What happened to the land of the free and the home of the brave? Where is the freedom in being sent to a behavior modification facility for failing to follow the social norms?
Gulag Schools have been called the second fastest growth industry next to the building of prisons. This is a $1.2 billion unregulated industry that serves 10,000 to 20,000 children and adolescents annually. What makes them different from prisons is that they are filled with rich white kids and are given nice nicknames, such as "boarding schools." The general rule is that the more money the parents have, the worse the abuse. Based on referrals from friends or "experts," parents blindly place their kids into these schools in the hopes that their kids will emerge as solid, respectable citizens. The parents generally have no idea that they just turned their kids over to modern day versions of Josef Mengele.
Across America, teenagers are dying in Gulag Schools. The Democratic Party has sometimes taken stances against the mistreatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Why are Iraqis more worthy of freedom and rights than American teenagers? Torture is torture. Torture looks and feels the same, whether it is happening in America or Iraq. Why is torture more acceptable to government leaders, American political leaders and activists if the victim is an American teenager with no rights than if the victim is an adult who has never stepped foot on American soil? Why are torturers in this country trusted to know what is best for a child? Why haven't both major parties adopted resolutions condemning this practice? Why hasn't there been legislation? Why aren't the human rights of young Americans being enforced?
Under Hope v. Pelzer, 122 S. Ct. 2508, 2514, 2518 (2002), the use of restraints without penological justification is cruel and unusual punishment. Unfortunately, since some feel the 8th Amendment of the Constitution does not apply to those under 18, use of these restraints hasn't stopped in Gulag Schools. Hundreds of children and people have died from restraints. In fact, use of restraints is a common practice in these schools, where the goal is to turn kids into well-behaving future adults, or at least that's what they claim. In Texas, 17-year-old Chase Moody chest-down, pinned to the ground by three camp counselors, died from choking on his own vomit. At schools in Mississippi, students,ages 10 to 18 have been routinely hit, shackle to polls, sprayed with Pepper spray while in restraints, and hog-tied in cells known as "dark rooms." These are just a few of the thousands of examples of a nationwide problem. Schools that engage in such practices rarely close down. When they do, they generally reopen under another name and continue their practices.
Representative George Miller had the courage to hold a hearing on the issue. Miller had the strength of character to use the word "torture" to refer to practices occurring at these facilities. Congressman Howard McKeon, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Education and Labor, pointed out, "...if a parent just were reported abusing the child, the child would be taken away and the parents would go to jail." George Miller spoke of the need for official action. So far, no action has been taken on the information acquired in the hearing. The hearing can be viewed at http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings/fc101007.shtml.
Among the youth, teens and younger, who have died at Gulag Schools are Lorenzo Johnson, Tammy Edmiston, Carlos Ruiz, Mario Cano, John Vincent Garrison, Bernard Reefer, Robert Zimmerman, Charles Lucas, James Lamb, Leon Anger, Leroy Prinkley, Joshua Ferarini, Wauketta Wallace, Roxanna Gray, Danny Lewis, Diane Harris, Michelle Lynn Sutton, Kristen Chase, John Vincent Garrison, Anthony Green, Geoffrey Alan Vorhies, Paul Choy, Christy Scheck, Dawn Renay Perry, Jason Tallman, Casey Collier, Aaron Wright Bacon, Thomas Mapes, Jamar Griffiths, Shinaul McGraw, Lorenzo Johnson, Carlos Ruiz, Jonathon Avila, Jeffrey Bogrett, Earl Smith, Dawnne Takeuchi, Eric Roberts, Will Futrelle, Bobby Sue Thomas, Eric David Schibley, Rochelle Clayborne, Melissa Neyman, Jimmy Kanda, Chris Campbell, Robert Rollins, Sakena Dorsey, Jeffrey Demetrius, Kelly Young, Dustin E. Phelps, Laura Hanson,Mark Draheim, Nicholas Contreras, Matt Tappi, Chris Brown, Ashley Shaddox, Andrew McClain, Tristan Sovern, Mark Soares, Edith Campos, Chad Andrew Franza, Kristel Mayon-Ceniceros, Jerry McLaurin, Joshua Sharpe, Michael Ibarra-Witsie, Sabrina E. Day, Randy Steele, Wilie Wright, Candace Newmaker, William "Eddie" Lee" , Diane Pickens, Tanner Wilson, Stephanie Duffield, Ryan Lewis, Angela Miller, Robert Doyle Erwin, Lyle Foodroy, Valerie Ann Heron, Aaron Albert Grey, Katherine Lank, LaTasha Bush, Matthew Goodman, Erica Harvey, Ian August, Isiah Simmons, Anthony Haynes, Charles "Chase" Moody, Jarnal Odum, Orlena Parker, Carey Baines, Daniel "Danny" Jack Matthews, Omar Paisley, Maria Mendoza, Karlye Newman, Roberto Reyes, Garrett Halsey, Travis Parker, Linda Harris, Shirley Arciszewski, Kathy Warner, Willie Durden, Christening "Mikie" Garcia, James White, Martin Lee Anderson, Joey (Giovanni) Alteriz, Angela Arndt, Lenny Ortega, Natalynndria Lucy Slim, Dillon Peak, Elisa Santry, Rocco D. Magliozzi, Alex Cllinane, Caleb Jensen, and Brendan James Blum. You can see pictures of some of these kids at http://www.teenadvocatesusa.homestead.com/INMEMORIAM.html.
The Democratic and Republican Parties have failed to protect these and other young Americans who have died as a result of the paternalistic approach American society has regarding youth rights. Nothing will bring back those who have died. Nothing will undo the damage done by those society has trusted to take care of the youth. Could those who died have done any worse a job of taking care of themselves?
What does this say about our society, its beliefs about youth and its insistence on preventing those without rights from protecting themselves? What does this say about a political system in which youth have no rights - except the right to be mistreated, tortured and killed? Will we sit back, oblivious to the children who are being tortured and killed in our country, or will we act by closing these schools and declaring that that all humans of all ages are entitled to human rights and equal protection of the laws?
Those, wishing to do something about these abuses help to bring about change, have the power to act.. They can call their legislators and demand action. They can get organizations to which they belong to adopt resolutions and demand actions from legislators. They can join or contribute to organizations, like the National Youth Rights Assoc iation, that are working to end age-related discrimination. When someone above 18 speaks of inferior minds and the need to protect children from themselves, they can stand up and say, "enough."