News2022-03-14T15:11:22-07:00

BREAKING CODE SILENCE NEWS

Interview with a Survivor from Maple Lake Academy

Jesse: I'm Jesse Jensen with Breaking Code Silence. On May 24th, 2022, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Utah state regulators are revoking the facility license from Maple Lake Academy in Spanish Fork because of two cases in which girls detained there did not receive adequate medical care. One of these cases resulted in the child's death. Maple Lake has now posted a letter from the State Department of Human Services on their website, which is dated June 16th and states that Maple Lake is appealing the revocation and as such, they are being permitted to operate on a conditional basis until the appeal process concludes. The appeal hearing is scheduled for August. We at Breaking Code Silence are working to end institutional child abuse. We have survivors of Maple Lake Academy in our ranks. We consider this an important moment to share what we know about the harsh realities of this facility. One of those survivors has agreed to join me today to answer some questions about their experience. Jordyn Krauss was held at Maple Lake for a year and 10 months as a teenager released in July of 2020. Welcome Jordyn and thank you. Can you hear me? Jordyn: Yes I can. Jesse: Can you tell me about when you were first taken into Maple Lake Academy? Jordyn: So I was taken to Maple Lake Academy in 2018 in September. I had just gotten out of Wilderness. I was 15, and I had heard really good ...

A Trans Survivor Story

Anonymous Author One week during my wilderness therapy program, I was given an assignment to write a letter to the “treatment world.” I wrote: “Dear treatment world, I am a 17-year-old trans guy and I live in you. I have for almost a year now. My story is one of running from you--not because of a lack of self-awareness or lack of desire to get better, but because of your implications for kids like me all over the world. There is not one coed wilderness therapy program in America. Coed residential programs and therapeutic boarding schools are in the minority and unbelievably hard to come by. The fact that this is reality, my reality, makes it really hard to be alive right now. I’m telling my story to name this apparent blind spot in the treatment world, one that is so detrimental to the treatment of every gender diverse kid who enters you.” I’ve read those words in that little, tattered notebook over and over again. I wrote them in a moment of desperation, bravery, or stupidity. I’m not sure which. A few months after these words were written, I would be too beaten into compliance to allow myself to even think like that. Just a few months later, I was a shell of myself, barely clinging onto my name and pronouns, inches away from sacrificing those too. I would have said or done almost anything that they asked me to. Anything to get out. But these words, this ...

June 24, 2022|Categories: Awareness, BLOG POSTS|Tags: , , , |

Survivor Peer Support Training Opportunity

Survivor Peer Support Training Opportunity The survivor community is a specific population of individuals, many of whom share severe trauma experiences. Due to the abusive nature of some of the behavior management techniques utilized in programs being promoted under the guise of “therapy,” oftentimes there is a distrust of therapists within the survivor community.  Even if survivors turn to therapists and move past the abuse they received at the hands of program “therapists,” many times therapists are not familiar with the TTI and the types of experiences so many survivors shared in these institutions. Survivors may face being referred from therapist to therapist trying to find someone equipped to handle the aftermath of extreme trauma, and as a result, they may be asked to repeat their traumatic backstory over and over again until they can find a therapist willing to work with them. While many have found solace in the community of other survivors, there is also the risk in making online community support groups one’s main avenue of therapeutic processing. In her 2020 paper An Exploratory Study on Adult Survivors of the Troubled Teen Industry’s Therapeutic Boarding Schools and Wilderness Programs, Olivia Stull notes, “One of the main sources of support for TTI program survivors includes online communities of their peers. While this provides a place for survivors to feel heard, understood, and validated, there are negatives to this type of community support, too. Several participants noted how they regularly lose someone in their online support group to ...

An Interview with a Neurodiverse Survivor

What was your life like prior to being in a program? I grew u​​p in the Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania. My family and I were very religious. My first experience that really sticks out to me as being different was being left alone at the park and then a neighbor called the police to report neglect; after that I was locked in my room for hours (while both parents were gone) and then another few times left by myself in the backyard with no one home. I remember going to a Christian preschool and struggling with the academic expectations of the school. For example, I didn’t know the alphabet.  Eventually, I was kicked out of my initial preschool, and I then attended a second one.  By the time I went to kindergarten, I had switched over to public school. Kindergarten went smoothly for me, with the exception of one strange comment I received on my report card– the teacher noted that I was “trying too hard to make friends with the other students.” In hindsight, reading that comment back as an adult, it occurs to me that it is in line with something sad that is commonly said about autistic children “that they don’t play correctly.” In first grade I was officially placed in a specialized reading class to help me catch-up to grade level expectations as I was a little behind, the time I was in second grade, I was academically strong in all subjects with a particular ...

A Year in Review

As a new year limped its way across the calendar in a climate of chaos, BCS volunteers across the country have been working relentlessly to provide a glimmer of hope. The progress made in Breaking Code Silence’s very first functional year has been astounding! Established just March 22, 2021, our incredible volunteers are so proud of their work on numerous projects and honored by the positive impacts being seen by survivors, professionals, and regulations of the TTI. A year of progress for an industry in desperate need of it! Let’s celebrate this organization’s hard-earned accomplishments! Our research teams have been fighting to distinguish TTI survivors as a unique demographic in academic literature with the help of several university partners, namely UNCW, LLU, and UCLA. This comprehensive data collection project brings the life-long effects of the TTI to the mainstream research community. BCS collaborated with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to analyze data collected from over 800 survivors of institutional child abuse. This project hosted 4 international researchers and broadened BCS outreach to touch parallel task forces around the globe.  Our BCS research team also compiled a comprehensive online library, providing streamlined access to dozens of research and investigative studies conducted from 2015 on, relating to the Troubled Teen Industry and its effects.  Organization representatives presented TTI-related content at several national and local academic conferences, as well as online platforms. This information has been able to reach varying graduate programs as prominent minds connect with extensive data and ...

No Singing Allowed

No Singing Allowed Written By Jordyn Krauss The truth can be painful. It can spark anger, sadness, or grief. But deception can cause just as much hurt as honesty, if not more. The impact residential programs have had on teenagers is dangerous, and needs to be brought to light. Within this article, you will be reading about my experience. Please note that every survivor’s experience is different, and that many of the topics brought to life in this article may be upsetting to survivors, allies, or any other person who comes across this piece. If it becomes too much, seek support from those around you and do not feel the need to push yourself through my story. Thank you. No Singing Allowed As a kid, it was a struggle for me to connect with my peers. I often felt different and awkward around others. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I found it difficult to focus in class, to keep my emotional outbursts under control, and to make friends. By the time I was fifteen, my parents had decided that it would be best to send me away from home, to a Wilderness Therapy program, to see if intensive intervention would help me develop and grow.  I lived with a couple of other kids in the woods of North Carolina for three months. It was during my time at that program that I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which led my parents to choose Maple Lake Academy as ...

April 4, 2022|Categories: Survivor Stories, Awareness, BLOG POSTS|Tags: , |

Survivor Reflections on Cruel Instruction

Yesterday evening, I sat down to watch the Cruel Instruction premiere on Lifetime and held my breath as years of institutional trauma came flooding back to me. The movie follows the story of Kayla Adams, a 16 year old girl who gets sent away to a therapeutic boarding “school” by her parents at the recommendation of her counselor. Based on the real life experiences of Courtney Konopasek (Kayla) and Ashley DeBoer (Scheff) who both attended Provo Canyon School, this cinematized version allows a peek into the abusive techniques employed by the faculty and staff, including forced medications, solitary confinement, stacking of punishments without cause, and verbal and physical abuse. Many of the survivors in our viewing group noted that the language and techniques used in the film were similar to lived experiences at their respective programs. Specifically, we noted the accuracy of the restriction of parental phone calls, letters home, and visitation, which began immediately for all of us upon entering the facilities and for some of us continued on for the duration of our entire stay. One of us noted that in his 3.5 years at an institution, he was permitted only a single visit from his family. We lamented that some of our isolation cells were not as glamorous as the relatively large one portrayed in the film, which notably included furniture, while most of us went without any furniture at all while we sat in isolation for days on end. We noted that the film included ...

Breaking Code Silence: From Pain to Purpose

Transforming Pain Into Purpose By Dr. Mel Gurr Twenty-three years ago, on October 21, 1998, I was a depressed, non-gender conforming 13-year-old kid with undiagnosed neurodivergence. That morning, two strangers arrived on my doorstep, and they transformed my life forever. Without my knowledge or consent, I was taken to a remote facility called Cedar Ridge Academy, in Roosevelt, Utah - a place where I would spend most of the years between 1998 and 2003, when I turned 18. Cedar Ridge was a confirmedly abusive program, where physical, emotional, and sexual violence was just part of the fabric of daily life. It was a profitable family-business, charging $5,600+ monthly, per child, and operated from 1996 until 2021. Where most American teenagers experience this life stage as a socially structured time of possibility, and the time to experiment with different interests, selves, and identities, children like me were institutionalized and tortured in the name of “treatment.”  While there, we were prohibited from speaking, moving freely, and deprived of an education. One of my most poignant memories of Cedar Ridge Academy was a moment when my friend Rose and I, taking a break from back-breaking farm chores, and hanging out near the barbed-wire fence surrounding the facility. It was a rare moment when we were out of earshot of staff. We talked about the Holocaust. Did anyone near Auschwitz care about the people suffering and dying in the concentration camps? While our experiences were worlds apart, as institutionalized kids in the U.S., ...

Disability and the TTI

By Dr. Emmanuel Monneron As a way to celebrate "Disability Pride Month", Breaking Code Silence wants to dedicate July’s Newsletter to all the people with disabilities and especially to the children currently held against their will in Wilderness Therapy programs, Therapeutic Boarding Schools and Residential Treatment Centers. Our thoughts also go to the Survivors of the Troubled Teen Industry who have suffered from physical and psychological abuse resulting in long-term disability. We see you and we stand with you. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) give this definition of the word "disability" on their website*: "A disability is any condition of the body or mind (impairment) that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them (participation restrictions). Although “people with disabilities” sometimes refers to a single population, this is actually a diverse group of people with a wide range of needs. Two people with the same type of disability can be affected in very different ways. Some disabilities may be hidden or not easy to see." A shorter version of this definition could be "the way a condition impacts a person's daily life". And while it may not be too difficult to understand how a physical condition impacts what a person can or can't do, it's probably different when it comes to psychological conditions. Extreme sadness, intense anxiety, panic attacks, substance craving... These emotional states and feelings are very difficult to apprehend ...

August 2021 State of Breaking Code Silence

What a month! Our incredible volunteers are working hard and making progress on numerous projects and programs. Our Advocacy teams have been very busy and honored to offer our full and multi-faceted support and experience to families, attorneys, and local DHS and other government representatives on several cases where a family needs help rescuing a child that has been abused and/or put in danger by a TTI program. Awareness teams have also launched multiple program investigation and awareness campaigns, as well as shared our experience with survivors outside of the organization wanting to spread awareness about the dangers of their specific program. These campaigns have worked in the past to limit new enrollment and in a few cases, contribute to the closure of abusive programs. We’d like to highlight a few Awareness movements regarding the abuses in wilderness programs and RTCs. Check out the Instagram pages for Stop Second Nature and Uinta Academy. With the Program Reporting Map, developed by our Information and Technology team volunteers, we continue to encourage and show survivors how and where to report the abuses they experienced and witnessed to appropriate agencies.The Legislative team is continuing to meet with and establish relationships with valuable partners across the country. The team participated in the recent Judge Rotenberg Center protest to make our voices heard in support of ethical and safe treatment. The Breaking Code Silence Program Archive has already been instrumental in supporting advocacy cases, research projects, and journalists. With already over 18,000 documents currently available, this ongoing project has only just begun its mission of preserving and organizing all amassed documents ...