Customer Reviews for

Help at Any Cost

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2006

    A Long Overdue Exposé

    This book is a long overdue exposé of a business that has for too long been all but ignored by serious journalists. For many years the only book describing the horrors of this industry was An American Gulag by Alexia Parks. It has recently been joined by Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres. Both these books are personal accounts and, though valuable in their own right, they do not address the crucial issues of how these facilities are allowed to exist and why their proprietors are not in jail. Ms Szalavitz's book goes beyond the who and the what and delves into the how and the why. She charts the rise of the 'Tough Love' philosophy and she examines the forces that drive this billion-dollar-a-year industry: a culture of zero tolerance, journalistic panic-mongering, the demonization of youth and the support of politicians, who recognize a bandwagon when they see one and many of whom stand to benefit financially from the industry. In chronicling such a large industry with so many skeletons in its closet (all too often literally) she has obviously had difficulty finding space in a reasonably sized book and has had to confine herself to some of the more notable examples, namely Straight, North Star and WWASP. This short list to some extent obscures the enormous amount of research she has undertaken, a task that included interviewing over a hundred survivors and their parents personally. Looking through the list of acknowledgements I recognize the names of numerous people whose stories never made it into the final text. Nevertheless, although she concentrates on a handful of organizations, many others are discussed to some extent. Indeed, it is difficult to write about North Star without mentioning Challenger Foundation, its predecessor, and the notorious Steve Cartisano. Likewise, it is impossible to write a meaningful history of Straight without mentioning its predecessors, Synanon and the Seed, and its many successors. Indeed, the author was present at the Lulu Corter trial and she gives a first-hand account of the way the methods of KIDS of New Jersey, a Straight descendant, were finally exposed in court. The book has been criticized for focussing on events that occurred long ago but in order to understand how this industry works one must know something of its history. And it should not be assumed that the same thing does not happen today. Many of those who were employed by North Star are still working in the industry. Straight is dead but its many successors are still operating using exactly the same methods. WWASP, meanwhile, continues to open facilities faster than the authorities can close them down. As a senior fellow at stats.org specializing in health and science issues Ms Szalavitz is no stranger to digging up the truth behind the headlines. Readers of her columns will be familiar with the way she has covered issues that other writers either ignore or misrepresent. Her meticulous research and cogent analysis place her head and shoulders above the multitude of journalists who are content merely to follow the flock. This thought-provoking book should be a 'must-read' for every parent.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2006

    Real Eye Opener

    I am in the middle of reading this book, and and am amazed and chilled at the stories I am reading. I have always known there were problems and as a mother of a 14 year old son who is being sent to a program by the juvinile justice system I am scared to death. I believe more judges, probation officers and case workers need to read this before making decisions of sending someone's child to these types of places. It is a must read for everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2006

    Standing on the shoulders of giants

    Maia Szalavits has consistently written top notch, incredibly thoughtful commentary on treatment issues. But this just takes the cake. In this book, she tells several stories that very well represent what I like to call the TOUGHLOVE Hategroup or Troubled Parent industry. This has been done before, and occasionally done very well. What makes this book so well worth reading and giving is how she manages to tell of an horrific and ongoing American tragedy, pulling no punches and yet she is graceful, respectful and fair to all subjects and, especially, all readers. As I devoured each chapter, a single refrain kept running through my mind 'I know the pieces fit, cause I watched them fall away...' I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in this industry. Even better? Send one to your school guidance office, your juvenile justice court, your library, your Rotary club or, if you have survived one of these programs, to that friend or loved one who wnats to, but just can't seem to understand.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2006

    Before sending your child to a behavior modification program read this book first!

    I just finished reading this riviting book. Maia interviewed our family and many other families while doing research for this book. She has told our story accurately and has postulated questions that are important for our society to answer about what we will and won't allow to happen to our youth, even if they misbehave. Whether you agree with the books conclusions or not, the stories she tells are real. We know many of the people she talks about. These things are happening today, and we need to look at it, be aware and have a voice in the future of our youth. I would not say that this is an unbaised report, but it is well documented and the conclusions are valid and supportable. Maia takes a stand, without apologies. But, she arrived at that stand after much objective research.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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