Thousands of children are kidnapped by paid escorts and forcibly taken to behavioral modification programs annually. Forbes estimates that the troubled teen industry is a multi-billion-dollar a year industry. Tuition to these "therapeutic boarding schools" exceed the annual tuition at Harvard, yet lack any credentialing, licensing, background checks, or training of staff or facility.
Students are transported over the state/ federal lines, which results in claims of abuse not being investigated or prosecuted citing jurisdiction issues. Hundreds of children have died from abuse and suicide while residing in these programs without reform to the industry. Post-program, thousands of survivors have died due to lack of mental healthcare and the consequences of living with severe trauma.
Sexual predators and sociopaths historically seek out employment in these programs as NO BACKGROUND checks are needed for employment. These predators have ultimate control of vulnerable children and continue to prey on these children because no government agency provides oversight to these schools. The victims that do come forward are denied treatment and are discriminated against as uncredible troubled teens.
Those that have been abused and tortured in these programs have been silenced for years. When survivors speak out and the government shuts a program down, it reopens under a new name, with the same staff, the same practices, and often at the same location.
Some reported abuses include:
Children being kept in dog cages
Children being in isolation for days- months at a time
Physical abuse: broken bones, dislocations, beatings, death
Sexual abuse: Rape, grooming, sexual assault
Psychological abuse: Seminars and processes meant to "break students' wills", degrading of students, public humiliation, extreme emotional abuse
Brainwashing techniques: Forcing students into prolonged stressful situations and positions, purposeful inducement of fight or flight response with no option to withdraw, repetitious rituals and teachings centered around re-defining common language and self-image
Extreme exercise: Physical exercise is used to the point that injury, dehydration, and fainting occur
These programs advertise as "therapeutic boarding schools" or "Christian boarding schools" and often have only one licensed therapist on site, (for an additional fee) if any at all. Children with histories of trauma and mental illness are subject to for-profit abuse with the goal of forcing compliance in emotions, behavior, sexuality, and more. Staff needs to be trained in mental healthcare to properly help these at-risk children.
Most children sent to these programs were average teenagers with no criminal record who either rebelled in average ways or acted out in response to trauma. Some had no history of acting out but were pregnant or dealing with depression, eating disorders, or self-harm. Unlike juvenile detention centers or prisons, where the judicial system determines whether an individual has committed a crime, children are subjected to this torture and abuse at the will of their guardian(s) regardless of the offense, however minor. Because these programs are for-profit and unregulated, they lack admission standards. They will take children and hold them against their will for years for anything the parent decides is worth fixing, including poor grades, disrespectful attitude, or sexual identity. The end result is C-PTSD, trauma, and mental health issues lasting a lifetime.
Treatment should never equal abuse. Please break this cycle and sign below.
We. the undersigned, call on Congress to radically reform the laws and oversight of the behavioral modification industry as follows:
We urge you to terminate the transportation of children over state and federal lines without the child’s consent.
We urge you to require licensing of facilities with appropriate government oversight, including a system for reporting and investigating abuse claims.
We urge you to require licensing and accreditation of staff, including background checks.
We urge you to put laws in place that restrict sexual acts between students and staff.
We urge you to require disclosure of staff qualifications when advertising as a mental health treatment facility.
The Reform the troubled teen industry petition to Congress was written by Jenna Bulis and is in the category Civil Rights at GoPetition.