Brat Camp and the “Teen Gulag”

Cherry Potter has an article in today’s Guardian (Train them like rats) regarding the Channel 4 series Brat Camp, in the latest version of which a group of recalcitrant teenage girls are taken out to the wilds of Utah in the hope that living out in the rough for a few weeks will turn around their behaviour. She mentions the fact that several teenagers have died on such programmes in the US in recent years and that three institutions run by the notorious WWASP have been closed in Mexico:

More than two dozen teens have died while in such programmes. In Mexico three member schools of the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools were closed for abuse and human-rights violations. An official who raided a boot camp in Costa Rica said: “We don’t even allow that kind of punishment for prison inmates.”

Maia Szalavitz, the author of Help At Any Cost, has researched the kids who get sent to these places. Many have mental illnesses and a history of trauma and abuse. The last thing they need is more experience of powerlessness, humiliation and pain. But no specialist psychiatric diagnosis is required for admission.

I’m not sure if “Casa By The Sea” (see here and Google it) is one of those that was closed; it received a bit of free publicity from the BBC in 2004, about which I wrote this piece. More: Blogesque, CNN report.

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