Stop Institutional Abuse in Private Residential Facilities

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Residential treatment can be an invaluable last resort treatment option for an at risk teen, however some facilities operate as private nonprofit organizations, and serve as cash cow business endeavors at the cost of the wellbeing of the individuals whom these institutions claim to service.

Some grievances that are often cited by those who have been sent to harmful facilities such as these include: 

-Harmful exposure therapy 
-Inadequate access to food, or food deprivation
-Sleep deprivation 
-Lack of access to the restroom, and being made to urinate or defecate themselves of necessity 
-Regulated communication with family, or denied contact with family altogether 
-Hiring and manipulating young and under qualified staff and ordering the abuse of minor residents, claiming that this discomfort will yield positive behavior changes for the resident 
-Solitary confinement, isolation, or ordering “silence” for months at a time 
-Refusing adult residents who aged into adulthood at the facility access to their rights as adult patients, lying to them about these rights, or only allowing them to leave the facility if they agree to leaving with only what they own (they own nothing, so these individuals would be forced to leave the facility naked if they agreed) 
-Exposure to cult like rituals & harmful use of religious rhetoric
-Made to perform arduous manual labor under extreme conditions 
-Denied access to medical care or hygiene 
-Made to wear shaming charts around their necks 
-Made to be tied to animals or other residents or staff members by leashes, sometimes for months at a time 
-Denied essential medications or made to eat foods which contained allergens or violated personal beliefs 
-Staff made to sign non disclosure agreements in an effort to silence them about abuse 
-Residents sued for negative reviews of facilities after discharge, as a scare tactic to encourage the silence of the abuse victim 
-Made to wear backpacks filled with rocks full time
-Made to carry boulders or large animal troughs, and made to run with them full time
-Medical neglect
-Residents will often be too scared to speak up when DFS comes to investigate, and residents are handpicked by staff who knows which girls are least likely to speak out about the abuse 
-Made to use the restroom with the door opened while girls or staff members watch them use the restroom 
-Harsh and unreasonable corporal punishments 
-In some facilities, residents are restrained or struck, and even sexually violated 
-Facility websites and correspondences with parents paint an inaccurate picture of what the facility is like, and often use parent and potential hire’s vulnerability, in conjunction with comforting religious rhetoric, to make them feel as though this facility is their only choice
-School requirements do not meet federal guidelines 
-The organizations and staff are often lacking in proper credentials
-Private organizations have to adhere to far less regulations than federally regulated programs, which enables these facilities to get away with institutional abuse

We are writing in an effort to raise awareness for victims who have been harmed by facilities such as these, and draw attention to these issues so as to change Federal Laws to protect minors and young adults in residential treatment facilities.

Please sign this petition in an effort to facilitate stronger Federal regulations on private residential treatment institutions.

Here you will find a concise list of changes we would like to see implemented in residential facilities unilaterally:

-Letting teens know their rights and how to exercise them

-Have someone in place to come inform teens during their treatment access to proper medical attention at request

-Access to communicate with parents freely and without fear of punishment (phone calls and letters) Limitations on treatment time for those not dealing with drug abuse issues

-A separate person outside the facility to come in and check each patients progress and decide if the patient is to continue treatment

-No physical "challenges," or tasks designed to cause physical or psychological harm to a patient either directly or indirectly. Therapy assignments and regimens should be developed with a care team, and approved by an unbiased and qualified third party

-Reasonable privacy (bathroom, hygiene , communication with family)

- Requiring staff be qualified and specialized in mental health treatment, trauma management, medicine; and have reasonable experience in the field 

- No solitary unless the patient is considered a danger to themselves or others by a third party adviser. We advocate for a mandatory 72-hour evaluation to re-assess, as would occur in a hospital.

- Teens who are on drugs need to detox in a facility equipped to handle detoxing, prior to being admitted to a residential facility that does not have those capabilities on site

For more information, here are a list of resources: (Survivors of Institutional Abuse)