Residential programs for troubled teenagers tell parents they'll cure kids' behavior problems. But Congress may be cracking down after allegations of abuse and a GAO report that at least 10 teens have died in these facilities.
Members of Congress heard jarring testimony from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) last week about people who were denied medical care, starved, beaten, and "forced to eat vomit, lie in urine and feces, forced to use toothbrushes to clean toilets and then on their teeth."
A latecomer to the proceedings might "think we were talking about human-rights abuses in Third World countries," said Rep. George Miller of California, who convened the hearing. In fact, Congress was for the first time discussing abuses in "tough love" residential programs for teenagers.
One of the primary goals of President George W. Bush's new White House Office
of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives is "to eliminate unnecessary
legislative, regulatory, and other bureaucratic barriers that impede effective
faith-based and other community efforts to solve social problems." Bush has said
that America needs more "faith-based treatment" for addiction and juvenile
delinquency and that he would like to "promote alternative licensing regimes to
recognize religious training as an alternative form of qualification."