therapeutic community dutifully employed.

But just as there are ordinary good-enough parents who mysteriously produce a difficult child, there are some decent people who have the misfortune of having a truly toxic parent.

A patient of mine, a lovely woman in her 60s whom I treated for depression, recently asked my advice about how to deal with her aging mother.
“She’s always been extremely abusive of me and my siblings,” she said, as I recall. “Once, on my birthday, she left me a message wishing that I get a disease. Can you believe it?”

Over the years, she had tried to have a relationship with her mother, but the encounters were always painful and upsetting; her mother remained harshly critical and demeaning.

Whether her mother was mentally ill, just plain mean or both was unclear, but there was no question that my patient had decided long ago that the only way to deal with her mother was to avoid her at all costs.

Now that her mother was approaching death, she was torn about yet another effort at reconciliation. “I feel I should try,” my patient told me, “but I know she’ll be awful to me.”

Should she visit and perhaps forgive her mother, or protect herself and live with a sense of guilt, however unjustified? Tough call, and clearly not mine to make.

But it did make me wonder about how therapists deal with adult patients who have toxic parents.

The topic gets little, if any, attention in standard textbooks or in the psychiatric literature, perhaps reflecting the common and mistaken notion that adults, unlike children and the elderly, are not vulnerable to such emotional abuse.

All too often, I think, therapists have a bias to salvage relationships, even those that might be harmful to a patient. Instead, it is crucial to be open-minded and to consider whether maintaining the relationship is really healthy and desirable.

Likewise, the assumption that parents are predisposed to love their children unconditionally and protect them from harm is not universally true. I remember one patient, a man in his mid-20s, who came to me for depression and rock-bottom self-esteem.

It didn’t take long to find out why. He had recently come out as gay to his devoutly religious parents, who responded by disowning him. It gets worse: at a subsequent family dinner, his father took him aside and told him it would have been better if he, rather than his younger brother, had died in a car accident several years earlier.

Though terribly hurt and angry, this young man still hoped he could get his parents to accept his sexuality and asked me to meet with the three of them.

The session did not go well. The parents insisted that his “lifestyle” was a grave sin, incompatible with their deeply held religious beliefs. When I tried to explain that the scientific consensus was that he had no more choice about his sexual orientation than the color of his eyes, they were unmoved. They simply could not accept him as he was.

I was stunned by their implacable hostility and convinced that they were a psychological menace to my patient. As such, I had to do something I have never contemplated before in treatment.

At the next session I suggested that for his psychological well-being he might consider, at least for now, forgoing a relationship with his parents.

I felt this was a drastic measure, akin to amputating a gangrenous limb to save a patient’s life. My patient could not escape all the negative feelings and thoughts about himself that he had internalized from his parents. But at least I could protect him from even more psychological harm.

Easier said than done. He accepted my suggestion with sad resignation, though he did make a few efforts to contact them over the next year. They never responded.

Of course, relationships are rarely all good or bad; even the most abusive parents can sometimes be loving, which is why severing a bond should be a tough, and rare, decision.

Dr. Judith Lewis Herman, a trauma expert who is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said she tried to empower patients to take action to protect themselves without giving direct advice.

“Sometimes we consider a paradoxical intervention and say to a patient, ‘I really admire your loyalty to your parents — even at the expense of failing to protect yourself in any way from harm,’ ” Dr. Herman told me in an interview.

The hope is that patients come to see the psychological cost of a harmful relationship and act to change it.

Eventually, my patient made a full recovery from his depression and started dating, though his parents’ absence in his life was never far from his thoughts.

No wonder. Research on early attachment, both in humans and in nonhuman primates, shows that we are hard-wired for bonding — even to those who aren’t very nice to us.

We also know that although prolonged childhood trauma can be toxic to the brain, adults retain the ability later in life to rewire their brains by new experience, including therapy and psychotropic medication.

For example, prolonged stress can kill cells in the hippocampus, a brain area critical for memory. The good news is that adults are able to grow new neurons in this area in the course of normal development. Also, antidepressants encourage the development of new cells in the hippocampus.

It is no stretch, then, to say that having a toxic parent may be harmful to a child’s brain, let alone his feelings. But that damage need not be written in stone.
Of course, we cannot undo history with therapy. But we can help mend brains and minds by removing or reducing stress.

Sometimes, as drastic as it sounds, that means letting go of a toxic parent.

Dr. Richard A. Friedman is a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Aspen Education Group / Another death last week at an Aspen program
« on: September 02, 2009, 09:38:57 AM »
Another teen has died in an Aspen-run program. ... nd_di.html

Sergey Blashchishen, 16, died Friday, August 28, 2009. He had been there one day. This is not an isolated incident. We'll wait for the details to emerge, but I expect we will hear the familiar story of events emerge: The teen complains about not feeling well, and is ignored. Then the teen vomits, and is ignored. Then the teen collapes, and the staff on hand is not trained to save the child's life. How many times have we heard this story?

I am so angry. Please keep this boy and this family in your thoughts.

Thanks to CAFETY for alerting me to this story.

Auntie Em
From The Oregonian

Portland teen collapses and dies during wilderness camp hike
by Stephen Beaven, The Oregonian
Tuesday September 01, 2009, 2:44 PM

The Lake County Sheriff's Office is investigating the death of a Portland teen who collapsed during a hike as part of a wilderness camp exercise, a spokesman said today.

Sergey Blashchishen, 16, died Friday after collapsing about 2:30 p.m., said Deputy Chuck Pore. An autopsy was performed on Sunday but the results are incomplete and a cause of death has not been determined, Pore said.

Investigators are trying to find out if Blashchishen, who lived in Northeast Portland, had any medical problems that might have contributed to his death, Pore said. He had passed a physical the day before he died.

Blashchishen was attending the SageWalk wilderness school, a program for troubled teens based in Redmond. He was hiking with a group in northern Lake County between Burns and Bend when he got sick.

"He said he didn't feel good and shortly after that collapsed," Pore said.

The Bureau of Land Management has suspended the permit for SageWalk to operate on BLM land, pending the outcome of the investigation. It could not be confirmed if Blashchishen was on BLM property when he collapsed.

"SageWalk considers student safety our number one priority and takes this incident very seriously," SageWalk Executive Director Mike Bednarz said in a statement.

Lyudmila Blashchishena, Sergey's mother, said she was told that her son vomited and then passed out during the hike, adding that he did not suffer from any medical conditions.

"We are still so shocked," she said. "He always did sports, never had any disease. How could he pass away just from hiking?"

Blashchishen dropped out of Parkrose High School last year, his mother said, and enrolled in the wilderness school on Thursday.

He had worked construction and lived with an uncle before deciding to go to SageWalk.

"He asked me to place him in the boot camp," his mother said. "He really wanted to change his behavior."

--Stephen Beaven; [email protected]

The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment went into effect on June 26, 1987. Events are held around the world to mark this important anniversary.

A bit more info can be found at the Center for Victims of Torture, http:// Some of you may also be interested in the organization, though they focus primarily on the needs of victims of war and political oppression.
Since 1985 CVT has provided multidisciplinary healing services to torture survivors worldwide. In our healing clinics psychotherapists work with clients to heal emotional wounds. Nurses and doctors coordinate medical care to restore the body. Social workers help clients regain their independence. Through our research and outreach programs, CVT shares its knowledge of the impact of torture and the importance of healing. Our advocacy work supports our mission to end torture worldwide. At CVT we heal the wounds of torture and restore the dignity of the human spirit.

Auntie Em

The Troubled Teen Industry / Use of Tasers in programs
« on: May 21, 2009, 05:22:46 PM »
Did any of you see Tasers used to control teens in residential programs?

Auntie Em

A hearing was held today before the US House Education and Labor Committee (Committee Chair is Rep. George Miller, D-CA) on the subject of the abusive use of seclusion and restraint in public and private schools. Several of the cases were at schools for troubled teens.  

Auntie Em

Video of the hearing on CSPAN:

The Government Accountability Office presented its report on the topic, and there was testimony from parents.
GAO Report PDF here: http://

GAO Report Summary
GAO found no federal laws restricting the use of seclusion and restraints in public and private schools and widely divergent laws at the state level. Although GAO could not determine whether allegations were widespread, GAO did find hundreds of cases of alleged abuse and death related to the use of these methods on school children during the past two decades. Examples of these cases include a 7 year old purportedly dying after being held face down for hours by school staff, 5 year olds allegedly being tied to chairs with bungee cords and duct tape by their teacher and suffering broken arms and bloody noses, and a 13 year old reportedly hanging himself in a seclusion room after prolonged confinement. Although GAO continues to receive new allegations from parents and advocacy groups, GAO could not find a single Web site, federal agency, or other entity that collects information on the use of these methods or the extent of their alleged abuse. GAO also examined the details of 10 restraint and seclusion cases in which there was a criminal conviction, a finding of civil or administrative liability, or a large financial settlement. The cases share the following common themes: they involved children with disabilities who were restrained and secluded, often in cases where they were not physically aggressive and their parents did not give consent; restraints that block air to the lungs can be deadly; teachers and staff in the cases were often not trained on the use of seclusions and restraints; and teachers and staff from at least 5 of the 10 cases continue to be employed as educators.

If anyone lives in the San Francisco area, you might consider demonstrating at the
Independent Educational Consultant's Association conference:

There is a "free preconference" meeting of interest:
Therapeutic Schools / Programs: Surviving the Recession Thursday, April 30 • 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
For therapeutic schools and program reps

The impact of the economy on the therapeutic community is evident with school closings and consolidations.  This workshop will explore what is going on and what needs to take place in staffing, programming, student recruitment and financial aid to keep programs viable while meeting the needs of students.  Among the presenters are program CEOs, CFOs, consultant outreach specialists, and others.  

Just an idea...

Auntie Em

When you went home for a home visit, were there specific rules you had to abide by? What were your parents told to do to keep you in line?  

Auntie Em

The Troubled Teen Industry / Research: Dishonest Deed, Clear Conscience
« on: February 23, 2009, 12:24:55 PM »
The Harvard Business School has just published research on why people engage in unethical behavior. Some of you may be interested to read more. I find the concept of "moral disengagement" interesting.

Auntie Em

Dishonest Deed, Clear Conscience: Self-Preservation through Moral Disengagement and Motivated Forgetting
Published: February 19, 2009
Paper Released: January 2009
Authors: Lisa L. Shu, Francesca Gino, and Max H. Bazerman

Executive Summary:
Why do people engage in unethical behavior repeatedly over time? In Everybody Does It! (1994), Thomas Gabor documents the pervasive immorality of ordinary people. Challenging the stereotype that only criminals violate the law, Gabor describes the numerous transgressions of everyday life and suggests that the excuses people make for their dishonest behavior parallel the justifications criminals make for their crimes. This common tendency of people to justify and distance themselves from their unethical behavior has captured the attention of several psychologists, and a long stream of research has documented differences in the way people think about their own ethical behavior and that of others. Harvard Business School's Lisa Shu and Max Bazerman, with colleague Francesca Gino, show that seemingly innocuous aspects of the environment can promote the decision to act ethically or unethically. Key concepts include:

* Once people behave dishonestly, they are able to morally disengage, setting off a downward spiral of future bad behavior and ever more lenient moral codes.
* However, this slippery slope can be forestalled with simple measures, such as honor codes, that increase people's awareness of ethical standards.
* Moral disengagement is not always a necessary condition leading to dishonesty, but it may in fact result from unethical behavior.
* The decision to behave dishonestly changes levels of moral disengagement, and the awareness of ethical standards affects the decision to engage in unethical behavior.

People routinely engage in dishonest acts without feeling guilty about their behavior. When and why does this occur? Across three studies, people justified their dishonest deeds through moral disengagement and exhibited motivated forgetting of information that might otherwise limit their dishonesty. Using hypothetical scenarios (Study 1) and real tasks involving the opportunity to cheat (Studies 2 and 3), we find that dishonest behavior increased moral disengagement and motivated forgetting of moral rules. Such changes did not occur in the case of honest behavior or consideration of the behavior of others. In addition, increasing moral saliency by having participants read or sign an honor code significantly reduced or eliminated unethical behavior. While dishonest behavior motivated moral leniency and led to strategic forgetting of moral rules, honest behavior motivated moral stringency and diligent recollection of moral rules.

Text of full paper: http://

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