Help at Any Cost

Help at Any Cost

4.6 6
by Maia Szalavitz
     
 

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A investigative exposé of the brutal conditions in treatment programs for troubled teens, fueled by rigorous reporting and shocking first-person accounts.

The troubled-teen industry, with its scaremongering and claims of miraculous changes in behavior through harsh discipline, has existed in one form or another for decades, despite a dearth of evidence… See more details below

Overview

A investigative exposé of the brutal conditions in treatment programs for troubled teens, fueled by rigorous reporting and shocking first-person accounts.

The troubled-teen industry, with its scaremongering and claims of miraculous changes in behavior through harsh discipline, has existed in one form or another for decades, despite a dearth of evidence supporting its methods. And the growing number of programs that make up this industry are today finding more customers than ever.

Maia Szalavitz's Help at Any Cost is the first in-depth investigation of this industry and its practices, starting with its roots in the cultlike sixties rehabilitation program Synanon and Large Group Awareness Training organizations likeest in the seventies; continuing with Straight, Inc., which received Nancy Reagan's seal of approval in the eighties; and culminating with a look at the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs-the leading force in the industry today-which has begun setting up shop in foreign countries to avoid regulation. Szalavitz uncovers disturbing findings about these programs' methods, including allegation of physical and verbal abuse, and presents us with moving, often horrifying, first-person accounts of kids who made it through-as well as stories of those who didn't survive. The book also contains a thoughtfully compiled guide for parents, which details effective treatment alternatives.

Weaving careful reporting with astute analysis, Maia Szalavitz has written an important and timely survey that will change the way we look at rebellious teens-and the people to whom we entrust them. Help at Any Cost is a vital resource with an urgent message that will draw attention to a compelling issue long overlooked.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This important book takes the troubled-teens industry to task, exposing the "extremely harsh, perhaps even brutal tactics [companies use to] keep [kids] in line." For $2,000 a month and more, a program will take an oppositional teen to a lockdown facility or a wilderness boot camp for however long it takes to break him or her. Parents pay more than an Ivy League tuition for their children to undergo some "out-of-line" punishments (use of "stress positions," brainwashing, etc.), and, says Szalavitz, there's no evidence that these facilities cure anything. Indeed, many teens suffer post-traumatic stress disorders for years; some actually die in these facilities. Szalavitz, a freelance journalist and senior fellow at Stats.org, has written a courageous-if horrifying-study of the tough-love industry, focusing on four key players: Straight Incorporated, North Star Expeditions, the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and the KIDS program. These hugely profitable businesses are largely unregulated by legal, medical or ethical codes, avoiding accountability for failure by blaming the victim. With a useful appendix discussing when and how to get responsible help for a troubled teen, this book, filled with first-person accounts, should be required reading in Parenting 101. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Szalavitz (senior fellow, stats.org; coauthor, Recovery Options: The Complete Guide) has conducted the first in-depth investigation of the multibillion-dollar teen rehabilitation industry, and her conclusions are chilling. Over the last 40 years, thousands of unruly, disobedient teens have been enrolled (many against their will) in programs promising behavior reform. Often these are wilderness-style boot camps with punishments banned even by the Geneva Conventions-e.g., beatings, food deprivation, and extended isolation. But because the federal government does not regulate these centers and states have little or no oversight, teens' stories of abuse and maltreatment cannot legally be investigated. Szalavitz focuses on four programs or types: Straight Inc., a Reagan-initiated antidrug program; wilderness programs generally; the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs; and a copycat of Straight called KIDS. Relying in part on first-person accounts from teens enrolled in these programs, the author argues that there is no evidence that any of them work and warns that they are dangerous and deceptive. For parents, she includes chapters on better alternatives to tough-love programs. This book is excellent owing to its whistle-blowing approach: it exposes an unregulated industry and alerts adults to the severe harm inflicted by these "schools." Highly recommended for public libraries.-Linda Beck, Indian Valley P.L., Telford, PA Travel & Geography Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101549759
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/16/2006
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
793,928
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

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