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The Troubled Teen Industry / Youth Rights UK Manifesto
« on: January 21, 2008, 07:31:21 AM »

Youth Rights UK aims to provide commentary about matters effecting the rights of young people in the UK. The site aims to provide a voice for young people whose rights are being abused. Focus is on:

Excesses in punishments for young offenders. For example surveillance and/or detention based punishments which far from rehabilitating lead to a destruction in morale and more offending.

The tendancy to extend these kinds of progammes to young people who are deemed to be 'at risk' of offending before any offences have been committed. This is recruiting children into the surveillance and control industry to ensure the continued need for this industry.

Practices which are abusive and offensive to human dignity such as tagging, in any circumstances

The use of control orders against young people, and their parents, for minor offences which challenge the authority of police, teachers and council officers, or which cause irritation and annoyance to neighbours - the 'anti-social' behaviour campaign. Social responsibility is very important; but is not taught by surveillance, punishment and prison. It is taught by positive adult example in the community. Public funds should be freed to resource this, not spent on the control industry.

The tendancy to always seek authoritarian solutions to social problems. For example new legislation that enables head teachers to issue fines to parents whose children do not attend school and imprisoning parents for failing to compel their children to attend school.

The trend towards accepting surveillance as an everyday part of life; for example finger-printing systems used in schools for checking the register, and use of drug testing and sniffer dogs in schools. Surveillance depersonalises relationships and should not be an ordinary part of everyday life.

Use of drugs to control hyperactive children. Understanding and time, not adult convenience and drug company profit should be the response to these children.

We aim to challenge the excesses of power used against children and young people by accurate reporting of the facts, by argument and by protest. Currently we believe that protest should be within the law.

We note the comment by Albert Camus. "In a curious reversal peculiar to our age when evil dons the appareil of innocence it is innocence which is called upon to justify itself". We aim to take up that challenge.

The Troubled Teen Industry / Residents Oppose Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch
« on: December 12, 2007, 02:23:36 PM »
Washoe OKs at-risk teen ranch
Posted: 12/8/2007
The Washoe County Board of Adjustment approved a highly controversial care facility for up to 40 at-risk teens Thursday night to be built in the Bedell Flat area north of Reno.

Marvin and Jan Neal hope to build a faith-based school and live-in facility for teens who are not delinquents but whose personal safety and welfare are in jeopardy.

Teenagers who agree to live at the Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch will be directed there by Family Court, Juvenile Court, or by parents relinquishing custody. The teen ranch is not acting as an incarceration facility and only is meant to provide supervision.

But at the meeting, Peter Hackbusch provided a stack of opposition letters from residents he said totaled more than 150.

"This site is just not good for a group care facility," said Hackbusch, speaking on behalf of the Sierra Ranchos Property Owners Association.

"The planning department and the Board of Adjustment Band-Aided and patched this project into existence with extreme and unreal conditions. The community is going to be sitting around waiting to see if (the project) crushes under its own weight."

Marvin Neal said the entire project would cost $10 million. When Board of Adjustment members asked about the source of funding, Marvin Neal said God would provide.

"We're not really afraid of that $10 million price tag," Marvin Neal said.

The ranch is expected to be completed in several stages by 2017, and the Neals said they plan to pay for new structures as they grow, starting with facilities for 10 kids.

The off-the-grid location of the proposed Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch was the source of much concern.

For almost five hours, discussion ranging from solutions to what-if scenarios and impassioned arguments for and against the Sierra Nevada Teen ranch filled the meeting's public comment phase. An audience of almost 50 people stayed for the entire debate.

Concerns that it could take wheeled emergency vehicles more than a hour to respond were soothed in part by an added condition that an emergency medical technician would be on staff at all times, and a basketball court would act as a helicopter landing pad for air medical evacuations.

The Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch also would be responsible for road improvements and maintenance of Bird Spring Road, the ranch's primary access road. They will have to keep a snowplow on site and upgrade the road to compacted gravel.

But many residents worry that it's not enough.

"The roads are impassable in the winter," said Heather Benjamin, 29, a Sierra Ranchos resident, of the gravel and dirt roads branching off of Lemmon Valley Road, Pyramid Highway and Red Rock Road.

Additionally, Benjamin said the effects of the teen ranch traffic and pollution on the surrounding ecology haven't been examined. Antelope populations, deer migration and a variety of other wildlife can be observed in the Bedell Flat area, Benjamin said.

Others worried about the teen ranch administrators' lack of qualifications.

"This project is based on good intentions only," Hackbusch said.

Marvin and Jan Neal said they will have to meet Washoe County's licensing requirements before they can open.

"For the past 20 years, I've devoted my life to helping at-risk teenagers through volunteering my time," Marvin Neal said.

He said he volunteers his time at church on Sunday, Bible study classes on Wednesday and by mentoring children. While mentoring kids and teens in a one-on-one environment, he said he heard stories of their broken homes and began to dream up the Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch.

"I know first hand that we need to do a whole lot more, and I stepped up to the plate," Marvin Neal said. "I want to spend the rest of my life building a facility like this to change these numbers."

Marvin Neal said 80 percent of people who go through ranch-style care facilities go on to have successful lives, which is better than the 20 percent success rate in the penal system.

Friends, co-workers and fellow church members attested to the Neals' good character during public comment including LaDawn Malone who said Marvin Neal brought together all the different churches of the area to work with youths.

"He knows what these kids need," Malone said. "I watch him deal with these kids on a weekly basis."

Brenda Taylor, who owns the closest home to the proposed teen center about two miles away, said she worries what will happen if the teenagers decide to wander into their neighborhood.

"Mr. Neal said these ranches have an 80 percent success rate," Brenda Taylor said. "I'm worried about the 20 percent who decide they no longer want to stay there."

Taylor said she also worried about walk-away teens who might encounter the traps, rattlesnakes or the harsh climate of the desert for a prolonged period of time.

No similar services

"My son is the type of kid Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch is trying to help," Ginger Cape said during public comment. "If I had a choice, I would have put my son in it. The school district is not set up for students like (my son)."

Cape said her son was placed in special education upon reaching third grade and was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and Oppositional and Defiant Disorder when he became an adolescent. He was suspended seven or eight times per year in junior high school, but none of his misbehavior was criminal in nature.

"We're sending our kids out of state and the money and resources are going with them because we don't have anything like that here," Jan Neal said.

Ken Stine, a former resident of Rancho Haven, said during his 33 years in local law enforcement, he wished there had been a facility like the Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch.

"From a law enforcement perspective, I think it's a wonderful idea because we have no place to put kids like her son except Wittenberg Hall, and that's more of a criminal facility," Stine said. "I would have loved to have a place to put kids like this because cops can work for kids, too. There's a bunch of kids out there that are on the fence. They could go bad, they could go good, and a place like this will help them go good."

Many residents worried that the feeling of safety and the charm of the remote area will change.

"We moved to Rancho Haven to be among like-minded people who enjoy horse riding by day and star-gazing by night," Rancho Haven resident Susan Reaney said. "If I had known this property would be built in this area, my husband and I would never have looked at this property."

But Marvin Neal said they would not knowingly accept teenagers who are drug addicts or felons.

"We would not knowingly accept a felon out there," Marvin Neal said. "Who's to say that we get all the records? I think that possibility (of housing a felon) could exist, but it's highly unlikely."

Appeals are likely

With the amount of community opposition to the project, Hackbusch said he was disheartened that the project sailed through with a majority decision of 4-1 in favor of the project. Only Board Member Gary Feero voted against it.

"(More than 150 letters of opposition) doesn't sound like a lot, but you have to factor in the size of our community," Hackbusch said. "You won't find another project that has that level of community involvement."

Hackbusch estimates there are 600 homes in the area, but many property owners possess multiple houses. In Sierra Rancho alone there are 212 lots and 170 owners.

Hackbusch said he's not certain if the local homeowners associations will decide to appeal the decision to the Washoe County Commission because it hasn't been put to a vote yet.

"It will probably be appealed," Jan Neal said of the Board of Adjustment's decision. "We'll have to do it again with the Washoe County Commission, but it will be just another bump in the process until we reach fruition."

Jan Neal said other care facilities of the same nature have encountered strong opposition when first developed, only to be enthusiastically embraced by the community later.

"Eventually, people in the community will become involved and it'll be their kids and their home," Jan Neal said. "We're anxious to cross that bridge."

Marvin Neal said even though he's aware he has a mountain of work ahead of him to make the Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch a reality, he was delighted by Thursday night's victory.

"I'm just very moved that, with all that we went through, we finally have a green light to go ahead," Marvin Neal said. "Though it's not done yet, it's cause for celebration."

Open Free for All / Bubba Went to a Psychiatrist
« on: December 07, 2007, 06:28:18 PM »

Bubba went to a psychiatrist  

" I've got problems.  Every time I go to bed I think there's somebody under it.  I'm scared.  I think I'm going crazy."

"Just put yourself in my hands for one year," said the shrink.  "Come talk to me three times a week, and we should be able to get rid of those fears."

"How much do you charge?"

"Eighty dollars per visit, replied the doctor."
"I'll sleep on it," said Bubba.

Six months later the doctor met Bubba on the street.   "Why didn't you ever come to see me about those fears you were having?" asked the psychiatrist.

"Well Eighty bucks a visit three times a week for a year is an awful lot of money!  A bartender cured me for $10.  I was so happy to have saved all that money that I went and bought me a new pickup!"

"Is that so!  And how, may I ask, did a bartender cure you?"

"He told me to cut the legs off the bed! - Ain't nobody under there now !!!"

The Troubled Teen Industry / Another Gone
« on: December 07, 2007, 12:05:42 AM »
12/6/2007 9:48:00 AM  Email this article • Print this article  
Program for at-risk teen girls prepares to close

Messenger staff writer

ZALESKI — News that the Eckerd Girls’ Challenge Program in Zaleski will be closing its doors next month was received with sadness this week in Vinton County.

Bruce Bishop, area director for Eckerd, met with the Vinton County Commissioners on Monday to formally declare the program’s intention of shutting down. Located in Zaleski State Forest on Wheelabout Road, Eckerd is a therapeutic residential program for at-risk girls ages 12 through 17.

Word of the impending closure reached the county leaders on Friday and Bishop was able to fill in the details.

“It’s with sadness that I am here,â€

The Troubled Teen Industry / Chinese Brat Camp
« on: November 23, 2007, 09:45:12 PM »
Brat Camp- China
The Chinese have come up with a unique way of reforming naughty children or bad students. They're sent to 'walking school' and forced to march up to 800 km across the country.
embedding disabled

The Troubled Teen Industry / OpEd on Industry
« on: November 18, 2007, 11:52:53 PM »
Nice piece on the industry at OpEd by Natasha- President of the Orange County Chapter of the National Youth Rights Association and the youth chairman of the Patrick Henry Democratic Club of America. She is also an actress, writer, dancer, singer and choreographer. ... hat_ar.htm

November 18, 2007 at 13:32:22


The Troubled Teen Industry / Bans on Hugging
« on: November 18, 2007, 11:19:44 PM »
The Zero Tolerance Nazi Ban Hugging

Oak Park School Bans Hugging
Principal Says "Hug Lines" In Hallways Create Bottlenecks, Make Students Late For Class
by Mike Puccinelli
OAK PARK, Ill. (CBS) ― Schools just say no to bullying and fighting, but hugging? CBS 2 West Suburban Bureau Chief Mike Puccinelli reports that a local middle school wants the embracing to stop.

"Last year we would see maybe as many as 10 students on one side (of the hallway), 10 on the other and then, going in opposite directions, would sort of have a hug line going on and you could see where that would be a problem," said Victoria Sharts, principal of Oak Park's Percy Julian Middle School.

So this year Sharts decided to draw the line on hug lines by banning all hugging among students within the building.

Sharts said, "Hugging is really more appropriate for airports or for family reunions than passing and seeing each other every few minutes in the halls."

When teachers started enforcing the new policy last month all hallways and classrooms in the 860-student school became hug-free zones.

When our cameras rolling during passing period today there was no hugging to be seen.

Sixth grader Isabella Miller disagrees with the crackdown. "I don't think that that's right"

Her father agrees with her. "It seems like a crazy idea to me," Mark Miller said.

The principal says the rampant hugging is creating bottle necks in the hallway and making kids late for class. Furthermore she says although hugs are supposed to be handshakes from the heart some times they don't seem so innocent.

"Too long, too close, and usually between boys and girls," Sharts said.

After school, while safely outside the building, the students seemed determined to show what they think of the policy, one hug at a time.

Sharts said the hug ban is just one element of a comprehensive discipline and anti-bullying plan.  :question: High-fiving in the hallways is also frowned upon.

View Video ... 40319.html

The Troubled Teen Industry / Delray Beach: Epicenter of Recovery Community
« on: November 17, 2007, 06:53:41 PM »
In Florida, Addicts Find an Oasis of Sobriety
James Estrin/The New York Times
Richard Joslin, left, and John Suto are recovering substance abusers who both own several halfway houses. Mr. Joslin is the owner of Lighthouse Cottages, pictured.
Published: November 16, 2007
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Whitney Tower, 56, a scion of the Whitney, Vanderbilt and Drexel fortunes, squandered his trust fund and sold family treasures to support a $1,000-a-day heroin habit before landing in a tough-love facility near here seven years ago and never leaving. “If I went back to New York I’d be dead in two weeks,â€

Open Free for All / China Laces Toys with Ecstacy
« on: November 17, 2007, 02:00:42 AM »
(NewsTarget) The next time you see your infant enjoying a new made-in-China toy, you might want to check to make sure he's not having too much of a good time: A recent discovery reveals that toys called "Aqua Dots" are coated with a chemical similar to liquid ectasy. When children eat the Aqua Dots (which they're not supposed to do, but they're children, after all), they go into an ectasy-induced coma. Six children have fallen ill in Australia where the toys are marketed as Bindeez. Manufacturers and distributors of the product are pulling it off the shelves in North America and around the world. It's the latest in a long string of health scares from Mainland China's product manufacturers.

The chemical culprit of all this is 1,4-butanediol, which breaks down into gamma hydroxy butyrate, also known as the "date rape drug." This drug is obviously not supposed to be used in children's toys, but then again we're talking about manufacturers from Communist China, where it seems that anything goes as long as western retailers close their eyes and don't bother to conduct safety tests on these products. (Dog food, anyone?)

All this follows the recent, astonishing announcement by Nancy Nord of the U.S. government's Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that there's really no need to enhance the safety monitoring of consumer products in the United States. Under orders from the White House, Nord insisted that the CPSC didn't need any increase in funding, and that businesses should essentially remain unregulated. Nancy Nord, who is now widely regarded as a pro-business Bush puppet, jetted around the world on trips paid for by some of the very same wealthy corporations who don't want consumer product safety regulations.

Not surprisingly, virtually everyone following this issue is outraged at both Nancy Nord and the Bush Administration for apparently having no concern whatsoever for the safety of U.S. consumers. But why should this surprise us? The FDA openly approves dangerous pharmaceuticals that even the agency's own top scientists admit are killing at least a hundred thousand Americans each year. What's a little ectasy in children's toys when senior citizens on medications are dropping faster than the U.S. dollar?

The Troubled Teen Industry / 15 Year Old Runs From Island View
« on: November 09, 2007, 07:42:04 AM »
Police search for missing Missouri teen
By Rebecca Palmer
Deseret Morning News
Published: Friday, Nov. 9, 2007 12:24 a.m. MST
0 comments E-MAIL | PRINT | FONT + -  

Syracuse police and the FBI in two states are looking for a 15-year-old Missouri girl who was supposed to show up at the Salt Lake City International Airport on Oct. 27.

Emily Graeber, 15, was headed to the Island View Residential Treatment Center in Syracuse when she disappeared. She had been visiting home on leave from the program.

Police have evidence that Graeber's boarding pass was scanned, and they found her baggage but cannot find her. They believe she may have tried to run away, said Syracuse Police Lt. Tracy Jensen.

Graeber's debit card hasn't been used in the two weeks she has been missing, Jensen said.

"We have nothing definite to say she didn't get on the plane," Jensen said. "We just don't know."

FBI detectives are going through about 120 hours of airport security video taken in Salt Lake City and St. Louis in an attempt to get new leads in the case.

They are also talking with teens being treated at the Island View center in hopes that Graeber told them about her plans.

Island View is part of the Aspen Education Group, which owns and operates facilities throughout Utah and in other Western states. Graeber's disappearance is the latest in a series of problems for the company.

On June 27, a 15-year-old California boy died while in the care of a Draper-based Aspen facility. He was sent to bed and given only over-the-counter drugs despite painful bowel and stomach programs. By morning, he had died.

In April of 2007, a boy hanged himself in a Loa-based Aspen facility. Three years before, a 16-year-old teen hanged himself in the Syracuse program.

Police are seeking information from Missouri and Salt Lake residents in the recent disappearance. They believe the girl may be traveling with a companion. Anyone who has seen Graeber is asked to call Syracuse police at 801-825-4400.


E-mail: [email protected]


Tacitus' Realm / Do Something
« on: November 03, 2007, 01:46:39 PM »

The Troubled Teen Industry / Into The Wild
« on: November 01, 2007, 11:38:34 AM »
Into the Wild
Tough love tests father-son relationship
Posted Wed Oct. 24, 13:14:01 PDT 2007
By Shoshana Gould and Emily Hamilton of Verde Magazine

Night was falling on the warm June evening. Jordan Jefferson, now a Paly senior, sat in the passenger seat next to his father, stomach full, mind wandering. There was something different about that night. He didn't know what it was, but he knew something was about to happen. As they pulled into the Menlo Park Safeway parking lot, he saw two large, somewhat daunting men, both of whom looked like bouncers or track stars. He felt like he was living a scene from a movie, and the climax was rapidly approaching. There was no time for thought, no time for explanation, as his father handed him over to the custody of the two men. The truth was, he was about to spend the next 53 days 724 miles away from home, in a place called Shoshone, Idaho.

Jordan would spend the 11 hours following the departure trapped in a van with only two strange men and his own thoughts. As he had just learned before getting into the van, he was now on his way to a wilderness therapy program designed to deal with teenage behavioral problems. His thoughts bounced between the various reasons for his departure. His emotions had become a swirling mixture of confusion, disbelief, anger, and fear. "I didn't really know what to expect," Jordan says, recounting the story in a recent interview. "It all happened really fast."

The summer before his sophomore year was supposed to be perfect, three months filled with football, friends, and fun. Instead, it had become, according to Jordan, a teenager's worst nightmare: seven weeks in the middle of nowhere without electronics.

"I was upset at my parents," Jordan says. "They didn't think they could handle me. I felt like they just gave up."

The decision to send Jordan to a wilderness therapy program was not one his father, Michael Jefferson, considered lightly. Sitting across from his son at the dinner table that night, he was faced with one of the most challenging things he would ever have to do as a parent. He couldn't bare to tell his son the truth. He knew Jordan would find out soon enough. After that sad and anticipatory dinner, he made the drive to Safeway in silence, trying not to think about what it would be like to say goodbye. Pulling into the parking lot, he knew that the moment of truth had arrived.

"It was the hardest thing," Michael says. After months of disrespectful behavior and bad decision-making, Jordan, in his father's mind, needed to attend this program. By tracking his behavior, Michael saw that it had become an issue of trust. Michael says he had caught Jordan attempting to steal, playing recklessly with B-B guns, and purposely avoiding his phone calls.  :rofl:

"I thought to myself, 'This is like work,'" Michael says.

Michael desperately tried to get through to his son. He sat him down with two lists, one of his recent track record, one with the good qualities he possessed. But these efforts to talk with Jordan failed, leaving Michael with little choice of what the next step would be.

Joseph Popelka, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota who is currently doing innovative work in the field, acknowledges that Michael's feelings were not unique.

"It is important to realize that when parents place their children in a wilderness treatment program it is because the relationship between the parent and the child has become bankrupt," Popelka says. "It is a parent's last-ditch effort to try and reach their children."

Though he hated coming to this point, Michael says this was the only way to reverse Jordan's out-of-character behavior.

"I know it's hard when you're growing up," Michael says. "You're so sure, you're overly sure. You can be detrimental to yourself. He [Jordan] wasn't really learning any lessons. He's a big guy, thinks he can do whatever he wants. And he's angry. What else was I to do? Being a parent doesn't really come with a book."  :rofl:

After investigating several programs, Michael decided that The School of Urban and Wilderness Survival in Idaho would be Jordan's home for the summer. The individual attention and character building appealed to Michael, who was looking for a program that was less intense than a boot camp. SUWS is one of the many programs nationwide that treats teenage behavioral problems, including substance abuse, rebelliousness, poor academic achievement, or other psychological trauma. The program's self-proclaimed goal is to not only address the manifestations of the problem but to truly get to its root in order to instill a positive, ever-lasting change. Through four distinct phases, SUWS programs are able to build individual awareness, as well as strengthen group relationships. The first of these phases focuses on the teenager as an individual, and allows for wilderness staff to break down his or her often hard exterior. Right away, the teens are presented with a journal in which they are to record their innermost thoughts.

Popelka sees the implementation of the first phase as crucial to the success of any program.

"The first week of any program is generally spent building the illusion that it is different from traditional treatment,"  :question: Popelka says. "This is done through one-on-one interaction between staff and participants. The staff of wilderness therapy programs is generally younger and can relate to the participants and build trust. The stress of wilderness will lead to true behaviors emerging and from these true behaviors staff can build teachable moments."

During this time, participants are required to build their own shelter, wash their one allotted outfit, and live independently. After that initial trust is built, participants enter the second phase, in which they work together in small groups and hike about five miles every day.

In the third phase, the participants live in "families", helping to develop teamwork and cooperation. Each of the eight family members has a specific job, such as family leader, navigator, or cook. At SUWS, this phase is the longest, usually lasting about 40 days. It is this experience that enables the teens to develop their relationship building skills. Experts agree that teamwork and inter-personal relations are key components of all wilderness therapy programs.

Julie Hignell, program director for Outward Bound's Intercept, a program similar to SUWS, acknowledges the benefits of group therapy.

"Together the group works on being successful throughout the course," Hignell says. "The course is a wonderful opportunity to take on challenges in a supportive environment."

By "challenges", Hignell refers to the several tasks participants are required to perform, such as trust activities, ropes courses, or fending for themselves in the wild. One of the toughest things for Jordan was the intense 10-mile night hike.

"It definitely gave me a sense of accomplishment," he says. Some of the most meaningful experiences for Jordan were the "truth circles", in which trained counselors facilitated discussions and gave teens a place to talk about their personal issues.

"It made me feel like we were in the same boat", Jordan says. "Once you open up, you feel like you have a weight lifted off your shoulders." In the circles, Jordan listened to stories of drug addiction, abuse, and family problems. Though, according to Jordan, he was "nowhere near there [having substance abuse problems]", sharing with the group helped him to express his deepest feelings.

"I was able to figure out why I felt the way I felt," Jordan says. "In the truth circles you could express things you hadn't been able to before."

The fourth and final phase is 24 hours of complete isolation, and encompasses the self-sufficiency skills acquired throughout the course. It is also a time for the teenager to reflect on the personal changes made throughout their stay and to get ready to return home.

"I am a firm believer in the positive benefit of a solo experience placed on the tail end of the program," Popelka says. "When framed correctly it forces participants to think about their lives at home and the kind of lives they want to live. It also builds self-sufficiency, self-confidence and self-reliance."

More than thrilled to be out of Idaho, Jordan began football practice just a few days after his return. His relationship with his parents, especially the one he shares with his father, changed drastically upon his arrival back to Palo Alto.

"It definitely put a gap in our relationship," Jordan says. "I'll always have at least a hint of resentment. It wasn't a just decision to send me away. It created a lot of anger and distrust towards my parents. They didn't treat me as an adult. They should have let me know what was going on."

Since that return home over two years ago, Jordan has had plenty of time to analyze the program's impact. Although he feels that SUWS was not a necessary experience for him, he believes that the program has changed him as an individual.

"The experience gave me a broader perspective on life and how to handle your problems, like what to do if you're in trouble," Jordan says. "Just so you don't have displaced anger."

Popelka says that it is the dramatic change of atmosphere that creates space for such extreme personal growth.

"Wilderness therapy provides a fast track to building trust :question:  by placing participants in an environment that forces them to step outside of their comfort zone," Popelka says. "Once this trust is built, it can be capitalized to foster positive change and solid introspection."

Jordan's main regret from his experience in wilderness therapy camp is not keeping in contact with the other teenagers, many of whom helped him to be able to open up and express his feelings in a more positive way.

"It'd be weird to just share my feelings with my friends here," Jordan says of the difference between his relationship with his school friends and the friends that he made during summer of 2005. "They just don't know what it was like to be there."

According to his father, Jordan's life has improved drastically. From his grades to his relationships to his success in sports, the lessons he learned that summer are long-lasting.

"It did tons of good," Michael says. "We found out his true ability, and so did he. It gave him a chance to realize what he has, the gifts that he has inside himself. You can't put a price on his future."

It was with Jordan's future in mind that Michael canceled his son's enrollment in football camp and handed him over to the two escorts, two years ago. Exactly what happened during those 53 days remains unbeknownst to Michael; the personal journey Jordan experienced is one that, ultimately, cannot be explained. He did get a chance, however, to meet with Jordan's counselors, and was impressed by how well they got to know his son.

"They really hold you accountable," Michael says. "There's no room for argument. They say, 'This is fact, this is how he feels. Now what can you do about it?' They got to know him almost as well as I do in only two months. I guess when you're in a place like that, with no video games or distractions ... Jordan was forced to interact with people. They got down deep."

According to Popelka, improving parent-child communication is a vital measure.

"Many programs work with the parents on communication techniques simultaneously and bring the parents and children together at the end," Popelka says. "This, in my view, is incredibly important."

Reflecting on the experience, Michael knows he made the right decision. However, Jordan and Michael still do not see eye-to-eye. While Jordan acknowledges the benefits of the program, he wishes it did not have to be done in such a drastic way. "I wish they could have really tried talking to me," Jordan says. "I wish they could have sat me down and told me that they cared about me."

Michael, on the other hand, would recommend the program in a heartbeat. Even though it was expensive, he says it was completely worth it.

"You just have to attack the problem,"  ::bangin:: Michael says about Jordan's prior behavior. "It's going to take him having a child for him to understand my decisions."

Unfortunately, this discrepancy between parent and child is not uncommon. While SUWS admits teenagers against their own will, other therapy programs like Outward Bound's Intercept ensure teens want to come before they arrive.

"We require that the student agree to come," Hignell says. "We interview them to learn more about what is important to them and to help us decide if we think we are the right program for the individual, and we work with the family to develop a set of incentives for following through on the commitment the student makes. 70 percent of them [our students] say they are eager to come or think it's a good idea when the application process is finished."

Intercept, however, is a very rare case. Other programs, including SUWS, leave this life-changing decision at the discretion of the parents, creating a huge debate about the morality of the programs: where is the line between sending your child away in an effort to save their life, or sending them away so you don't have to deal with them anymore?

Dr. Steve DeBois, Clinical Director for Second Nature Wilderness Program, another course similar to SUWS, believes that parents' intentions are usually genuine.

"It's understandable that they [students] are often angry and resentful when they first arrive," DeBois says. "But it's important to understand that in almost all cases, wilderness therapy is the last resort for parents who have tried everything from outpatient therapy to grounding to threats. If your child is engaging in self-destructive behavior to the point that their future and even their health is in danger, parents feel obligated to do whatever they can to keep their kids safe."

Meanwhile, Jordan and Michael's relationship has improved greatly since that June evening two years ago, though Jordan admits he still hasn't forgiven his father, and doubts he ever will.

"He's a Scorpio," Michael says jokingly. "I don't think they forgive easily."  ::roflmao::

Still, both father and son agree that life experience is valuable in any teenager's journey to adulthood.

"I've learned more from trial and error," Jordan says. "It's just part of growing up. I don't really need someone over me, moving me along."

Occasionally, participants emerge from the programs with a similar resentful attitude. However, this puts the students' ability to retain the learned skills at risk. The ultimate effectiveness of the programs is still questionable, even today.

"The question of retention is one of the central questions that need to be scientifically determined," Popelka says. "My hypothesis is that some of the skills are lost as time passes, but ideally by the time the afterglow effect  :rofl: diminishes the participant has developed positive coping mechanisms that work for them."

At the start of his last year of high school, Jordan's future looks bright, with possible football scholarships to acclaimed colleges in the works. Michael has been spending countless hours thinking about these decisions with his son, hoping to strengthen their relationship.

"For now, he's finding himself," Michael says. "He has to live and learn and learn from his mistakes."

While the experience as a whole put a strain on their relationship, day by day it is beginning to heal. According to Jordan, it taught him "to value the people you have around you," including his father. In the end, it is the relationships in life that really matter.

"Wilderness is merely a vehicle to facilitate change," Popelka says. "For the most part, something is gained through the experience, though it may be simply that seeds for future change have been planted." v

This story originally appeared in Verde Magazine on October 24, 2007.

The Troubled Teen Industry / Send Survivor Stories to NARPA
« on: October 31, 2007, 06:27:52 PM »
Send your stories to Ann Marshall at NARPA. Educate her about the coercion and human rights violations ocuring in the Industry. Might recommend Pinto or Szalavitz as a potential presenter.~~

As many of you are aware, for many years the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA) has been a diligent "advocate for children and their rights." I am the administrator for NARPA and we are having our 2007 Rights Conference in Los Angeles in November.

We are dedicating a day in our program to children's issues and I thought you might be interested in seeing some of our presenters and a little about our program. I am attaching a registration brochure. We are also providing Continuing Legal Education units again, and have added Social Work CEUs. If you have any questions, please e-mail me; if you wish to contact any of our members or our Children's Committee with issues, please let me know.  You may also see information about NARPA and its positions and issues on our web site at

Thank you, Ann Marshall, NARPA Administrator
Every day, behind closed doors, human rights violations are occurring on a regular basis - and Americans don't know about it. America's mental health system is still the shame of the nation. NARPA, the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy, works to expose abuse and to shed light on coercive and dangerous practices. NARPA is an independent organization, solely supported by its members. It is a unique mix of people who've survived psychiatric intervention, advocates, civil rights activists, mental health workers, and lawyers. NARPA exists to protect people’s right to choice and to be free from coercion, and to promote alternatives so that the right to choice can be meaningful. Read about NARPA's history of human rights advocacy, check out the ADA Case of the Week archives, and more.

NARPA is dedicated to promoting those policies and pursuing those strategies that represent the preferred options of people who have been labeled mentally disabled. NARPA is committed to advocating the abolishing of all forced treatment laws. NARPA believes the recipients of mental health services are capable of and entitled to make their own choices, and they are, above all, equal citizens under the law. To the extent that the recipients and former recipients may need assistance to support or express or achieving their preferences, NARPA is committed to promoting rights protection and advocacy which focuses upon both the right to choose and the specific choices of those who request assistance. Therefore, NARPA's fundamental mission is to help empower people who have been labeled mentally disabled so that they may learn to independently exercise their rights.

Send the following message at the link. ... _KEY=18970

I am writing to you at the suggestion of the Natural Solutions Foundation, a not for profit non governmental educational organization focused on natural health and health freedom, to urge you to co-sponsor S. 891, the Child Medication Safety Act or introduce sister legislation in the House to protect America's children from compulsory drugging on the urging of schools and their parents from charges of abuse and neglect if they choose not to medicate their child on the say-so of the school.
The issue is stark: health fascism vs. health freedom.  

This legislation eliminate one of the many dangerous avenues of pressure on parents to consent to medicating their children or risk loosing parental custody and facing absurd charges of neglect or abuse of their children because they do not agree with a "diagnosis" by the child's school.  Schools frequently use unvalidated and inappropriate "screening" tests such as the unscientific "Teen Screen" to diagnose children with so-called "mental disorders" and then use their authority to deny access to the school or services to children who are not medicated as they desire.

Further, schools which meet with resistance to this coerced medication of children with drugs which many parents know are ineffective and dangerous take it upon themselves to notify child protective agencies of what they believe to be medical neglect, parental abuse through lack of medication compliance or other invasive and inappropriate interferences with parental rights and constitutional protection for both parent and child.

S. 891 prohibits such coercive and invasive behavior on the part of schools and denies Federal funding to States whose schools behave in this way. In addition, this bill allows school personnel to share their observations, findings, etc., with parents, but prohibits them from using the fact that parents do not drug their children as a reason to bring charges against the parent of neglect or abuse and denying services to the child for this reason.

This is a necessary and important bill which protects children from institutional abuse and protects parental rights as well.  Please consider becoming a co-sponsor of this bill in the Senate or introducing a sister bill in the House.  Thank you for protecting our children from one of many sources of health fascism.

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