General Overview Articles

New Data on Sanctions and Services Supports the Use of Non-Institutional Alternatives • (Models for Change, March 9, 2010)

Discusses a study by MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice comparing re-offense rates of institutional placement to those of community-based and probation sanctions. Mentions University of Pittsburgh Professor Ed Mulvey, Principal Investigator of the study, Redeploy Illinois--a successful pilot program, NY's Campaign for Youth Justice

Torture happening across USA in RTC's; and examines ways to minimize harm at them

Overview of an industry that tortures & hogties children

Abuse happening in many programs

Abuse in residential and wilderness programs is widespread

Residential programs have the potential to become cults

Ineffectiveness of treatment centers due to lack of licensing certification and accountability



Maia Szalavitz's Articles

Maia Szalavitz is a health writer for Time Magazine, a senior fellow at the media watchdog group STATS, and a journalist who covers health, science and public policy. She is winner of the 2005 Edward M. Brecher Award for Achievement and co-author of Recovery Options: The Complete Guide . She blogs for the Huffington Post [] She has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsday, New York Magazine, New Scientist, Newsweek, Elle, Salon, Redbook and other major publications. She has also worked in television - first as Associate Producer and then Segment Producer for PBS' Charlie Rose then on several documentaries including a Barbara Walters' AIDS special for ABC and as Series Researcher and Associate Producer for the PBS documentary series, "Moyers on Addiction: Close to Home."

New Efforts to Crack Down on Residential Programs for Troubled Teens • (2011) This articles reviews The Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2011.  It looks at the Government Accountability Office's findings when they examined residential programs and deaths of certain children. The article also examines some personal findings of the author of programs run by Aspen Education Group a large player in confirmed abusive residential programs.

Why Tough Love Rehab Won't Die • (2011) This articles examines why tough love practices are still used in addiction program despite the fact that these practices have been shown to be harmful. The articles review how programs are able to stay open due to profitability, the claim of high success rate, and  stigma association with addiction.

Students Sue 'Troubled Teen' School for Systematic Sexual, Emotional Abuse • (2011) This article examines a school in Oregon named Mount Bachelor Academy which was emotionally and physically abusing children which included forcing youth to perform lap dances as part of their therapeutic treatment. Nine students are now suing for abuses they had to suffer while clients.

Why So Much Abuse Is Allowed to Continue in Residential Care • (2011) The article reviews all residential care facilities including hospitals and  old age homes. The article examines how power and control are large contributors to why the abuse continues in residential programs while using evidence from the Stanford Prison Experiment. It reviews that oversight for programs is essential and reduction of stigma towards the clients being worked with is essential in order for the abuse to end.


Increasingly, Internet Activism Helps Shutter Abusive 'Troubled Teen' Boot Camps  • (2011) Specifically details the long overdue closing of the Elan School in Bath, Maine.

An Oregon School for Troubled Teens Is Under Scrutiny • (2009) This article examines public funding for private tough love schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and  Abuses at Aspen Education Group's Mount Bachelor Academy. Makes reference to industry roots in the human potential movement, Synanon and Lifesprin.,8599,1891082-1,00.html

"Tough Love" Programs for Teens Often Counterproductive (2006) Desperate parents are using wilderness schools and therapeutic boarding schools for “troubled teens” and the issues that arise due to lack of regulation. Additionally,  Maia does a question and answer session below the article.

The Trouble With Tough Love • (2006) Reviews the problems with behavior modification centers, wilderness programs and emotional growth boarding schools  that serve almost exclusively American citizens, which practice harsh rules and even brutal confrontation. Moreover the article reviews how tough love is “twofold

Shocks From the System • Although the New York State Department of Education bans corporal punishment, each year it uses taxpayer money to send dozens of children with emotional or learning disabilities to schools that use physically and mentally abusive forms of behavior modification. These include electric shocks, seclusion and sleep and food deprivation.

America's Tough Love Habit • For decades, Americans have tolerated "tough love" treatment not just for terrorists, but for vulnerable youth.

The Cult That Spawned the Tough-Love Teen Industry • Includes chart following tough-love programs and their spinoffs.

Good News: Bad Economy Killing Abusive Teen Programs
(2009) Reviews how today’s bleak economy: Abusive and ineffective "tough love" programs for teens are failing right and left. “Media presents these closures as needed services being cut--but in fact, teens are better off with no treatment than with treatment that often has characteristics known to produce post-traumatic stress disorder .Since there are proven alternatives for teens with drug and other problems that do not carry the risks of "tough love," we should greet the closings of these centers with glee.'


Specific Programs

Sex offender put kids 'through hell' in timeout room

Survivor describes experience at Provo Canyon School

Dr. Phil & Provo Canyon School

American children being sent to Jamaican RTC's for punishment (2 parts)

RTC staff sexually abuses 16-year-old residents

Chicago UHS program found guilty of sexual assault,0,5834060,full.story << Tranquility Bay Part One (Video)<< Tranquility Bay Part Two (Video)






Maia Szalvitz wrote a book, Help at Any Cost, which reviewed the case of a youth who died in a wilderness program. Nick Gaglia, a survivor of a program himself, was inspired by her work to make a movie showing the horrors Aaron Bacon endured before his death.