The troubled teen industry is indeed filled with both hope and heartache. There are stories both positive and negative that set the industry apart from other industries. There are testimonials from parents who have sent their children to such institutions that will illuminate what it is like to be a resident of such a facility. Some people claim that these are for-profit companies that do more harm than good on the children that are enrolled while still others maintain that these programs have helped to turn around many young lives over the years. Opinions are divided, as they should be, as to the effectiveness of these programs. The key to finding a successful program for teens is research, looking for things like staff qualifications, facility management, and parent testimonials.
In this post, we’re going to look at the troubled teen industry and study just how teens are being affected by this industry, in both good and bad ways.
Tough Love Therapy Solutions
Punishment as therapy is the main concept behind the majority of these tough love or troubled teen institutions. They usually take the form of wilderness camps or antidrug programs that are instituted to scare teens straight and back into proper behavior.
All of these programs can trace their way back to a program called Synanon. This was a program that was created in 1958 and was designed for heroin addicts who wanted to be “cured” of their disease. The “cure” often took the form of humiliation, isolation, sleep deprivation, and hard labor.
Today’s troubled teen programs largely sell themselves with Synanon systems put into place that can cure anything from bad study habits to abusing drugs. However, there isn’t much evidence that corroborates the claim that harsh behavior modification programs are very effective in the long run. What’s more, there’s a sort of Stanford experiment type situation where the mistreatment can quickly turn into outright abuse by the staff of these institutions. This becomes even more of the case in situations where punishment is seen as a healing process, and the abuse can be seen as being helpful.
In fact, the Synanon group even placed a live rattlesnake with the rattle removed into the mailbox of a lawyer who successfully sued the group. By the time the group finally closed down in the early nineties, its model was already being copied by a wide variety of companies. One of these organizations, The Seed, was later investigated by Congress, and their methods were found to be similar to those used by North Korea in order to brainwash the populace.
Another group, Straight Inc., was formed in the early nineties and was set up to reform teens and adults who had drug addictions and other problems. This organization was accused of several beatings and kidnappings of adult participants and was eventually caused to shut down amidst legal proceedings that were threatening to take the group down.
Luckily for some of these programs, there was a lack of oversight and a variety of loopholes to be taken advantage of. These fraudulent, abusive programs went on under different names but with the same staff, even the same building. Some of these bad seed organizations carry on to this day and give a bad name to many of the troubled teen institutions that actually do good work.
In some instances, there have been cases where children are overmedicated with drugs that do more harm than good. In one case, there was even a child who was forced to sleep on a mattress in the hallway. In this case, the humiliation of the whole affair greatly damaged the child’s self-esteem while the child was unable to get restful sleep because of the harsh fluorescent lights that were used in the hallway.
This same child was so afraid of going back to the facility that she stayed at that she sat on the plane that was taking her back to the facility, eventually landing in California. She eventually met someone who was willing to take her in and live with him and his mother. The child’s parents pleaded for their daughter’s safe return and eventually found that their child was living in Oakland with the man who had taken her in. The parents insisted that their daughter wouldn’t have to go back to the facility if she returned, but they lied and sent her back anyway. Insisting that the program didn’t work, the child did heroin for two years after leaving the facility.
Many people claimed that this particular facility did lasting damage to the children who were placed there. They claimed that staff abused and tormented them and secluded them, physically restrained them, and injected them with antipsychotic meds even when they weren’t warranted. They would also force them to sit without speaking for hours or even days at a time.
The problem with a lot of these institutions that put the others in a bad place is that it’s hard for the word of a troubled teen to be taken against a licensed professional who claims that they’re only doing what’s in the child’s best interest. It becomes a game of he-said-she-said, with the staff usually coming out on top in the argument.
There have been instances where staff has left the facilities that they helped manage and made claims that backed up what some of these children are saying about their treatment there. It’s even been claimed that staff has witnessed attempted suicides by children while working there.
Is Oversight is Needed?
In instances where oversight is managed, success has been seen in the implementation of programs that successfully treat teens with addiction and problems. The problem here is that oversight is very often not maintained, especially over the facilities that need it the most. Indeed, the maintenance of oversight is crucial and tantamount to the success of the institution as a whole.
In instances where there are vulnerable, helpless people who are facing an authority that is encouraged to humiliate and isolate these people, there will be abuses of power. The only way to stop these abuses of power is to have proper oversight to combat some of these things. There have been instances of completed suicides and various types of abuse that have taken place. These things don’t have to happen, and they shouldn’t happen.
Sadly, one of the only places that parents can turn to is lawsuits. It would be best if regulators would simply do their jobs and help to regulate some of these bad apple facilities, but instead, these things don’t happen and we continue to see this sort of bad treatment. It heartbreaking to see teens who suffer from substance abuse find themselves in a place that feels unsafe. Fortunately, parents have choices and programs exist that have proven track records of providing safe, and effective care for teens that need a better direction.
Hope and Success for Troubled Teens
When teen substance abuse treatment centers are working properly, these facilities can help to instill values into the hearts and minds of children and help to kick problems like drug addiction and behavioral difficulties. They can help to train youths to be self-reliant, especially in settings where they’re brought to the great outdoors, in places such as Diamond Ranch Academy.
In cases such as these, children are brought outdoors to reconnect with nature and disconnect from negative influences such as drugs and bad behavior that are disrupting and derailing their young lives.
There are many such cases of facilities being lauded for their hard work and dedication toward bringing out the positive and the good in these children. Diamond Ranch Academy works hard to instill good values into teens using successful tactics such as outdoor therapy, specialized curriculum and making sure that these students are college bound.
DRA has full accreditation and focuses on career and life skills that can help to bring out the best in the teens under their care. DRA uses real research that has been designed to actually make a difference in the lives of these children. They offer sports, equestrian therapy, and many other programs designed to get teenagers thinking positively and creating lasting memories.
You can see the difference that this company is making through the direct testimonials of the parents. One parent claimed that they were beyond pleased with Diamond Ranch Academy and that this was one of the finest facilities they could’ve turned to help their son. With all of the havoc of their son’s drug abuse and extreme self-destructive behavior, they had very little recourse to turn to and decided on DRA after doing some research. This parent took their child for a tour of the campus and was blown away by the quality of what they saw there. They claimed that they had a diverse program filled with arts and sports to keep the kids occupied and that there was even a barn where the kids could convene with nature. They concluded by stating that their son has already started to become the young man they knew he could be, knowing what he was on the inside.
It’s positive stories like these that show that even in the embattled world of the troubled teen industry, there are places out there that do good work and make a real difference in the lives of children and their families.
The troubled teen industry is indeed filled with both hope and heartache. There are stories both positive and negative that set the industry apart from other industries. There are testimonials from parents who have sent their children to such institutions that will illuminate what it is like to be a resident of such a facility. Some people claim that these are for-profit companies that are instituted to directly prey on the children that are enrolled while still others maintain that these programs have helped to turn around many young lives over the years. Opinions are divided, as they should be, as to the effectiveness of these programs.