Philip Elberg, Esq.

Philip Elberg, Esq. on ASTART’s website, about the limited legal recourse teens have if their parents have assigned custody to a facility:

The increase in the number of residential treatment programs for adolescents who are deemed by parents or guardians to be “troubled,” but who have not been charged with criminal activity, presents unique legal challenges for lawyers and courts. At their worst, these facilities can become private jails that operate outside of our system of judicial oversight, or become treatment centers that subject youth to “treatments” that have no basis in what is now known about mental health or adolescent development.

Wanda K Mohr, PhD, APRN, FAAN

Wanda K Mohr, PhD, APRN, FAAN on abuses within the troubled teen industry:

In response to Internet advertisements full of testimonials, parents send their children to
these facilities unaware that the staff are generally unqualified or underqualified to provide services, such as education and psychotherapy, and that their methods range from questionable to highly dangerous and abusive.

Maia Szalavitz

Maia Szalavitz on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in graduates of residential and wilderness programs:

PTSD is not a normal consequence of adolescent misbehavior. It does not occur in the absence of trauma, and few middle-class kids ever experience anything as likely to cause sustained trauma (aside from child abuse) as these programs are, even in the course of genuine addiction. The atmosphere in the programs – in which emotional attacks are unrelenting, privacy is nonexistent, sleep and food deprivation are common, and the person has little if any control over his environment – is exactly the type that research has found most likely to produce PTSD.

Szalavitz’s book, Help At Any Cost, includes a resource guide with links to many informative sources of further information.

Marcus Chatfield

Marcus Chatfield on coercive techniques used

Institutionalized persuasion is not therapy, it’s orchestrated assault, indoctrination and reconditioning.

Liam Scheff

Liam Scheff on cult aspects of CEDU school he attended:

When I was freed from the CEDU mess, it took about 6 months for my cracked teenaged head to realize that what I’d experienced was a cult. It was a thought that shook me awake. I got on the phone and started making calls (pre-internet); within three phone calls, I was on the line with a very nice woman who ran the old Cult Awareness Network. (Which was soon to be taken over by Dianetics!) I said, “I think I was.. in a … cult. It was called CEDU.”

She said, “Oh, yeah, yes. You were. CEDU, Charles E. Dederich, offshoot of Synanon. Broken up by the California State Supreme Court. They tried to kill a lawyer named Paul Morantz who was investigating them. Put a rattle-snake in his mailbox…”

Advocacy Organizations

ASTART for Teens

ASTART for Teens

The troubled teen industry has grown rapidly, driven by corporations that may be more motivated by profit than by providing quality services. It can be confusing and frightening for parents trying to make the best decision about care for their child, and for professionals trying to advise families about these difficult choices.

We can help you ask the right questions about  treatment options. ASTART is a volunteer organization of parents, professionals and advocates here to protect teens and their parents from the abusive practices of some of these programs.


CAFETY – Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth

We are a member-driven advocacy organization, led by those with direct experience in residential care as youth and our

Safe Teen Schools

Safe Teen Schools

Safe Teen Schools is an informational service run by a former student of a “Tough Love” boarding school. Our goal is to make sure the children enrolled in these types of facilities are being properly cared for. Such as but not limited to education, nutrition, medical treatment and mental health treatment. Are you getting what you are paying for?

Keeping children safe by exposing residential treatment centers/private boarding schools and their continued abuse against the children in their care.

SIA Organization

SIA Organization – Stop Institutional Abuse Now

SIA Organization draws upon a wide range of life experiences including firsthand experience of being a child in an institutional setting. Each staff/volunteer is required to participate in on-going training and professional development.
SIA is a nonprofit organization. We have no religious affiliation. SIA seeks to enable and empower help in healing adults who have experienced past childhood abuse to live their lives in the present, rather than continuing to experience today as an extension of their traumatic past. These services offered range based on the needs of the individual.

Teen Advocates USA

Teen Advocates USA

Every day in America, a child is at risk of placement into a privately owned and operated locked (meaning institutionalized-style) so-called “specialty” school or program whose conditions, policies and practices may expose them to standards of care and treatment that are inhumane, unethical and unsafe.
Denied due-process or even an independent evaluation by a behavioral healthcare professional who does NOT work for the institution – it can be many months and even years before these children are “recommended home” or turn 18.