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to tell you about a film about 'teen abuse'

(36 Posts)
terribletriplets Fri 24-Jun-11 20:50:55

I don't think this will be controversial. There has never been anything even remotely like it here. It is a documentary about an organisation called 'Straight Inc' which was shut down in the nineties, part of the 'troubled teens industry'. My cousin went there because she was caught with a spliff in high school (in America, obv). They sort of break you down. It is a drug program but it seems to me that it was an employment program for sadists. 50 000 'troubled teens' went through it before it was shut down.

The kids were deprived of sleep, food and water if they stepped out of line. You had to sleep in a locked room and if you needed the loo you would be
would be followed there. They used something called 'spit therapy' where everyone would give verbal abuse to one teen, to break them down.
(this contains clips from the film)

The makers of the film have received anonymous threats, which is what has prompted me to post. Does anyone have any advice about how I can help promote this?

Pumpernickel10 Fri 24-Jun-11 21:00:05

Did your cousin complain by any chance?

michelleseashell Fri 24-Jun-11 21:41:30

I read a book about this once. I'm trying to remember what it was called. I remember the bit with the verbal abuse. Horrible, isn't it?

terribletriplets Sat 25-Jun-11 04:04:37

Pump, no. It was over 20 years ago. She finds it upsetting to talk about it or read about it.

Not sure if it reflects well on me but I find the whole subject compelling. It reminds me of the film, 'If' and 'The Lord of the Flies'. And 1984. They had a series of 'phases', which I have not got my head around yet. The first 'phase', for new inmates (for want of a better word) was just guarding doors. Then as they showed their co-operation with the program they were able to mind new or troublesome inmates. There were lots of injuries and broken bones (acc to the links I have read, not personal testimony to me) but because these were inflicted by fellow inmates, the staff at these centres could not be blamed.

The film was made by 4 ex-inmates who 'met' on a site for survivors of Straight.

I kind of hope that the people who ran these places are prosecuted, now that the truth is coming out. I suppose it is just another minority interest independent film but I'd also be grateful if anyone with any experience could tell me how independent filmmakers market their films.

As far as I can make out, they didn't take children/adolescents with serious drug problems, just the ones who got pissed or experimented with pot.

Thanks for replying.

Pumpernickel10 Sat 25-Jun-11 10:30:49

terrible I did watch the trailer and it's disturbing. I do think people have a right to know what happened how you can promote I don't really know.
I wasn't being funny when I asked if your cousin reported it, I was thinking if people don't report these then they abusers get away with it. This documentary is their voice telling the world of the horrors.
I wish you luck promoting it

Pumpernickel10 Sat 25-Jun-11 10:32:18

They Market their films by making it into a film and not a documentary that way they'll get a larger audience watching it.

terribletriplets Sat 25-Jun-11 20:00:16

Thanks, Pimp. So far I have 'marketed' it by posting here. I suppose they could put it on youtube and I could post here again asking people to watch it. (Thanks also for saying that you weren't being sarcastic)

Would anyone else who reads this please watch the trailer?

(Do you know about marketing films, Pimp? It is made now. I take your point about a film rather than a documentary; coming of age movie against the backdrop of Straight Inc. Esp because these teens were not serious drug addicts. Straight didn't take serious drug addicts. These were wayward teens, or even slightly wayward teens)

'Essentially any child who arrived at Straight would be considered an addict in need of their services. They’d go through a catch 22 interview run by Junior Staff Members, themselves children who were graduates of the program. If they admitted to any substance use, they’d be considered addicted, or at risk of addiction, or assumed to be minimizing their drug use and in denial of the full scope of it – thus addicted. If they denied that they were using any drugs at all, they’d be considered to be lying or “in denial” which of course is also a sign of the disease of addiction. So either way, if you showed up in Straight’s offices, chances are that you’d end up in the program, whether you “needed it” or not.'

Any other views very gratefully received.

Terribletriplets Tue 28-Jun-11 07:11:44

The Straight, Inc.. model had five phases.

In the first phase youths were not allowed to attend school, to speak about anything other than their addictions, to speak to members of the opposite sex, to live at home with their family, to read, to play outside, to go to the bathroom alone, or to eat sugar. In the second phase the youths had the same restrictions, but were responsible for supervising Phase 1 youths and were allowed to speak about issues other than their addictions. In the third phase, the youths were allowed to attend school and in the fourth and fifth phase, they were allowed to watch TV and develop relationships.

In one of the clips a survivor says that he needed to shout in the face of a 15 year old boy, in order to get to the 'make 5th phase', and then speaks of his guilt when the boy hung, who had been there for 9 months, himself 3 months after he left. He talks not thinking about being abused because if he admitted that he had to admit that he had been an abuser. He describes himself as being an 'abuse slave, a prostitue of violence', and that he did it to 'save his own ass', ie get out. It is the second of the clips in the thread.

People have sued, successfully. It is the wiki link

porcamiseria Tue 28-Jun-11 08:45:26

it was 20 years ago........

Terribletriplets Tue 28-Jun-11 23:08:19

It was 20 years ago, and since then the internet was invented so the survivors were able to make contact with each other and then made a film about what happened 20 years ago. To be released soon. The co-founder of Straight Inc was the US ambassador to Italy and Australia. So, a fairly powerful individual.

It reminded me of the Magdelen laundries thread; 'wayward' teens locked up and abused in a way that blighted their lives, the ones that didn't hang themselves. And now they are making a film about it.

Here is a documentary from CBS, if anyone is either reading this and has the stomach for it:

The last one is the most compelling.

Terribletriplets Wed 29-Jun-11 14:23:33

Here is a link about those who have sued, successfully, but it is only the tip of the iceberg.

Terribletriplets Wed 29-Jun-11 14:29:06

The coercive and abusive methods of Straight Inc. were designed to obliterate the sense of self and instill fear and obedience to authority in young teens. Some of the abusive methods of Straight Inc. included sleep deprivation, beatings, sexual humiliation, sexual assault, prolonged sitting or standing in forced positions, isolation, and detention for prolonged and indefinite periods of time, forcing one teen to abuse another, and prolonged denial of rest, sleep, food, water, adequate hygiene.

Terribletriplets Wed 29-Jun-11 14:37:57

Survivors of torture find it very difficult and challenging to try to move forward with their lives. Many who had spent time in Straight Inc. and other abusive teen rehabilitative centers speak with frustration that the fact that their torture actually occurred has not been publicly acknowledged. Survivors have individual and often have different conceptions of justice, some speak of the importance of criminal prosecutions, and others speak about civil compensation, rehabilitation or prevention of recurrence. But for everyone there is a need to restore that sense of dignity and control that was taken from them when they were tortured.

DragonflyUSA Wed 29-Jun-11 19:21:55

Here is a link to a gigantic amount of information on Straight...

There are several testimonies, our petition with over 500 signatiures and comments, a document library with over 1,500 pages of State investigations, government documents, Straight literature and executive letters.

Thanks for your interest and support.


blueemerald Wed 29-Jun-11 19:54:05


Don't be naive and think these types of places don't still exist around the world.

There's a list of programs "influenced" by straight here

blueemerald Wed 29-Jun-11 20:03:36

Straight is now called the Drug Free America Foundation.
From the website

In 1976, [Mel] Sembler and his wife Betty co-founded STRAIGHT, an adolescent drug treatment program. During its 17 years of existence, STRAIGHT successfully graduated more than 12,000 young people nationwide from its remarkable program.

In 1976, [Betty Sembler] was one of ten founding members of Straight, Inc., a nonprofit drug treatment program that successfully treated more than 12,000 young people with drug addiction in eight cities nationally from Dallas to Boston.

DragonflyUSA Wed 29-Jun-11 20:06:12

Currently, the only program that The Drug Free America Foundation endorses is Teen Challenge, which is Federally funded.

Global Teen Challenge operates in 80-90 countries.

survivingstraightincthemovie Thu 30-Jun-11 03:45:18

"They Market their films by making it into a film and not a documentary that way they'll get a larger audience watching it."

That depends. You make what you can with the budget you do. A film was already made it's called "Over the GW". We might make a feature film, but the documentary gives a voice to the survivors the way a film could not. People got to tell their stories and give a voice to those who died. I am very proud to be a part of this project, the healing that has come from it has been amazing. These programs still exist, children are being abused daily. You can see a list of programs here

You can also follow our progress here

Terribletriplets Thu 30-Jun-11 11:11:06

I have posted on the ml thread. I see a lot of similarities.

@Michelleseashell, do you have the name of the book? They were encouraged to spit insults in the face of the person doing a confession. They spent most of the day in 'rap' sessions, which were forced confessions of sins (these were kids!)

Girls had girls only 'rap' sessions, where they had to confess to their sexual experiences. These sessions were taken with male 'counsellors' in rooms WITH A TWO WAY MIRROR. The girls were called whores and sluts when they 'confessed' their sexual experiences. What pervert was behind the 2 way mirror.

Someone on the ml thread said that it is like a science fiction movie. The whole of society was involved. Too fucking true.

Terribletriplets Thu 30-Jun-11 11:26:29

In one of the clips, a survivor traces her medical records. They stated that she was not addicted to anything. She had taken LSD once and had a 'psychotic episode'. That was it. But the staff at Straight, Inc told her and her parents that she was an addict, and so she was sent there. And, just like with the magdelen laundry girls, she was branded, and still is branded, as a liar.

Mandy2003 Thu 30-Jun-11 12:01:57

I haven't time to look at the links just now, but I was immediately reminded of the scandal surrounding the Christian Brothers approved schools and institutions in Ireland and Britain.

Have any Straight Inc survivors claimed compensation in the US do you know?

Terribletriplets Thu 30-Jun-11 13:46:23

@Mandy, yes they have, for child abuse, but not torture. And not all. Many of them are suffering PTSD.

The fact that some of them have claimed (I would have thought) should open the floodgates, esp as the original co-founders were real estate investors and very wealthy)

Could you post a link to the Christian Brothers? I have read the magdelen laundry thread. I see great similarities. Would you post a link to any 'survivors' groups wrt either the ml girls or the Christian Brothers?

Most of the film clips are very short. And fucking harrowing. Thanks for replying, Mandy.

The co-founder tried to establish off-shoots of this crap in Italy and Australia (conveniently he was the US ambassador of both countries)

Does anyone know if anything of this nature is going on now in either GB or Ireland? Given that the mls only closed down when they were no longer profitable?

Terribletriplets Thu 30-Jun-11 13:47:46

@Mandy, this TTI stuff made me think immediately of the magdelen laundries. What made you think of the Christian Brothers? Do you have experience of this?

Mandy2003 Thu 30-Jun-11 16:38:21

A friend of mine's father suffered at the hands of the Christian Brothers. He got the financial compensation, but no amount of money would be sufficient IMO. I also read a book written by a survivor of one of their schools - can't remember the title or the author though.

This is probably the best summary of the case against them so far

I've read a few books on the Magdalen Laundries and seen the film as well.

Mandy2003 Thu 30-Jun-11 16:53:21

There are several survivors groups for people affected by abuse by clergy but I haven't found anything specific to the Christian Brother just yet. SNAP is based in the US with branches internationally, and in this country MACSAS here

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