The first monthly newsletter of
Breaking Code Silence
as an official nonprofit organization!

It has been an exciting couple of years! We have accomplished so much as a community and are ready to accomplish much more. We are looking forward to what else lies ahead for us now that we are an official organization with 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. 
Benefits of Nonprofit Status
by Hannah Kay and Jenny Magill

Why did we make this decision? What does it mean for our community?

Formerly, Breaking Code Silence did NOT hold nonprofit status and was not legally established as an organization. It was an informal entity, in essence, a hashtag. By incorporating as an organization and filing for nonprofit status, our movement gains lots of opportunities to expand our impact! 

Some benefits of being an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization include:
  • Once formed, there is no single owner of this organization; the organization itself owns any intellectual property and assets rather than an individual person. 
  • A nonprofit corporation has its own separate existence. It can enter into its own contracts, sue and be sued in its own name, and be responsible for its own contractual and other obligations. In an informal or non-statutory nonprofit, the person entering into contracts in his or her own name can be liable if there is a breach of the contract.
  • Perpetual existence. A nonprofit corporation has a statutory right to exist in perpetuity. An informal organization does not have that.
  • Limited liability protection. A nonprofit corporation protects directors, officers, and members against being held personally responsible for their company’s debts and liabilities. Because that limited liability protection is provided for by statute, an informal organization does not have it.
  • Tax-exempt status. Nonprofit corporations can apply for both federal and state tax-exempt status. While a group or association that has not been formed under state law can apply for tax-exempt status, it is generally easier for a statutory business entity (and especially a corporation) to get IRS approval.
  • State sales and property tax exemption. This benefit varies by state, but nonprofit companies may be exempt from paying sales and/or property taxes. In addition, tax-exempt nonprofits generally can receive U.S. Post Office discounts on bulk mail rates.
  • Tax-deductible donations. With 501(c)(3) nonprofits, donations made by individuals to the nonprofit corporation are tax-deductible. 
  • Access to grants. Some nonprofits are eligible to receive public and private grants, making it easier to get operating capital. For instance, certain grants and other public allocations are only available to 501(c)(3) organizations. 
  • Credibility. There may be more established credibility for a nonprofit corporation than for a person or persons informally trying to work toward their organization’s mission. Donors often prefer to donate to nonprofit corporations because of this credibility.
  • Oversight and responsibility. Nonprofits are held to rigorous legal standards of reporting and recording their operations. This is a great way to keep our team accountable and productive moving forward.

What is Breaking Code Silence?
By Lisa Spears

"Code Silence" referred to a form of isolation used in WWASP programs in which detainees were not allowed to speak. This could last for days, months, or even years at a time. "Breaking Code of Silence" refers to the radical act of using our voices. We are survivors of the Troubled Teen Industry, or facilities falsely advertised as "fixing" children who are "troubled."

The purpose of Breaking Code of Silence is to raise awareness of the abuses happening in these facilities, to fight for reform in the industry, and to empower survivors through community, knowledge, and telling our stories. We are a diverse group of people with various professional and educational backgrounds. We represent a large cross-section of survivors, including survivors who are queer and trans; black and indigenous; Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and atheist; autistic and allistic; young, middle-aged, and old; disabled; mentally ill; and male, female, and nonbinary. We seek to support all survivors and to create serious, lasting change in the lives of all youth.

The mission of Breaking Code Silence is to prevent institutional child abuse in residential facilities and to empower adult survivors to engage in positive self-advocacy. We utilize education, outreach, research, and community organizing to protect the civil and human rights of youth in congregate care.


The vision of Breaking Code Silence is to create a future without institutional child abuse by engaging, uniting, and empowering adult survivors to become effective advocates for change.

We remain Inclusive

We believe in diversity and inclusion and commit ourselves to creating a safe, welcoming, and supportive culture for all. We celebrate unique worldviews and learning opportunities for our community and organization.

We preserve Integrity

We recognize that each of us represents Breaking Code Silence and we honor that responsibility with humility and diplomacy while maintaining the highest ethical standards.

We are Informed

We nurture compassionate spaces for the many manifestations of trauma in behavior and commit ourselves to creating a community that seeks to learn more, educate others, and remain rooted in evidence-based and trauma-informed practices.

Learn More
Josh is the Media Lead. He came on board in March. You may recognize him from his 2007 book and poetry collection, Breaking Code Silence, or from his subsequent advocacy work born from his time at Spring Creek Lodge. When Josh is not pumping out training guides or responding to reporters, he is "popping cokes" 35,000 feet up. Spending any time with Josh will make it clear that he embodies the soul of this movement. 
Tamara is part of the web development team. She is an all-around nerd who loves playing Dungeons & Dragons and taking Star Trek way too seriously. Despite reading many comic books, she never thought she’d get a tragic backstory and is super bummed that her experience in the TTI gave her flashbacks but no superpowers. She will never stop fighting for regulations to protect the vulnerable.
Solis is the safety policy liaison. She is a CEDU survivor (1989-1992). She was born in Santa Barbara and is a single mom to a 20-year-old son, a photographer. She is a painter with her BA in business and an AS degree in science and math. Solis is ever present with a willingness to support and help in the fight to protect vulnerable youth. She is a valued asset to the team.
Molly is the communications lead.  After more than 10 years of struggling to make sense of her experience in a WWASP program 04-05, it was the courage of fellow survivors sharing their stories that inspired Molly to open up about her own - prompting an eagerness to find healing and fight for change. Molly is a certified yoga instructor offering classes via Zoom throughout this pandemic, she’s a mom to a charming pug.

Missouri Bills HB557 and HB560
by: Molly Rose

On April 14th, children’s rights advocates, including members of Troubled and Spare the Rod, joined with survivors of abusive youth programs in Missouri (including Agape and Circle of Hope) to share powerful testimony in support of HB557 and HB560. Watch some of that testimony and follow this fight here

At present, anyone deciding to open a faith-based youth program in the state of Missouri faces very few obstacles and near zero regulation. The bills would require faith-based youth homes to notify the state of their locations, provide background checks for all employees, and ensure that social services have unrestricted access to youth residents. This Missouri legislative committee expressed support for the survivors and motivation to take action. 


Remembering Cornelius Frederick
by: Molly Rose

On April 29th, youth advocates, survivors of the troubled teen industry, and friends and family of Cornelius Frederick came together to commemorate the one year anniversary of his tragic death with a virtual memorial service and a 12-minute silent vigil organized by The Coalmine Canary.

Cornelius Frederick was killed at Lakeside Academy, a for-profit residential facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, owned by Sequel Youth and Family Services. Cornelius was just 16 when he was violently restrained - by seven male staff members in a hold for almost 12 minutes - as a consequence for throwing a sandwich at another resident. Cornelius had been placed in foster care after the sudden death of his mother when he was only 12 years old. Unfortunately, even though family members wanted custody of “Corn” and his siblings, he became a ward of the state and was eventually placed in the for-profit facility for “troubled teens.”

According to a 2018 study, 28 states have privatized the contracting of foster children to for-profit companies like Sequel, where they may be subjected to harsh confrontations, public humiliation, isolation, physical restraints, and deprivation of basic human rights. A deeper investigation by Deidre Sugiuchi into this crisis and Cornelius’s story can be found here

Cornelius’s death resulted in the eventual closing of Lakeside and prompted investigations into other Sequel programs across the country. Soon afterward, a Michigan state task force proposed a ban on the use of restraints in youth homes. The statewide ban is expected to go into effect after required public hearings on June 3rd and June 10th, which will be held online via Zoom. Public comment will be allowed at these hearings for the revised Child Care Institution licensing rules, and parties that are interested may provide testimony to support the rules or voice concerns. See the story here.


The American Bar Association
by: Molly Rose

In support of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the American Bar Association presented the third installment of their collaborative multi-series webinar on the "Troubled Teen Industry," and the child welfare system. Each of these webinars has been incredibly eye-opening and has further ignited the call to action we’ve all been feeling. Catch up on previous installments here.


For more news and weekly updates, check out the Breaking Code Silence HUB - your source for everything #BreakingCodeSilence, where survivors and allies can go to find information about advocacy, legislation, research, survivor articles, dissertation digests, and more on the troubled teen industry.

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete."
-Jack Kornfield


Let’s clear up one common misconception from the get-go: Self-care is not synonymous with self-indulgence or being selfish. Self-care means taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, you can be well, you can do your job, you can help and care for others, and you can do all the things you need to and want to accomplish in a day. Click to learn more about self care and for links to ways to care for your valuable self.
Learn More
Allostatic load is "the wear and tear on the body" which accumulates as an individual is exposed to repeated or chronic stress. It represents the physiological consequences of chronic exposure to fluctuating or heightened neural or neuroendocrine response, which results from repeated or prolonged chronic stress.

These bodily responses to stress, such as increased release of cortisol and increased load on the heart, are both protective and adaptive in the short-term, but they can cause damage if overused. After a year of the stresses associated with COVID-19, in addition to regular and event-specific stressors, many people are struggling.  
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Survivors from all over look forward to this monthly time together. We laugh, sometimes cry, share stories, and learn from one another. We support each other through providing space, sharing what helps, and providing a well-timed joke to keep the energy balanced. All survivors are welcome!
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Breaking Code Silence is now bringing on survivors and allies to join us in the fight to help reform the "troubled teen industry." We need all skill sets, knowledge sets, talents, and interests to take on this task. Sign up today, and we will be in touch soon to connect you with the best team that fits your skills and preferences.

Breaking Code Silence has been busy! We have accomplished an incredible amount in just the last few weeks. 

The Activism Model & Training Team is at work creating an easily accessible training guide to bring a safe, effective, and appropriate strategic model of activism that empowers us to multiply our reach and create historic change. 

The Legislation Team has created regional teams and specific task forces, discussed federal legislative objectives, and scheduled meetings with new and established contacts. 

Internal and community Communication Teams have launched the weekly State of Breaking Code Silence website report and our monthly Breaking Code Silence Newsletter to share updates with all of our volunteers, the greater survivor community, and the general public.

The Reporting Team has created a streamlined reporting process for survivors reporting ethical violations. 

The Program Investigation Team has continued with ongoing investigations into multiple programs accused of institutionalized child abuse.  This team has grown rapidly and has created specialized teams to look into specific programs. 

The Media Team has created a press guide to aid survivor volunteers with press engagement, began looking into unique opportunities for new publication forums, and has taken a carefully crafted approach to empowering survivors to share stories and bring about opportunities for awareness and partnership. The media team produced a community video that inspired and united survivors in supporting each other and creating change for future generations.

The Administrative Team has created an onboarding guide, internal communications guide, code of conduct, and several other policies to guide daily operations and culture of the organization.

We have linked with expert advisors to equip survivor volunteers with skills to improve interpersonal effectiveness and emotional management in order to empower survivors to approach daunting tasks with composure.

We are intentionally creating a healthy community that honors and holds space for all survivors. This includes a coalition to assist survivors with eating disorders and task forces to focus on diversity and inclusion (for both BIPOC and queer survivors). To accomplish this, we have written and submitted two grant proposals, including one with Breaking Code Silence Advisor Misha Osherovich.

We have begun to reestablish relationships with community partners and survivor-led groups. 

Infrastructure is being built every day. We have established a new volunteer sign-up system and created a way to organize and onboard volunteers. So far, we have onboarded 62 volunteers, and we have 23 more scheduled for interviews with 78 others invited. *We have contacted all volunteers.  If you have not heard from us, check spam or email Jmagill@breakingcodesilence.org.

We are becoming a force to be reckoned with. We are here to make this world a safer and more inclusive place for all, and we could not do it without this amazing community of survivors and advocates.

Together, WE are Breaking Code Silence!

In service with you,
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