GAO Cites Abuses at Residential Programs for Teens
Residential treatment programs for troubled teenagers have been the subject of thousands of allegations of abuse over the past 17 years, including a number of documented deaths, but much about such facilities remains unknown, the Government Accountability Office reports .
Although it is estimated that hundreds of public and private residential treatment programs exist across the country, there’s no standard definition for such programs, and no way to know precisely how many are operating, the GAO says. The programs serve teenagers with a range of problems, including drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and mental illness. They can include boarding schools; wilderness-therapy programs, which aim to help troubled youths connect with nature; and so-called boot camps, which emphasize strict, military-style discipline.
The GAO examined thousands of cases of alleged abuse, from 1990 to 2007, as reported by state agencies, the federal Department of Health and Human Services, pending and closed criminal and civil cases, and allegations posted on the Internet. In 2005, 33 states reported that 1,619 staff members of residential programs had been involved in alleged abuse at such programs,...
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