Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Former students sue Diamond Ranch Academy

Former students have sued Diamond Ranch Academy near Hurricane in Utah.

In their complaint they call the facility a private prison.

Their claim supports the numerous statements made by former students on various website and in blogs.

Statements the facility has sought to silence by suing a number of the people who have helped the former students to tell their side of the treatment approach they experienced during their stay at Diamond Ranch Academy.

I feel that it is important to learn what the student’s state even when they are not satisfied with their treatment. In a world where crime among minors have dropped and the new generation acquires the highest grades and have become the most sober youth maybe ever, there should be space to offer those who struggle the best possible treatment.

Lately the experts in Denmark have become worried because the soberness and none acting out among teenagers we have experienced the last 5 years seems to have resulted in a massive epidemic of depression. Especially female teenagers struggle to maintain the strait A’s hiding their identity and wishes for the future behind success with their studies.

At some point some of the reach out before they turn to suicide attempts? Should they then be sent to a place where they are punished because they asked for help? Should they be disconnected from the entire world for a week, a month or more depending of their progress in a program?

No of course not. The time for programs and group homes where the teenagers live a sheltered life shunned from the rest of the world should be over.

In Denmark the parliament researched the outcome of residential treatment centers in 1999 and discovered that those who have been in them did poorer compared to teenagers who lived in neglect at home dealing sexual abuse and addictions. They did not pass exams with the same quality in curriculum compared to public school. They didn’t end up going to universities. Maybe just stood in the waiting list for a cell in prisons.

Most important: The Danish government discovered that some firms milked the system promising cure and better life while they just warehoused the children in internal schools. One of the firms even had their own education for teachers which were not recognized by the rest of the world but did qualify them for jobs inside this firm. The “Tvind”-law was passed.

Improvements over night were not achieved but the path was decided. Some years ago the authorities cracked down on a number of group homes. Oversight became tighter. Treatment became individualized. Today it is normal that the teenagers have their own room and cell-phone on them outside school. For the counselors the cell-phones have become a tool. Runaways forget to turn their phone off and the counselors just have to call the social worker back home and alert the police who then return the teenagers to a talk with the social worker so it can be decided why the teenager ran.

Each and every incident of the use of restraint has to be reported to a central agency and the social services back home. It has resulted in better training of employees. It has forced the social workers to validate the placement better so the teenagers are sent to places suiting their needs. It has reduced the number of restraint cases to almost none and no death has occurred the last years.

Of course there are teenagers who have committed crimes. Denmark has lockdown treatment centers functioning as jails. If you have teenagers who commit violence the society needs protection from them. But the real effort is to separate punishment from treatment. An addict doesn’t need punishment to stop. An addict deserves an analyze where both the addict and the counselors can learn the source of the addiction. Why did it start? What kind of individualized treatment should be used? Should there be a treatment at all or should the teenager move far away to an isolated place as a kind of time out to allow the teenagers to mature in a place where drugs are harder in this way reducing the drug-use until the teenager mature?

Diamond Ranch Academy – despite their rework of their program some years ago – represents a treatment approach of the past. It was a time where the teenagers and their problems were forced to adapt to a system which they could be kept in until they either adapted or was broken down to a point of not-living waiting to return to the real world so they could continue their previous lives.

As many other treatment programs started at the same time using the same types of methods with variations they have a massive problem with former students starting to tell how they felt. They didn’t cut their clients tongues out during the treatment so their entire business plan is going to fail at some point.

They can fight it. They have tried. However it is just a question of time before their time is over. Maybe this lawsuit is the start of the end.


Monday, December 1, 2014

New book about Camp Tracey

Wayne Francis teaches literature and composition at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He’s currently working on a book detailing the history of Camp Tracey, a fundamentalist children’s home recently shut down by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

For this purpose a website has been created. Former detainees of Camp Tracey can go there and report their testimony.

To learn what Camp Tracey is about here is a copy of the contents of Fornits Wiki. Fornits Wiki is in the process of an upgrade to a newer version of MediaWiki and cannot be read right now.

Camp Tracey is a summer camp in Florida, which use behavior modification
It was founded in 1982 by Wilford McCormick.
In 2007 they claimed that they could detain 40 teenagers

Program structure

The program consists of elements of physical education, prayers, schooling in Christian Values and chores backed by use of corporal punishment.

In the news
  • In 1987 a Baker County grand jury investigated Camp Tracey after years of physical abuse allegations by children and parents. The grand jury issued a presentment criticizing the camp for excessive corporal punishment and the use of ropes and handcuffs to restrain children at the camp, near Glen St. Mary. Grand jurors also criticized education and health care at the camp and said it would consider criminal charges if changes weren't made. However, no charges were filed.
  • In 2003 a man sued the program for sexual abuse done by two staff members.
    Several others incidents are named in these articles.
  • As of July 2008 a investigation done by the Department of Children and Families is pending.

If you have been forced to attend Camp Tracey, please contact the author using the website. All this torment inflicted on teenagers must be stopped and legislation is needed. This book could prove a difference.

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