Demand an End to Abusive and Unregulated Youth Programs!

I directed and produced the documentary film "Kidnapped for Christ" after learning of the shocking treatment of young people at Escuela Caribe, an American-run Christian behavior modification program in the Dominican Republic. Now, I want to take this a step further and ask our government to take action to stop unregulated residential programs like this one.

Every year tens of thousands of American teenagers are sent by their families or the courts to private and public residential programs, including therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness camps, boot camps, and behavior modification facilities. But many of these programs are not subject to state or federal oversight. Thousands - if not millions - of children have been subject to abuse and neglect at these facilities. And tragically, in a number of cases, children have died.

We cannot sit around while these horrible programs abuse our young people. Please sign the petition today asking Congress to support the "Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act," and learn more by visiting KidnappedforChrist.com.
Dear [decision maker],

I am writing to ask you to please cosponsor the "Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act" (H.R. 1981). This is a critically important bill, which will help put a stop to rampant physical, psychological, and sexual abuse in unregulated residential treatment programs for youth.

Every year tens of thousands of American teenagers are sent by their families or the courts to private and public residential programs, including therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness camps, boot camps, and behavior modification facilities, which are intended to help them with behavioral, emotional, mental health, or substance abuse problems. However, many of these programs are not subject to state or federal oversight. As a result of this lack of regulation and accountability, thousands - if not millions - of children have been subject to abuse and neglect at these facilities. Tragically, in a number of cases, this abuse and neglect led to the death of a child.

For more in-depth information on the reported abuse and deaths in unregulated residential programs for teens, I urge you to please take the time to read the GAO Reports on Residential Facilities:

- "Improved Data and Enhanced Oversight Would Help Safeguard the Well-Being of Youth with Behavioral and Emotional Challenges," May 2008 (.pdf)
- "Selected Cases of Death, Abuse, and Deceptive Marketing," April 2008 (.pdf)
- "State and Federal Oversight Gaps May Increase Risk to Youth Well-Being," April 2008 (.pdf)
- "Concerns Regarding Abuse and Death in Certain Programs for Troubled Youth," October 2007 (.pdf)

As awareness of this issue increases, I hope that you will take a stand against child abuse in residential programs and work to protect the basic human rights that every citizen of our nation, no matter how young, should be afforded.

Thank you for your time.
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