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November 9, 2005 10:41 AM   Subscribe

For $1,800, ex-molester Rick Strawn will abduct your kid into an unregulated gulag. A harrowing piece of journalism from the rarely-glimpsed world of the teen punishment industry.
posted by johngoren (74 comments total)

 
I should have included in my FPP that Mr. Strawn (pictured here) has an attractive Web site and accepts a variety of credit cards.
posted by johngoren at 10:45 AM on November 9, 2005


lol
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:49 AM on November 9, 2005


Speaking of torture, thank God that this domestic torture facility was closed.
posted by Rothko at 10:51 AM on November 9, 2005


This is how those corrupt, abusive nursing homes you see on 60 Minutes get their tenants.
posted by mullingitover at 10:53 AM on November 9, 2005


Relevant text:

In 1996, the stepdaughter told a counselor that Strawn had molested her two years earlier, when she was 12. She'd just gotten home from a school football game, and she was still wearing her green-and-white cheerleader's outfit. She fell asleep on the living-room floor while watching TV with her stepfather. She said that she woke to the feel of something hard against her vagina and ran out of the room. Strawn was arrested for molestation. During the police investigation, he claimed that he'd fallen asleep after drinking, and in his dreams had confused his stepdaughter with his wife. But Susan told the investigators that just after the incident, Strawn had told her that " 'it was just a weak moment.' . . . He got turned on by her laying there with a short skirt on and all, and lay down beside her and unzipped his pants against her." Strawn grew depressed and began taking medication. He also admitted to detectives that a year earlier he had fondled the breasts of his niece on two separate occasions, when she was 12 or 13.

And then there's this. Hopefully next time he'll make good on his promise, the coward.

One night in January 1997, Strawn went home drunk. After arguing with Susan, he said he was going to shoot himself and he got his .38 revolver out of the garage. "I've had all I can take," he told Susan, his stepdaughter, and the couple's 8-year-old son, Jared. But his threat was, to use his word, manipulation. He fired into the air and left. When he returned home later that evening, he passed out.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:53 AM on November 9, 2005


I'm not sure, but I think this might be a double.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:04 AM on November 9, 2005


Strawn: "We do not torture"
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on November 9, 2005


Speaking of torture, thank God that this domestic torture facility was closed.

Amen. The fact that they have the unbelievable chutzapah to call it "Love In Action," is especially offensive.
posted by jonmc at 11:07 AM on November 9, 2005


A lot of these things are run overseas.
posted by delmoi at 11:11 AM on November 9, 2005


I'm not sure, but I think this might be a double.

How about you go be sure before you post about it then?
posted by rxrfrx at 11:16 AM on November 9, 2005


I think it's a double too, but it's been quite a while, maybe a couple of years.

(awaits more snarkery from rxrfrx)
posted by alumshubby at 11:22 AM on November 9, 2005


It's not a double, but is from a comment from MLIS made in a thread about the Christian terror camp I referred to above.
posted by Rothko at 11:26 AM on November 9, 2005


My god, these parents sound like idiots. No wonder the kids are rebelling.
posted by RockCorpse at 11:33 AM on November 9, 2005


I think that comment Rothko linked to is where I first saw this article.
posted by rxrfrx at 11:35 AM on November 9, 2005


...Strawn was arrested for molestation. During the police investigation, he claimed that he'd fallen asleep after drinking, and in his dreams had confused his stepdaughter with his wife...

I can sympathize with the man, as this happens to me all the time. If I had a nickel for every time I got blind drunk at four in the afternoon and - while in the throws of waking-sleep - attempted to fuck my twelve year old step-daughter thinking she was my wife, well, I'd be a millionaire.
posted by SweetJesus at 11:50 AM on November 9, 2005


I've got a friend who's just spent the last three years writing a book on these people. (Due out in Feb '06.)

She's continuously trying to sell variants on this story to the various mainstream media outlets that she writes for, but they rarely bite.

Her theory is that it's because so many media people pack *their* problem children off to these places.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:54 AM on November 9, 2005


rockcorpse: these parents are not idiots, they are imho utterly and completely in denial of the fact they don't want to be bothered by their kids, actually they'd like them to raise themselves and take care of themselves as they can't be bothered.

My guess is that some parent certainly need psycological counseling when it comes to dealing with problems a youngster may have, as no parent is perfect and all knowing, but some other parents see the kid as THE problem, not as a kid with some problem.

Such parents are part of the problem if not the main source of problems, but they are allowed to outsource their problems with kid by paying some authoritarian vile coward armed with paramilitary terrorist brainwashing methods to do their parenting job ; their telling themselves they may be wrong but they're doing it for the kid well-being is not buyer remorse, god fucking dammit, it's a shred of their coscience telling them they're doing the goddamed wrong thing and suppressing it with rationalized denial "it's for the kid well being"

Poor kids....I guess counseling should be part of social security but hey let's privatize counseling let's give it all to ex cops...that's as bad as giving scientific teaching in hands of fundies because they asked for less money.
posted by elpapacito at 11:56 AM on November 9, 2005


My cousin is a child psychologist and she has told me repeatedly that the hardest part of her job is convincing parents to be part of the process. She said that most of the time, parents just hand the kids over to her and expect her to "fix" them without acknowledging that the dynamic at home may be part of the problem.

I really don't see how letting some perv steal them away in the night and ship them to Mexico can possibly be productive.
posted by jrossi4r at 12:16 PM on November 9, 2005


There's a lot of blame in the parents. I think the article summed it up best when it said that Strawn was the kind of guy who liked to see but not hear kids. What is this 1870?

I thought Clockwork Orange demonstrated how behavior modification was a bad thing. Of course I've always thought it was the government, not the parents who'd stoop to this level.

The article seems to strongly insinuate that the parents were overbearing, even abusive in their attempts to control their child. A 9PM curfew? I mean come on, the best kids I knew were the ones that didn't have to hide anything from their parents. The ones who could come high on a Saturday or go out drinking. They were the ones who did it responsibly and whose parents were able to then see if anything was affecting their behavior. The kids who were most socially malaligned were those with the domineering, 1950s wanna-be parents who had no idea what their kids did and if there kids did anything outside their comfort zone they'd freak out.

And did I read this convicted "accidental" child molester, alcoholic ex-cop spends extended trips with teen girls, especially if they can't fly with the teen? Wh-wh-what?
posted by geoff. at 12:18 PM on November 9, 2005


elPap: what you said - except in *my* dictionary, that makes them idiots.
posted by RockCorpse at 12:20 PM on November 9, 2005


My god, these parents sound like idiots. No wonder the kids are rebelling.

Good point! If they're the type of parents who would send their kids to a place like that, maybe the PARENTS should be sent away!
posted by afroblanca at 12:59 PM on November 9, 2005


Shouldn't it be possible for the children to sue the parents for wilful neglect?

Clearly the type of "school" described in the article is abusive, and equally clearly the parents know this. They're paying people to violently abuse their children (handcuffs for fuck's sake) and that is surely illegal.
posted by cleardawn at 1:00 PM on November 9, 2005


I don't know why, exactly, but it really bothers me when I see the word 'respect' thrown around so much in situations like this (in his canned speech to the kids, on his website in bold type), when it's alongside of lies.

There seems to be this idea among those who want to 'help' youngsters against their will that it's alright to lie, embellish, or omit things. For example, this guy will say that the decision to wear handcuffs is up to the kid, but no matter how the kid reacts the handcuffs will go on.

I understand the rationale these kinds of folks have; that their lies are there ultimately to help. But I wonder how often the failure of these programs can be attributed to, even on a subconscious level, the breakdown of trust from day one due to these 'helpful little fibs'.

Maybe I'm woefully old fashioned or out of touch, but lies--even those designed to 'help'--seem to be a massive antithesis of 'respect'
posted by pathighgate at 1:06 PM on November 9, 2005


They're paying people to violently abuse their children (handcuffs for fuck's sake) and that is surely illegal.

Of course, it isn't. 1998 California Court decision State v. Van Blarigan (someone swifter than me can find the case text) - the court found in favor of the parent's rights to send their child to Tranquility Bay in Jamaica.

Ethically, it's questionable, but it's not surely illegal in the least. Children have very few tangible rights.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:15 PM on November 9, 2005


Thats really troubling. I’m concerned with parenting issues, but I know I’d never do this.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:15 PM on November 9, 2005


pathighgate writes "For example, this guy will say that the decision to wear handcuffs is up to the kid, but no matter how the kid reacts the handcuffs will go on. "

The image that popped in my mind when I read this was the stereotypical bully who grabs a kid's arm so as to hit the same kid with it, and tells him to "stop hitting himself."
posted by clevershark at 1:23 PM on November 9, 2005


In my experience (last 3 years of high school spent at a cult run facility just outside of Branson), these facilities, much like the modern prison, are far more of a training ground for future mischief, than a solution. I went in straight-edge, and came out with an established peer group of over-the-edge druggies and alcoholics. Though I admit that watching one friend, so desperate to get out/high, he was huffing gas off the chainsaw we were working with, then ran around the forest yelling "shit man, the trees are pissing on me!", gave me pause, most of the exposure showed that authority-figure stories about drugs and alcohol weren't fully truthful, if at all...
posted by nomisxid at 1:32 PM on November 9, 2005


Children have very few tangible rights

And that may seem to some to be "none of their business" or not an immediate concern, but to these people I remember we don't live in perfect isolation or in a vacuum.

Sooner or later the "trouble kids" will leave the legalized prison for youngster and think that, maybe, if it worked for them it will work for others..or simply express their suppressed or repressed anger on the next best target..mmhh...elder parents for instance ? Let's send the elder parents to the same legalized prison, nobody will hear them scream and cry for help in Jamaica.

And it would be a lot of schadenfreude, but if it happens on your skin it's deeply tragic and painful.
posted by elpapacito at 1:37 PM on November 9, 2005


how's it legal to take a kid across a national border like this? doesn't the kid get to speak to immigration at all? "hey, i'm being taken out of the country against my will."
posted by 3.2.3 at 1:47 PM on November 9, 2005


how's it legal to take a kid across a national border like this? doesn't the kid get to speak to immigration at all? "hey, i'm being taken out of the country against my will."

Easily, because the child has no legal rights to say "it's against my will". The parents sign the legal rights of the child away over to the transportation company at the time of abduction...
posted by SweetJesus at 1:53 PM on November 9, 2005


I think the article summed it up best when it said that Strawn was the kind of guy who liked to see but not hear kids.

But rubbing his boner on them seems fair game. That's a cheap shot, but it elicits the question, how can someone with his background and record EVER get a job where he's in contact with adolescents? Seems like a massive lawsuit waiting to happen.
posted by psmealey at 2:02 PM on November 9, 2005


Children have very few tangible rights.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified by 191 countries. Only Somalia and the United States have not ratified the CRC.

...the laws of several U.S. states authorizing execution of persons between the ages of 16 and 18 at the time of commission of the crime has been a major barrier to the USA's ratification of the Convention.
posted by funambulist at 2:29 PM on November 9, 2005


The parents sign the legal rights of the child away over to the transportation company at the time of abduction

yeah, i got that part. maybe i should ask, what parent can legally remove a child from the country against their will?
posted by 3.2.3 at 2:30 PM on November 9, 2005


Any parent?
posted by jacquilynne at 2:41 PM on November 9, 2005


Stories like this make my skin crawl. I became a ward of the state when I was 14 because my parents could no longer "control" me. I was "incorrigible" because I stayed out late and drank, and smoked weed. By that time, I had lost all respect for my parents and their authority. I had developed quite a distaste for authority in general. So I spent some time in a foster home. My foster sisters and I were basically slave labor for these racist twits who promised to "yank my chain" if I got out of line. 7 of us slept in one bedroom, shared a half bath and were fed cheap, disgusting food. My foster parents' own children were given anything they desired. The foster parents talked about us like we were dogs that needed breaking. It's so sad, and so enraging that adults cannot see the humanity in the young people they're supposed to be helping. It makes perfect sense that this creep, Strawn, would try to rape his own step daughter. He's incapable of seeing her (or any other young people) as fully human.
I never would have been such a discipline problem if I had had a more stable home life. Parents who want to know why their kids are so fucked up need to take a long, hard look in the mirror.
posted by apis mellifera at 2:42 PM on November 9, 2005


Clevershark
The image that popped in my mind when I read this was the stereotypical bully who grabs a kid's arm so as to hit the same kid with it, and tells him to "stop hitting himself."

What's even more telling is this statement:

" . . . he knew that being a cop would suit him better. "In sales, the customer is always right," he explained. "But as a cop, I'm always right." Strawn relished that authority."

It might be another one of my woefully misguided opinions, but I always thought that people who get off on authority or on having power over those weaker then themselves shouldn't be cops. The police are there to protect the innocent citizen from bad guys, not to bully folks because someone was foolish enough to give them a badge and a gun.

As a general rule, I like cops. But the ones who are needlessly cruel and act bad-ass around everyone regardless of their innocence really irks me.

The story doesn't say if he's lost that 'authority' chip along with his alcoholism and pedophilia (assuming he lost those at all), but he's sure not the kind of guy I'd want around my kids even if they were uncontrollable monsters.
posted by pathighgate at 3:01 PM on November 9, 2005


"I always thought that people who get off on authority or on having power over those weaker then themselves shouldn't be cops."

Who else would want to do it? Pacifist Quaker anarchists maybe?

That's what being a cop is about: having authority and power. If you just want to help people you'll be a nurse or something.
posted by davy at 3:22 PM on November 9, 2005


I just want to step in and problematize this issue for a minute. I agree with everyone else that this shit is fucking horrible and abusive and any parent who would send their kids off to one of these should probably not be a parent. But...
From this article, I never really got a sense of what goes on at these schools. Some kids say it's horrible torture, others say it's not so bad. We all have heard the very real and very awful horror stories from people like pathighgate, but is that the norm?
posted by papakwanz at 3:28 PM on November 9, 2005


From this article, I never really got a sense of what goes on at these schools.

They vary, of course. Some of them are extremely abusive. Others are just moderately abusive. Almost none of them would survive in a situation where they were regulated by the state, which is precisely why so many of them have been located outside US borders in places like Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica, Eastern Europe, etc.

There's a couple of things that I find interesting about them. Kids get sent for a variety of reasons. Some are genuinely out of control and their parents are at their wits end. Others are just victims of messy divorces and the evil stepmom/dad who doesn't want them around. Either way, they aren't cheap, so these are pretty well all upper middle class kids being subjected to this. I think that the average is around $4000 a month, and for that, you don't even get qualified teachers or counsellors. You get minimum wage bullies in depressed or third world communities who'll do pretty well anything for a job.

Apparently, last month, the American Psychological Association issued a statement condemning these facilities, but it's too little, too late, IMO. Just as they did with the Recovered Memory scam, far too many of their number have been getting fat off the referral fees from these places for far too long to be a credible voice on this issue, but I remain staggered how little interest either your media or your politicians seem to be taking in something that's been a well documented problem for a great many years now.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:52 PM on November 9, 2005


1998 California Court decision State v. Van Blarigan (someone swifter than me can find the case text) - the court found in favor of the parent's rights to send their child to Tranquility Bay in Jamaica.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:55 PM on November 9, 2005


It says volumes that the guy's own stepdaughter doesn't want to spend any length of time alone with him.
posted by clevershark at 3:58 PM on November 9, 2005


Here is a helpful email address so you can let them know how you feel. :)

info@helpingteens.com
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:04 PM on November 9, 2005


That's why I am planning on reading Jesus Land a memoir by Julia Scheeres about being sent to a Christian reform school in the Dominican Republic.

When I first heard about this book, it honestly never occurred to me that American teenagers could be sent abroad against their wills to camps which are not monitored by American authorities. There are no teaching standards, no housing standards, no food standards. The schools (camps) in foreign countries can get away with atrocities that would never be allowed in the United States.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:06 PM on November 9, 2005


Talk about antithesis of family values. My cousin sent her son to one of these. Her son dissappeared in rural Montana. Let's put it this way, he isn't in any brochure. I don't talk to my cousin any more.

BTW, these youth Gulags are common. I met some American kids in the Czech Republic who were sent their without their passports to learn about Europe and speak German in a secure setting. No, I am not kidding. Seemed like nice kids.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 4:13 PM on November 9, 2005


Rothko-- I am sure some of these Christian schools do the same thing as "Love" International. I started looking through their webpages, but it was just too damn depressing.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 4:14 PM on November 9, 2005


On the day that my nephew walloped my sister on the side of the head with a cutting board, I'd have had no problem signing away his "rights", handcuffing the little prick to the port side landing gear, and shipping his dumb little ass to Mexico.
posted by Slap Incognito at 4:53 PM on November 9, 2005


Who else would want to do it? Pacifist Quaker anarchists maybe?

That's what being a cop is about: having authority and power. If you just want to help people you'll be a nurse or something.


Well, maybe we should just force people to do it? Like isreal and their military.
posted by delmoi at 4:59 PM on November 9, 2005


While I don't know about out-of-country schools, I do know that there is a community of schools in the US that do this sort of thing, often with great success. I'd be very surprised to learn that parents want to send their kids away for 12 or 24 months.

For many, including those whom are the subject of the article, this is a sad but nescessary step. The parents in the article had tried boot camp and several rounds of counseling. Their son was kicked out of high school and on the verge of being kicked out of vocational school. Then what? Clearly he needs to continue school, but what private school would accept him other than those designed to handle cases like his, those that balance academic work with therapy and emotional growth?

This is certainly not the parent's only option. They could let him get continuously kicked out of various local schools, or drop out entirely, continue to abuse drugs and alchohol, and continue self-destructive behavior until he turns 18 and they have no options left. Or they could try to intervene.

Schools like these, while not nescessary in most cases, are a not at all uncommon step as the levels of intervention become increasingly invasive and less voluntary, concordant with the child's unwillingness to meaningfully participate. If counseling has failed, and boot camp has failed, and a different school has failed, and a different kind of school has failed, and all other 'at home' options seemed to have failed, enrolling the child in a full-time theraputic environment is a logical, natural, and common next step.

And don't get me wrong, there are plenty of other steps left, should an intensive theraputic environment fail (which it can): military academies and juvenile detention centers, for example. Parents don't decide one day to up and send their children away. Schools like these exist on a continuum of care; if less is needed, intensive outpatient is available, if more is needed, there is juvy hall. It is hardly an accident that students end up at schools like these. Most have, in a sense, "graduated" to them from less imposing levels of counseling and care.

I don't know much about the particular school in question, but don't categorically declare all parents who use coercion and eviction as a means of delivering to children the support, instruction, and therapy they need terrible parents or insane or evil. Most of the time, it is the only option left. Labeling them so also ignores the context in which these decisions are made. For many, it is a heart-wrenching, agonizing decision, and certainly not one that is made easily. Rather, it is usually the result of a long period of antagonism, and the next attempt to help a child when a series of less invasive, more voluntary measures have failed. For most parents, the choice is between sending their children to institutions like this, or waiting a few (months? days?) and sending them to jail or their graves. Of the several families I know that have experience with this situation, not one of them to this day doesn't second-guess themselves, and not one of them feels like they had any options left.

This is experience, I should note, that none of you people seem to have. Before you are so quick to judge, perhaps you should get a better understanding of what's going on. Do some parents send their kids to boarding school because they can't be bothered? Sure. That story is as old as time. But don't condemn an entire cohort of people because of one or two annecdotal horror stories. The vast majority of parents who go through the pain and heartache, not to mention expense, of seperating themselves from their children for a year or more in the hopes that they might be able to correct their self-destructive behavior, through intensive counseling in a theraputic environment, before it is too late do so with nothing but the best intentions at heart.

So fuck off, you judgemental pricks.
posted by ChasFile at 5:54 PM on November 9, 2005


Chasfile

You had me thinking, "He seems to be putting some intelligent thought into presenting the other side of this issue, and we should probably address his points." That is, until your wonderfully friendly close. Way to invite rational debate.
posted by papakwanz at 6:04 PM on November 9, 2005


It didn't seem like too rational a debate in here, anyway, papakwanz. I felt like if you all are going to be throwing around hyperbole and calling people names, then I should, too. I guess maybe it was a bad choice, but by the end of writing all that I was so emotionally worked up that I needed some way to vent. This stuff is by no means easy, and I was hoping to contrast my last statement - on the level of the simplistic bashing going on in this thread - with what really goes on in complex, emotionally charged situations like these that can't and shouldn't be reduced to a sentence of "Asshole parents ship kid off with child molester!"- more like what I was doing in the rest of my post. If I screwed that up, or if you feel like I made a mistake in doing that, I appologize.

Now fuck off.
posted by ChasFile at 6:10 PM on November 9, 2005


On the day that my nephew walloped my sister on the side of the head with a cutting board, I'd have had no problem signing away his "rights", handcuffing the little prick to the port side landing gear, and shipping his dumb little ass to Mexico.

And ... thank jeebus you're not his parent. /obvious

From the article:

"Will he understand what we're trying to do for him?"

Nope.

"My feeling is that the majority of kids who talk about suicide, they're not suicidal," Strawn said. "What they are is manipulative."

Nope.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:29 PM on November 9, 2005


For many, including those whom are the subject of the article, this is a sad but nescessary step. The parents in the article had tried boot camp and several rounds of counseling.

I mean, they tried boot camp. What else could possibly work?
posted by mrgrimm at 6:29 PM on November 9, 2005


So fuck off, you judgemental pricks.

If I screwed that up, or if you feel like I made a mistake in doing that, I appologize.
Now fuck off.


Is this like "performance art"? Cause I gotta tell you all it did was make me giggle.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:43 PM on November 9, 2005


Some kids say it's horrible torture, others say it's not so bad. We all have heard the very real and very awful horror stories from people like pathighgate, but is that the norm?

I think this is called Stockholm syndrome.

Yes, kids can be terrible, evil rotten little beings. Some are psychopaths, others are just rotten. But they should be treated by professionals, and their well being should be monitored by professionals. I wholeheartedly agree that parents need support, guidance and sometimes help. That does not include nuclear options.

I cannot fathom the idea that some children need to be isolated from their country and their country's laws, and isolated from the watchful eye of their parents. If we need to send troubled teens abroad with child abusers a no real qualifications , then there is something terribly, terribly wrong with our country.

By the way, I say this from a Quaker semi anarchist perspective. And I have worked with difficult to love teems with criminal records. There are humane, reform schools in the U.S., and you don't need to handcuff your children to get them there.

Parents might need help, but that should not include abandoning responsibility for their children's well being.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:22 PM on November 9, 2005


From the story on Tranquility Bay:

When most children first arrive they find it difficult to believe that they have no alternative but to submit. In shock, frightened and angry, many simply refuse to obey. This is when they discover the alternative. Guards take them (if necessary by force) to a small bare room and make them (again by force if necessary) lie flat on their face, arms by their sides, on the tiled floor. Watched by a guard, they must remain lying face down, forbidden to speak or move a muscle except for 10 minutes every hour, when they may sit up and stretch before resuming the position. Modest meals are brought to them, and at night they sleep on the floor of the corridor outside under electric light and the gaze of a guard. At dawn they resume the position.

This is known officially as being 'in OP' - Observation Placement - and more casually as 'lying on your face'. Any level student can be sent to OP, and it automatically demotes them to level 1 and zero points. Every 24 hours, students in OP are reviewed by staff, and only sincere and unconditional contrition will earn their release. If they are unrepentant? 'Well, they get another 24 hours.'

One boy told me he'd spent six months in OP.

I didn't think this could be true, but it transpired this was not even exceptional. 'Oh no,' says Kay. 'The record is actually held by a female.' On and off, she spent 18 months lying on her face.

posted by gsteff at 8:06 PM on November 9, 2005


mrgrimm: Spare me. Yes, thank 'jeebus' I'm not the kid's parent, because then I'd have been on the receiving end of the cutting board, eh what? /obvious indeed.

On preview I removed the three paragraphs where I discussed my nephew's relentless mental and physical abuse on his brother (can you say "matches"?), the continued attempts to get him to stay in treatment programs for drugs, the criminal record for stealing cars, and his continuing problems in school and with his girlfriend - he's a pathological stalker.
The boy lives with his father, and broke into his mother's house to steal money. When she woke up, he whacked her across the head with a cutting board, causing permanent blindness and a closed head injury. Then he laughed at the blood.

I have no problem saying that if he was my kid, he'd be shipped off with no regret. My only regret is that I can't legally hit HIM in the head with a cutting board.
posted by Slap Incognito at 8:44 PM on November 9, 2005


I don't know about what goes on at the places the article talks about, but I do know that it is physically possible to nonconsensually stuff an erect penis up a nine year old boy's asshole despite what the staff in one institution told a boy's mother (who was as willing to believe that as she was to pack him off for "treatment" in the first place), and that the staff then beat and declared Open Season on the boy for "spreading rumors." And that was at a fully-accredited state-run facility here in the U.S.; the risks a kid might face in a private gulag hell hole care facility in a foreign country don't sound worth running.

This kind of thing is one argument I find in favor of a strong "Nanny State": because I think nobody should be a parent unless they're committed to spending 18 years trying to treat their kid(s) at least as well as they'd treat their pets, I'm tempted to say that licenses to beget and rear children should be about as easy to obtain as permits to carry loaded grenade launchers on commercial airliners.

As for Slap Incognito's tale, all I can say is yes, some kids are evil scum -- but most of them weren't born that way. See above on Parental Licensing: there'd be an extensive training curriculum, with continuing oversight -- e.g., you'd have to be doing well with one before you're allowed another, any one breeder would have a lifetime limit of three live births, and no breeder would get tenure. On the other hand orphanages and "reform schools" would be such choice places that kids might even be happy to go there -- so it would be the parents, not the kids, who would be pressured to "excel".
posted by davy at 9:00 PM on November 9, 2005


gesamtkunstwerk:

Thanks for your info. So, who/where/what are the "humane" reform schools? I think obviously most of us (except perhaps chasfile) can agree that shipping your kid off to a foreign country is very, very bad, but davy also claims that horrible stuff happens at schools here in the US (I'm not trying to doubt your story... you just don't give a lot of details or references as to where/when this happened). So what are the options to parents who don't want to submit their kid to torture?
posted by papakwanz at 9:19 PM on November 9, 2005


The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified by 191 countries. Only Somalia and the United States have not ratified the CRC.

Yeah, doesn't that fucking figure. Typical.

It's things like this, Americans, that has the world thinking you're a bunch of assholes. Your country doesn't sign treaties that benefit everyone globally. Your government doesn't even honour its own damn treaties! Your government signed a trade agreement with Canada, and has lost SIX FUCKING TIMES in its softwood trade dispute -- but is still withholding damn near $5 Billion US in money stolen from Canada.

Your government tells lies to other nations, your government helps contras overthrow elected governments, your government invades sovereign countries. Your government threatens our global environment and your government threatens nuclear war.

Your government is perceived by a lot of people as something of a rogue nation. I think if you were to ask informed world citizens -- people who actually pay attention to world news -- whether the USA is an overall threat to the global security, they'd say it is a threat.

The US is a threat to the environment: the US government steadfastedly refuses to tighten its pollution laws. The US is an overconsumer of ocean stock. The US is an overconsumer of rainforest resources, vis a vis beef, corn, lumber, and minerals. And so on and so forth.

The US is a military threat: the US government continues to harm third-world democracies while helping dictatorships; the US government actually invades countries; the US government even threatens to use nuclear weaponry. And so on and so forth.

The US is an economic threat: the US government has so overextended its borrowing that its economy will collapse during our lifetimes and it will cause harm to other countries. The US government does not effectively persuade its companies from using third-world slave labour; witness child slavery chocolate, Congonese slavery tantalum, near-slavery coffee, and fashion/clothing manufacturing... nor does it use its economic power to persuade other countries to reject slave labour -- a passive threat, instead of its usual aggressive threat to the world.

And now the US is becoming a religious threat, in that it seems that there are some freaky Crusade tones in some of what your government has said about the mid-East conflicts. And there's that lovely lack of separation of state and religion you've got going on internally; that doesn't bode well when the state has a nuclear military.

There's also potential to argue that the US is a social threat, in that its export of culture is so aggressive that it forces change in other societies. I think this is the only threat the US poses that actually could be framed in a positive way, in some sharply defined ways. More to do with personal freedom (at least before your nation was hijacked by Christian Supremecists) than Hollywood.

Damn, but this has been a depressing bit of writing.

Global stress would be so greatly reduced were the USA to finally get on board with this whole getting-along thing, that I think there's actually a pretty good chance we could have peace.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:55 PM on November 9, 2005


apis mellifera: I am sincerely sorry you were put through that. The foster care system should be better than that.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:00 PM on November 9, 2005


chasfile, are you saying you're this?! WTF?
posted by five fresh fish at 11:06 PM on November 9, 2005


doh. Let's try that again:

Chasfle, are you saying you're cool with this?! WTF?
posted by five fresh fish at 11:07 PM on November 9, 2005


And before someone plays the childish game of "Oh, but your country this-or-that," let me state this: Yes, my country sure as hell could do better, but that far from negates what I've said.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:15 PM on November 9, 2005


Yes, thank 'jeebus' I'm not the kid's parent, because then I'd have been on the receiving end of the cutting board, eh what?

I'm not at all unsympathetic, slapincognito. I know only too well that some kids are completely out of control, and that they make the lives of their parents and siblings a misery. I was such a kid myself, and though I was never violent, I was completely uncontrollable. Oppositional behaviour disorder writ large,

And yes, there are times when I do think it's necessary to ship such kids off to places -- not so much for their own good, but for the good of siblings and others around them. However, this much I know. Had my parents ever packed me off to such a place, I would *never* have forgiven them. I understand that thats a risk that some parents are prepared to take, and you've gotta do what you've gotta do.

But when people find out what goes on in these places, they do find it hard to comprehend how anyone could pack off their kids, supposedly the people they love more than anyone in the world -- perhaps even more than there spouse -- to overpriced unregulated behaviour modification facilities on foreign shores. I know that many parents do this because they feel that it's better than putting the kids into the criminal justice system. Others are duped by the schools, believing that they are sending their kids to some kind of tough but high quality boarding school rather than some kind of clockwork orange facility. After all, the fees are about the same.

So I'm very sympathetic to parents in your sisters situation. Whether it actually accomplishes her goals remains to be seen, but there are unquestionably some kids whose acting out verges on the psychopathic, and they need to be held in secure facilities for the good of themselves and everyone around them.

However, I'm assured that your example is one of the more extreme stories and many of the children in these facilities are held there for things like smoking a little pot, drinking underage, typical teenage backchat, etc. Very often, parents blow the kids college fund sending them to these places, because they are being convinced that what most people regard as typical teenage behaviour actually represents uncontrollable deviance and without this form of incarceration they'll eventually end up in prison.

The reality, of course, is that most of them will grow out of it and just turn into the rest of us.

As a matter of interest, is there any word on how your nephew is doing at this facility? Not that your sister would know, because all mail is censored, and any negative talk ensures students are stripped of all privileges and put back in the programme, so if he wants to get out before he reaches eighteen, he'll almost certainly say the sorts of things that your sister wants to hear, whether he feels/believes them or not.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:35 AM on November 10, 2005


Gee, FFF, couldn't you find some more appropriate thread for that rant? Maybe even an audience, like, where they need to hear it (rather than the apparent majority here who largely agree).

Back On Topic:
So, apparently, kids don't have the right to refuse exile that the constitution specifies? So much for the bullshit they taught in school about "Land of the Free". The omitted the fine print which says something like, "Terms and conditions may apply."

Part of the problem with these gulags is that teens are sent away without any outside, independent oversight to determine the appropriateness. The gulags have a profit motive.

Slap Incognito:
So, your sister had no clue her son needed help long before she got her clue upside her head? Why don't you stop blaming the boy long enough to discover who hurt your nephew. Probably something your sister knew about or should have known about.

On further thought:
Is it any wonder that the administration claims the right to torture prisoners, when people do it to their own kids, OR, just like the government, they render them to other countries for the purpose?
posted by Goofyy at 1:33 AM on November 10, 2005


I do have sympathies - my brother has had many problems, never finished high school, etc. But any and all of these kind of punishment tactics backfired. Though my parents never attempted anything so strong, they did pull him out of school when he was failing, in the hopes it would "scare" him into working. It went the opposite way, and he never went back. What he needed at the time wasn't strict discipline, but a supportive atmosphere - teachers who checked up on him, people who talled to him about why he wasn't trying - he had untreated learning disabilities and depression. I don't really blame my parents - they were working very hard just to live, they couldn't be around when he was a teenager and had they tried what they did with me, it probably would have worked (I liked school, if not schoolwork, just enough). But the one special program which had been helping with his learning disabilities didn't contnue past age 12, and we didn't know about any of the others at the time. I'm just thinking about how all these extreme programs are ways to screw up your children even more.
posted by jb at 4:30 AM on November 10, 2005


"Slap Incognito:
So, your sister had no clue her son needed help long before she got her clue upside her head? Why don't you stop blaming the boy long enough to discover who hurt your nephew. Probably something your sister knew about or should have known about."

Well, geez, Goof, let me see:

- He was born in 1989 to my sister and a former EDS executive. He was the last of three kids and has a brother a year older and a sister two years older than he is. The dad divorced my sister in 1990 and is very financially secure, unlike my sister. My nephew lived with my sister until 1995 when he went to live with his father and trophy- stepmother in North Carolina. His siblings stayed with their mother. She saw him on holidays and a little in the summer, no more than that, because daddy had the money. They talked about every week or so. There were hints of depression, but it all fell apart in 2002 and he returned to my sister's care in 2003, when the dad divorced his second wife and didn't want to raise kids anymore. My sister was attacked in the latter part of 2004. She tried several avenues with the boy up until then, but sent him back to his father when they didn't work. He ran away from North Carolina, apparently hitched back to Michigan and attacked her in her bed, at night. Why did he do that? I don't know. I haven't asked him who took his little red wagon away when he was 4. I'm betting he needed the money, because that's what he took from her when he left.

So you tell ME when my sister "got her clue". I think she got her clue about two days after he got home and started beating on his brother, but I can't be sure. You tell ME when it's time to stop blaming the parents and start blaming the child who deliberately picked up a cutting board, on the way through the kitchen to her bedroom, with clear intent on killing her, and smashed her in the side of the head like he was throwing a frisbee. At what point is the boy responsible for the attempted murder? Or should my sister be jailed? What about the trophy stepmother? Should she be tried for conspiracy to commit murder? How about Dad? Should he?

Did somebody molest the little cherub? I have no idea. Did he feel abandoned by his daddy? I don't know, and I don't care. At some point, you have to stop looking elsewhere and start assigning something called "personal responsibility". He was 16 years old. He was old enough to know what he was doing, and he did it.

So, you ivory-tower dwelling sonofabitch, why don't you go spend a little time with some of the parents whose kids didn't survive Columbine and ask THEM about "getting the clue"? Those kids should have seen it COMING, right? Why don't you go spend a little time with victims of domestic abuse and see where "they get their clue"?

Or maybe you ought not speak of what you do not know.
posted by Slap Incognito at 6:28 AM on November 10, 2005


Did somebody molest the little cherub? I have no idea. Did he feel abandoned by his daddy? I don't know, and I don't care. At some point, you have to stop looking elsewhere and start assigning something called "personal responsibility". He was 16 years old. He was old enough to know what he was doing, and he did it.

One could always call the police to have him charged with battery and attempted murder rather than shipping him off to be abused and possibly molested by a bunch of weirdos, you know.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:37 AM on November 10, 2005


Cool, cause then he can end up in the American fuck-them-up-the-ass reformatory/prison system instead!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:21 AM on November 10, 2005


Better than the vigilante justice Slap advocates.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:54 AM on November 10, 2005


So some people are sociopaths, slap's nephew should be in a mental institution, jail or other place we as a society put people with obvious anti-social and homocidal tendenacies. These overseas places by far are for kids staying past a 9PM curfew, smoking weed and drinking. None of these are gross moral violations. None of these show signs of mental instability. At most they need counseling for both parents and kids to learn how to deal with each other. Some parents are just bad.

Slap's applying a bad analogy. There are so many marked differences in the degree of moral behavior between the two that a comparison cannot be accurately made. Indeed, the purpose of these reform schools are for kids who do not break the law, who are not ills of society but do no conform to the social norms of their family.
posted by geoff. at 1:20 PM on November 10, 2005


Gee Slap, does your attitude run in the family? Because you sure show a lack in your rational faculties. Sure, go ahead, blame the boy. He's just another kid, and they're easy enough to make. Throw that one away as so much rubbish.

And apparently you read minds, too. Otherwise, how could you know what I do or do not know? They have pills to help with that nowadays. They're called anti-psychotics. You can look it up. They come in different sorts.

I suspect you must be a rather cold, brutal person. Otherwise, how could you so casually dismiss such a profound act as a boy nearly killing his own mother, without wanting to know what was wrong with the boy?

You speak a lot of cliched bullshit about 'personal responsibility'. Anyone can parrot a bunch of worn-out cliches. It takes some real compassion to address the problems of that boy. Something you appear to have only for your sister. But, what the hell, he's not your worry, let the system sort him out.
posted by Goofyy at 2:20 AM on November 11, 2005


Goof:

Relax, dude, breathe. In, out. That's it.

You made a snide comment about my sister's lack of a clue, in doing so you thought you could be nifty and frame that in language that's referential to a "clue stick". This pissed me off. Perhaps that's why I'm sounding so cold and brutal. I'm really not cold and brutal, goof.

You seem to think that for whatever reason my sister deserves no compassion in this, but instead I should focus on finding out why her son tried to kill her. In doing this, you insulted her parenting skills, something which you obviously didn't know anything about.

You seem to think that we should coddle the kid, make him into the victim somehow. He's a criminal and should be locked up. Instead, he's running free.
The root cause of why he tried to kill her? We don't know. We tried to find out. Hardcore therapy, antidepressants, blah blah blah. Lots of avenues, no result.

So. The next time you read in the paper that some kid broke into a house and stole money, killing the occupants? Go ahead and think of that kid and think of my sister, because it might be him. Go ahead and wonder why he did it, instead of wondering why he's not in jail as the common criminal that he is.

I loved my nephew, Goof. He was a great kid. But then he tried to kill my sister. He is now officially a "write off".

I think kids deserve every chance in life, I really do. I can put up with an incredible amount of crap from the people I love too. Right up until they try to kill their parents. At that point, you kind of have to draw the line, wouldn't you agree?

So now, personal responsibility, yes, those horrible words, come in. I think he should be punished for his crimes. He needs to be held accountable for trying to kill his mom. He's not the victim in this. She didn't "ask for it" or something. He should go to jail. But apparently you think his MOM should be in jail, or maybe I should, eh?
posted by Slap Incognito at 5:48 AM on November 11, 2005


Slap, Goof, chill.

I agree with geoff: the article was about kids who are disobedient "rebellious" adolescents, not homicidal assholes. Two different things.

I also don't care much what happens to your nephew now either, as he crossed a line I think should be there. It's just that I think that he was not fated to do that, that sometime somewhere somebody could have reached him -- and didn't for some reason. I don't blame your sister though, nor from what you say do I think her parenting skills were the problem.

I'd feel awfully sorry for the allegedly slightly off-kilter teenagers who got incarcerated with that violent asshole. Do the places we're discussing accept those cases?
posted by davy at 6:35 PM on November 11, 2005


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