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BCS Landing2021-11-20T13:06:27-08:00


Breaking Code Silence is a 501c3 nonprofit that represents children, youth, and adults who are/were incarcerated in the US’ troubled teen industry (TTI), a network of privately-owned, powerfully punitive, and often wilderness-based therapy programs, residential treatment centers, therapeutic boarding schools, group homes, boot camps, and faith-based academies.

Breaking Code Silence intends to be a vehicle for the TTI-survivor community–ever striving to uplift, organize, and inspire present and future generations, while promoting youth rights and evidence-based alternatives to the troubled teen industry.

We are eradicating institutional child abuse and empowering survivors – Together


The passage of this Act will create a uniform Youth in Congregate Care Bill of Rights for all youth in congregate care regardless of which public or private pipeline they entered the facility. This Bill of Rights will create a standard for the ACCA Joint Commission to advise on reduction of congregate care placement and will consult with States on the closure of facilities that are unable to meet standards within the Youth in Congregate Care Bill of Rights.




Breaking Code Silence is a force to be reckoned with. Over the past year, we have garnered support across different states, political affiliations, and professional disciplines. We are only just getting started, but we need funding to support all the levels of our volunteer organization. We have made it this far as only volunteers – imagine what we can accomplish with more resources!



I was teased relentlessly during my time there. Due to having been sheltered, there was so much I didn’t know, and the other students made fun of it. There was also much I learned there which were things my parents didn’t want me to know. In my first weeks, I got emotional and was scratching myself with anything I could find. I was placed on restrictions. No psychiatrist, no medication, no true therapy. Just physical punishment.

My name is Cat and I am on the autism spectrum. After wilderness, I was sent to Eva Carlston for depression and trauma therapy. Ironic that this place gave me PTSD. I was sent here against my will. I am very intelligent, and the staff knew that. However, I was punished for not being able to make eye contact

Cat’s Story

“This Is Paris” convinced me to share the story of my time at Spring Creek Lodge Academy (SCLA) in Montana from 2008-2009. It hit me hard when Paris talked about her insomnia and being afraid to close her eyes. I was seventeen when I was abducted in the middle of the night and I lived there for 14 months.

Valan’s Story

My name is Victoria. When I was seventeen, a “friend” outed me as bisexual to my conservative Christian parents. From the very start, my personhood was violated. My so-called friend had saved very private text messages about my relationship with my best friend, which had progressed into more than friendship one summer when we were together.

Victoria’s Story



Although our organization is very new, our volunteers have already become innovators and leaders in policy, advocacy, and research. We are proud of our accomplishments thus far. We’ve helped divert children from congregate care, pressured abusive programs to close, challenged dominant narratives about the industry, and passed protective state legislation—and we are only getting started!

These are exciting, potentially paradigm-shifting times! Against long odds, BCS has managed to capture the attention space, flip the narrative, and garner sympathy for the plight of institutionalized children and youth in the United States. It seems clear that the punitive tactics and abuses perpetrated in the TTI are out of step with contemporary sensibilities and practices in adolescent mental health. With policymakers, academics, clinicians, and child advocates reaching out to BCS, viewing our survivor-led organization as a source of expert knowledge and seeking to include our perspectives in reform efforts, we have been presented with an incredibly fortuitous political opening and opportunity to make substantial, durable, structural changes and potentially transform the lives of present and future generations of children and youth in the United States.



Wilderness Therapy

by Dr. Emmanuel Monneron According to the book “Adventure Therapy: Theory, Practice, and Research” (Gass, Gillis ...


Every year, thousands of children are sent against their will – often ripped out of their beds in the middle of the night by strangers – to private facilities to be treated for various mental illnesses, addiction issues and perceived behavioral problems. While trapped in these facilities, youth experience rampant abuse. This database contains the largest collection of institutional abuse related documentation.



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