The entire setup of Turn-about Ranch in Utah was a setup for disaster.
Removing a child without warning from its own bed or luring the child on holiday only to dump it at Turn-about Ranch is not only traumatic, it provokes resistant. It was only a matter of time before a child reacted with such a violence that either the child or anyone else would have died.
It is not as if it did not happen before. On course there are many deaths caused by restraints. In fact, there are an entire blog about each recorded death among teenagers who have been confined to residential programs. Some deaths are not recorded. The local newspapers are quiet due to concern of loss of local jobs. The family has to settle out of court because they do not have the money to go up against the rich facilities.
Then there are deaths caused among innocent neighbors. Especially the Luc Ranch killings were tragic. Traumatized by their stay two teenagers ran and killed an elderly couple. However, people have been hurt in a number of incidents where the teenagers on the run or innocent people who just happened to be on the road at the same time also were either injured or killed.
Then there are teenagers in the programs who kills or just try to kill other teenagers to prevent them from reporting attempted escapes. Mountain Park Academy in Missouri saw such a tragedy. Out of three boys two are now dead and the last one still in prison. None today questions the fact that Mountain Park Academy was abusive. Given the news that the employees moved on to work at similar places makes it not better.
This time an employee lost his life at Turn-about Ranch. In Europe Turn-about Ranch is known from Brat Camp who boosted the career of Jemma Lucy. While her career certainly is an achievement, we only can question ourselves if the life lessons learned really are the kind of values we want to instill in our children. She entered the ranch with dreams of becoming a singer. The ranch taught her that life was extreme that she thought and extreme is the measures she has used during her career in the entertainment industry.
A boy is in prison. An employee is dead. Another employee needed treatment after the attack. Why? I am sure that the family of the boy now agree that it was not worth messing with the choices the boy made before they decided to send him to the program. Sometime teenagers make poor decision. Sitting around in the corner as a parent while you are bitter waiting to have money enough to send your child to other people for a quick fix instead of setting the standard your self is an absolutely no-go.
I am a parent. My children are among the few young Danes who do not drink and at the same time is not radicalized as much Danish teenager risk during these hard years where we have opened our vulnerable small culture to many outsiders.
I believe in setting standard. I do not drink very much and I am never drunk in front of my children. I wear a bike helmet. Instead of telling them how to behave, I show them how to behave. I show them how to work hard only days after a van crushed my bike with me on it. Broken limbs – no problem. You work! I do not tell my kids. I dragged myself out of my bed to the computer so I could serve my workplace who had granted me a position to serve at.
Showing instead of telling. That is the right way.
Nevertheless, even I have to learn about how group homes and residential programs work when your child needs treatment. My children live away from home. Their need for special treatment cannot be met where I live. It is painful for a parent. However, the difference between Turn-about Ranch and the place my children live is that my children was involved in the enrollment process.
No, it was not funny for them. It was not funny for me. From day one based on my experience with the industry I demanded unlimited visitation rights and that I only have to give the employees minutes of warning before I arrive. My wishes have been complied.
Both my children are intelligent people. They know that the rules at the group home are not the same as home. Because with special need special rules also have to be made. That is why violations have been minimal. Escape attempts have not been met with violence but with information so I could track the individual using the GPS on the smartphone. Yes. My children have smartphones while they are in the residential program. They have the right to communicate with friends and extended family at home.
The oldest even have the right to buy alcohol under the safe limit of 16.5 but have not exercised the right. Properly because they both have observed me.
Unlike the treatment facility my children live at, Turn-about ranch does not believe in communicating with children before they enter the program. When they enter the program, they are met with a unified approach. Any treatment reports made before entering the program are not taken into consideration so an individual treatment plan can be made.
It was a recipe for disaster and it became a disaster when employee was killed. A boy now enter the prison system instead of just being an underachiever. The family of the employee suffered a huge loss. The surviving employee might never come back due to the emotional damages caused by the fight.
There are no winners of this story. Only a huge amount of sorrow and loss.
Turn-about is an outdated form of treatment program. It should have closed years ago. Sadly, it did not.
- Tragedy at Turn-About Ranch: A teen came for rehab, then killed a staffer to escape, police say (The Washington Post)
- Southwest Missouri group home suspended after teen escapees are accused of murder (The Kansas City Star - about the LUC ranch murders)
- Man convicted as a teen of murder at Missouri boarding school dies (missourinet)