Each year, the guardianship of thousands of vulnerable youth are signed over to private and for-profit residential programs that lack state and federal oversight. This means that these programs can be established fairly spontaneously and are not required to report what goes on within the facility to the state or federal government.
These programs may label themselves as wilderness, therapeutic, boot camp, or religious programs, and are collectively known as the “troubled teen industry” (tti). The TTI operates out of sight and out of mind, typically in remote locations away from public scrutiny. It is a multi-billion dollar industry that exploits vulnerable youth & their families for profit.
Thousands of cases of abuse and neglect have been reported in the media over the last 40 years. During this time, young people in the TTI have experienced human rights violations, abuse and injustices. These include but are not limited to:
• Seclusion & Restraint: Including seclusion, restraint, isolation, solitary confinement & strict restriction of communication with the outside world including contact with family, mandated reporters, lawyers and advocates.
• Unethical & abusive force of Transporting ( kidnaping) young people.
• Abuse of Religious Exemptions: Including physical abuse, emotional abuse, racist verbal abuse, neglect, medical neglect, and death
• Conversion therapy harmful therapeutic to change another individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
• Human Rights Violations: Including sleep deprivation, food deprivation, forced feeding, restrictions on marriage based on race, lack of freedom of religion, exploitation of labor and exploitation of traumatic experiences.
During this event we will talk to several survivors of the trouble teen industry and learn why change is necessary to protect our children and youth.
Our guests included:
Kayla is a resilient foster care survivor of institutional abuse. They hope to use their insight of the child welfare system to spread awareness of the civil rights violations happening day in and day out, especially within the Troubled Teen Industry. She has written articles for The Hill, Ms. Magazine, and Children's Rights. They are currently attending Palo Alto College in San Antonio, Texas. They have been a certified dog trainer since 2016 and found healing through working with dogs of all breeds. They currently work with a pit bull service dog.
Robert bucklin is a 27 year old Patient CareAssociate studying to be an ICU Nusre who is also heavily involved in bringing awareness to the abuses within the Agape Boarding School for boys, a private school located in Missouri- a school that he attended his whole teenage life.
Josh Cook is a survivor of the “Troubled Teen Industry” who began his anti-TTI advocacy by helping to facilitate the closure of Freedom Village USA, a religious TTI program. He also works on prisoner rights issues, where he has been involved in several campaigns. He is based in Alabama, where he lives with his grandson.
Gabriel Joseph Gonzáles is a survivor that educates and advocates for young people’s rights in The Troubled Teen Industry. In 2019, he worked with the Freedom Village Experience survivors group on awareness projects that involved New York and South Carolina. In 2020, Gabriel co-facilitated a collaborative campaign with the National Youth Rights Association to ask congress to regulate controversial care practices and challenges in "Troubled Teen" Residential care facilitation. He currently resides in New York City and is an active member of his community.
Chelsea Maldonado is an Atlanta-based activist and investigative researcher with a focus on youth rights and criminal justice reform. She is a survivor of the so-called "Troubled Teen Industry," having attended the nSupport the show