Parent-Approved Kidnapping and Brainwashing

When I was a kid, my church youth group thought it would be a funny idea to show up at my door in a gorilla suit and abduct me in a van. The idea was to snatch up the kids who hadn’t been to church in a while and show us the fun that was happening at one of their picnics. Or at least, that’s how I interpreted it.

Pretty harmless, especially since my Dad forewarned me that a gorilla would be kidnapping me and that I should pretend like I’m surprised. He didn’t want me to freak out – thanks dad!

Unfortunately, my innocent experience is becoming a common tactic with certain reform schools, but these brainwashing academies don’t use gorilla suits. Instead, they just send goons to your bedroom to wake you up and haul you off to their prison program. And instead of having a good time at a party, these children are stashed away at rehabilitation centers where they are emotionally abused (and sometimes worse), force-fed religious propaganda, and social engineered to be church-approved automatons.

Obviously, this sort of outsourcing of parenting is in complete violation of my principles as a parent who wants to raise my children to be freethinking individuals. I’m disgusted with what I’ve read about schools that are part of the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs.

Check out this article on reddit to read a first hand account of a girl’s experience at one of these hideous programs. Despicable!

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2 Responses to Parent-Approved Kidnapping and Brainwashing

  1. Liz Ditz says:

    Hi Ticktock, thanks for the Reddit link.

    Over the years, I’ve written a great deal about “specialty schools” and “the troubled teen industry” at I Speak of Dreams.

    Sometimes (rarely) residential placement for a teen who is struggling at home and at school is appropriate. There are a few good programs.

    One thing to note is that almost all of these programs are for-profit (“proprietary” in edu-speak).

    Maia Szalavitz published an expose of the industry in 2006, Help at Any Cost.

    the professional organization, A START, the Alliance for the Safe, Therapeutic, and Appropriate Use of Residential Treatment, is an organization of mental health professionals, parents, advocates, and young adults who came together in 2005 amidst growing concern about mistreatment of youth in residential programs.

    The ASTART website is

    There’s an industry association, National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP),

    Lon Woodbury has been in the “struggling teen” industry for decades. He has a website with information about programs.

    I hope these resources help your readers make sense of a confusing landscape of programs and ideologies.

  2. Vicki says:

    As a pediatrician, I am so against these schools and camps. They are poorly regulated, their counsellors have little training, they do more harm than good psychologically, and they have done enormous physical damage,too. I see it as parents abandoning and harming their children. There are better ways to deal with these issues.

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