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June 29, 2003 12:53 PM   Subscribe

In China they have re-eductaion camps, to enlighten people in the way they should regard the Chinese government and state. In America, parents can send their children somewhere to be trained to adopt a more agreeable attitude, too. The World Wide Association of Speciality Programs runs camps all over the world, including one at Tranquility Bay in Jamaica where children are held against their will and subjected to a regime of behaviour and thought modification until they adopt the behaviour and thinking that the camp's administartion approves of. I found myself reading this detailed and lengthy account of the camp's practices and growing furious with rage at the brainwashing sanctioned by ignorant parents, who seem happy with their new obedient and adoring children. See what you think. Part one. Part two.
posted by Blue Stone (27 comments total)
Prime Time Hootenany Television too.
posted by Satapher at 1:05 PM on June 29, 2003

Sounds rough, but it still sounds better than spending a few years in juvie or in the state pen. At least it sounds free of shivs, gang-rapes in the showers, and white-power aryan nations types.

I love how the article directly contradicts itself in places. Part One says that "no child arrives at Tranquility with a release date," but Part Two correctly notes that they can walk out on their 18th birthday, which sounds an awful damn lot like a final, irrevocable release date to me.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:21 PM on June 29, 2003

I'm pretty much certain that the only kind of people that would send their children to this are the kind that would do it for things like back-talking, lying, or wanting to (god forbid) create a life of their own. These are probably not drug addicts or criminals.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:30 PM on June 29, 2003

which sounds an awful damn lot like a final, irrevocable release date

not really. no one arrives slated to be released when they turn 18.

but anyways, I suddenly feel like I must do all I can to burn this place to the ground.
posted by mcsweetie at 1:35 PM on June 29, 2003

I'd imagine that they pretty much have to release them when they turn 18 seeing as that is the age of "adulthood" and it's significantly more difficult for parents to keep their kids legally locked up somewhere.

Isn't this the same group that was discussed here?
posted by Orb at 1:51 PM on June 29, 2003

If this were a reality show, I'd watch it. I love to watch spoiled rich teens suffer.

You know, my Dad once attempted to enroll me in a similar program. He called it "the United States Marine Corps". Fortunately, I got a scholarship instead, so I was able to continue my pot-smoking, beer-drinking, skirt-chasing, authority-questioning ways in a liberal college atmosphere a thousand miles away from home, and our relationship improved dramatically.

And just to justify the existence of this post and save y'all the googling, here's the WWASP homepage (has Flash).
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:55 PM on June 29, 2003

I'd imagine that they pretty much have to release them when they turn 18 seeing as that is the age of "adulthood" and it's significantly more difficult for parents to keep their kids legally locked up somewhere.

Indeed, the article states they must be released, if they wish, at age 18. They are given "$50 and the return half of [their] air ticket if [they] wanted to leave."

Considering the parent doesn't want them to leave and would probably refuse to allow them to return home, they have nothing with them. So they fly back to America and attempt to get by on their wits and $50? Not much of a choice.

Tranquility Bay sounds like hell on earth to me.
posted by dobbs at 1:59 PM on June 29, 2003

Here's what seems to be Tranquility Bay's homepage. Their "warranty" strikes me as odd:

If a student completes the Program, having fulfilled all stages and criteria, the student may be re-admitted to the Program for up to 60 days of free tuition, if he or she should slip into old attitudes or behavior patterns before the age of 18.

In other words, if the program doesn't work, we'll give you more of it for free.

Here's another homepage.

Here, as well, is an interesting (if not terribly well-written) article about a suicide attempt and the conditions inside Tranquility Bay.
posted by Vidiot at 2:05 PM on June 29, 2003

Our third wwasp post in the last nine months. Kidnapping & re-educating spoiled wealthy kids may one day make fine reality programming, as BitterOldPunk has suggested, but until then, it's excellent Mefi teeth gnashing fodder. "Isn't this place awful? Can you believe this is legal?" "So true, we must do something!!"
posted by jonson at 2:10 PM on June 29, 2003

Where are the re-education camps for embittered, senile adults who can't remember what it was like being a kid?
posted by substrate at 2:41 PM on June 29, 2003

"In China they have re-education camps, to enlighten people..." - and in the US, we have TV and advertising to enlighten us.
posted by troutfishing at 3:27 PM on June 29, 2003

Wouldnt that be great if there was some kid out there writing into a diary every night about that place and the things that they feel, and one day it becomes a book? That way you could actually see the slow transformation into mind control.

Too bad it can never happen. Too bad people aren't taking this post more seriously.
posted by Keyser Soze at 4:31 PM on June 29, 2003

I find it hard to take yet another bog-standard tirade from the Guardian very seriously. Even if we take everything in it at face value (which would be stupid, given that it's the Guardian), it's still better than juvie or prison.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:17 PM on June 29, 2003

"'s still better than juvie or prison."

Is it? To go to juvie or prison, you have to do something that is against the law. To be sent to this brainwashing camp, all you have to do is piss off your parents.

So would it still be better to send them there if it's because they're dating the wrong person? How about listening to the wrong music? Because there is nothing stopping parents from sending kids to this place for precisely that reason.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 5:36 PM on June 29, 2003

Sorry ROU_Xenophobe, I personally think it's horrendous. It's wrongful imprisonment plain and simple. It may not be as bad as juvenile detention but there's no requirement that an imprisonable offence be committed either. You have unqualified people administering corporal punishment at the whims of these kids parents.

From the second article:
Other students were sent here for wearing inappropriate clothes, using bad language, or hanging around with the wrong sort of friends.
So you can send your kids in because they don't heed the mantra of: Conform, Obey, Consume.
posted by substrate at 5:37 PM on June 29, 2003

The US State Department's take on "behavior modification facilities."

Looks like they have consular officers periodically visit to check up on the general welfare of US citizens therein. I'm sure it'd be interesting as hell to hear their off-the-record comments about those visits.

By the way, the websites for some of these "escort companies" that will transport/abduct your kid for you are kind of chilling to read as well:

When the Agents first arrive they will introduce themselves and prepare the vehicle for transportation by activating the rear door(s) child proof locking mechanism.

We have found that if we keep the teen moving and get them out of their "Home" or comfort zone area as expediently as possible they quickly calm down and surrender to the situation. This method is especially important if flying is involved in that any lengthy time spent at an airport can cause a teen to become highly anxious. Basically, it gives them too much time to think. During this portion of the transport more so than at any other part of the transport we literally keep the teen within arms reach of both Agents at all times.

They'll even lock a GPS tracking device on your kid if you so desire:

The teen will be highly likely to surrender to the situation knowing that no matter where they go they can be tracked in just minutes. This is especially helpful when the teen discovers that the only way to remove the device is through a special electronic key and that the locking mechanism is reinforced titanium, and that they will be located far before they would have any opportunity to remove the device.
posted by Vidiot at 5:52 PM on June 29, 2003

It may not be as bad as juvenile detention but there's no requirement that an imprisonable offence be committed either.

Nope. But, to be blunt, given the Guardian's woeful fact-checking record, I don't buy that there are actually any substantial number of kids there who really-and-truly merely pissed off their parents. I'll note especially that "wearing inappropriate clothes" and "hanging around with the wrong sort of friends" sound like euphemisms for gang-banging to me. I suspect that some kids said what the Guardian liked to hear, and that since that meets with the slant the Guardian wants to put on it, they carefully refrained from checking further.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:17 PM on June 29, 2003

And there's nothing stopping parents from doing all sorts of awful things to kids if they do things their parents don't like for whatever reason. I'm not sure what a realistic alternative is, though, since the state's track record is hardly better.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:18 PM on June 29, 2003

wow, I'm really surprised how lightly so many of you took this. This is freaky culty mind control. Just 'cause they have rich parents doesn't mean these kids should have to undergo abuse... As for it being better than juvie, I don't have the experience to compare, but that constant supervision and lack of private time - and 18 months lying on your face! - seem really psychologically torturous. Even if juvie is more rough, there's something extremely creepy about this place.

Sometimes I'm just blown away by how weird and simplistic people can be - this realignment of a personality through point systems and repetition of empty phrases, etc. I find it really upsetting that the director and parents sincerely understand the human condition in these terms. Bleah.
posted by mdn at 7:20 PM on June 29, 2003

I know one girl who was sent to such a "disobedience" camp and raped there. Oh boy. Charactor building, indeed.
posted by troutfishing at 10:15 PM on June 29, 2003

So they fly back to America and attempt to get by on their wits and $50? Not much of a choice.

I dunno. When I was 16 my Dad (stepmom really) sent me to a lock up drug facility. I had no intention of quitting, and told the authorities as much in no uncertain terms. Once it was clear that I wasn't going to play by the rules, they told me "fine, we'll just keep you here as long as we can and milk your parents for their money". Assumedly this was meant to show me the futility of fighting the program. But my solution was the fire escape. See, fire codes say that the fire escape always has to work, so in any lockup hospital you can get out that way. So I did. Lived on the streets for half a year. Even went back to the place month or so later, to the bldg across the street, and posted a sign visible to the inmates reading "Use the fire escape, it works".

So there is a choice. Admittedly not a great one, but I think I'd prefer making it on my own to being in one of those camps. But then I've always played by my own rules.
posted by ehintz at 11:13 PM on June 29, 2003

Well I guess the nazis will love this place, it's evident it's a concentration camp, I don't buy the behavior-modification marketing bull*hit. It's "comform to the rules or be beaten" the same logic employed by the supporters of death penalty.

Among the horrors revealed in the article, there's a few hints about who's sending the kids...

"Messy divorce and remarriage are the norm among these parents. " Statement that can be easily checked in databases.


'I'd probably be living with a drug dealer or something awful like that,' speculates a girl. 'And going nowhere. Not being successful.'

And here's the biggest trap: who and what defines what is succesful ? Clearly the mere possession of money can't define "succesful" if you consider that any moron with a gun can kill somebody, take the money, become rich and declared himself "succesful" because of that.

And I wonder what kind of parents these kids will become. Having learned that you can get anything out of anybody with the use of violence, they'll simply use it again on their kids because they learned it works, they didn't learn why it's dreadfully wrong.
posted by elpapacito at 5:23 AM on June 30, 2003

Flipping hell! I am amazed that this isn't some sort of contravention of US law. It would be a whopping breech of the UK's Human Rights Act amongst other things. I would also suspect its a pretty massive breech of the requirements of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child . Specifcally it would appear to breech articles 2, 3, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14 ,15, 16, 19, 20, 31, 35, 36 and 37 of the Convention. Except, of course, the US is the only country apart from Somalia to have failed to ratify the treaty. (Somalia's refusal is to do with large numbers of child soldiers - what's the US's excuse?)

Frankly it is horrifying to hear some people glibbly glossing over what would appear a horrific abuse of children's rights - in fact pretty horrible abuse full stop. Certainly prison might be worse, but thats hardly a justification for this sort of thing. The fact that worse abuses exist does not excuse a lesser abuse. Children in prison are there after due process and have access to legal counsel/ communications with the outside world - children in these camps are prisoners at their parent's discretion, with no access to help or advice. It is positively barbaric.
posted by prentiz at 5:55 AM on June 30, 2003

I find this whole idea really disturbing. These kids may be forced to conform to societal norms (well, for Utah!), but their therapy bills in later years will probably be astounding.

The man who runs the place sounds uneducated and very creepy and it makes me wonder what other kinds of abuse might be going on there that he doesn't want discovered. What is so vehemently hiding from the media? Why does it have to be out of the country?

What kind of parent signs away their kids' rights and their own right to step in and intervene if necessary?

Also, what about the quote from a parent:

'He was real disrespectful to his mom,' Mozingo sighs. 'Not to me. Never to Daddy.'

Daddy?? EW.
posted by sparky at 6:13 AM on June 30, 2003

I'll note especially that "wearing inappropriate clothes" and "hanging around with the wrong sort of friends" sound like euphemisms for gang-banging to me.

What are you, an assistant principal? I don't think what you're saying here is entirely baseless but come on.
posted by furiousthought at 7:01 AM on June 30, 2003

Your teen might be in trouble if... (via the Tranquility Bay web site.)

Is if your teen is, well... a teen, send them to re-education!
posted by Localemperor at 8:29 AM on June 30, 2003

ROU_Xenophobe: ....given the Guardian's woeful fact-checking record, I don't buy that there are actually any substantial number of kids there who really-and-truly merely pissed off their parents.

I understand that many people do not agree with the Guardian's political leanings (perceived or otherwise) and that as a result, they may question it as a source. Such a comment could be construed as slanderous without evidence to back it up though.

Personally, this article did not strike me as a liberal hatchet job. No bearded liberal psychiatrists were quoted. No Democrats wielding moral outrage were wheeled out to let rip. No tweed be-suited, corduroy elbow-patched academics were asked to proffer conjecture on the failure of the family unit in the US and no one claimed it is all GW's fault.

Instead, it seemed to me that the writer provided an utterly horrific description of the company’s services at Tranquillity Bay.

Just to recap, this company kidnaps teenagers, imprisons them against their will for an indefinite period and then systematically destroys their individuality whilst encouraging them to turn informer.

I suggest we invade. A regime change is definitely required at Tranquillity Bay and there seems no need for Alastair Campbell to sex this report up.

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What Localemperor said..........
posted by davehat at 9:09 AM on June 30, 2003

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