6 Shocking Realities of the Secret ‘Troubled Teen Industry’

When I was 14, I lived with my grandparents in a wealthy gated community and went to a very prestigious private school. This was the first time I had access to the Internet on a daily basis, and it changed my life forever. I discovered metal music and culture, which inspired me to learn the guitar. My yearbook ambitions quickly went from "become a judge like my grandfather" to "become a rock star."

This was not a popular change in Tori Jane,
Wesley Woodyard Game Jersey, and before long my grandparents decided the best way to reverse it was to ship my ass off to a camp for "troubled" teens in Montana. I didn’t know what "escorts" and "wilderness" were,
Jordan Reed Jersey, and I was terrified.

The escorts drove me to an airport where the three of us got on a plane to Boise, Idaho. I didn’t try to run, and running wouldn’t have done me much good: Kids who resist have been pepper sprayed and hog tied. The actual snatching and transporting of kids destined for programs like the one I was headed to is handled by companies like Center for Safe Youth, which emphasizes the element of surprise on their FAQ page:

Should I tell my child in advance (even the night before)?

No. Children could wind up with strangers somewhere unfamiliar and scary,
Ryan Shazier Game Jersey.

So what kind of crime does a kid have to commit to wind up subjected to this? Anything kids can be sent away for drug use,
Tom Johnson Elite Jersey, depression, eating disorders, really any behavioral issue you can dream up. Some were sent away for bad grades,
Nick Foles Jerseys, or for not following the family religion, or for being gay. It is an industry that survives on parents’ fear that their kid is "at risk."Your Parents Give You Up to a Private Company

At this point you’re probably wondering, "How could this possibly be legal?" Couldn’t any sufficiently rambunctious kid just flip out when he and his escorts get to a public place and trust the police to take care of the rest? Nope.

There is a legal process where parents can sign over custody of kids who need residential care, which makes sense,
Logan Ryan Limited Jersey, because if a kid has to be housed in a mental health facility, the staff needs to be able to make all of the day to day decisions for her care. But that same process works for "unruly" teens like me,
Brian Quick Limited Jersey, which meant the company that ran my camp had total legal control over where I went and what I did.

Even phone calls to my grandparents were a privilege I had to earn. I was allowed five minutes, and a staff member sat next to me the entire time, listening in. If during the call I complained about being unhappy, that was "manipulative behavior," and they’d end the call. They read the letters from my grandparents to me, word for word. Packages my friends sent were destroyed right in front of me,
Steven Hauschka Jerseys, because . tough love?Actually, they had to burn care packages for fuel.

The summer heat was sweltering, and the packs were about a third of my 14 year old body weight. This wasn’t like a camp out, where you hike 5 or 10 miles to a campground or canoe along a river for two or three days. We were out there for weeks, and the adults responsible for us weren’t exactly competent woodsmen. A girl in my group had to wrap fresh gauze and bandages across a third degree burn on her arm every morning because she had passed out on the rocks in the hot summer sun. Our counselors thought she was faking and decided that the safest course of action was to leave her there. She was later rushed to the hospital and had to get skin grafts.

Still, at least neither of us died, as ("untrained staff" and "lack of adequate nourishment" are the leading causes of death). If you’re going to lead children in week long hikes through the woods, you should know about things like the sun and treating burns. If this kind of shit happened at a Boy Scout camp, you can bet it’d be on the news.