Got your attention yet? Hope so. Remember a while back when I made that post about how IrregularTimes is fixating on just a handful of topics and letting a lot of other important things fall by the wayside? Well, this is another of those things, but I can’t rightly fault the staff here for failing to catch wind of it before now. But this is something that I really, honestly, truly wish would be added to the List of Things To Cover Until Doomsday. This is regarding the systematic torture of United States children. But no, it’s not by the government.
It’s at the request of the parents.
Confused? Appalled? I don’t blame you, I was too when I first heard about this. But I want to give (most of) the parents the benefit of the doubt and say they’re well-meaning, if naive. See, what happens is, for whatever reason, they’ll find out about these schools for “troubled teenagers” run by a group calling themselves the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs (WWASP) and go their their website. They’ll read, see nothing wrong, then take a quiz to see if there are warning signs that their kids are in danger of becoming out of control. Through a series of loaded questions which a “yes” answer would, for the average parents, just say “typical teenager” the website says your kid is at risk and to send them there to get help.
Also, send them there if the kid is/might be gay and/or bisexual. See, these schools are run by fundamentalist Mormons.
As I said, for the most part, the websites will sell you a story of a fairly easy going place rather than the reality which is that it’s little more than a concentration camp (yay for Godwins!) on the far side of the River Styx. The warning bells should be going off when they tell you (either through the phone, in person, or on the fucking website) that your child will lie to you about what is going on at that school. When anyone, even a school or corporation, has to poison the well with regards of what is going on there, you should know something is up.
And if that isn’t enough, the “emergency teen escort service” (no, it’s not a door-to-door brothel) that will wisk your child away from their bed at 2 or 3 in the morning should. These are people who’ll enter the home in the early hours, terrorize the kids, kidnap them and transport them to one of the WWASP’s schools either in the USA or overseas. Here, I could sit and type all these things out, but I want to share a story from someone who’d gone to one of these place. A wonderful little school called Cross Creek.
On May 10th of 2007 at around 2:30 in the morning two strangers barged into my bedroom. I started screaming and crying, as in my mind I was sure that these two strangers had broken into my house and were going to abduct me, rape me, kill me, or in some way harm me. They immediately told me that if I did not shut up that they would handcuff me. I was not being in any way violent or threatening. I was reacting in fear for my life by being vocal and hoping that someone would come to help. I had no idea what was going on. I stopped screaming, still in fear for my life. They started going through my closet digging out clothes as I was only in a night gown. They still had not explained what was going on. I asked, frightened, what the wanted from me, trying to see if I could in some way appease them and get them to leave. They then explained that they were going to take me to a school. It took me a second to understand what they meant by this, as this was an extremely bizarre way to introduce a child to a new school. It then occurred to me that this was what my mother had arranged for my brother several years ago when she had him shipped away to Cross Creek. The two strangers were from Teen Escort Service, a for-profit company that transports teenagers, usually by force, to WWASP (World Wide Association of Specialty Programs) facilities.
I was extremely upset and cried the entire trip, but I obeyed all of their orders. Even though I was being cooperative they said it was their policy to put a belt around the bust of the child and hold the belt so that there would be no chance of attempting to run. It was so humiliating to be led around like a fucking dog around the airport. It was also extremely uncomfortable to have this strange older male putting his hand so close to my breast. I never understood how any of this was legal but definitely knew that none of it was ethical. To this day I feel extremely angered, disturbed, and violated by this entire experience. In addition to this they “forgot” all of the psychiatric medication I had been on at my house. It’s not that I am for psychiatric meds, but it certainly did not feel healthy or normal to go from taking this medication regularly, to just not having it and stopping with out tapering off of it.
From the moment I arrived at Cross Creek, I was treated as though I was broken, dirty, and inhuman. During my stay I saw many others treated this way. I had never spoken to R., the program director, before and my first experience with him was horrible. He asked me why I was there, and I told him all of the things I’d done that I could think of that could possibly be perceived as “bad”. He yelled at me, saying that I was lying and that I didn’t love or care about my parents. I was shocked and confused, unsure of what I had done to deserve this treatment from someone I had just met. To this day, the only thing I can think of that I possibly could have left out was my attraction to other females. In one of the Parent-Child seminars we were made to attend, my mother shared with me that this was one of the biggest “issues” that caused her to send me to Cross Creek. Not the drugs, not the sex (she told me she had no knowledge of me being sexually active prior to being forced to disclose it to her), not the issues with school, but just the fact that there was a possibility that one day I might fall in love with a female. Sorry for not realizing what a horrible, broken child this made me, R.
Shortly after I arrived, my “HOPE buddy” (the student they assign to “mentor” you and teach you the rules in your first few weeks) started asking me about my past, why I was there, and what issues I needed to work on. I talked briefly about my experimentation with soft drugs, my issues with depression (something I’m pretty sure most teenagers experience), and the abusive relationship I had been in with my first girlfriend. As soon as I said the words “girl” and “relationship” in the same sentence she said “STOP! STOP! We can’t talk about that.” I was filled with shame regarding my sexuality simply from the fact that I was not even allowed to talk about homosexuality in any way shape or form. Shortly after this incident I started talking to the therapist they assigned me to there about this abusive relationship I had experienced, and how it bothered me that I was not allowed to talk about a part of me that I have no control over. His response was that I DID have a choice over whether or not I was attracted to females and that I should just deal with these thoughts of same sex attraction. His opinion was that this was probably a result of some anger I had toward men, particularly my dad and that I probably just wanted to be with females because they were “safer” (even though I had been with an abusive female before!!!) He also said that ultimately this was probably just a phase and a result of my crazy teenage hormones. He believed that if I tried hard enough and ignored these thoughts and feelings one day I might marry a nice boy.
I had no interest in having a relationship with anyone there, but when other girls formed relationships with each other, the repercussions were pretty extreme. I understood why it was not allowed, as relationships are generally distracting no matter the gender of either partner, but the way people were treated was pretty unnecessary in my opinion. It usually involved lots of yelling, ostracizing, and shaming. I remember one R. meeting where two girls were being confronted about this and R. was yelling about how stupid they were being and how no one would be able to trust them now. He went on to say that he had “nothing against homosexuality, but it was not the way God intended things.” and that the Bible definitely did not condone it. These “God” and bible references were used on a regular basis, along with religious videos, praying, etc. even though Cross Creek claimed that they were not in any way religious. The rule book and protocol also appeared to be directly based off of the Mormon religion (no caffeine etc.) The program reprimanded children for telling their parents about this religious influence and regularly tried to hide it from parents. I am in no way against people having their own beliefs and following what ever religion is right for them, however I think that it’s completely and totally immoral to lie to parents about what they are getting. More on this later.
The queer shaming was present in nearly every aspect of the program, including the language used. We were not allowed to use curse words such as “shit”, or “bitch”, but I never saw anyone reprimanded for saying “fag” or “faggot.” This fostered an environment in which teasing and bullying for all sorts of things were fully tolerated. I even remember a facilitator in a seminar trying to trigger a girl by calling her a “dyke.” And no, before you say something, I really don’t care about breaking confidentiality of seminars at this point because I am fed up. What these people said and did broke me down and created so much shame inside of me.
In addition to shaming people on basis of sexual orientation, they taught children that sex was evil and damaging outside of marriage, another blatantly religious notion. We were forced to regularly watch videos involving horror stories of abortions gone wrong, shown gruesome pictures of STDs that had been left unattended for long periods of time, and told that if we had sex before marriage we would likely die or get some horrible ailment. Rather than promoting safer sex methods, we were shown that abstinence was the only option that would not result in death or unwanted pregnancy.
Rigid gender roles were also a big part of the Cross Creek way of life. Many of the rules were extremely gender based. Boys were allowed to crack their backs and knuckles, though girls were not because it was “unladylike”. Boys got meal portions double the size of girls. Boys were allowed to use more curse words than girls were. The list goes on.
I remember when they moved the girls from Center 1 to Pro 1 (these are all names of the dorms we stayed in.) The boys had been living in Pro 1, and when they moved the girls in the dorms were extremely messy. Rather than having the boys come back and clean up this mess, they made the girls clean all day. This was completely, and totally humiliating. What a great way to build confidence and teach girls how to be independent and stand up for themselves.
This is just part one of three parts, the rest of which can be read by following the links. Some of the replies are from others who have gone to one of these places or who knew someone who’d gone to one. The one thing that’s always the same from the latter group is how the people they knew were never the same as they were before they went.
SkyOne news also did a short little article on these places. It’s short, just around ten minutes of your time, but it’s worth a watch.
The things that go on in these places are nothing short of psychical and mental torture, and it’s all perfectly legal because the USA still hasn’t signed on to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.