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Boot camps and adopted children with behavior problems


In the past, I have heard from many adoptees who have complained about the boot-camp programs their adoptive parents have sent them to, all in the name of teaching the child "a little discipline".  Reasons for being sent to a religious boot camp include (but are not limited to):

  • drinking/drugging (a way many victims of abuse choose to numb themselves)
  • sexual activity (having pre-marital sex OR having homosexual/bisexual preferences is a real big no-no, according to the APs)
  • defiance (angry teen behavior directed at one or both parents, because in some cases, the adopted child living in an ultra-religious household does not share the beliefs held by of his/her Aparents and their bio-children.)

Today I read about yet another radical boot-camp program (Gateway Christian Military Academy, in Florida).  Not surprising is the nature of complaints being made about the types of  abusive treatment the teens receive.  [Keep in mind, the parents are willing to pay $20k+ a year for such treatment, and may or may not know what's being done to their child once mom and dad disappear.]   While the details surrounding WHY such a program is still open and supported are disturbing, I noticed a note of really good news for (future) teens with parents who are seriously thinking about and seeking the boot-camp option.  According to 's piece, Investigative Report Reveals Some Religious Reform Schools Are Havens for Child Abuse, a bill may soon be passed so "therapeutic treatments" and "teaching methods" that rely on starvation, forced isolation/confinement, humiliation, and torture will no longer be used as they have been in the past.

In 2008, Representative George Miller, a California Democrat, introduced the first bill in Congress, the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act, to regulate teen residential programs. It passed the House twice and was introduced in the Senate for the first time last year by Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa. It bans punitive use of restraint and prohibits programs from “physically, mentally or sexually abusing children in their care,” as well as requiring access to an abuse-reporting hotline.

I'm curious: 

  • What percentage of the teens being sent to these religious-based boot camps/programs are fostered/adopted? (Does anyone have even a rough guestimate, based on what they themselves have heard or seen, especially on adoption forums that host AP support groups?)
  • Will a bill like this affect unlicensed parent educators, (like Michael Pearl or Forrest Lien, who teach adoptive parents how to "train" their fostered/adopted child)?  Or would a completely separate bill/proposal have to be presented to prevent the torturing of adopted children, as instructed by a person who gets paid to provide homeschooling APs great tips and tricks on how to punish a child?
  • Of the number of APs choosing this route to "right" a child with unwanted behaviors, how many of those APs are requesting the government to pay for the cost of these programs, through adoption subsidies?  (Is follow-up monitoring being done by states, so the state knows exactly how the money for therapy for a fostered/adopted child is being spent?) 
by Kerry on Wednesday, 14 November 2012