Boss on War Path Over Camp 'Counseling'
Lauren Beckham Falcone, Sunday, July 31, 2005
For more articles like this
reality hit "Brat Camp" has made the head of the Child Welfare
League of America one unhappy camper.
CWLA Executive Director and CEO Shay Bilchik has asked the
Government Accounting Office to investigate "anecdotal reports"
of abuse and neglect at residential boarding schools and boot
camps for out-of-control children.
"When this type of camp is publicized, it makes it appear that
it's something a parent should consider doing," Bilchik said. "A
lot of these programs can be harming kids. A number are reported
to be excessive, but because many are unlicensed and
unregulated, we don't know if the abuses are real or not."
Bilchik's group wants the GAO to study "Brat Camp"-like programs
and report to Congress on what kind of regulations, oversight
and funding might be in order to better protect children.
"Brat Camp" features nine troubled kids who are unwittingly sent
to Sage Walk, a 60-day survival camp in central Oregon that
promises to break their reckless behavior through therapy and
outdoor living. Such programs can cost anywhere from $13,000 to
"Brat Camp" has come under fire from child advocates who say it
exploits the participants and suggests to parents that
tough-love schools and camps are the only option for wayward
"First of all, when do we call troubled kids 'brats'?" asked
Andrea Watson, founder of Parents for Residential Reform - A
Project of the Federation of Children With Special Needs in
"No responsible (program) would allow taking kids or adolescents
who have issues of any sort and put them on a reality TV show
for viewer enjoyment. Shame on that provider."
Bill Lyttle, executive director of the Framingham-based Key
Program, a nonprofit residential and nonresidential program for
kids from DSS, DYS and DMH, said he doesn't think that boot
camps and "scared straight" programs - televised or not - do
"Maybe for a couple of kids, but the fact that it's publicized
seems exploitive," he said. From 1980 to 2001, at least 31
teenagers in 11 states died at outdoor camps from troubled
youths, according to a 2001 report in The New York Times. Most
recently, a 13-year-old boy died in May at a state-run camp for
troubled youth in Atlanta after counselors restrained the boy
and refused to give him his inhaler.
****Note - Andrea Watson is the Founder of Parents for
http://www.pfrr.org, an organization she began following the
death of one student, rape of another, and concerns about
restraint and medication practices at her daughter’s former
residential school. She can be contacted at:
Ms. Andrea Watson
Parents for Residential Reform - A Project of The Federation for
Children with Special Needs
1135 Tremont Street # 420
Boston, MA 02120
Phone: 617-236-7210 X 145
back to the top ~
back to Breaking News
~ back to