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Siberia for rich kids

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09:26 AM ET (US)
This topic appears to be dead, but I nonetheless have my two cents to put in...
I was a student at this program.
To say that it is comparable to a prison is ridiculous for those who said it. And now, the kids who get sent there are no longer rich.. many of the kids are there because their parents recieved loans, and a greater majority are there due to being court ordered...
When asked if I would rather go to jail or Tranquility Bay, I find it debateable, but I think that jail would win.. why? well, jail doesn't brainwash you with dozens of seminars and audio tapes while you eat, videos inbetween class, "reflections" turned in each night with how you plan to change in accordane with the lessons of the tape..
I spent several years of my life there, and I have to say it is NOT a tropical paradise, it is a nightmare.
The restraining practices get taken out of hand and out of the codebook, and you are liable to get restrained easier if the staff doesn't like you. The same goes for consequences.. it's all about ass kissing.
Then, most of the kids I have spoken to since I have returned home are relapsing.. from meth addicts to pregnant teens, everyone seems to crash sooner or later. and these are GRADUATES... graduates of the nice program that helps you forget who you are...
people will change when they are ready, not when they are forced, and TB forces you to change..
It leaves you when you return unable to cope with society. There is no contact to the outside world except weeekly letters you may write only to your parents, who get a pamphlet on all the ways you could "manipulate" (i.e. tell the truth about what goes on).. Everything is censored, and not even music is allowed, unless its a monthly "seminar" during a "process".

Also, the place is most usually inequipt to deal with bulimics and anorexics, I saw many girls that continued with their bulimia and anorexia while they were there... the "counseling" is a joke, and the only times you are really allowed to talk are in group therapy, where you must tirade about how horrible you were, share your deepest secrets, and prove how much you have changed. Then the students get called on to give you advice, being praised for the ruder they are to you...
There is often no water to even shower, so you have to shower in the buckets that they wash floors with, given only 5 to 7 minutes to do so as well as get dressed, even if you are on your menstrual cycle..
Roaches are often seen crawling in the tables of the dining area.. the food is limited and the meat is mostly fat and undercooked rice with a small piece of rotten fruit...

The money goes to the hounds that run it, not to the welfare of the students, so get it straight, its hell, and I've only begun to scratch the surface...
Eli the BeardedPerson was signed in when posted
06:45 PM ET (US)
Pointed out in another discussion of this story:

Paradise Cove, the Western Samoa branch of WWASP.

UriPerson was signed in when posted
07:28 PM ET (US)
Clearly the tactics used by this concentration camp for kids are unethical (and if you believe in such a thing, immoral).

Assuming it were possible, would it still be unethical to brainwash kids to be polite sheep if you didn't use physical and emotional torture? (LoveGravy, no matter what end may be derived from it, tossing a human being into a gulag is unacceptable behavior-- american prisons are far more considerate of basic human rights than this "school," and that's not saying much)

I think one of the essential questions that separates those who would consider using such a program from those that wouldn't is whether you support the ultimate goal or not, that being a child well suited to the rote memorization, rule-following nature of modern schooling, fully preparing your child for the grim realities of adult life as a bureaucrat or middle manager, capable of quickly and efficiently carrying out whatever instructions it is given, under the premise that it is those characteristics that will ensure "success" in life. It is clear that this is the reality that LoveGravy exists in, along with the parents of those poor unfortunate children, locked in their cells.

I believe differently. I believe that it is creative spark, intellectual and interpersonal openness, combined with the desire for self-improvement and life-long learning, an attitude of platonic (that is to say, universal or christian) love towards mankind, and an understanding that we each create our own reality for better or for worse each moment that will provide a child with the best grounding for happiness throughout life, with the side benefit of that all-important "success".

Indeed, it is the symbol of the sickness in our culture that causes "solutions" like these to come up. Misguided priorities. A basic ignorance of the fundamental truth of our reality. School environments based on antiquated notions of what it means to be human, and what is good for a child. Parents who can't be bothered. Ideas about drugs and sex that have no basis in reality. Drugs and sex, even in teenagers is not a bad thing. That's reality. What's bad is teens who don't talk to their parents and have so little good in their lives that they feel abandoned and lonely, like they have no beliefs to hang their lives on. They create belief structures out of the strife and hardship around them, they adopt the hard-luck attitude about life from what people will take them in emotionally, and they abuse their lives over it, with sex and drugs as tools for that purpose. I will stand to say that used properly, both casual sex and casual drug use is not a bad thing. In fact, it has been a good thing in my life, and is for many other people as well.

What these kids need is a new education system. They need new belief structures in their parents. They need a new government. They need good examples. They need opportunities. Not prison.
Edited 07-04-2003 07:31 PM
Dan MonizPerson was signed in when posted
05:35 AM ET (US)
Regarding the differences between torture and mutilation versus invasive surgery (as brought up by LoveGravy in /m19), members of the medical profession take an oath, usually a form of the Oath of Hippocrates, vowing, in lay terms, to "first, do no harm".

In America, the American Medical Association has a code of ethics which its members must adhere by. Transgressions against the code of ethics are punishable under law. Malpractice is also a widely understood concept in developed countries and in modern medicine.

The Observer article, this QT discussion board, and the survior discussion board are all fantastic. I think it's great we have these modes of communication.

For myself, I'm reminded of a great quote (the following) for which, in part, three students were executed:

"We grew up in a state in which all free expression of opinion is unscrupulously suppressed. The Hitler Youth, the SA, the SS have tried to drug us, to revolutionize us, to regiment us in the most promising young years of our lives. 'Philosophical training' is the name given to the despicable method by which our budding intellectual development is muffled in a fog of empty phrases. A system of selection of leaders at once unimaginably devilish and narrow-minded trains up its future party bigwigs in the 'Castles of the Knightly Order' to become Godless,impudent, and conscienceless exploiters and executioners - blind, stupid hangers-on of the Fuhrer. We 'Intellectual Workers' are the ones who should put obstacles in the path of this caste of overlords. Soldiers at the front are regimented like schoolboys by student leaders and trainees for the post of Gauleiter, and the lewd jokes of the Gauleiters insult the honor of the women students. German women students at the university in Munich have given a dignified reply to the besmirching of their honor, and German students have defended the women in the universities and have stood firm.... That is a beginning of the struggle for our free self-determination - without which intellectual and spiritual values cannot be created. We thank the brave comrades, both men and women, who have set us brilliant examples."

-- From "Leaflet Six" of The White Rose (see http://www.jlrweb.com/whiterose/)
Edited 07-04-2003 05:38 AM
Stefan JonesPerson was signed in when posted
02:23 AM ET (US)
That's wonderfully creepy, greg.org.

In the TV movie expose, the Robert Lichfield character will be named "Howard Wraithheart."
CraniacPerson was signed in when posted
11:54 PM ET (US)
On weekends they get to watch reruns of "The Prisoner."
greg.orgPerson was signed in when posted
09:57 PM ET (US)
The WWASP, all the "affiliated" schools, the kidnapping thugs, the recruiting and intake companies, and a series of purportedly independent Teens in Crisis websites are all part of the same, elaborate, privately owned network.


A guy named Robert Lichfield is at the center of it; he founded Teen Help, inc., which is the underpinning of WWASP. This whole thing is a deceptive, exploitative web, run by a few extended families in small towns in southern Utah. Charming.

Lichfield is one of the largest individual donors to the Republican party, giving over $300K to state and national parties and (through his relatives and employees) to several congressional campaigns. Chief among these is a UT state senator who could've had some legislative or regulatory influence over Teen Help or WWASP, John Swallow.

look up Lichfield at http://www.opensecrets.org
cypherpunksPerson was signed in when posted
07:00 PM ET (US)
I googled around for some more information and found this transcript from a case where a cousin was fighting to get a 14 year old released from Tranquility Bay against the wishes of the kid's father. There's credible, detailed testimony from three former inmates, two of whom successfully completed the program, but still condemn it. It's good reading from as close to firsthand sources as we're likely to get.
Denise CzajaPerson was signed in when posted
05:54 PM ET (US)
i'm curious about escape. the article didn't mention any of the children escaping. is the staff to inmate ration just so large that it's impossible? is there barbed wire? are the guards armed? i just can't see myself there without attempting escape.

the older kids have a chance, i guess. if i were 17, i'd probably just opt for OP for a year rather than let them break me. i feel so sorry for the younger kids though. well, i feel sorry for all of the kids, actually.

except the one who is willingly staying so she can get her parents' money. boy is she earning that the hard way.
Neoncat93Person was signed in when posted
05:17 PM ET (US)
Something else, as well. When we as a society send someone to prison, it is (usually) as the result of a trial in front of a judge, usually with a jury, not to mention someone to speak in the accused's defense. According to the article, parents sign away 49% of their custody rights to WWASP. There is no due process for the child, no way for them to object. Their "parent" can do whatever they want to them. Since they are held incommunicado, they cannot even petition a court for emancipation.
I do not doubt that there are some seriously mental children there, who could be said to be a danger to themselves and others. It may even help some children become "productive members of society." Nonetheless, they remain citizens, entitled to the same protections as anyone else. If they are criminals, there is a criminal justice system, imperfect as it is, to deal with it. If they are not criminals, then they are being detained against their will for no good reason.
The question boils down to, do people under age 18 have rights? I believe they do; some of the more totalitarian members of this discussion would seem to disagree.
Edited 07-03-2003 05:18 PM
CanisPerson was signed in when posted
04:22 PM ET (US)
Oh, I'm sure "LoveGravy" is just trolling, but for any other readers passing through who might wonder if these places "aren't so bad after all", I would urge
them to really look into what these places are doing.

They would be flat-out illegal in this country -- they exist only by locating in remote island locations with minimum standards for such facilities. Similar institutions elsewhere -- america, or the czech republic, for instance -- have been shut down, for a variety of reasons, ranging from unsanitary conditions to allegations of sexual abuse.

The example of a chiropodist or surgeon is invalid for a number of reasons. Medical professionals undergo extensive training, have to be strictly licensed, are subject to oversight with clearly established complaints procedures, and are providing medical services that are scientifically understood to be beneficial.

These "facilities" are owned, managed and staffed entirely by unqualified, untrained individuals with no oversight whatsoever. All complaints are dismissed out-of-hand by the facility owners as "manipulations" (if filed by the child) or "disagreements between divorcees" (in the case of complaints from the parents) -- fortunately the local authorities have often disagreed with this analysis.

And their methods, far from being in accordance with scientific medical practice -- which, admittedly, undergoes revision as our knowledge advances -- is considered to be abusive, is in contravention of the United Nations Rights of the Child, and would in fact be illegal in most western countries even if applied to convicted murderers and rapists. To apply them to minors whose "crimes" consist of such things as poor grades, mouthing off, or dating someone their parents disapprove of, is simply obscene.

"Tough love" is one thing. This is not "tough love". This is abuse of children, done in the name of profit.
Eli the BeardedPerson was signed in when posted
03:57 PM ET (US)
Famous Lobotomy Cases include JFK's sister Rosemary:


Just because parents think it is a good idea doesn't mean they
have not been deceived.
DaveWPerson was signed in when posted
03:50 PM ET (US)
LoveGravy, have you ever encountered an authoritarian or brutal "solution" you haven't loved? Not on this board, far as I remember.

As far as "success rate", castration, lobotomy, and amputation of limbs are all quite successful in improving the manageability of some people. Wrong question.
chrise1234567Person was signed in when posted
03:43 PM ET (US)
Anyway, if this place is so horrible, why hasn't a disgruntled former student raised a private army, assaulted the place, and executed the staff? Or at least used that as the plot for a movie?

It's been done.
psyorkPerson was signed in when posted
03:37 PM ET (US)
Gravy, the success rate is beside the point. A 'school' that treats its inmate wih cruelty and mind control cannot, ipso facto, have any successes. Its fundamental tenets violate the U.N. charter of human rights.

The bottom line of the whole thing in my mind is that children are chattel. With only a few exceptions for brute physical cruelty and/or neglect, parents can do what they like with their children. The children have no recourse whatever. As a veteran of some years of working with children I can report that it is the rare adult who puts the needs of his/her children before his own desires. They don't BELIEVE they're doing this, but the results prove they are. It carries over from small things like putting t.v.s in kids' rooms to keep them occupied to shuffling a child off to a grandparent when the child isn't convenient. As far as I can tell, money doesn't have much to do with good or bad parenting.
LoveGravyPerson was signed in when posted
03:18 PM ET (US)
I also wonder how much of this is just PR...

Like in the 50's when horror movies would advertise having "Licenced medical professionals in the theater to tend to those who become overcome with freight". I mean, if you send a kid to Military School, he/she KNOWS they won't do anything illegal to them, so this place tries to look as sinister as possible to say "Anything can happen!". The guy who owns the place probably paid the guy to write this article knowing it will help the reputation of the place.

I had classmates in highschool that would get in trouble and tell the teacher "You can't do anything! What you gonna do, hit me? I know better". Let them think this place WILL hurt you, and maybe they will listen.

Anyway, I worked as a guard in a similar short-term internment camp for rich kids. The title of the place was "Oakbrook Swim Club" and my title was "Life Guard". Parents would dump off all of their kids, then go shopping. Most of the kids were ill behaved, and when I did punish one of them for repeatedly doing something dangerous (punishment usually limited to sitting out for a period of time), the parents would generally come over and yell at me when they found out about it. The kids then would behave worse, thinking that the rules don't apply to them. I bet some of them end up in this place.
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