Schools in CA, FL, UT, SC, MT & elsewhere blasted

For immediate release: Wednesday, July 24

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])

A page one New York Times story today documents troubling mistreatment of children at private institutions in Utah, California, Florida, South Carolina, Montana, Louisiana, Mexico, Jamaica, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, and elsewhere.

It’s immoral to outsource the safety of kids to private companies and institutions without any real oversight.

The Times reports that “there are no federal laws governing (these) schools” and “private boarding schools are not regularly inspected and are not required to be licensed or accredited” and there’s “little governmental control because the schools are regulated as religious institutions.”

Hasn’t the horrific, decades-long abuse and cover up in the Catholic church taught our society anything about the dangers of letting religious institutions deal with predators and children without regulation?

The Times also reports that

--“a 2011 Congressional bill that would have banned physical abuse and the withholding of food at such schools died in committee after it was opposed by lawmakers reluctant to impose new federal standards on a matter often regulated by states.

--“states oversee the facilities variously as camps, boarding schools or residential treatment facilities, and state regulators often hesitate to step in because the programs exist in an ill-defined area of the law.”

The Times report says “A lawsuit on behalf of more than 350 former students and their parents in a Utah state district court claims that World Wide’s programs provide little education or mental health help, and that staff members engage in outright assault. ‘In many instances,’ the suit says, ‘the abuse could be accurately described as torture of children.’”

How can our society, and our lawmakers and regulators, tolerate this?

Whether you say you’re a believer or an atheist, you should treat kids humanely. Whether your institution is for-profit or non-profit, you should treat kids with dignity. Whether you call your outfit a school or treatment facility, you should

And our government – local, state and federal – should make sure this happens. Elected officials are abdicating their most crucial duty – protecting the safety of the vulnerable – if they callously and recklessly ignore these troubling institutions for selfish financial reasons or misguided ideological reasons.

We hope every single person who was hurt in these so-called ‘schools’ will find the courage and strength to step forward, report crimes, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing.

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