Parents whose children were harmed by residential programs for teens strongly recommend you look deeper than the marketing materials and industry-generated "research," and conduct independent research of your own. Don't be rushed into signing enrollment papers.
“They told us our daughter would be treated by experienced staff: experienced therapists and experienced wilderness guides and emergency medical technicians (EMTs).”
These are the words of Cynthia Clark-Harvey, whose daughter Erica died of heat stroke with dehydration in the Nevada wilderness, hours away from emergency medical help. “Tough love” staff failed to act when Erica became ill on a strenuous hike, saying she was faking her symptoms. Read more about Cynthia’s story (PDF).
“Our family was duped into believing that caring people would help Ryan…We had no idea that their interest was profit, not healing.”
Paul Lewis sought help for his son, Ryan, who suffered from depression. Ryan took his own life seven days after being enrolled in a residential program for teens. Staff had failed to take common sense precautions to protect him. Read more about Paul’s story (PDF).
“Of course, being normal, trusting and honest people ourselves–we assumed we were being told the truth. We were dead wrong. His mother and I will never escape our decision to send our gifted 16 year old son to his death.”
Bob Bacon’s son Aaron died after what criminal investigators described as 21 days of ruthless and relentless physical and psychological abuse and neglect. Read more about Bob’s story (PDF).
“After 12 months of ‘treatment’ I hardly knew my son anymore. I needed to find a place where our son would be accepted for who he was. I wanted a place where concerned parents were not viewed as the problem. I wanted James to live as close to home as possible.”
After placement in three residential programs for teens and a separate $40,000 inpatient evaluation, Ann Loftin’s son “James” had not improved, was not learning, and would no longer call her “Mom.” Fortunately, she was able to find qualified, competent, safe and appropriate care for him in a nonprofit residential program close to home. Read more about Ann's story (PDF).
"We sent our son to a residential program that claimed to have a 97% success rate although we later learned there wasn't hard data from an outside source to back this claim."
Cristine Gomez found that untrained staff without skills to work with mental illness worked at the program where her son was placed. She was paying the program hundreds in extra fees for extra counseling when most of the time he was in the isolation room. When he left the program, he was 16 months behind academically. Read more about Cristine's story (PDF)
"I did not sign these papers with a happy heart. This was a last resort for us. Being under duress is putting it mildly. Everything is a blur, and my thoughts are 'If I don't do this right now, I won't do it at all.' These companies know this and play on parents like us."
Crystal Manganaro's son Matthew died in a Texas program due to a "lack of training, compassion and effort." Crystal wants other parents to be aware of the dangers of wilderness programs for troubled teens. Read more about Crystal's story (PDF).
Last updated 3/1/13.