Mitt Romney’s Special Interest in The Troubled Teen Industry
What do Mitt Romney, Bain Capital and the notorious Troubled Teen Industry have in common?… Sadly, quite a lot.
The Troubled Teen Industry is a global term for any privately owned teen detention facility, (some that accept government grants), that operate a “Tough Love” system and utilize the infliction of stress, humiliation, pain, isolation and various techniques of torture as punishment as “rehabilitation” of “troubled teens”. These “residential treatment facilities” commonly utilize pseudo-scientific methods, hire unqualified staff and operate under no clinical standards nor do they submit to any child protective regulations. Most often these facilities go unmonitored, unlicensed and unregulated by any government or health and safety agency.
For about 10 years now we, the survivors of these programs, have been monitoring and reporting on new abuses in the Troubled Teen Industry. So it’s no secret that abuse, both physical and sexual, as well as psychologically damaging practices are still being used in these facilities today. Also, and most tragically, there has been a growing number of deaths arising from these facilities, and a lack of justice for the victims. What you don’t know is why?… and how are these people STILL getting away with essentially torturing american children? To answer that, you need look no further than our front running Republican Candidate, Mitt Romney. To explain, why don’t I first give you a few facts…
In light of this, Mitt Romney asked Lichfield to step down from his position and a statement was released by Ken Kay, President of then WWASP:
“Governor Romney has asked Mr. Lichfield to step down and not be involved in any more fundraising until the lawsuit is resolved in the positive, which we are confident will happen,” Kay said via e-mail to the Radar Magazine
Fast forward to 2012, Mitt’s back and he’s got a whole new crew of cronies. Including his current financial co-chair and one of Romney’s biggest contributors, none other than the god father of the Troubled Teen Industry himself, Mel Sembler. Sembler is responsible for the starting of Straight Inc. one of the MOST notorious networks of involuntary drug rehabilitation centers which even in it’s closure in the early 90′s spawned the re-opening of multiple spin-off programs, (most closed, some still in operation today) all with the same “straight” model of brainwashing and all with the same systematic abuse. Today Straight has a new name, and a seemingly new direction, in it’s guise as the Drug Free America Foundation, as a republican Anti-Drug think tank.
Another interesting connection to Romney and the Troubled Teen Industry is through another one of his former campaign co-chairs, Paul Babeu, who stepped down amidst a scandal involving a threat to deport his gay lover. However his truly scandalous past lies in his days as headmaster of the troubled teen program, DeSisto School. While Babeu escaped any charges for the multiple accounts of abuse by former students, he was found to be involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 17 year old male student.
In 2011, at a campaign stop in Iowa, Mitt’s wife Ann Romney said working with “at risk” kids would be the cause she devotes herself to if she becomes first lady.
Even though she has acknowledged that abuse has and still does exist in the Troubled Teen Industry, she still intends to heard your kids on into these teen torture camps… and make some pretty decent money off it as well. All the while, her husband will be vetoing any legislations to reform and advocate for kids currently detained in these facilities. Giving these corporations all the power they need to silence their victims, continue draining the bank accounts of desperate parents and abusing their children.
The issue with these connections is this, these corporations are running the scam of the century and our government is allowing them to do so with no accountability whatsoever. Bad business practices like that of WWASP, have quite a bit of leeway in private enterprise due to the lack of standards and oversite and limited liability for the owners. The GOP does not support any regulations in this industry despite the fact that the GAO found a multitude of evidence of systematic abuse, neglect and death in these facilities. In 2011, a bill was proposed by chairman George Miller to put polices in place that would serve to protect children from harm, and end institutionalized child abuse. This bill has not yet passed. Opponents say, this is a states issue, but when states like Utah allow programs to operate without licensing, and out of jurisdiction of the law and child welfare agencies, it becomes the federal government’s job to set the standard.
When programs spawned by WWASP, Straight and Aspen Education are getting away with abuse, maltreatment and death in this country, how do we protect these children? When our government can’t protect them, concerned family members and advocates can’t reach them, and they are not allowed the right to call law enforcement for help, who will save them? It is our job as voters to encourage our law makers to do the right thing, to support this bill because preventing child abuse SHOULD be a bipartisan issue.
How many more kids have to die at the hands of unqualified, improperly trained staff before this problem becomes big enough to warrant new laws? When Behavior Modification Programs can describe themselves as “therapeutic” despite a complete lack of therapeutic standard of care, how do you tell the difference? How many desperate parents will be conned by an industry based on an experimental “Tough Love” theory? Until we as a society can put an end to the abuse of power and dangerous business practices of the Troubled Teen Industry, thousands of kids each year will be doomed to a miserable fate, with no escape and the likely risk of lifelong psychological damage.
Which leads me to question where they are coming up with these “success rates”. How do they come to the conclusion that the programs have actually been successful at rehabilitating teens when no clinical studies or long term surveys have been taken into account. How do they measure their satisfaction rates when they refuse to listen to the dissatisfaction of their former clients and pay off their accreditation agencies not to accept significant claims of abuse. I find it very hard to believe, especially when every survivor I have ever spoke to has said these places caused them harm and caused the relationships with their families to suffer, that they would even be capable of estimating the actual satisfaction rate of their schools. By my calculations, feed back for the WWASP’s schools have been primarily negative, with even those claiming to have been helped by the schools, corroborating the existence of abusive practices in WWASP programs.
False advertising isn’t anything new for the troubled teen industry, These corporations have the money to buy themselves the best online marketing and provide you with some pretty convincing testimonials. Sometimes it’s even hard to tell the good programs from the bad ones but the facts remain, these places are still violating human rights and torturing american citizens. The truth is the program is completely designed around it’s hard sell marketing techniques and everything from the seminars to the monitored phone calls are set in place to manipulate and con parents out of thousands of dollars a month, just to incarcerate their kids. They need to be stopped, not given a pass by our government just because they have financial ties to Mitt Romney. If Romney becomes president we can expect to lose any and all progress we may have made trying to pass regulation in the industry, and we can probably expect our websites to get shut down too, not to mention all the kids who will be beat down or possibly even killed in these programs before we will ever be able to reach them.
The question I now ask you is this… Can you vote for Mitt Romney knowing he profits from the torture of children and shows preference to special interests who have children’s blood on their hands?…
Please take a moment to follow the links within this post, and these following related links.
The Dark Side of Bain Success – Salon.com – Art Levine
New Abuse Allegations Arise at Drug Treatment Programs Owned by Bain Capital – By Maia Szalavitz