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Child abuse - no protection and no plausible legal recourse

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-          Psychological, emotional, and sexual trauma leading to suicide. [xxi] [xxii] [xxiii]

These acts are crimes of serious concern to the international community as a whole.  

The number of suicides secondary to psychological and emotional trauma as well as sexual abuse of young teens trapped in these rehabilitation centers came to the attention of public health officials who monitor suicide rates. [xxiv]   The original Straight Inc. centers were located in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, within Hillsborough, Paco and Pinellas counties.   According to 1987 statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics, the Tampa Bay area had the highest suicide rate in the country.   This rise in the suicide rate was not related to the large number of retirees there.   The juvenile suicide rate in Pinellas County rose 130% between 1980 and 1986.   A 1992 study found that 1 out of 4 girls in neighboring Pasco County attempted suicide in 1991 (national average was 10%).   In neighboring Hillsborough County the juvenile suicide rate tripled, from 3 in 1980 to 9 by 1987.   Nineteen (19) youths committed suicide in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties in 1989 (up to nine of these were gay).  

Straight Inc. operated its founding center, Straight-St Pete, in St Petersburg, Florida in Pinellas County from 1976 to 1993.   In 1986, a related program called Outreach was opened in Cape Coral, Florida.   In 1987, a community task force was organized to study why 19 youths aged 14 - 17 years had attempted suicide.  

In 1988 the national Center for Disease Control (CDC) launched a study on juvenile suicides in Cobb County, Georgia because its suicide rate of 14.7 per 100,000 persons was three higher than the state average, and twice as high as the national average. Straight-Atlanta, operated in Marietta (Cobb County), GA was implicated.

Dr. Richard Schwartz, medical research director for Straight-Springfield, noted in an article for its newsletter, EPIDEMIC, vol. 6, that suicide was fifth-ranked as cause of death for American teenagers in 1964, third-ranked in 1978 and had risen to second-highest in 1983.     Straight Inc. launched operations in late 1976 and had centers in Cincinnati, Springfield, Virginia, St Petersburg and Sarasota by 1983. 

Licensed medical professionals, psychologists, therapists, child protective services personnel, and other mandated reporters were obligated to report this sudden rise in suicide which was linked to a particular type of residential substance abuse treatment program.  

Licensed medical professionals are morally and ethically obligated by their Hippocratic Oath to protect their patients' safety.   Under US law and international standards of proper professional conduct, they are also Mandated Reporters of torture and abuse.  Licensed medical professionals are Defenders of Human Rights, the watchdogs for vulnerable patients in need of care.   The reality in Straight Inc. facilities and in many other residential treatment centers is that "the fox is in charge of the hen house."

[i] October 10, 2007,  Full report of testimony before the Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives. [PDF, 38 pages], GAO Report: Concerns Regarding Abuse and Death in Certain Programs for Troubled Youth (Full Report) .

[ii] Residential Programs: Selected Cases of Death, Abuse, and Deceptive Marketing (Full Report) April 24, 2008, Full report of testimony before the Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives. [PDF, 24 pages] .  

[iii] Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse (CAICA) website lists deaths that have occurred in "behavioral modification" facilities not unlike Cross Creek as a result of tackling and restraint.,

[iv] Henry, Tim, "Synanon and the man who got the snakebite," Nov. 20, 2010,,

[v] Synanon's founder, Dederich tells his followers. "Our religious posture is: Don't mess with us. You can get killed dead, literally dead." Synanon is heavily implicated in the late-1972 or early-1973 disappearance of Rose Lena Cole, who was ordered by a court to enroll in Synanon before she disappeared.   She has not been seen or heard from since.   Rose Cole's entry on The Charley Project,

Following an investigative NBC Nightly News program in 1978, the NBC executives and its corporate chairman received hundreds of threats from Synanon members and supporters. Jack Anderson   "NBC Cancelled Jonestown Story," March 20, 1981.  

On September 21, 1978, the ex-Synanon member Phil Ritter, was severely beaten by two Synanon members, which caused him to fall into a coma for a week. Fluid leaked into his spinal column, which caused a near-fatal case of spinal meningitis.

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