TUESDAY, MAY 11TH – The Missouri State Senate has passed a state bill today (23-9), which provides government oversight for the state’s currently unregulated boarding schools. Many of these schools have recently come under fire for reports of child abuse, rape, neglect, and other crimes. Owners of one school have been charged with over 100 felony crimes this past week.(1)

This historic bill is the first in Missouri to target facilities within the ‘Troubled Teen Industry,’ a multi-billion dollar, nationwide industry, which profits off of vulnerable youth. Included under the umbrella of this industry is a variety of facilities, including: boot camps, behavioral modification facilities, conversion therapy programs, theraputic boarding schools, wilderness therapy programs, and rehabilitation programs. These facilities operate with little to no government oversight, with many slipping by under religious exemptions from the state.

The approved bill requires all faith-based facilities to register with the state, and to conduct federal criminal background checks on all staff and volunteers. The bill also includes a requirement that facilities adhere to all state fire, safety, and health regulations. The next steps for the bill are House approval, which is expected, then the Governor’s signature.

Programs within the ‘Troubled Teen Industry’ often use an assortment of seminars, behavior modification tactics, and forms of ‘therapy’ which are rooted in abusive cults, such as the notorious Synanon cult. These types of ‘attack therapy’ often leave the survivors of institutional child abuse with a myriad of long-term physical and psychological symptoms, such as nightmares, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, chronic depression, and other mental health problems.  In some cases, these tactics have even resulted in suicide.

Breaking Code Silence is a recently-formed, survivor-run nonprofit organization, aimed at tackling the ‘Troubled Teen Industry.’ Through advocacy, awareness, research, and legislation, Breaking Code Silence is building a network of survivor resources and funds to begin taking on these facilities and those at the helm of the abuse.

Interim Organizational Director Vanessa Hughes stated Tuesday, “We are so proud to stand with the courageous survivors in Missouri, and across the country, who have spoken up and shared their stories. This resilient community is lifting each other up and creating real change! This bill could not have happened without the survivors of Circle of Hope, Agape, and many other survivors bravely standing up and demanding that these shared stories end!”

To find out more about how you can fight against the ‘Troubled Teen Industry,’ click here