Another Overseas Behavior Modification School shut down
May 23, 2003 5:56 AM   Subscribe

WWASP still doesn't get it. A sort of follow-up post to this thread - despite constant attempts to shut down various facilities, the organization is still setting up schools all over the world for parents to have their children "kidnapped" and sent to. Despite massive exposes of the organization, and Samoan, Mexican, Czech and now Costa Rican governments stepping in, these schools are still running. It bothers me to see this list of violations and am wondering how much better it is to be in those schools than in jail. What's worse - is they are working to transfer the students to one of four of their other compounds - Casa By The Sea, Tranquility Bay, Academy at Ivy Ridge or Spring Creek Lodge - at least the last two are in the US but the first two are under serious scrutiny themselves. Several State Officials are beginning to take notice but at this point, (aside from consular inquiries), all the state department has done is issue a warning. Can anything else be done? SHOULD anything else be done?
posted by bkdelong (17 comments total)
According to Bock, a ''CAT 4'' or ''CAT 5'' offense earns students four or five days of O.P. in solitary confinement, where they are forced to stand, kneel or lie facing the wall for as long as 12 hours a day.

Gee, what a positive, self-confidance affirming program for our troubled youth! Look out a window, get locked in solitary. Jesus please us, I had no idea this was going on in this day and age. Thanks bkdelong.
posted by Jimbob at 6:06 AM on May 23, 2003

*pictures duhb, cheney and ashcroft rubbing hands together and thinking they've just discovered the perfect model for public schools...*
posted by quonsar at 6:22 AM on May 23, 2003

I was sitting in my room and my mom and my dad came in and they pulled up a chair and they sat down, they go:
Mike, we need to talk to you
And I go:
Okay what's the matter
They go:
Me and your mom have been noticing lately that you've been having a lot of problems, you've been going off for no reason and we're afraid you're gonna hurt somebody, we're afraid you're gonna hurt yourself. So we decided that it would be in your interest if we put you somewhere
where you could get the help that you need.
And I go:
Wait, what do you mean, what are you talking about, we decided!? My best interest?! How can you know what's my best interest is? How can you say what my best interest is? What are you trying to say, I'm crazy? When I went to
your schools, I went to your churches, I went to your institutional learning facilities?! So how can you say I'm crazy!?

-Institutionalized, Suicidal Tendencies

The thing that should surprise me but doesn't is that pretty much all the kids pictured in the Desperate Measures article are white. Not to mention that the yearly fee for sending a kid to one of these camps is listed as being as much as $54,000. I have to wonder about the folks interviewed in the article:

"She was very disrespectful. Her grades were in the toilet."
"My husband and I sat at the table in the kitchen and said, 'Well, at least she's not driving off in a hearse."'

How do you get from one to the other? I had some pretty poor grades in HS, and I definitely did not treat my parents with respect at all times, and I came out relatively OK. How are pretty common problems like those of the girl being talked about going to be cleared up by what these places are doing? I'd think it's like prescribing decapitation for a headache.

They are cut off for months from speaking with their parents or anyone else in the outside world. Phone calls and visits generally are allowed only after the first two to four months.

This would be a giant red flag to me.

The bottom line here seems to be, well, the bottom line: A company marketing their less-than-well-managed services to parents having problems with their teens who see the chance to make all their problems go away by signing a huge check. Thing is, even if I was in a position where I thought this was a valid option, I'd still want a little more look-see at the company who was going to be my child's de facto guardian for the next several months.

I would suppose that there are teens in this world who might actually benefit from this type of treatment. That doesn't mean it's the best treatment available, and the number of serious allegations of abuse and mis-management would lead me to look elsewhere.
posted by deadcowdan at 7:21 AM on May 23, 2003

According to Bock, a ''CAT 4'' or ''CAT 5'' offense earns students four or five days of O.P. in solitary confinement, where they are forced to stand, kneel or lie facing the wall for as long as 12 hours a day.

Harsh, but then I can't really comment unless I knew what an example of a "CAT 4" or "CAT 5" offense is. Are we talking failure to get somewhere on time or attempting to kill someone?
posted by ralawrence at 7:43 AM on May 23, 2003

"My husband and I sat at the table in the kitchen and said, 'Well, at least she's not driving off in a hearse."'

Am I the only one that had a scene from Harold and Maude flash through his head when reading that line?
posted by deanc at 7:45 AM on May 23, 2003

re: The Hearse......

One of the many mantras heard from parents who put kids in the program are along the lines of "If I didn't, they'd be 'Dead or in Jail' ". I can't tell you how many times I heard or read that exact phrasing of "Dead or in Jail." Creepy.

But parents are required to participate in TASKS seminars run or sponsored by Resource Realizations whose founder David Gilcrease was a Lifespring facilitator for five years before starting the country.

He was recently "profiled" in The Seattle Times for trying to take his programs to public schools.

FACTNET (The original Cult Awareness Network before the Church of Scientology took over the organization) says this about Lifespring.

It is also briefly mentioned in the Rocky Mountain News piece. Parents are warned and have it drilled into their heads at these seminars that any complaints from the kids are "manipulation" in order to get back naturally the parents ignore the pleas no matter how dire sounding. They are coached and, I daresay, have their own behavior modified to believe whatever these organizations tell them about their kids.

Here's one mother's "experience" from those seminars.
posted by bkdelong at 8:02 AM on May 23, 2003

ralawrence: It says in the article an example of a CAT 4 offense is "looking out the window":
'If you were caught looking out the window of the classroom, you were given a `CAT 4' [Category 4 offense] because they thought you were [plotting] a run plan,'' said 17-year-old Garred Bock, who was busted out of Dundee last October by his mother, Carey Bock, who discovered her ex-husband had sent her twin boys to Costa Rica.

According to Bock, a ''CAT 4'' or ''CAT 5'' offense earns students four or five days of O.P. in solitary confinement, where they are forced to stand, kneel or lie facing the wall for as long as 12 hours a day.
Also, I had forgotten about this before. It's a bit old and Paradise Cove was one of the many WWASP schools shut down but here's a list of the Rules and Consequences including CAT 4 and CAT 5s. Sounds like they're a little uh liberal in what they define as "running away".

That's pretty bad when the kids biggest fear when the school got shut down and they were "free to go" that their biggest fear was being placed in OP for 12 hours.
posted by bkdelong at 8:09 AM on May 23, 2003

Any parent who does this to their kid should be taken outside and summarily shot.

Seriously. Flame me if you want, but honest to God, people who send their kids to these places are scum.
posted by zaack at 8:35 AM on May 23, 2003

As an addendum -- if the kids are doing something illegal and the parents have really lost control, then that's what the legal system is for.

But to pay money to have your kids brutalized for being a little out of control?? Hello, they're teenagers! Sometimes they're going through a lot of stuff.

I have friends who were hellions as teenagers and now are normal, functioning happy people.

And the funny thing is (yes, that's sarcasm) all the kids I knew who were acting out had abusive/overbearing/nutty parents. Imagine that.
posted by zaack at 8:40 AM on May 23, 2003

While I would not go quite as far as zaack, I would question any parent who allows an outsider to subject their child to conditions and discipline that the parent is unwilling to subject the child to themselves.
posted by deadcowdan at 8:42 AM on May 23, 2003

Well, you know, "taken outside and shot," while an effective rhetorical tool, is probably not literally what I mean. The immediate gratification would likely fade as time passes. That's kind of the way it goes with shooting people in general, though, huh?

How about a free 2-month pass to one of these facilities?
posted by zaack at 8:46 AM on May 23, 2003

Interesting update.

It appears the Costa Rican government is on top of things.
At the request of the Prosecutor’s Office, Dundee Ranch Academy owner Narvin Lichfield was detained by police last night at 9 p.m. and is being held in jail.

The Prosecutor reportedly is looking into allegations that Lichfield was detaining children against their will and forcing them to sing declarations claiming they wanted to stay at Dundee Ranch under their own volition.

The Prosecutor is also reportedly investigating allegations that Lichfield was attempting to ship kids off to the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs’ (WWASP) behavior-modification program in Jamaica.

The judge is expected to rule on the case today."
Word is that the WWASP folks are coercing the kids to sign "commitments" to the program so they can be transfered to another school. If they do not, they are threatening to ship them to the Tranquility Bay school in Jamaica because
"None of the WWASPS Schools except Tranquility Bay could handle totally resistive students right now with the added numbers. Tranquility Bay would be the only option for students not willing to sign a commitment letter or for those who wish that experience. "
posted by bkdelong at 9:41 AM on May 23, 2003

Better than shooting them, is to force the parents who'd subject their children to such abuse, to submit to the same "rigorous" regime, themselves.

One worrying thing: the children only rebelled when told that they didn't have to obey the rules.

I weep at the sheep-like nature of today's youth, I really do.
posted by Blue Stone at 10:00 AM on May 23, 2003

This sort of tough love never works out. My friends and I got into punk in 1981. Every single one whose parents tried to drive them out of it ended up hating their parents and doing heavy drugs. I had one friend who was forced to watch while his parents burned his clothes and records- he was living on the street within a year and dead within two. Those of us with sane parents are doing fine.

They should have just gotten him a Pepsi. I think all he really wanted was a Pepsi...
posted by InfidelZombie at 10:39 AM on May 23, 2003

Subjecting the parents to the regime sounds like a good idea to me but probably not for the company, since then the parents would have a tough time coming up with $54k. And as we've seen, it is all about the money.
posted by billsaysthis at 11:37 AM on May 23, 2003

I had a rather close up look at one of these operations. I wasn't sent or anything, but someone close enough to my family for me to hear about it first hand. They were only there a month, until their father (who had not been a part of sending him) filed kidnapping charges. And they were willing to take him right back, too. Only the restraining order he carries with him everywhere he goes now prevents it.
posted by Nothing at 8:21 PM on May 23, 2003

I knew a girl who got raped in one of these programs.
posted by troutfishing at 8:45 PM on May 23, 2003

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