In the early nineties, I met a former resident of a girl’s home called ‘Victory Christian Academy’. It was located in Ramona, California. This was a place where parents sent their children when they felt that normal methods would not instill the values they could not.
The abuse these girls endured was unbelievable. Parents were encouraged to lie in order to get their daughters to the facility.
“We’re looking at property. . .going on a vacation. . .we’d like you come!”
. . .any number of excuses to get them into the car.
VCA, surrounded by a ten foot electronic fence capable of knocking back a grown man, destroyed many lives. Some girls reported getting tackled by the staff upon first arrival. If the girls disobeyed rules they were forced to spend DAYS IN A SMALL CLOSET, dubbed ‘the get right room’.
One girl, who was a vegetarian, was not only forced to eat meat, but when she threw up, the proprietor forced the food back into their mouth, complete with vomit intact. Girls were physically restrained even though they were not a threat to themselves and others.
The abuses of this home have been documented by another former resident, Michele Ulriksen, in her book, Reform At Victory.
It was the dark side of ‘faith based rehabilitation’.
I introduced the victim I met to a cable access producer in Huntington Beach, CA.
We arranged an interview. The producer had the foresight to send this video to the Department of Children’s Services. Within a few months, this school was raided by the authorities and eventually shut down in 1991.
This was the first time I actually experienced the power a few people can have when they exercise their first amendment rights.
A few months ago, I was contacted by Jodi Hobbs, a survivor of Victory Christian Academy. She became aware of my role in shutting the school down via the internet. Jodi, along with three other survivors, has formed the Survivors of Institutional Abuse (SIA Organization) and invited me to be a board member.
I was more than happy to accept and pleased to say we are having our first fund raiser on July 9, 2010.
The Launch Event will feature the premier of our PSA, directed by Steven Kimbrough (CEO President KMGI-TV & Black Kilt Films, Inc.), who recently returned from the Cannes Film Festival promoting the Cannes 24 Hour Film Challenge.
We will also screen ‘Over the GW’, a hard hitting motion picture which exposes the abuses which have been occurring at teen behavior modification centers. The facility profiled in ‘Over the GW’, interestingly, was not a faith based center. It was secular and accepted Medicaid funding before it was closed. Yet, their methods of ‘rehabilitation’ were just as abusive as those endured by the residents of VCA.
‘Over the GW’ was referenced in a Congressional Hearing on
"Child Abuse and Deceptive Marketing by Residential Programs for Teens." See a clip from that Congressional Hearing, plus a preview of 'Over the GW', below this article.
Teen behavior modification centers, which includes everything from wilderness camps to gay to straight therapy centers to unlicensed 'ministries' is a billion dollar industry. It is not centered around rehabilitating teens who have been abused, or addicted to drugs, or toxic behavior, but, instead, offers last minute 'solutions' for parents whose children are simply embracing different values.
The mere fact that teenagers are choosing different viewpoints than their parents when it comes to sexuality, music and entertainment, matters of dress, politics, or, in more serious cases, experiencing sexual abuse in the home, or possessing knowledge of sexual abuse, is used as a rationale to send children to these teen gulags.
Julia Scheeres, author of JESUS LAND, a first person account of life in one of these homes, describes these places as, ’dumping grounds for the problem children of rich evangelicals’.
Victims of the teen behavioral modification industry are finally coming out and finding each other through the internet. One of the positive results of this has been the passage of HR911.
HR911 mandates that all homes and boarding schools must be licensed, and staff trained in spotting abuse, and reporting abuse. HR911 has passed the House and is heading for the Senate. But even if it does pass, and we believe that it will, something must still be done concerning the human wreckage produced by some of these unlicensed institutions.
Victims of these abusive schools and homes must learn how to get their self esteem back. Often in the face of years of negative reinforcement. Our goal is to provide life coaching, public awareness seminars, and providing resources for education, employment, and other services necessary for restoring the quality of life.
The teen behavioral modification industry is a billion dollar business that has crippled the self esteem of many children and adults. It took over a billion dollars to destroy those lives. It might taken even more to restore them. We need your help.
Please visit our website to learn more about our organization. If you’re in the Culver City, CA area on July 9th, please join us at the Bluebird Café at 7PM for ‘Over the GW’ and the premier of our first Public Service Announcement.
Visit the official 'Survivors of Institutional Abuse' website and click 'blog' to read more about the event on July 9. 2010:
Survivors of Institutional Abuse website: sia-now.org