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The systematic abuse of children
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The systematic abuse of children

A look into the lives changed and lost due to the Troubled Teen Industry.

Every day children are being kidnapped, abused, and killed, all in the name of therapy. The Troubled Teen Industry (TTI) is a multi-billion dollar scam that claims to help children overcome whatever is “wrong” with them. There are many different forms of programs in TTI, including therapeutic boarding schools. Many of these so-called schools run on a point system. At the Ivy Ridge boarding school in Ogdensburg, New York, the children earn 15 points every day. They can lose these points in many ways such as talking, smiling, looking out the window, not walking a line, swinging their arms while walking, asking to go home, not cooperating with the program, etc. Parents are manipulated into paying upwards of three thousand dollars monthly to give their kids Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD). TTI looks like a good option for struggling parents, and on the outside, it is. Staff at TTI facilities tell parents that their kids are going to try and manipulate them by explaining how awful the programs are. The only contact residents have with the outside world are monitored phone calls and letters. If they speak about the abuse taking place, they lose all their points and have to start the program over.

The reasons parents have for putting their kids in TTI vary. Some parents simply don’t know how to help their kids when it comes to mental health struggles and addiction. This is when TTI swoops in and shows them an amazing program that will save their children. Some parents even pay for transport services to kidnap or “goon” their kids and deliver them to a TTI program.

Surviving the Troubled Teen Industry states “Since 1976, over 300 children have died in Troubled Teen Industry programs, almost exclusively due to preventable causes, [such as] Neglect and abuse.” 97 of these deaths were caused by untrained or undertrained staff members restraining children. Little to no precautions were taken to prevent suicides. 74 students have killed themselves in the programs, this is not accounting for the hundreds that commit it after they leave. There is no reason that children should go away to boarding school perfectly fine and come home in a body bag. We need to come together and help these children. They don’t deserve to die. 

 The Circle of Hope Girls Ranch, in Humansville Missouri, handed out Accelerated Christian Education packets and marketed them as learning guides. Programs of this nature are widely considered invalid by US public schools. This results in illegitimate high school asylums being accredited by TTI. 

The ranch is a prime example of a program that uses religion to coerce parents into sending their kids away. Circle of Hope’s website states their program is aimed to “use the Bible to teach [young women] that they [are] to obey their parents and authority over them.” The residents of the ranch spend the majority of their time outside doing manual labor in Missouri’s hot summers and freezing winters. The ranch opened in 2006 and has been subject to a myriad of abuse reports. Travis Hitchcock with The Missouri State Highway Patrol made such a report in 2018, but the DEA’s office in Humansvill chose not to prosecute. In 2020 Amanda Householde, daughter of Boyd and Stephanie Householder, owners of Circle Of Hope, made a 100-part Series on TikTok exposing the abuse that occurred on the ranch. She said “My mom or my dad would pick up one of the girls by their shoulders or their neck, most of the time it was their neck. [They would then] slam them to the ground and then call [me] and [my] peers over and made us put as much pressure as we could on any pressure points until [the girl was] screaming and crying. This would go on for hours.” Amanda also explains how she has spoken to CPS, the FBI, the sheriff’s office, and DSS, she says that her father has connections in the Police Department so not much is being done. Because of Amanda’s efforts, The Circle of Hope Girls Ranch has been shut down, but more than 10,000 programs just like it still exist. 

In a developed country such as the United States, TTI programs should be illegal. The exploitation and abuse of children should be illegal, but it’s not. Up until recently, New York had more laws governing dog kennels than TTI. Every day children are being kidnapped, abused, and killed, all in the name of therapy. TTI survivor Katherine Kubler said the abuse of children is the business of anyone who knows about it. So the question is: What are you going to do?

 

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About the Contributor
Skylar Holtgrewe, News Editor
Class of 2027 I am involved in both fall and winter guard, and I've been playing the violin for 7 years. My favorite musicians are Noah Kahan, Taylor Swift, Lizzy McAlpine, and Phoebe Bridgers.

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