“haunted by the screams”


At least 1,500 children in 30 states alleged that they were abused at private treatment facilities in 2005 alone, according to a 2008 Government Accountability Office report. At least 28 states had one or more deaths in residential treatment facilities that year. Island View dealt with a death in 2004, when a boy hanged himself with a belt just a month into his stay. Other allegations in the report included “sexual assault, physical and medical neglect … [and] bodily assault that sometimes resulted in civil rights violations, hospitalization, or death.” Teenage victims of abuse often stay silent out of fear, mistrust of authority, or simple ignorance. The number of them abused or neglected at treatment facilities each year, the GAO found, is likely much higher than 1,500…

Regulators are little help: The troubled-teen industry is almost entirely unregulated. The GAO data from 2005 are the most recent available because the federal government doesn’t track allegations of abuse at treatment centers, let alone investigate them or close down problem facilities…

Congress has repeatedly refused to intervene. In 2011, a federal bill that would have banned physically abusing or starving children at such facilities died in committee…

But like most states, Utah has no rules outright prohibiting isolation, humiliation or physical restraint. So facilities like Island View still can — and do — isolate, humiliate and physically restrain children. In many states, they can withhold food and water as punishment.

Even solitary confinement — which President Barack Obama has banned for juveniles in federal prison — is permitted at many private treatment centers…

When parents signed over guardianship of their children to Island View, they also signed over the power to decide which medicines their children would take — voluntarily or involuntarily. Some kids took all the medicine that staff therapists prescribed. Others refused and were forced to comply…

Antipsychotics can cause rapid weight gain, increase the risk of diabetes and metabolic problems, and haven’t been proven effective in treating teen depression and emotional issues. But on its website, CRC Health — Aspen and Island View’s parent company — lists antipsychotics such as Zyprexa, Risperdal and Seroquel as one option for combating teen depression. And all of the former Island View students who spoke to HuffPost said they were forced to take antipsychotics, some for problems including bipolar disorder, which is now thought to be dramatically overdiagnosed in children.

It’s legal and common for doctors to prescribe drugs at higher doses and for different conditions than those approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But they should be especially careful when prescribing antipsychotics to children, experts say…

Before Graeber landed at Island View, a therapist at another Aspen facility, Second Nature, put her on Seroquel to deal with anxiety and sleepless nights, she said. At Island View, she said, nurses increased her dosage to 800 milligrams a day — the maximum dosage that AstraZeneca recommends. She wasn’t alone…

Graeber said she hated walking by the rooms and seeing her friends trapped in there. “I’m still really haunted by the screams,” she said. “Sometimes I have nightmares just from the screaming.”

From the 2013 movie “Kids for Cash”:

“Two million children are arrested every year in the US. 95% for non-violent crimes. Each year the US spends $10,500 per child on education and $88,000 on each child incarcerated. 66% of children who have been incarcerated never return to school. The US incarcerates nearly 5 times more children than any other nation in the world.

3 thoughts on ““haunted by the screams”

  1. so so sad. i worked in a children’s treatment center in iowa, and we were not allowed by law to do any of those things. we only used isolation as a time out during a termper tantrum/meltdown, to protect them and the other kids. as soon as they settled down, they came out and we went over the event with the child. many kids actually asked to use the isolation room when they were feeling out of sorts,angry, overwhelmed, etc and were allowed to do so until they felt calmer. our kids were also either in regular school or at school on campus. no kids were allowed to drop out or be removed from school. this is how it is supposed to be done–anything less is a monstrosity of the help that is supposedly offered. children’s treatment centers can and should be operated in the same manner.

    Liked by 2 people

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