Friday, June 24, 2005

Warning signs of Institutionalized Child Abuse

Pam posted a bit more on the state of Tennessee's investigation of "Love In Action" and the report that spurred the investigation. House Blend reader and licensed therapist Paul Chirumbolo was in contact with WMC-TV in Memphis and filed the report of suspected child abuse against the facility. Among the information he provided was some insight into warning signs of institutionalized child abuse with comments regarding their implementation at LIA/Refuge (Red Font is info provided by Paul/Pam; blue indicates my additions from the Refuge/LIA rules that have been posted):
  1. The facility is not licensed. Confirmed
  2. Verbal and/or written communication between the child and his parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. is prohibited, restricted, or monitored on any level.
    "Refuge clients will not be allowed to use personally owned computers during the program, whether on campus or at home/in temporary lodging. Computer stations are normally available on campus when clients need to type something."

    "Clients must gain permission through C.O.C. to make or receive phone calls from friends and family members outside the program."

  3. The facility requires that the parents and/or child sign a form releasing the program of liability in the event of injury to the child. Unknown
  4. The program requests/demands/recommends that they have legal custody of children. Unknown
  5. The program requires that children live in foster or "host" homes instead of allowing them to reside with their parents. Unknown
  6. The child or parent or forbidden from discussing the daily happenings at the facility. Often this policy is called "confidentiality."
    Under Home/Lodging Rules: "No discussing therapeutic issues at home. Keep conversations positive."
  7. The child is denied access to a telephone.
    Under Home/Lodging Rules:
    "Clients must gain permission through C.O.C. to make or receive phone calls from friends and family members outside the program.

    No cell phones, beepers, computers, or e-mail/internet access at. Exceptions by C.O.C. approval only."

  8. Phone calls between children and parents are monitored.
  9. The program uses confrontational therapy.
  10. Parents must fulfill requirements of the facility before being permitted to visit their own children. Unknown
  11. The facility is located outside the jurisdiction of the United States.
  12. Children are restrained or otherwise physically prevented from leaving the facility. Unknown
  13. The staff includes former students/clients of the facility. Reported by past detainees.
  14. Staff members claim that self-injury or cutting/carving on ones body is normal behavior for a child in treatment.
  15. Parents are not allowed to remain with their child during the entire intake/entry process. Unknown
  16. The program inflicts physical punishments on children such as exercising for extended periods of time, bizarre cleaning rituals (ie scrubbing floors with a toothbrush) or food restrictions. Unknown
  17. The program uses humiliation to "break them down." Love In Action calls them shaming sessions, as reported by former detainees.
  18. The program forces children to remain in solitary confinement/isolation/time-out for an unspecified amount of time.For a start, for the first 3 days in detention.
    "Safekeeping Rules
    1. All new Refuge clients will be placed into Safekeeping for the initial two to three days of their program. A client on safekeeping may not communicate verbally, or by using hand gestures or eye contact, with any other clients, staff members, or his/her parents or guardians. In case of a practical need, Safekeeping clients may write down their question or request and show it to another client, staff member, or their parent or guardian. Writing may only be used when absolutely necessary. Parents and guardians must enforce their child's safekeeping status at home or in their temporary lodging.

    Refuge clients may C.O.C. to be removed from Safekeeping status. Safekeeping clients will be removed from Safekeeping at their staffworker's discretion.

    Any client may be placed into Safekeeping at any time, at a staffworker's discretion.

    Safekeeping clients are permitted to say"hello" and to communicate enough information to be courteous in public interaction (mostly in the clients' church setting).

    Safekeeping clients are required to spend a minimum of two hours (in one sitting) a day alone in their room (note: by "alone" it is understood that parents or guardians can be in the room but are not to interact or disrupt the alone time of the safekeeping client). During the alone time Safekeeping clients may work on their treatment plans, read program materials or the Bible, pray, or work on other assignments from their staffworkers.

    In the evenings, all Refuge Safekeeping clients must remain at home or at their temporary lodging with their parent or guardian (i.e. no going out to eat, to the store, etc. during Safekeeping.)

    Non-Safekeeping clients are responsible to protect and uphold the Safekeeping parameters of the Safekeeping clients."

    Home/Lodging Rules

    "Total silence time at home begins at 9:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Refuge clients may use this time for resting, but are encouraged to make a habit of using it for a nightly quiet time with God.

    Lights-out time will begin each night at 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday."
  19. The facility considers homosexuality to be a behavioral problem. Confirmed
  20. The facility claims to be able to "treat" homosexuality. Confirmed
  21. Reading materials are prohibited or severely limited.

    Refuge clients may only read materials approved by staff.

    No television viewing, going to movies, or reading/watching/listening to secular media of any kind, anywhere within the client's and the parent's/guardian's control. This includes listening to classical or instrumental music that is not expressly Christian (Beethoven, Bach, etc. are not considered Christian). The only exception to the media policy is the weekly movie.

    Refuge clients may watch one video/DVD per week that has been approved by staff via C.O.C. Movies submitted for approval must be rated G or PG. The parents/guardians are responsible for securing the video/DVD.

  22. The facility does not have a clearly visible sign outside the building or descriptions of their location are vague.
  23. The facility claims to modify behavior, yet has no licensed therapists on staff.
  24. A licensed doctor or registered nurse is not present at any time during normal operating hours. Unknown
  25. Current clients/students participate in the intake/entry process. Unknown
  26. Staff members offer to help parents obtain a court order forcing the child into, or keeping the child in, the facility. Unknown
  27. Children are observed while bathing, dressing, or using the toilet on any level of the program.
  28. The facility claims to treat drug abuse, but does not conduct a drug screen prior to entry.
  29. The facility does not allow children to follow their religion of choice.
    "under Therapeutic & Staff issues: Refuge clients and their parents/guardians are required to attend Love in Action¹s host church, Germantown Baptist Church, on Sunday mornings. More information about GBC can be found online at

    Parents and guardians are expected to attend the Friends and Family support group on Thursday nights from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., held at the Love in Action campus. Refuge clients will be supervised during this time by a Love in Action staff member.

  30. Staff members must "approve" family members, siblings, friends, or employment. Suggested in the Love In Action protocols
  31. Children are not afforded an education in accordance with state requirements.
    under "Therapeutic & Staff issues: "No continuing education while in the program. Home-school Refuge clients may be allowed to continue their studies during the program, pending approval by LIA staff

  32. Medication is recommended, prescribed, approved, or dispensed by anyone other than a medical doctor (MD). Unknown
  33. Children are denied medications that have been prescribed by an MD. Unknown
  34. Staff members, admissions personnel, referrers, etc. make statements indicating that "your child will die without" the program. Love In Action Director has made statements condoning suicide if the "gay to straight" conversion is unsuccessful
  35. Children escort/supervise other children.
    "While on the LIA campus, Refuge clients must be in phase at all times, whether indoors or out of doors. A client is "in phase" when he or she is with two or more other clients (whether Refuge or residential,) one of whom must have been in the program for at least eight weeks. Exceptions to phase rules will be granted by C.O.C. request only."

  36. Children have to "earn" the "right" to speak during group/therapy sessions.
  37. Children are denied outside activities on any level/phase.
  38. Staff members must approve the withdrawal of children from the facility. Unknown
  39. The facility expects total and unquestioned support of parents. Suggested
  40. Children on any level/phase are forbidden to speak to other children in the facility
Then, of course, there are the Parental Rules (which are not to be given to the "client")
1. No discussing therapeutic issues at home. Keep conversations positive.

2. Clients are to be picked up from the LIA office no later than 5:00pm each weekday.

3. Respect all Love In Action and Refuge rules. If you do not understand them, support the program in front of client at all times and gain clarification from LIA staff. Do not sabotage or defocus your client.

4. Don't allow client to split your family. Unite to present stability and unity.

5. Your client is not allowed to talk to anyone outside of your home including friends or family. Do not tell client who has called for them or who is asking about them. Keep the thoughts of the client focused on his/her treatment.

6. The family needs interactive time together. It is very important that togetherness is the priority during this time. The client does not need extended time alone or with only one family member. The only exception is for Refuge clients who are from out-of-town and staying with a significant guardian while here.

7. Family dinner is encouraged to occur at least four times weekly.

8. The client is expected to cook dinner at least one time weekly.

9. The client is expected to complete a weekly cleaning regimen to your satisfaction.

10. Parents/guardians are asked to make themselves available for any special meetings deemed necessary for the successful treatment of their loved ones.

11. If there is an "Open Meeting" during Refuge Program, parents/guardians are asked to attend to enhance their involvement with Refuge. Open meetings are held the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30pm at Kirby Woods Baptist Church (on the corner of Poplar Ave. and Massey; entrance is located at the ground floor on the east side of building entrance).

Consequences for Rule Violation:

1. Constructive criticism from the group.
2. Ten to thirty-page written paper on rule violation.
3. Program dismissal. This does not need to be addressed with the client (The client may sabotage his/her own program due to purposeful dismissal consequences).
4. Isolation from the group.
Hopefully Zach will come through this ordeal relatively unscathed. The only "reparative" therapy that was necessary for Zach prior to his admission to this "program" (and any other person in a similar position) is the reparation of the family relationship when both he and his family learn to love and accept him for the person that he is.

Tags: ; ; ; ; ;

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: