A Call to Revise or Reject HR 6358, the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs Act of 2008 sign now

We, the undersigned, call on Congress and the President of the United States to revise or reject HR 6358, the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs Act of 2008.

There are a number of problems with the legislation as it is now written. HR 6358 fails to include:

*Regulation of the referral and transport (hired kidnapping) industry
*Regulation of faith-based programs such as Bethel Boys Academy and Hephzibah House
*A federal ban on off-shore programs
*A federal rule banning psychological torture and unethical, experimental behavior modification methods in residential teen programs
*Additional civil and criminal remedies for victims (i.e. extending statute of limitations)

In addition, HR 6358 fails to recognize that the residential treatment and wilderness therapy industry is inherently flawed and violative of federal law. Constitutional violations include:

*The Fourteenth Amendment: Equal Protection of the Laws--According to U.S. Supreme Court rulings a teenager is protected under the 14th amendment(1) and due process is necessary before extreme punishments and removal of liberties is imposed(2). Covered Programs under HR 6358 currently operate 24/7 secured lockdown facilities that bar a childs communication with his/her family, with the outside world, and use brutal methods to change behavior and personality in a completely isolated environment. The results of the Milgram Experiment(3) and Stanford Prison Experiment(4) exemplify the absolute danger children and teens are in when put in absolute captivity under the control of unqualified staff under illegal and immoral conditions. Placing children and teens in a lockdown facility without benefit of due process is a violation of the 14th Amendment.

*The First Amendment: Freedom of Expression--According to U.S. Supreme Court rulings, a teenager is protected under the 14th amendment. The court stated that school officials must have more than a mere desire to avoid discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpointUndifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression.(5) Since the First Amendment applies to children and teens, programs that deny self-expression, freedom of association (i.e. talking with other students), or freedom of religion ought to be immediately closed down for constitutional violations. Many Covered Programs have received and continue to receive state and federal funds to operate. Some school children are shipped out of state or even abroad under an Independent Education Plan through their school district. Children and teens need additional safeguards to protect them from the tortious and criminal conduct prevalent in this industry.

*The Eighth Amendment: Cruel and Unusual Punishment--It is understood that the bar of cruel and unusual punishment applies strictly to government acts. However, as stated in Sec. III, part a, number 2, these programs do receive Federal assistance in many cases. And, acting under the color of authority for school districts, juvenile courts, and family courts throughout the nation these programs are torturing and killing Americans never found guilty of any crime. These programs violate Habeas Corpus. The average age for legal consent to sexual intercourse within the United States is 16. The average age for legal right to file for emancipation from parents is 16. Teenagers are afforded more control over their bodies and futures from the age of 16 throughout the United States. A person who is fit to drive, have sexual intercourse, have an abortion, and become emancipated by law is certainly protected by Habeas Corpus and Due Process (supra). The U.S. District Court, District of Utah, in Milonas v. Williams (Nos. 80-1569, 81-1407., 1982) found Provo Canyon School guilty of cruel and inhumane treatment of children at a time when Provo Canyon School was receiving state and federal money and the program is still in operation abusing children and defrauding families today.

*The Ninth Amendment: Unenumerated Rights--It was certainly not the intention of the founders of the United States to allow for the systematic torture, brainwashing, and other gross civil and human rights violations to be allowed against the young citizens of our great nation. Children are denied their privacy, being forced to urinate, defecate, bathe, change menstrual pads, and more in front of peers and staff. This is done purely to humiliate, psychologically torture and break the child. In addition, the incoming and outgoing mail is censored and/or monitored/read by staff and children are forced to re-write letters that do not conform to the rules, mainly, letters that expose abuse and wrongdoing by the program and its staff. This is a 14th amendment violation according to the Federal District Court findings in Milonas v. Williams (Nos. 80-1569, 81-1407., 1982): In former students' action against private school for youths with behavioral problems for its use of "behavioral-modification" program allegedly violating section 1983, record supported finding that the school's use of polygraph machine, its monitoring and censoring of student mail, its use of isolation rooms, and its use of excessive physical force violated students' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. U.S.C.A. Const. Amends. 1, 14; 42 U.S.C.A. 1983. Certainly our Constitution can and should be read as to demand the protection of our most vulnerable, our children, from such atrocious crimes as torture and death under the guise of treatment.

*The Thirteenth Amendment: Abolishing Slavery--Slavery is illegal in the United States except for those convicted of a crime and considered a part of their repayment to society. Many children are being used as slave labor in behavior modification programs. Children are being forced to labor without compensation and under duress for the financial benefit of these programs.(6) These programs violate the Thirteenth Amendment and Federal Child Labor laws.

There are additional causes for concern regarding this wholly inadequate legislation:

* Specific Concern--Sec. 3, Part J--Staff members found guilty of assault/battery not of a child will not be barred from working with children. If a person has difficulty controlling his/her behavior, he/she should not be working with children, especially not those with emotional/behavioral problems.

* Specific Concern--Sec. 3, Part (b)(2)(A)--There should be a larger cap or no cap on the amount of the fines that can be attributed to a program in violation of the law.

* Specific Concern--Sec. 3, part (c)(1)--Programs in violation of the laws should not just be placed on a government website to show that they have a list of violations. For the protection of youth, violating programs need to be immediately closed with a federal injunction against their ever opening another such program in the US, working with kids in the US, or advertising an off-shore program they own/operate within the US.

* Specific Concern--Sec. 3, part (d)(3)--When a report of abuse or violation of this law is made by a child in a program, the investigators should respond within 24 or 48 hours at the very latest. 30 days is long enough for the evidence to disappear and really doesn't provide adequate protection for children in programs. In these situations, "evidence" could also be witnesses. 30 days is plenty of time for children and even staff members who witnessed or participated in abuse to be transferred to another program and even another country.

* Specific Concern--Sec. 6--This bill requires more funding. We recommend that states receive revenue from the fines levied against programs. If not, it will do nothing but give the appearance of regulation and strengthen rather than weaken this fraudulent, torturous, and deadly industry.

* Specific ConcernSec. 114--States should not be given the option of whether or not to implement the regulatory standards required by this bill. These programs operate and market beyond their own states and therefore are in the practice of interstate commerce. The federal government should create a regulatory agency similar to the USDA or FDA to inspect, monitor, and hold accountable these programs.

* Specific Concern--Sec. 114, 2, part B (i, ii)--Provo Canyon School and a few other programs are listed in the state of Utah as hospitals and owned by Universal Health Services (a German medical and behavioral hospital conglomerate). Places like Provo Canyon School will not be covered. Many programs do use foster homes and the exclusion of such is a concern as well.

* Specific Concern--Sec. 114, (b) (2) (C)--Unannounced on-site inspections should be no less than 1-2 times per year, not just once every 2 years.

* Specific Concern--Sec. 114 (b)(3)--Same problem as above. Abuses and violations reported by someone within the facility should be acted on and investigated within 24 hours, not 30 days.

* Specific Concern--Sec. 114 (d)(2)(A)--Any and all abuses should result in all applicable criminal and civil penalties. Reducing it to civil penalties for behavior that would place anyone else in jail, is not good enough.

Please revise HR 6358 to include all issues addressed in this petition and pass legislation that will protect American children and families from fraud, torture, and death.

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  • 27 December 2015150. Angela S
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  • 28 October 2015146. Jeanne N
    stop this madness we are to protect them not abuse them !!! City/State/Country terrytown, la usa
  • 03 October 2015145. Joel S
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  • 16 September 2015144. Lisa Annw
    I was a victim of the New Horizons Youth Ministries umbrella group, including the Escuela Caribe school in the Dominican Republic. Please let this signature carry with it a mandate to regulate these schools. City/State/Country Muncie, IN, USA
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  • 05 August 2015138. Gabriella Fleurys
    I was a student in an abusive behaviour modification facility. Please help us ensure this bill is revised to include the necessary changes! City/State/Country Escanaba, MI, USA
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  • 30 March 2015133. Joe V
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  • 26 March 2015132. Ellen S
    I know firsthand what terrible scars HH left. I had a niece there, and she was NOT even a troublemaker. Her stepdad was abusive. City/State/Country Goshen, IN, USA
  • 20 February 2015131. Makara Mcclain
    I barely survived a "religious residential program". Please keep religious programs and unannounced inspections of the facilities in this bill. City/State/Country Florence, CO USA
  • 02 February 2015130. Tracy B
    I was in a program like this so it could help "better" me and I still have nightmares about it. City/State/Country elmhurst, il, united states
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  • 25 October 2014125. Lori R
    Please strengthen the federal law to ban the abuse of children in the name of "reform," "religion," or other misdirected attempts at punishing children in the name of changing their hearts. Legitimate organizations and ministries should not balk at federa
  • 02 October 2014124. Mindalin G
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Deanna MoralesBy:
International PolicyIn:
Petition target:
United States House of Representatives, United States Senate, and President of the United States


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