Education and Labor Hearing on Child Abuse

Posted on by Jesse Lee

The Education and Labor Committee held a hearing today, “Child Abuse and Deceptive Marketing by Residential Programs for Teens,” to examine residential programs for teens, including boot camps, wilderness camps, therapeutic boarding schools, and behavior modification facilities. The hearing also examined legislation to prevent child abuse in these programs. Teenagers attending private residential programs would gain new protections against physical, mental, and sexual abuse under the legislation introduced by Chairman George Miller and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (NY-14).

See a summary of the bill (pdf) >>

Chairman George Miller remarks on some of the techniques used at the worst youth facilities:

Chairman Miller: “The last time this country witnessed somebody with a bag over their head and a noose around their neck, the world was horrified, the nation was embarrassed, and it was at Abu Ghraib. To be told… that this is considered a valid therapy, I guess, or a practice, by somebody in the care of somebody else's child — putting a noose around their neck with a bag over their head, that this was acceptable — I think would horrify this nation again…”

Jon Martin-Crawford, Former Program Participant at the Family Foundation School in Hancock, NY, gives testimony:

Jon Martin-Crawford: “Typical restraint procedures were wrapping kids up in Duct tape and blankets. Kids were not let out of this wrap, even to use the bathroom, for feminine hygiene, or just to move around a little bit and extend their limbs. Restraints were not only done by faculty but students as well. Usually, this was even more brutal and was often done in front of all other students to show what will happen if you act out. Kids were forced to eat food they were allergic to and keep eating even if vomiting as a result…. Many things were heard from staff, berating kids with high levels of verbal abuse, often of a highly derogatory and sexual nature, at times regarding sexual orientation. An admitted sex addict was one of the high-up faculty and counselors, as well as a dorm monitor living above the boys' dorm… The training in the military, although viewed by some to be harsh, was a cakewalk compared to the hell endured at The Family School… The truth? The nightmares and psychological scars of being dragged from your home to a place in the middle of nowhere, restrained in blankets and duct tape, assaulted, verbally and physically, those scars and that trauma never go away.”
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