Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Iowa is closing a loophole. Is it not time for Missouri to do the same?

Midwest Academy used a loophole in state legislation to run a school under conditions which now have resulted in a guilty verdict against the manager of the school. Because the manager was no more than a franchisee, who used and enforced the structure of the franchisor - the money men behind what was in the old days called WWASP. new schools could be created in other states now where Iowa will close the loophole with new laws.

Fact is that it is possible.

If you run a religious boarding school in Missouri, none will look after how the business is set up.

It should not be so. Regardless if you call a facility which house minors a group home, a boarding school, a wildernes therapy program or a boot camp, the state should monitor the business activities by unannounced visits where they interview the children randomly outside the hearing area of the employees. Only then possible child abuse can be prevented.

We have to remember that the child abuse inside such facilities is not limited to bring suffering to the children. Random people outside can be hurt when the children try to run. Random employees who had nothing to do with the abuse can also become the victims. To put it short: Innocent people can be hurt.

If we look at a specific case, we could look at a place in Missouri called LUC Ranch. LUC stands for lives under Construction. A few years ago 2 boys ran from the ranch. They killed a couple down the road so they had something to drive in. A family lost relatives. It was a tragedy. Now some years later it turns out that rapes among the teenagers were not reported. The knowledge was kept within the ranch as a big secret because they wanted customers to remain referring their children to the ranch. It was not the right way to deal with such an issue but it was possible because religious based facilities can operate using a loophole where they are not required to tell anyone.

We do not know how many boys at LUC ranch who was abused. Now the escape attempt which ended with the loss of two innocent lives makes sense. I have to ask: Do you want to be raped? If not to which extend will you go in order to avoid that? Will you take a life? Will you take two?

Of course killing people regardless of what they faced back at the ranch is no excuse. I can say that because I sit thousand of miles from the place and never have been in a situation where I was in danger of being raped. In my mind the two boys who killed the couple must face the punishment the court decide they should suffer due to their crimes. I do not know if a rape victim will see it different. I have never been in that situation so how can I understand what it is like. Still I have to put faith into that the court system will find the right solution.

Regardless of the outcome of the trial, there is still work to be done. The loophole which allowed LUC ranch to operate without supervision of any kind must be stopped, just like Iowa is doing now. Because the relaxed legislation has resulted in the loss of lives before.

At Mountain Park Academy a boy was killed by two other boys. This facility which is now closed used extreme corporal punishment at it only kind of therapy in the name of Christ. The two boys were planning to run away and they felt that they had to silence the poor victim so he did not tell the employees about the escape plan. One of the murderers died in prison. The other boy is still locked up.

Supervision and monitoring will ensure that the risk of child abuse inside these facilities will be minimized. It will minimize the risk of further deaths. It will secure that the facilities will not hire employees who have criminal records or had been involved in child abuse cases before.

The state of Missouri needs to act now.


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