Jun 20, 2021

Troubled US teens left traumatised by tough love camps

Hilton is one of thousands of American children sent every year by their parents into a private network of "Tough love" residential programmes and schools marketed at reforming their behaviour. Their investigators found thousands of allegations of abuse and examined a number of deaths at behavioural programmes across the US and in American-owned businesses operating abroad. Their reports raised concerns about the level of training required of staff as well as what they described as deceptive and questionable marketing practices aimed at parents. Many believe their parents were misled about the reality of the programmes they enrolled them in, and describe rules that seeded mistrust between them and their families. In 2006, journalist Maia Szalavitz wrote a book that urged parents to seek evidence-based treatment for children instead of resorting to behavioural modification facilities. Householder testified to end religious exemptions in the state of Missouri that stopped even basic oversight of conditions at private religious facilities like the one her parents ran.

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