Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Congressional Hearing on Troubled Teen "Treatment" Facilities"

Children Should Be Safe…
Children Should Be Important to Everyone…
Australian Childhood Foundation's motto

Can't help wondering...what you're doing today? I know what I'll be doing... today, Oct. 10, congress is holding their first ever hearing on teen abuse in residential treatment centers. So I'll be watching it on C-Span either live if possible, or later as a re-broadcast even if that's in the middle of the night. I'm sure it will also be available at C-Span for viewing as well.

The industry that profits off children's misery needs to be exposed on a greater level than is presently happening. One of the witnesses will be Maia Szalavitz who helped spur this investigation with the first book-length expose of this billion-dollar industry, "Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids" (Riverhead Books, 2006), which detailed the horrifying abuse, medical ignorance, and neglect that caused thousands of injuries and dozens of deaths." Other witnesses include parents of children who died as a result of "treatment" in such places.

This morning I visited Kelsey's Purpose, as I often do. I went to share the above information but also commented on child abuse in general in response to a thread where parents were sharing how they deal with the frustrations of parentin. Although I don't usually, I thought I'd share part of what I said there, here.

CHILD ABUSE should NEVER be the answer! No matter what the circumstances. Unfortunately, too often it is the answer. I know. I was abused and in turn as a young mother I abused my wonderful innocent children. It wasn't considered abuse then...just excessive discipline and other such nonsense. In fact until the 60-70's "child abuse" as a parenting problem wasn't even part of any conversation. Kempe's article brought it to the attention of many, including me who sought help for myself and family. However, although the conversation is louder now, child abuse remains a global disgrace. The numbers continue to climb and most experts agree that the numbers represent only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I fear that as long as we focus on the horric, heart rending stories of the "newsworthy" abuse such as poor tiny Kelsey endured and lost her life to, we enable vast numbers of daily abusers to use Kelsey's experiences and others like her to kid themselves that whatever they do to their children isn't really "abuse." The rationalilzations for continuing their abuse run the gamut from "my parents did this to me and I turned out okay" (usually a dubious claim at best) to "children are resilient and won't remember anyway" even though that's not true on deeper levels of the body, spirit and soul, and hardly serves to excuse or explain anything. And of course the ever present, "it's for their own good," "they need to learn and this is what it takes to get their attention," "that's why God padded their behinds," "spare the rod..." (much debated meaning by spiritual leaders but seldom questioned by laypersons) on and nauseum.

A child waits,
Take aware,

Nancy Lee


Jessica said...

I am a mother of 17 year old girl who is an alcohol addict. I and my family have planned to send her to a boarding school. I’ve heard that they treat the child harshly. Is it so? Substance abuse is very serious problem for teen.

Child Person said...

Hi Jessica,

First let me say I truly know what you are going through with an addicted teen. My oldest was a heroin addict at that age. Both of you have my empathy and sympathy.

You are correct. Substance abuse is very serious for teens...and for every age.

What to do is difficult and as with all we go through as parents there aren't any easy, failsafe answers.

As to whether they treat the child harshly...the schools you are considering are varied. As with so much in life, there are good ones and bad ones. And what might be considered harsh by some, is not by others.

I personally wouldn't place a child in any of these facilities unless I thoroughly investigated the places, their practices and any information available about them.

The hearings I watched and my follow-up research convinced me there are high risks to the children placed in too many of them.

Another problem is the results of such an action. Idealy I assume you want help for your child more than relief for yourself and other family members. If possible in your area, therapy might bring more positive results than placement in a facility.

As you know your daughter is suffering as an alcohol addict, and most likely was suffering before she turned to alcohol in an attempt to relieve her pain. You might want to check into AA and related programs available for your daughter and also support groups such as Al Anon, to help you deal with this. I wish you both good luck.

Child Person said...

Hi again Jessica,
Here is a story that might interest you.

Again, best wishes to you and your daughter.