Friday, December 30, 2011

Recommended Resolutions for "Teen Help" Industry

By The HEAL Team

The following list of resolutions are the changes residential treatment, "specialty/therapeutic"schools, wilderness programs, boot camps, and similar facilities should adopt now and continue to heed in the future. While HEAL believes that our society requires a lot of changes to ensure the health of individuals, families, and communities; we don't believe that such changes are impossible or unlikely. And, we do not agree that the "teen help" industry is a "necessary evil" due to our overall failures to cultivate our society properly. We are all responsible for ourselves, our families, and our communities. The solution is local and family involvement and commitment. Anything less, is far less than our children deserve. That said, we recommend the following resolutions for the "Teen Help" Industry:

1. We will no longer accept children nor teens on an involuntary basis, with the exception of adjudicated (court-ordered) youth.

2. All children shall have daily access to the telephone from first day of enrollment. And, we resolve to not monitor nor participate in calls unless it is a scheduled "therapeutic" call. We resolve to post the numbers for Child Protective Services, Law Enforcement, and Regulatory/Licensing Agencies next to all phones provided to enrolled children/teens.

3. We will no longer read, monitor, nor censor letters from nor to clients.

4. We will obtain all appropriate licensing and accreditation for all services we claim to offer.

5. All staff, including staff without regular access to enrolled clients, shall pass an extensive background check and have no history of violence nor sexual assault, molestation, sexual harassment, nor sexual abuse.

6. We will not violate the constitutional rights of free speech, free expression, freedom of religion, nor privacy of children and teens enrolled in our program. We will not use children and teens' pictures for self-promotion without the express and volitional (without coercion or duress) agreement of the youth upon reaching age of majority to use their photos.

7. We will amend our contracts to ensure there are no illegal nor unconscionable terms. We will remove any statement absolving our program and program staff of liability in instances of tortious or criminal conduct, be it negligent or intentional.

8. We resolve to only accept children whose families live within 100 miles of our program. And, we will require immediate family (i.e. parents) to participate in weekly visitation and/or therapy sessions beginning the first week of enrollment.

9. We will no longer accept children who are transported to our program using an escort/transport service. Families will need to bring their children to the program to show a commitment to honesty and voluntary participation for all involved.

10. We will post the laws of our State regarding a minor's rights to unenroll from our program and provide all minors access to the telephone to contact home or social services to express their desire to leave at any time.

11. We resolve to not use a level-system of "privileges" and "consequences" that deny contact with the outside world nor require children to "earn" necessities such as soap, laundry, shower-time, healthy/nutritious food, rest, or personal/free-time.

12. We resolve to serve the children and teens in our program and to not coerce, force, or use children and teens for uncompensated labor for ourselves or neighboring businesses. We resolve to not place any child or teen enrolled in charge of any other child(ren) or teen(s) enrolled.

13. We shall not perform strip-searches of children nor teens.

14. We shall not permit staff nor other enrolled children/teens to sedate, physically abuse/restrain, nor verbally abuse any child enrolled. If an enrolled child is "out of control" we will contact law enforcement and/or an ambulance to have the child/teen taken to a licensed psychiatric or medical hospital for immediate care.

15. We resolve to adopt the following standards regarding the use of physical restraint. Physical restraint must only be used when actual, imminent severe physical harm to self or others is apparent. This is not something that should be twisted or relaxed to allow for the misuse of restraint by programs for their convenience and/or to intimidate, harass, or otherwise control children who are not a legitimate physical threat to self or others. By "severe physical harm" we mean the child to be restrained must have already punched, kicked, pushed or physically attempted to harm self or others and that the violence is so escalated that no verbal de-escalation techniques would or could work. This means someone who is literally out of control with rage. And, the program should not be operating in a manner that is likely to induce such a rage.

16. We resolve to adopt appropriate social-psychological practices and to look to leaders such as Dr. Peter Breggin when uncertain of the most ethical approach in a therapeutic situation.

17. We resolve to never deny a child/teen contact with the outside world, their families, nor basic necessities.

18. We resolve to adopt the following standards in regards to respecting children and teens enrolled in our programs: Children shall be listened to and have their needs and concerns addressed respectfully. Family disfunctions that the child reveals in therapy shall be considered valid and family members who have been neglectful, abusive, or otherwise remisce in duty shall be made aware of their own issues and the program shall require parents and other family members to get counseling to address their own short-comings and needs for improvement. In the event families refuse to get such counseling, the child should be dismissed from the program due to non-compliance of the family members with requirements of the program.

19. We resolve to adopt the following therapeutic standards: Therapy should consist of developing appropriate communication skills for all family members. And, all family members should be counseled to respect and validate each other's concerns and needs without defensiveness or judgment. Children should not be scapegoated by their families and the programs must adhere to a strict policy of respecting the children as individuals and requiring families to work on better communication and addressing the needs of all family members with the greater responsibility being that of the parents. Parents are adults and have legal duties to provide for their children.

20. We resolve to not operate our program like a "cult". We will adopt the following standards to this end: Large Group Awareness Training or other "cult-tactics" shall not be employed. Group therapy must be optional and not forced upon any individual. And, programs should not attempt to indoctrinate children into any particular faith or belief-system, but, be set up to provide a safe environment to learn healthy communication skills, heal from trauma, and learn critical thinking skills that encourage questioning authority, self-reliance, and independence.

21. We resolve to release children and teens as soon as possible to ensure our clients are not removed from society nor their communities for an extended length of time.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

IEPs, ASBOs, and Pedophobia, OH MY!

by Angela Smith

IEPs are Individualized Education Plans and are used by public schools in the United States to transfer innocent children to abusive behavior modification programs. Recently, a congressional aide told HEAL that to prevent the use of IEPs to ship children out of state would shut down the public school system. HEAL reminded the congressional aide that in 2009/2010, Senators Franken (D-MN) and Murray (D-WA) introduced S. 2800 and S. 2801 with language requiring school districts receiving federal funds to meet the needs of ALL children enrolled in those districts locally and to allow children and their families a local option whenever special needs/special education was at issue. Unfortunately, Senate Bills 2800 and 2801 did not reach the floor for a vote and did not become law.

IEPs appear to be the U.S. equivalent of the European/British ASBOs. ASBOs are Anti-Social Behavioral Orders that require no crime to be committed in order for the order to be issued by law enforcement and/or social services. If a youth "looks like trouble" and has a skateboard or punk hair-style, they can be written an ASBO. An ASBO requires them to enroll in a behavior modification program.

The problem with IEPs and ASBOs is that they violate human and civil rights. They hinder first amendment rights (US) by actively denying a child/teen their right to free speech and free expression. And, this type of oppression socializes youth to "follow orders" and "obey". This, of course, is not a value a free society can encourage nor support. And, this is why IEPs and ASBOs should be abolished as contrary to moral and humanitarian values.

Pedophobia is the fear of youth; specifically the fear of children. It is an irrational fear that has been encouraged since the civil rights and women's rights movements of the 20th century. And, the purpose is to turn family members against each other and dissolve the family unit in order to more effectively isolate and control individual citizens and members of our society. Children are the future. And, the children of today deserve for the adults of today to stand up and fight for human rights and human dignity worldwide, and in the U.S.

It is unacceptable and unnatural for parents to hate and fear their children. And, it is unacceptable that those in positions of "power" and "authority" find it "necessary" for their own sick need for control to turn family members against each other. We owe it to ourselves and to our predecessors to keep hope alive and fight for truth, justice, equality, and freedom. Our family members and friends who have served in the military and/or died in service to this country did so believing it was to preserve freedom and justice for all of us. Here's a reminder of what America Stands For:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL!"

This is what we believe in and must live up to in the United States. If we do not, we will fail to achieve a "more perfect union" and may fall victim to slavery, servitude, and death. Many of our children are already victims of slavery, servitude, and death as a result of being enrolled in/transferred to behavior modification programs. Please take a stand against this for the children and for the future of the United States of America.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Responsible Leadership, Accountability, and the Art of Forgiveness

By Angela Smith, HEAL Coordinator

Responsible employers and authority figures hold employees/individuals accountable when a wrong has been committed. For those who rely on religious doctrine in order to demand forgiveness and absolution for wrongdoers; we recommend you seriously review the directives of your doctrine in regards to true repentance. Luke 17:1-4 (KJV), "Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him." Repenting takes more than "lip service" to an expected value. One must recognize his/her wrongdoing; admit to it; and make an effort at amends. This includes recognizing the loss of trust his/her actions may have caused and not expecting his/her community to allow him/her to work/play in the same role that the individual abused formerly.

Too many innocent children and adults have been exploited and seriously injured through this notion that forgiveness of wrongs includes absolution and reinstatement of an individual's former title/position in the community. This applies to both religious and secular organizations and offices. It is unacceptable for a business or church to cover up sexual abuse, sexual assault, physical abuse, fraud, deception, and other wrongs under the guise of forgiveness or protecting a reputation that is undeserved when all facts are considered. And, it is even more offensive when the business or church chooses to blame the victims and demand of them forgiveness and absolution while they allow the perpetrator to continue harming others without holding them accountable or turning them over to law enforcement/authorities for prosecution when appropriate.

If someone has raped a child and claims to repent the act while laying blame on the child for "seducing" the rapist, he/she has not truly repented. If someone decides blaming the innocent victim for his/her own perverse and twisted abuses is the best way to create confusion and keep up the appearance of their entitlement to their position of authority, they are not doing the right thing and deserve to be rebuked, not forgiven. It is unacceptable to allow such deceivers to manipulate good people and continue harming the innocent.

It is truly vile to blame the victim of abuse for the abuse suffered. And, if we are to avoid hypocrisy, we must equally apply the notion of forgiveness and absolution to everyone and in the same compassionate, passionate manner as we would forgive and absolve those truly guilty of illegal and/or immoral conduct. And, it is this hypocrisy in the abuse of power and confusion created by the unequal application of forgiveness and absolution that more than suggests there is an evil at work in those who abuse that power and cover up wrongdoing by those in alleged positions of authority.

An employer would be expected to fire an employee who stole from the cash register; molested customers/clients; over-charged clients/customers and pocketed the difference; destroyed company property; and/or any other unprofessional/immoral/illegal act. If you would be outraged at WalMart for allowing a clerk to fondle a child in a dressing room or steal from customers and would demand WalMart fire the clerk at once and turn them into the police, then you should require the same of a church, politician, charity, school, group home, or other organization/business. To have different standards, based on titles alone, is hypocrisy and promotes injustice, deceit, and oppression of the innocent.

Responsible leadership by employers and authority figures requires that wrongdoers be held accountable and that reasonable standards and restrictions be applied in the event someone has caused harm to others. It does not matter who the individual is or the title the individual holds; it matters what they do and if they honor or abuse the authority entrusted to them.

It is a beautiful thing to forgive a wrong. Old wisdom says, "To err is human, to forgive is divine." But, forgiveness does not equate to absolution. And, forgiveness does not require that we leave our ability to reason at the door and allow those who have caused harm access to the very population they have repeatedly been shown to harm and exploit. If someone is truly willing to repent; they should also humble themselves to accepting whatever title or position that the community feels they can be trusted with given their history. And, the community should not be exploited, guilted, accused, victimized, or otherwise manipulated into recognizing a value of an individual based on the desire to protect an undeserved reputation when the truth is that individual should be deprived of authority and title and should humbly accept the new boundaries and parameters set by the community until trust can be re-established through honest and evident change.

Once trust has been broken, it may never be recovered. But, this is the risk one takes when they exploit and harm those who have entrusted them with authority. And, in a free society, one must always weigh the risks against the benefits of any action and make the most prudent decision or face the consequences. And, such applies to everyone. So, with that... Please use your best judgment when choosing whom to trust and to whom to grant authority. We the people vote and approve of those we allow to lead and we have the responsibility to remove the privilege of authority when the responsibility of that authority has been neglected or refused. And, for those of us of faith, we choose what church to attend and to whom we entrust our spiritual guidance. If a church is leading you astray through oppression, deceit, hypocrisy, exploitation, and abuse, then it may be most appropriate to find a new church.