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I've written a novel called [url=]Record Producer from Dimension X.[/url] I'm posting it for free on my website. It's a satire of the music business. It's about a female metal band that poses as a crappy pop group in order to get a record deal. They become famous and cause worldwide chaos.
During a blackout in New York City, the main characters have an evening to kill, so they play a little one-upmanship game, seeing who can tell the most frightening true story. Jasmine, leader of the band, tells about how she was locked up at age 16, in a place called "Oakton Bible Academy." Some of it is based on my own experiences, and some of it is based on the stories of other psychiatric survivors.
This story might make you uncomfortable ... you may call me a liar ... but places like Oakton really exist, and they are TYPICAL of the psych hospital industry. Thanks to a Supreme Court decision in 1979 (Parham vs. J.R.), minors can be incarcerated for NO reason, for YEARS at a time. This opened the door to legalized child abuse. The industry caters to abusive parents, and takes the abuse to new extremes.
Thousands of kids are getting locked up for "crimes" like skipping class, smoking cigarettes, refusing to go to church, swearing, et cetera. You can't instill character in a child by terrorizing, abusing, and humiliating him. All of this "tough love," "scared straight," "boot camp" garbage DOESN'T WORK. Raising good kids is a lifelong task, and there are no quick fixes.
While crummy facilities do exist-some kids have to be in other settings for various reasons. My son went to a facility after his fourth attempt to kill me and his attempt to kill another child. Guess I should have held off until he succeeded? I know many families who had to remove children for safety and none of them were abusive parents and no facilities I know of cater to the parents at all. Sorry you had a bad experience.
Gee ... if he's guilty of two attempted murders, shouldn't he be charged with a crime?
My mother claimed I "tried to kill her" ... later she admitted that she made it up in order to get me committed.
>>none of them were abusive parents and no facilities I know of cater to the parents at all.
Two flat-out lies. It's a money-making business, and they have to please the parents because the parents control the purse strings. In the facility I was in, ALL the parents had serious mental problems and ALL the children there had been seriously abused by someone or other.
My child was seriously abused by someone. Yes, attempted murder is a crime but rehabilitation is the goal with juveniles. And my son was horribly abused by someone but it wasn't me. I have no money and can assure you the facility could have cared less what I thought. MY son did receive some treatment there that was useful though he still has serious issues to deal with which he is doing here at home.
You can think I'm a liar if you want. I do have records or the crimes my son attempted to commit-and he has admitted to attempting to murder among other things.
Fenris, I was in a mental hospital for children/teens.
I was there because my mom said I attacked her. Truth was that she tried to strangle me, I grabbed her wrists and held her against the wall till I thought she wasnt going to come after me anymore. Basically it was the first time I stood up to my mom and she got scared that she couldnt physically control me anymore. Police came, I was taken from the house. My little sis was left with my mom.
However, even though I was being sent there for all the wrong reasons, I was not treated poorly and I never saw anyone being treated poorly by the staff. I never heard of anyone being treated poorly by the staff either.
Also, thought the police were called, there is nothing in my record stating that I tried to kill or attack my mom. (maybe they felt she was lying) and though my mom said I attacked her, I never went to court for this. Just because there is no record of someone attempting a crime doesnt mean it wasnt attempted. Typically the victim (like lucyjoy) can decide to not press charges and to go with another option (like a treatment center).
Sorry your experience in a place like that was so terrible.
My 15 yo fs is going to one. He doesn't do well with freedom and he can't handle his anger constructively. I hate to see him go there, but he's a danger to himself otherwise.
Hi Fenrs,
I'm terribly sorry to hear about your experience as well.
I do have to agree with michellemartin on some of what had to say. When she said...
"However, even though I was being sent to an [URL="'"]inpatient drug rehab[/URL] for all the wrong reasons, I was not treated poorly and I never saw anyone being treated poorly by the staff. I never heard of anyone being treated poorly by the staff either."
What happened in your situation is terrible, but it doesn't mean that all residential treatment centers are bad. I attended a [URL=""]Florida drug rehab [/URL]for 14 months when I was younger. Even though I didn't want to be there, I was always treated with respect.
I spent 15 months at a place that calls itself both a residential treatment center and therapeutic boarding school and was treated with absolutely no respect. I was told repeatedly that I was worthless, was constantly humiliated and bullied by the staff and even made to repeatedly dig my own grave even though I was only there due to depression and grief issues after the death of my mom.
I was 15 when I was sent there and had never done drugs, alcohol, got in any trouble or had had sex. I was a very withdrawn, very overweight teenager. I was not a troublemaker. I simply didn’t fit into my dad’s new life after my mom died.
Even though these programs on their websites talk about helping kids with grief, depression, bullying and other minor issues, they have one size fits all programs that are designed to control as many kids with as few resources as possible (ie as cheaply as possible). So all kids are treated as out of control teens, even if they aren’t. The assumption is good kids will quickly pass through the lower levels but kids who are master manipulators excel while kids struggling with issues like depression struggle.
The only way kids were allowed to graduate was to lie about what they had done and learn to say exactly what they were required to say. If you didn’t learn to be a professional liar, you weren’t progressed and you would never leave. So kids ended up saying whatever it took to get out of there and doing whatever it took. Many girls offered sexual favors to male staff members.
My dad and stepmom moved to Singapore when I was 15. I was struggling with major depression and my grades had slipped to a B/C average so getting into a regular boarding school or a good international school was difficult, so I got sent to a pro-profit “therapeutic" boarding school which was really just a front for a troubled teen program. It was paid for by my maternal grandparents who believed I would get 24/7 therapy and could be around kids like me to help me get over my mother’s death. Instead, I was in a program where the staff constantly treated us like we were one step away from a life of prostitution or jail and with utter contempt and hatred like we were garbage no one wanted.
The websites for these programs and schools are incredibly flashy but do not accurately depict what the programs are. The hell on earth I was at looks like an idyllic summer camp according to their website and the company spends more on marketing than anything else. They have salesmen who will tell parents anything to get parents to pay tens of thousands of dollars to send their kids to places where the goal is making as much money as possible, not helping kids.
The reason I am posting here is that many of the other kids there were adopted and I am horrified by the things done and said to those kids and the way they were treated. I was grouped with them because my mother had died when I was 13 and one of the reasons I was sent there was I didn’t get along with my stepmom. Group “therapy” included writing in a diary which were always read by the staff and frequently outloud in group sessions.
We were made to write about how horrible our lives would be if we remained with our birthfamilies. Writing anything positive about my deceased mother or any birthparents was punished by work hours. Kids adopted from Russia were made to enact the being homeless that they were told they would be if hadn’t been “saved" from Russian orphanages.
One of the group therapy session tasks was to write a thank you letter to adoptive parents for “saving” us from our horrible birthparents, and that included my stepmother who wanted me gone. When I refused, I was called “non-complaint” because accepting my stepmother as my mother which was part of their treatment goals for me. I was put in a silence vest, put on non-compliant, punishment food and given hundreds of work hours until I completed the task. I never did do it.
I was demoted a level and punished for telling my dad during the very brief phone calls I had that I had sprained both of my ankles they were making me run in flip-flops as punishment, had not received any medical treatment and they were still making me run. The staff liked to humiliate me by making me run, especially because they didn’t have polo shirts big enough for me and I had a very light weight bra with no support. So, I was made to run up and down the walkway in front of all the other students in agonizing pain and with everyone laughing at my breasts bouncing up and down.
The only way to graduate was to learn to lie and tell parents only what they wanted to hear and nothing negative about the program. If you told the truth, you were punished.
I did not graduate. I never got past Level 2. I became more and more depressed to the point that became utterly despondent. During a “team building” activity I refused to get out of bed. That caused my team to lose privileges so another girl on my team took a chair and beat me with it to get revenge.
The school finally admitted they couldn’t help me and I was then transferred to a psychiatric hospital for 2 weeks and finally got help - which was really only getting the hell out of that school and away from my dad.
Here are my suggestions for parents when determining what school/program to send their child to:
1) Ask about the staff qualifications and turnover rate
Find out exactly what qualifications the people working directly with the kids have. Frequently, the troubled teen industry cuts costs and controls their staff by hiring recent college grads with no experience. Typically there are incredibly high staff turnover rates and kids will be dealing with new therapists and staff every 2-3 months.
Also check on how many patients the psychiatrist for the program is dealing with. When my family psychiatrist tried to follow-up with the psychiatrist from the school after I was freed, the psychiatrist confused me with another student and couldn’t explain why I had been prescribed the anti-psychotic medication.
The psychiatrist for the school admitted that all the girls there blended together and he didn’t see any of us for more an a minute or two. All of the info about us was from staff members who also couldn’t keep us straight and were always changing. Within 6 months of leaving the school, I was weaned from the cocktail of 4 medications I was on to none. They medicated for no real reason and never detected the problems I had with malnutrition.
2) Is there adequate nutrition and is inadequate food given as a punishment?
For-profit programs cut costs on food and use it was a punishment. I’m not complaining about there not being pizza and hot dogs. Kids struggling with depression, mental illness and trauma need good nutrition for proper brain function - fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, Omega 3 fatty acids, etc.
Frequently, troubled teen programs only allow kids at lower levels to eat rice, spinach and green beans and only when they reach the upper levels are they allowed other food. Food is also used as a punishment and kids on who are labeled non-complaint or are being punished for infractions only are allowed something like green beans or spinach. Lentils and black beans now have been added by some programs because of the massive problems with anemia.
I was severely anemic when I was finally taken to a psychiatric hospital at the end of the 15 months I endured. The director claimed it was because I was not eating, but that was because all I was being given to eat was yucky canned green beans that I chose not to eat.
My anemia was so severe that it was likely caused symptoms that were similar to panic attacks including heart palpitations.
3) Is there any real school programs or is everything online cheating?
Even though many of these programs call themselves “therapeutic boarding schools” (although more have dropped this and are using the Residental Treatment Center label since they have been called out for the lack of any actual classrooms and more people are searching in search engines for RTCs), none actually have schools and all the classes are online and tests are open notes/notes and done in groups. Cheating is done out in the open and allowed because they want parents to see the immediately success of good grades and kids making up two grades worth of classes in a year.
Some websites for these schools show fake images of things like chemistry labs and art programs. Visiting the place you intend to send your child is critical. Print out the website and ask them to take you to the things shown. Frequently the images on their websites are staged or taken elsewhere.
4) Peer Authority – Are other students/patients put in charge over other kids?
Most of these troubled teen programs have a level system with high level students given authority over lower level student since their staff to student ratio is frequently 30-1 or more. In the ratios they give out to parents, they frequently include staff members who are only part-time on campus or rarely deal with students like their large number of salesmen.
This peer authority can include higher level students being required to accompany new students to the bathroom and shower and students disciplining other students. Where I was at, when a student was labeled non-complaint, an upper level student was required to be next to me at all times and sleep in a cot next to my bed. I was not allowed to say anything to her, but she was supposed to critique everything I did wrong so I essentially had a constant bully standing next to me all day and night.
Upper level students were also required to punish the new students by handing out work hours and essentially demerits for rule infractions, which made the school money. The longer it took for students to make the next level, the more money the school got. The upper level students couldn’t graduate without handing out enough work hours and rules violations and when they were trying to make hours they would just hand them out for absolutely nothing.
The ability for students to be sexually abused was very possible because an upper level student “buddy” was required be within arms’ distance in the shower and on the toilet with all Level 1 students.
Before sending your child to one of these places, check what type of authority other kids will have, what is being done to stop bullying, and will your child be required to be alone and naked with other kids in the bathroom without adult supervision? So many of the other kids there had been sexual abused before and these kids were given authority over other kids in situations where they were alone and naked.
5) Will your child be able to report abuse? Or are they in a closed world where their tormentors have utter control to cut them off from the outside world, including parents, GALs, CASA volunteers, the police and 911?
All contact to the outside world is cut off by these programs. Monitored very brief phone calls to parents are given as a reward after weeks and even months. In the 15 months I was at this “therapeutic” boarding school, I never progressed passed level 2 so I never saw my dad or talked to him for more than 10-15 minutes a month. If I said anything negative, even it was true, my phone privileges were removed. If kids are being sexually abused, there is no way for them to report it. Kids in foster care sent these programs have no contact with anyone, even people legally responsible for them like law guardians and CASA volunteers.
The assumption is all kids in troubled teen programs are horrible liars and any abuse claims are false. The staff knows this. They know that if they victimize these kids, there is no way they will be reported since no one will believe the kids and the kids have absolutely no contact with the outside world that isn’t controlled by the school staff.
There is a bill in the US House of Representatives called the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act that would require all troubled teen programs to have access to call 911 and abuse hotlines.
[url=]Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2013 (H.R. 1981) -[/url]
Please contact your representative and express your support for this bill. It would stop the horrors that happened to me and so many other kids.
It’s taken years for me to recover from the abuse I suffered and only with the help of my grandparents have I been able to finally regain my healthy and sanity after feeling like I had been abandoned by the world and doomed. I remember just lying in the grave I had to dig and wishing someone would have killed me. I know longer have anything to do with my dad or stepmom. They were deceived by the school into believing it was something it wasn’t, but parents should realize when something is wrong. If you can’t see your kid for over a year and only have limited contact, something is wrong.
Do no trust these troubled teen types of programs especially if their goal is to make money. They aren’t going to be looking out for your child, they’re going to be trying to profit. They will try to convince parents they are whatever the parent wants them to be so they can recruit as many students as possible. Actually treating kids with mental illness is expensive and takes considerable effort. The troubled teen industry can’t profit until they resort to cult-like control methods that allow them to control dozens of kids with minimal staffing and use upper level students for direct supervision of new kids or being punished.
I hope I can save one kid from going through the torture and hell I endured.