RED FLAGS

If you are considering treatment or intervention for your child, you might find yourself considering a program for your child. This page contains a list of red flags for parents to use when considering residential placement or wilderness programs. If a program incorporates or encourages any of the following red flags, we recommend not sending your child to this program. Many of the practices used by the so-called “troubled teen industry” are unethical, dangerous, and a violation of human rights. If you are considering treatment for your child, please feel free to review our “Safe Treatment” page.

  • The program recommends involuntary admittance
  • The program recommends forceful “transportation” or “escort” services
  • The program is not state-licensed or accredited for at least three components: educational, mental/behavioral health, and residential
  • The program uses a contract with terms that ask the parents to sign over their custodial rights or agree to not report child abuse
  • The program employs mostly uneducated or untrained staff to handle the majority of the day-to-day care of the children
  • The program uses high-pressured sales tactics urging parents to “act now” or else their child will be harmed
  • The program restricts family communication and parental rights
  • The program only allows monitored and/or limited telephone communication with parents
  • The program only allows monitored, limited, and/or censored written communication with parents
  • The program denies the child the ability to contact law enforcement or advocates to report abuses
  • The duration of the internment at the program is ambiguous – creating an indefinite detainment
  • Certain staff at the program receive bonuses or commissions for having a high headcount of children enrolled
  • The program unethically uses restraints (i.e. to punish a child, use without attempting de-escalation, and/or restraining them when they are not an imminent risk of harm to themselves or others)
  • The program uses restraints in a manner to hurt the child in the hopes they will comply (i.e. pressure points)
  • The program uses dangerous and unethical physical, chemical, or mechanical restraint methods such as prone restraints, pepper spray, etc
  • The program allows regular staff to have the discretion to use chemical restraints that are later “rubber-stamped” by a doctor and/or nurse
  • The program punishes the child by restricting social interaction, socially ostracizing them, and/or forced “silence”
  • The program requires children to initially “earn” the right to have normal social interactions (i.e. needing to be at a certain level in the program in order to have basic conversations with their peers)
  • The program requires prolonged isolation from society
  • The program punishes the child with forced labor
  • The program uses fear, shame, humiliation, and/or intimidation as part of their behavioral modification practices
  • The program punishes the child by forcing them to sit or lay in stressf positions
  • The program deprives the child of basic necessities such as food, water, sleep, and/or access to a bathroom
  • The program denies medical care (i.e. refusal to allow children to see a doctor or accusing them of attention seeking)
  • The program punishes the children by denying them access to school
  • The program structure has a peer hierarchy where children are responsible for punishing and restraining other children
  • The program uses isolation/seclusion/solitary confinement rooms
  • The program uses an overstructured routine for the children which allows little-to-no free time
  • The program uses attack therapy or group attack therapy on children
  • The program uses aversion therapy on children
  • The program provides conversion therapy or any “treatment” that claims to change a child’s sexual orientation
  • The program forces sexualized behavior/sexual abuse as part of “treatment”
  • The program sexual shames the child as part of “treatment”
  • The program’s school curriculum is textbook/self-study dependent – a lack of qualified teachers, tutors, and regular class structure
  • The school is nationally accredited, not regionally – regional accreditation is considered the gold standard for schools