Sunday, March 2, 2008

Bundle up again! It's another protest!

I didn't think it was possible to hate the teen confinement racket any more than I did. But now, for the first time, I truly despise it to a degree I had never before thought possible.

Kids Helping Kids is a so-called "treatment" center for teenagers outside Cincinnati. But it's actually a cult with a decades-long record of abuse. I had been to a couple of protests against the facility in recent months, but KHK ducked out of the January one by getting everyone off the premises before we arrived. This proves how cowardly the cult's administrators are. A good program wouldn't have hidden from us like that. (However I have yet to hear of any good programs, other than ones where people can just get up and leave.)

KHK has to be called on this cowardice. It's worse than cowardice, in fact.

On Friday night I was invited to my third protest against KHK. It was cold, but we got 4 people together. This demonstration was a smashing success!

One of KHK's directors showed up and chitchatted with us. His mantra was that abuse that occurred there in the past doesn't occur there anymore. (I guess now KHK realizes it can't hide the fact that it's been abusive at some point.) Before the night was over, I saw firsthand that this spiel was bullshit.

For one thing, on 2 separate instances, mothers who were heading home from the family meetings at KHK pulled up to us and said almost the same thing word for word. The approximate quote was: "I'm sorry KHK didn't work for you, but it worked for my son."

For the record, I was never in KHK. I was invited to these protests because of my illegal confinement in a different concentration camp. I join protests against KHK because I want the entire youth confinement racket held accountable. Many centers like KHK are cults. Many commit insurance fraud to keep kids locked up longer. What was my "crime" that caused me to be locked away? My "crime" was getting expelled from a Catholic high school.

The fact that 2 different parents said almost the exact same thing verbatim during our protest indicates that admins at KHK were coaching the parents on what to say to us. A good program wouldn't have had to do this. Still another parent pulled up to us and said something about 50 Cent and Wal-Mart that we couldn't decipher.

How do I really know the abuse is continuing? When the kids were being hauled away from KHK to go to their host foster homes for the night, I noticed the back seat of one of the vans that was pulling out of KHK held a person with a bag or an eyeless hood over their head. The light in the back seat of the van was on very brightly. I was told by my allies that KHK has in the past forced kids who were being taken to the host homes to keep their heads down during the journey so they couldn't see where they were being taken. I was also told that putting a bag over a teen's head to keep them from seeing would be the type of thing KHK would do, although it was not known if it had happened before.

I know the abuse is continuing, because this itself is abuse! I was outraged when I saw this.

That act alone has got to be illegal. But Ohio is a child abusers' haven, so enforcement is weak. A few years ago, a cult that immigrated from Canada chose to set up shop in Ohio, because Ohio had the weakest child abuse laws in the United States. I don't know if federal human trafficking statutes apply if the trafficking is confined to the United States, but if they do, KHK's apparent placing of a bag or hood over a teenager's head while having them transported somewhere has got to be punishable under that law.

If KHK was such a great program, it wouldn't feel like it has to do this.

Our protest was successful at helping to expose Kids Helping Kids, and we all got some dinner afterwards.

I'm putting my ass on the line by even writing about these protests, and I may face repercussions from the industry - but I'm prepared to live with it. I doubt such retaliation is likely, because it would simply draw negative attention to KHK's actions. I'm a longtime activist, and I'm tough to beat. (If you doubt our side of the story, do your own research on centers like KHK.) KHK can't claim I'm just some punk kid with an ax to grind, because I'm almost 35, and I'm a grown man.

If KHK closed down this minute, we'd still have a long way to go to rein in the teen torture industry. Part of the problem is that America has become a child-hating society, and laws to protect kids are weak. As an example, there's 2,270 children in the U.S. serving life in prison - while it's believed that there's only 12 children in all the other countries put together who are serving such a sentence. Life imprisonment was almost never imposed on children in the United States before the '80s, and was still very rarely handed down before the '90s, but today it's not unheard of. Many of these young people were under 14 when the crime they were convicted of was committed and received life imprisonment despite being only marginally involved in the crime. So the system isn't exactly one that protects youth.

With youth confinement facilities like KHK, most detainees weren't even charged with a crime. These are billed as "treatment" centers, not jails. But the negative effects of these centers can be lifelong.

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