Testimony of Teens Kidnapped w/ authorization of parents and taken to overseas "behavior modification" schools.
September 30, 2002 11:44 AM   Subscribe

Testimony of Teens Kidnapped w/ authorization of parents and taken to overseas "behavior modification" schools. After researching these schools almost 5 years ago I am horrified that most of them are still running and whose teachings are even showing up in the form of seminars in kindergarten. Has anyone else had experience with schools like this, whether directly or through a family member or friend ?
posted by bkdelong (17 comments total)
Note: Link is *not* mozilla-accessible.
posted by SpecialK at 12:23 PM on September 30, 2002

Could we have a summary? I guess this is probably about maltreatment? I got to page 5 or 6, it's slow going. What do you feel about it, bkdelong? Any other links available?
posted by dash_slot- at 12:26 PM on September 30, 2002

I'm having no trouble with mozilla 1.0, but I got bored and switched over to wget.
posted by bobo123 at 12:27 PM on September 30, 2002

I got through about 100 pages of that testimony (it's a slow day at work). Sounds pretty horrible. I, too, am surprised these "schools" are still around. Is there any kind of foundation or anything to try and eradicate this?
posted by starvingartist at 12:57 PM on September 30, 2002

I once worked (as an outsider) with a boot-camp style facility for teenagers. It made a great impression on me -- After spending some time with them and seeing that they were reasonably happy, respectful, decent human beings, I was amazed when they would tell me stories about how they had held up convenience stores, committed rape, dealt drugs, etc. They had changed, they knew they had changed, and they were determined to stay changed. The camp directors treated them well, and especially never resorted to any sort of physical or psychological violence.

Now I tend to be the sort who immediately asks "Where are they parents? Why aren't they being responsible?", but in some cases camps like the ones I described a suitable for situations in which the parents aren't there and aren't beign responsible.

I can't speak for the camp linked to in the above post, but I just wanted to add my weight against a broad dismissal of "rehabilitation camps". Some of them do great work, and they fulfill a need in society.
posted by oissubke at 1:09 PM on September 30, 2002

Would be helpful if we had statistics on what happens to these kids after they leave...how many (percent) do live actively productive , crime-free and decent lives?
posted by Postroad at 1:28 PM on September 30, 2002

Jesus Christ. That's some of the most depressing shit I've ever read. I seriously would have rather gone to jail than faced what these kids have gone through.
posted by Veritron at 2:45 PM on September 30, 2002

seriousness aside, I had images of torture-by-80s-buttrock being used at these schools.
posted by trioperative at 2:49 PM on September 30, 2002

"Jesus Christ"...funny you should mention that. I was placed in a similar facility, here in the US, from ages 14-18...ours was run by evangelical christian fanatics. I could tell stories about how ineffective they were, or what horrible things they did to us as treatment, or the worse things done in the name of punishment. Or I could tell you stories about kids with serious issues being so emotionally neglected by staff, that they would go out and start huffing gas to get attention.

I'd have to agree that every kid I saw who came through there (Self included) would have been better served by parents taking some responsibility for raising their own children.

On the other hand, I can say I've built a football field in the middle of an ozark forest by myself (chopped down the trees, carved them up into firewood, pulled the stumps & rocks, and planted the grass)...um, it built character.

While I can't give empirical statistics on effectiveness, I can say that of the 60 kids that went in and out their doors during my time, every one of them self-destructed in college...those that even made it that far. One of my best in-the-joint friends ended up spending 4 years in a prison hospital for stealing a car, then rolling it a half-dozen times trying to run from the cops, about 2 months after he got home...
posted by nomisxid at 3:19 PM on September 30, 2002

I first heard of places like this in the Stephen King/Peter Straub book The Talisman. I wasn't sure if places like the "school" described in the book really existed, but when talking to someone at boarding school about it, she confirmed that places like this do, indeed, exist, and that they are hellish places indeed.

While there are those kids who go there because they commit serious crimes and their parents feel they can be rehabilitated through hard work and difficult conditions, the one described by my friend said that the bulk of the kids there were because they were garden variety rebellious teenagers who were sent there because their parents had no interest in actually raising them.

While what oissubke says is undoubtedly true, not all these camps/schools are like the WWASP. In fact, I was once in a superficially similar program, designed to increase self-reliance and esteem. That, however, was only a 3 week event, and trust and emotional support between among the counselors and campers was paramount.

The point is, there are a disturbingly large section (thoug by no means even close to a majority,) of the the upper-middle upper class parenting population who simply have no interest in having to deal with even the smallest teenage rebellion, and so pack them off to a "school" that promises to remove any scrap of willfulness from their children.

Anyway, enough nonsense for my first post.
posted by Snyder at 4:11 PM on September 30, 2002

Total Evil. There should be special camps for the parents.
posted by stbalbach at 5:30 PM on September 30, 2002

How nice, inflicting physical punishment and hope they'll not do the same with their kids. That's a medieval treatment, plain old torture, and don't try to sell me the reward-punishment system as good system when it allows violence as a punishment.

Sounds very Army-like to me, but in the Army you have a choice, you can quit and they don't force you to join them (they cheat all the way trying to brainwash you with the idea the Army is a marvellous, paradise like system in order to have more recruits, but that's "normal")

I would also check the staff that work in that program for sadistic inclinations and mental problems.
posted by elpapacito at 6:09 PM on September 30, 2002

There's an interesting POV from a parent in the book Augusta Gone: A True Story. Not all problems with kids are the result of bad or neglectful parenting.
posted by prodigaljester at 6:29 PM on September 30, 2002

I'm not sure how much I have to add but I was struck enough by this post to at least try.

I was, I suppose, what one would call a 'troubled teen': bi- or uni-polar (still not certain), (voluntarily, and briefly) institutionalized, gave my parents every possible reason to fear for my continued existence. No significant drug problems, though a good-sized amount of experimentation. My parents were, and have been, stellar examples of parenting, and there is little I would have chosen to be different in our relationship - and I credit them (with a side helping of motivation on my part) with the fact that I am alive, well, and even moderately successful at 25.

The testimonies of those three children made me deeply sad. I know my mother wouldn't have gone for it (and likely not my father), but I can imagine how tempting such a panacea might have felt during one of those multi-day stretches when they hadn't the faintest idea where their fifteen-year-old daughter was (I should note, I was in college at 15 - they didn't just set me loose on the land).

I have had friends describe to me the infliction of behavior modification (the Skinnerists). I know of my own experience that I played whatever game I had to to get out as soon as I figured out that I did not, in fact, like the mental ward very much at all (and the games all worked).

I suppose that what I am trying to say is that while the causes and reasons are never black and white, that these 'programs' are hideous examples of some of the darkest reaches of human nature and extortionism. No doubt there are schools and programs that are doing real, positive work, but I am not sure how one would distinguish the wheat from the chaff without being a better-than-averagely-informed person. Granted, one oughtn't send their child away for three years without having some idea about the place they're going, but even that statement assumes quite a lot about parents and their various qualifications.

To paraphase Snyder (above), though, enough nonsense for my second post.
posted by babylon at 6:59 PM on September 30, 2002

I have a younger brother who spent a month in a similar program, but here in the states, and it wasn't nearly as abusive. Aside from having to drink his own urine during some kind of survival exercise, it sounds like he was treated reasonably well.

The problem was that this program did nothing to address the fact that both of my parents were completely insane. His behavior was much improved when he got back home, but after a few months back with my parents he was back to the same old stuff again. It's like trying to prevent your bike from rusting by bringing it inside, drying it off, and putting it back out in the rain again.

As one of the kids giving testimony said, the parents are usually paying the bill, so if a given program dared to suggest that messed-up parents are part of a kid's problem, the parents can pull their kid out and place them in a program that will tell them what they want to hear, namely that they're the saintly, blameless parents of a damaged or incorrigible child.

While I was in college and graduate school, I watched my two youngest brothers slowly deteriorate under my mom's and stepdad's parenting, which mainly involved heavily medicating them, calling 911, emotionally abusing them (my mom was especially sadistic in this sense), beating the shit out of them (rarely, thankfully), or ignoring them (their father's specialty). None of the numerous treatment programs they were placed in ever dared to assess the family as a unit, at least not in any way that made any difference. And sadly, I don't see any solution to this problem.
posted by boredomjockey at 7:29 PM on September 30, 2002

Sounds very Army-like to me, but in the Army you have a choice, you can quit and they don't force you to join them (they cheat all the way trying to brainwash you with the idea the Army is a marvellous, paradise like system in order to have more recruits, but that's "normal")

I agree Mr. Elpapacito, the army does this. I suggest all those disillusioned with the Army should go to their nearest Navy recruiter.

- Petty Officer Montello, USN

On other notes, there are quite a few camps that can be described like this one. Sometimes, how the camp is constructed causes it to have many successes. Sometimes they can be abusive failures. It should note that there is a great deal of different techniques for helping a child trouble maker become better adjusted for a productive life, and one should not condemn all alternatives from the sins of the few. Discretion is always advised.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:57 AM on October 1, 2002

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