Thursday, April 24, 2008

Probe finds deception by youth facilities

Tell me something that wasn't already known for years!

In the early '90s, a congressional investigation found that youth confinement facilities used insurance fraud to keep teenagers locked up when they didn't need to be. This scam continues today. (Obviously the insurers are in on it and pay for it by charging other customers more. Otherwise they would have put a stop to it by now.)

Now a probe by the Government Accountability Office says facilities like these - and the companies that refer parents to these centers - are employing deceptive marketing tactics when they try selling their programs to parents of troubled teenagers.

Gee, ya think?

The facilities in question are kind of like the one I've been participating in roadside protests against outside Cincinnati. These are behavior modification programs. I know gulags like these are deceptive - even the smaller programs that every area has. They lie to kids and they lie to parents. And they often do so until the child leaves the program. The whole industry is a swindle.

As part of its probe, a GAO investigator posed as a father seeking help for an offspring. The facility advised the decoy dad to hide information about it from his wife. When investigators called another program, they were lied to about whether insurance would cover it.

Last year, the GAO told Congress that thousands of instances of abuse were discovered in these programs just since the early '90s. These include many deaths - including that of a 12-year-old boy who was violently restrained face-down. Another death involved a 16-year-old boy whose breathing problems were ignored by program staffers.

If I didn't know any better, I'd think this story would put the teen torture racket out of business once and for all. But if discoveries of deception and abuse harmed the industry as much as they should, the industry's fraud would have ended years ago. Maybe this story shows we need to prod the media to give it the coverage it deserves.


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