New Report on Boot Camps Tells a Chilling Tale

Published February 11, 2008

Posted Oct. 12, 2007 – As a Florida court hears a case on the beating death of a Black 14-year-old resident at a boot camp for troubled youths, the federal government releases a new report detailing “thousands of allegations of abuse” and even death at similar settings for teens with disciplinary problems.

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The report, compiled by the Government Accountability Office for Congress, concludes that, between 1990 and 2007, many troubled teens in residential treatment centers in the United States, as well as in American-operated facilities abroad, have been abused, neglected and seemingly tortured in the name of “tough love.”

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), who headed a hearing where the report was presented Wednesday, said, "Today we will hear stories of children denied access to bathrooms and forced to defecate on themselves; children forced to eat dirt or their own vomit; children paired with so-called buddies whose job was to abuse them.”

According to the report, "During 2005 alone, 33 states reported 1,619 staff members involved in incidents of abuse in residential programs."

One of those mentioned in the report is Aaron Bacon, who died in 1994 while taking part in a so-called wilderness therapy program in Utah.

"Aaron's journal contained no poetry but recorded in his own words an unbelievable account of torture, abuse and neglect," his father, Bob Bacon, told lawmakers and parents of victims at the hearing. He said his son spent "14 of his 20 days on the trail without any food whatsoever, while being forced to hike eight to 10 miles (13-16 kilometers) a day."

This week, the parents of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson are being forced to review the final days of their son’s life, as the manslaughter trial of seven guards and a nurse plays out in a Florida court room. A shocking video shows Martin collapse as the guards strike him and put ammonia capsules up his nose.

Are boot camps a good idea, or is it time to do away with them? Click "Discuss Now," to the right, to post your comment.

Written by BET-Staff

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