Thursday, November 28, 2013

Shackling of teenagers and mental patients widespread

Only months ago an Amber Alert were issued on teenagers being removed from a ranch in Arizona. The Department of Human Services had investigated the ranch for some time and suddenly the teenagers were gone. Fortunately the teenagers were returned to their parents after a couple of days.

Among the odd methods used at The Tierra Blanca Ranch were shackling of the teenagers. It was unfortunately not the only case where so-called treatment programs for at-risk teens have used shackles. A “school” in Florida today named Southeastern Military Academy also shackles the teenagers. A few years ago when the program was name Victory Forge Military Academy a boy ran away in shackles. The authorities investigated but decided that it was allowed to do that in Florida. Just remember that if you plan to move to Florida with your children or invest in businesses in that state.

The ranch in Arizona was shut down. The military school in Florida continues in operation ignoring orders to be licensed and audited and the authorities allow the facility to function without regulation. How the citizens in Florida accept that there are areas which could concern their children with functions so to say outside the law is not to understand.

Outside the United States the international headlines focuses on Indonesia. Religious homes seem to be the only option when it comes to treatment of teenagers and adults suffering from various mental issues. An article mentions the Islamic boarding school in Tulungagung, East Java. Another article mentions an escape attempt which ended with fatal results because some of the teenagers downed. It is also an Islamic boarding school however located in Ciamis, West Java.

Two cultures and two religions where the treatment offer for teenagers seem to be the same: Having your legs shackled!


Saturday, August 10, 2013

When runaways kill - who is to blame

Two boys ran away from LUC Ranch near Lampe in Missouri. LUC which stands for "Lives under Construction" failed to make the public aware of the escape. Maybe they believed that they had screened the two boys from Detroit with their bible as only tool. It proved fatal for two pensioners living nearby. They were murdered by the two boys or at least that is what they are tried for.

It is not important what kind of punishment these two boys get if they are convicted in court because no kind of punishment will bring their victims back. There are family out there who will miss two of their loved ones forever.

If they are proven guilty and convicted it must result in a harsh punishment but the public must also learn how these two boys ended up on a ranch clearly not suited to deal with their emotional problems. Boys of that age being able to take lives must demand treatment of a totally other kind than a couple of hours reading the bible combined with hard work can do.

Who sent them there?

For a lot of parents desperate to seek the help their children want it often sounds like a miracle when their priest just happens to know a place where the child can live in harmony with God learning to face consequences and the joy of hard work paid with recommendation for a secure place in heaven when the life is over.

It sounds good but it is not the solution. We are living in year 2013. Hospitals exist. Diagnoses exist. It is possible to evaluate any child and find the right treatment approach if everyone allows the time for it. LUC ranch is not a place where they will take the diagnoses and instill an individual treatment approach for every each client. They simply don’t have the employees for it. It demands years of education and experience to be able to treat difficult issues.

When the child act out it is a question of involving the counselors at school, be ready to approach the DHS to learn what kind of experiences they have. For the individual family having to deal with a child suffering from emotional issues the search for solutions takes all the time. Sometime siblings are neglected because one child is sick. It is one of the worst tasks any parent can be forced to deal with. And there are no short-cuts!

It was a tragedy that these two boys ended up at the LUC ranch. I hope that there were no professionals involved. I hope that the authorities in Lampe do their best not only to solve this crime but also to investigate how the placement process was done. LUC ranch is far from the only Ranch of this type operating in Missouri. There are many and they are not properly supervised by the authorities because they cover behind fact that they are fate based which in this state requires no kind of license at all.

This tragedy and the murder of a resident at another ranch years ago prove that oversight and regulation should be in place. The neighbors are concerned and they should be. People without proper education are playing mind games with teenagers and young adults who need highly specialized care. It is not a question if a similar tragedy will happen. It is a question when it will happen.

Message boards where the LUC ranch murders are discussed:
Local articles about the LUC Ranch murders:

Friday, July 26, 2013

Can 2013 be another golden year

We have learned that one of the largest firms operating behavior modification programs in the United States have decided to close 5 programs down. They are:

  • Academy at Swift River
  • Talisman Academy
  • Stone Mountain School
  • SUWS Adolescent & Youth Programs
  • Adirondack Leadership Expeditions

Some parts of SUWS remains in operation. Also other independent programs have announced their closure. Among the most well-known programs among survivors was Lighthouse Ministries of North West Florida formerly known as Victory Christian Academy. When the program was located in California a girl died there while she was put to work on something she wasn't trained professional do. Construction work demands education and the program was kicked out of California. They soon found a safe haven in Florida where the authorities doesn't care about religious programs.

However resent coverage in the media put the spotlight on programs like the Lighthouse. Their past was presented to the public. They had no choice but to close. However the closure came too late for the author Michele Ulriksen who died in 2011. Her book "Reform at Victory" showed the ordeal she and the other girls were forced to endure.

2013 seems to be a fine year. So far no teenagers have died in a group home or wilderness program which would be the first for several decades. We will cross our fingers and hope the best.


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Now stunning kids in a private boot camp is ruled OK

The police have dropped the case against a boot camp instructor at the Reality Invasion Boot Camp in Abilene, Texas

The police got a report from a 14 year old girl who told the police that she was shocked at the program. The police investigation showed that the mother had given permission to the instructors to shock the girl if she became disruptive while she was in the program.

The fact that the police are dropping the charges in this specific case means that it is OK for parents to hire strangers to shock their children using Tasers while it would be a crime for the parents to do it themselves.

How that this be justified?

We urge the politicians to pass legislation which would regulate the use of these private boot camps which have clients aged down to 4 year olds.

Otherwise there is a risk that a child could be killed as the intake process seems not to include a lengthy medical check. A child could be stunned to death based on an undiscovered heart condition. Secondly the child could be acting out based on untreated mental illnesses which would mean that the child would be punished for an illness rather than the behavior.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

California boot camps continues to be under fire

The authorities in California discover illegal acts in private boot camps. Now the third boot camp is investigated.

  • First it was a boot camp in Pasadena. Photos of children being forced to drink water until they vomited were widely published on the Internet.
  • Second a couple of police officer had private boot camp in Los Angeles. It is under investigation.
  • Now a scout camp is under investigation. 180 Degree Recon is the name of the camp. Two arrests have been made.

We have notified the people who maintain Fornits Wiki while we are busy with other parts of the Troubled Teen Industry.

California is moving in the right direction, but there are more work to do.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

South Africa section on Fornits Wiki expanded

I got a mail which told me that the South Africa section of Fornits Wiki has been expanded.

The reason is the coverage of a Christian Rehab facility named Noupoort Christian Care Centre.

Two boys and an adult died while they were in treatment.

The authorities tried to shut the program down but they failed.

The category got two extra pages. A factsheet about the facility and a victim list naming the dead boys.

I have also learned that a memorial blog for the boys will be set up.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Worked selling treatment but was let down when she need treatment

Sarah Mulvey created the most awful television shows as result of being pressured and bullied to get more viewers.

She created "Brat Camp". It was a show where teenagers were sent to various treatment programs, so they could become better people. If you forget the world famoush glamour model with connections in the soccer world the results were very mixed. One participant died shortly after he turned 18 of a drug overdose.

When the concept was sold the result was even more tragic. ABC Family purchased the concept where teenagers were sent to Sagewalk. It made the parents believe that wilderness therapy was safe. In 2009 Sagewalk closed after at 16 year old boy died in the program.

The kind of television she created was dangerous. She and the managers who pushed her hard failed to see that teenagers carry a social heritage. And this social heritage should be respected. You cannot coach, teach or provide any kind of therapy which can push a teenager past the potential they are given by birth in a special social class.

Teenagers return broken in spirit as result of therapy which are inflicted upon them without their consent.

Years later it was Sarah Mulvey who need treatment. She entered Causeway Retreat. Here she was failed just as much as the teenagers she made victims in the TV-shows.

It is not justice or payback, it is just sad.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

A rather odd court ruling

A court in India acquitted La Martiniere for Boys principal Sunirmal Chakravarthi and three teachers for their role in the suicide of 13 year old Rouvanjit Rawla.

The poor boy took his life in fear on the strict conduct code at the boarding school.

The school used corporal punishment despite the fact that the Supreme Court in India had banned the use of it. Denmark and India are in dispute over the extradition case of the humanitarian and author Niels Holck. I will not decide what is wrong and right in the extradition case, but it seems that the society in India has very little respect of the court system in general. So why extradite a person to stand trial in a country where the court system is disrespected?

Anyhow during the trial against the teachers one of the teachers told the court that he had used corporal punishment on the poor boy. He had used a cane. Still the court concluded that there was no evidence of torture.

According to the teacher there is no pain involved using a cane. It would be the first according to the people who are so old that they can remember corporal punishment in schools. The entire concept of using a cane on another person is to cause pain. It is torture. It is why corporal punishment has been outlawed in most countries. Even in India.

So why reach such a conclusion?

We cannot answer this. We feel that his family was robbed of a fair ending to their suffering. They lost a child because the boarding school didn't accept the previous ruling of the Supreme Court.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

A conviction with far reaching consequences

In relationship with the dragon boat accident involving teachers and students from Lundby Efterskole the court in Nykøbing Falster has now handed down convictions.

The court fined the boarding school 25 separate fines of DKK 10,000. The accident resulted in the death of one teacher and injury to many of the students after their body temperatures dropped as low as 15 degrees. One of the students is still hospitalized and has lost the ability to speak or swallow.

The headmaster of the school got a sentence of 60 days of prison suspended. He was also banned from teaching activities on the water for 3 years.

The last past is rather interesting as the trial showed that the headmaster was abroad while the accident took place and outsourced the teaching on the water to the deceased teacher who was a former elite officer from the Royal Danish Navy. Whether the school has to refrain from activities on water while the headmaster has his job or the school can continue to conduct such activities outsourcing the teaching to another teacher is disputed so maybe the conviction will be appealed.

However, regardless of the dispute the conviction has resulted in far reaching consequences for the entire boarding school business in Denmark. The reaching for taking the students out that day was to push the students out of their comfort zone. To enable that the students had to experience discomfort and in this particular case a near death experience.

The court’s ruling is a full stop for introducing emotional growth as part of the teaching in boarding schools and also in day schools. The schools have already made press releases that they will stop activities that would push students out of their comfort zone due to this ruling. You have to conclude that while many wants to collect payment from parents and school districts none wants to take responsibility when the activities inevitable go wrong.

And they will. Deaths in Denmark as well as abroad show that wilderness expeditions and outdoor activities will lead to the death of minors when the goal is emotional growth. Deaths are inevitable because no teacher or instructor has the full picture of the student’s emotional and physical history at hand when the students are ordered to do an activity.

Records of deaths at boarding schools, in wilderness programs and any other outdoor activity are now being recorded as they happened due to the wish of guardians and teachers trying to push the individual student out of his or her comfort zone. And the numbers are not few.

The accident involving this dragon boat could have meant the loss of the lives for several students if one student hadn’t swam ashore and ran barefooted for mile because the boat had to radio or other kind of communication equipment. It took 90 minutes before the authorities were alerted. So it is only luck combined with a heroic effort from the students which prevented a tragedy beyond imagination and a doubling of the victim list for Denmark.

So this case had become a teaching tool for parents. You cannot send your child to a boarding school expecting emotional growth without knowing that it could mean risking the life of your child. Not even taken into account that the boarding school association in Denmark has made a press release that they will stop the most dangerous activities. Because where is the limit. Until this incident the rules wasn’t clear regarding boating activities. New rules were introduced after this incident. We have to ask. This was stricter rules regarding water activities. What about the other activities?

Are the safety precautions in sports taken? What about activities along the roads? Many students are from cities where bicycles and cars never meet.

Last but least: Do the teachers know what they are dealing with when they decide what the comfort zone of the students is? They are not educated counselors. They are teachers. In 1994 the Danish government decided that not everyone should be allowed to call themselves psychologists without education which had been the case before this year. Today even group homes dealing with the most troubled youth call themselves psychotherapist which is a title everyone can take in Denmark unchallenged. It is due to the cost running these places. Psychologists are too expensive to hire when we are talking of troubled youth.

The teachers at these boarding schools are doing tasks which would require the assistance of psychologists if we were talking about adults being forced through the same exercises, but when we are talking of students then everyone finds it acceptable that a simple teacher does this job.

Do the teachers realize that they are opening Pandora’s box at some students when they push the students out of their comfort zone?

Even if they were successful with damaging the students, will it benefit the students in the long run? It is not certain. We all remember the famous writer H.C. Andersen. In the end of one of his book a duckling finds out that he is a swan. Many of the students attending these boarding schools enter with a luggage based on a mixture of their social heritage and the upbringing their parents provided them with.

What if they are made to believe that they are swans and decide to reach out for the highest jobs based on that belief? Fact is that it would end poorly for them because Denmark is a society where people choose a line of living and education based on their social heritage. It is a both sensitive and vulnerable society. The development the last 30 years in Denmark has showed that areas where people enter Denmark believing that they don’t have to develop their family over generations from low-income jobs to high-income positions end up being in trouble with the law when they so to say try to skip generations aiming for the highest positions.

So teaching emotional growth can be damaging for the students when they are destined to serve in ordinary jobs by birth. That is why this ruling can be positive for not only future students but the entire society.

Last year 8 schools closed because the parents are realizing the dangers of these schools. Not only when tragedies like the Dragon Boat accident happened but more general when the students return from an enclosed world believing that the swan status has been reached only to discover that isolated in the real world on the lessons learned are unreal. We don’t need that kind of frustration. We need that each and every youth learn to function based on the resources they have been taught at home and not at some emotional growth exercise.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Looking back on the last few years

It all started with Brat Camp being broadcasted on Danish Television. It all was so wonderful. Teenagers were going down the wrong track and some helpful people took the teenagers out in the wilderness or to a ranch where they guided the teenagers back on the right track.

But something alarmed me. I live in Denmark where we also have so-called troubled teenagers. But the criterion’s labeling who is troubled or who is not were entirely different in our two cultures. Drinking alcohol in Denmark does not make a troubled teenager. In fact when I was a child there was no lower purchase limit. Today it is 16 for alcohol with a percentage below the safe limit of 16.5 but back then there was no limit.

In fact the young adults I as a CIO in a larger publishing company would have difficulties to hire would be those who restrain from drinking alcohol because the human resource tools we have at our disposal is a beer or a glass of wine Friday after work and 5 minutes development conversation every 18 month. If I don't learn my employee to know Friday after work what would I have to talk about when we sit down and I dictates the employee’s career? Nothing and when times get rough guess I would have to let go first. Second what about the relationship between this individual and the colleagues? This individual would be isolated and I would not dare to offer such a work environment to anyone.

A troubled teenager in Denmark is a teenager who isolates her or himself. I know that because I have suffered a personal tragedy in my own family. I have a child who is not living at home because the authorities was concerned about her life staying at home after school instead of hanging out in the alleys behind the public run youth clubs where the youth learn to drink alcohol and socialize.

So when I saw Brat Camp I started a research about the subject. I met people online on Fornits back when sick people didn't try to destroy its reputation by posting porn and intentionally insult people just to scare them away from the board.

I was not interesting in starting a fight. I saw a problem. Private companies and various religious organizations did actually pay for results which could scare parents to lock their children up and politicians to make laws which criminalized the entire rite of passage for every teenager becoming an adult.

So together with the founder of Fornits, we created Fornits Wiki, where we gathered all the news from the industry on a worldwide basis. Today there are articles about behavior modification from 41 countries.

Times have changed. Many of the teenagers who were locked up at youth facilities in the 1990's are now adults and the internet has helped them to understand that they were not subjected to isolated incident when they were raped, beaten, humiliated and subjected to other inhumane so-called treatment methods. There were no laws protecting them. Troubled teenagers are not recognized as equals when they end up as victims in courts.

In fact they still are not in Denmark. What kind of punishment should a counselor get when he force a teenager to oral sex? I can state that a Danish court gave such a counselor suspended sentence 60 days in prison to serve if he ever repeated his actions once again. And this incident was caught on tape because the teenager taped the counselor on a hidden mobile phone when he took advantage of her. It is not fair but given the state of the laws which should protect children placed in care, the court did nothing wrong. They just could not punish him further even if they gave him a punishment to the full extent of the law.

But while we still have a distance to go in Denmark there are positive news from the States. Today the activism has moved from an isolated message board to Facebook and to 100 of websites. The former teenagers are no longer silent. They have created national wide network where they monitor the group homes, wilderness programs and boot camps. They are in the process of changing the general view on troubled teenagers.

In New York Post there is a story about the new “Teen Trouble” show. A self-taught counselor has sold the concept of a show to Lifetime – a major television network in the States. In every episode the counselor approach a so-called troubled teenager, put the teenager through some situation like jail and arrest to show what would happen if the path the teenager has chosen would continue. In the end the teenager ends up in a residential facility which has chosen to sponsor the show.

It is not a new concept. There have been dozen of such shows like Dr. Phil, Jenny Jones, Maury and Wilkos. There are many private “treatment” facilities which are willing to sponsor such shows because they don’t care whether the teenager is suited for their treatment approach or not. They don’t care about the problem. They care about how many they can house for the least expenses.

I who have been a professional businessman for more than 20 years have often wondered why they don’t care about who they serve because I know that a satisfied customer is a returning customer. I have come to the conclusion that they don’t realize who their customer is. They believe that their customer is the person who pays them the money, so they care about the parent. It is short-lived business. It would fail once the teenager exits the program because the next generation of this family would certainly not use this business again.

If I should run a youth home I would first entire that I have a qualified staff because I recognize the limitations I have. I am not a certified counselor. In Denmark there are a number of titles I could take which don’t require certification which would make me look like a counselor and when I look at the homepages of Danish group home I can see a lot of un-licensed employees who have taken these titles. It would be a scam if I tried this and I have to ask why parents put up with this?

In Denmark there are few if not no parents who seek out of the home placement on a voluntary basis. My child is not living outside my home at my choice but my mother has non-Danish origin so I was already rated low as a parent when the social worker first saw our case. Second we have been hit hard by a life-treating illness among us adults, so we accepted the “offer” given to us. It is generally a horse head placed in your bed. If you say no, we will find an unqualified group home or a foster family only caring about the money. If you say yes, you can better a better place for your child and visit it more frequently.

Because of the ordeal my child has to go through I cannot involve myself with Danish group homes and foster families. If I engaged in any activism my child could suffer if the authorities took revenge on us as a family. It has happened before here so I have remained focused on running and updating Fornits Wiki.

But my investment has paid up because others have picked up the axe and using the same tools developed by organizations like CAFETY and HEAL-online, they are charting the Danish group homes and foster families. It has led to a number of cases in Danish courts. The television channels have broadcasted documentaries about the most abusive facilities and legislation has been introduced in our parliament to ensure a safer environment for children in placement. Group homes have been closed; employees have been punished for their wrongdoings.

Today the most active organizations in Denmark are Domestic Prisoners of Consience (US-based) and Minors in residential placement research center (Sweden). As I have stated above I have to stay out their work in Denmark, but it does not mean that I cannot praise their excellent work.

My webpage was started in 2006. Many years have passed. Results have been reached by the timeless efforts of many volunteers. I want to thank them because I am a happy man today even given the fact that my child is not at home because I know that there is caring persons around my child because many of the people in business who were only present due to the money have been put out of work.

Thank you very much.

We are however not finished. There is a lot of work ahead of us. I hope to contribute for many years to come.

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