Picture: CAFETY and the 80lb Backpack - Same weight Sergey was forced to carry before he died at SageWalk, 39.4% of his body weight.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CAFETY CHALLENGES ASPEN EDUCATION GROUP
AND THE PRIVATE PROFITEERING OF YOUTH INSTITUTIONALIZATION
On Thursday, Oct 20th 2011, the Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY) will host a Teach-Out and Live Person Exhibit to highlight the harmful experience of wilderness therapy for youth, in response to Aspen Education Group’s event, “A Primer on Wilderness Therapy”. CAFETY’s Teach-Out will begin at 10:00 a.m. at 86th Street and Central Park West and will take place concurrently with Aspen Education’s event in Central Park.
Aspen Education Group (AEG), a national provider of education programs for “struggling” youth, will draw approximately 40 mental health professionals to New York City’s Central Park to participate in “A Primer on Wilderness Therapy” where they will learn about the “value of primitive skill building in both substance abuse and behavioral health treatment” and “will have the opportunity to try some of the activities”. AEG recently made headlines in Oregon due to the closure of two of their residential programs. In 2010, investigators found staff at Mount Bachelor Academy used public and sexual humiliation to treat youth under the guise of therapy, and in 2009, the Lake County Sheriff deemed the death of SageWalk Wilderness School participant, Sergey Blashchishen, as homicide, after staff refused to aid the dying teen during a hike. AEG’s failure to address concerns of former participants of wilderness camp programs should alarm professionals in the mental health and youth services sector, as well as families who have considered sending their teens to such programs. Among these concerns is the singling out of activities for attendees at the event which do not accurately convey some of the most disturbing, coercive and oppressive practices that have left a countless number of former youth participants suffering from symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and damaged family relationships. CAFETY asserts that the underlying philosophy of these residential programs sustains these practices and is what ultimately contributed to death of Sergey and other youth placed in such institutions.
The aim of CAFETY’s Teach-Out and Live Person Exhibit is to bring awareness to the issues surrounding the private placement of youth in residential programs, including those operated by AEG. We will distribute a practical guide to understanding these issues that synthesizes public information and research available and is consistent with our members’ testimonies of experience in residential programs. This guide will serve as a resource for mental health professionals so that they are best equipped to make informed decisions when referring a child to a private residential institution. We invite the public at large, our allies and the media to come share in this educational opportunity.
Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY) is member-driven advocacy organizations that promotes and secures the human rights of youth in residential placement or who are at the risk of placement. CAFETY members have testified before Congress and presented in numerous public forums in an effort to raise awareness of the widespread practices of child abuse and the unnecessary and inappropriate private profiteering of youth institutionalization.
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You may also download press release.
Educational Material (updates to come):
Publication by the Alliance for the Safe, Therapeutic, and Appropriate Use of Residential Treatment (ASTART) - Treatment Research Lacks Good Science - provides detailed scientific critique of a frequently cited study by Dr Behrens reporting highly successful outcomes within Aspen programs.
CAFETY One Pagers - PDF Downloads:
What is the human rights framework for addressing youth in alternative care?
What are the limits under the current U.S. legal framework?
What are the limits of current state regulation and accreditation?
Doesn't accreditation ensure programs meet certain quality standards?
What does the data say about the efficacy of residential treament generally?
What do research psychologist's say about AEG's "research"?
What should be done to better protect youth placed in residential treatment programs?
CAFETY's AEG Factsheet.
 Currently, a 25 million dollar class action lawsuit has been filed against Aspen Education Group by former students who were forced to endure abuse under the guise of therapy http://www.kellyclarkattorney.com/general/attorney-kelly-clark-files-sex-abuse-lawsuit-against-mount-bachelor-academy/ Also See: Maia Szalavitz, Students Sue 'Troubled Teen' School for Systematic Sexual, Emotional Abuse, http://healthland.time.com/2011/07/12/former-students-of-a-school-for-troubled-teens-sue-for-emotional-sexual-abuse/ (updated July 12, 2011)
 Thom Jensen, Investigation Suggests Boy’s Death a Homicide http://www.katu.com/news/local/65114062.html (updated Oct. 20, 2009).
 Jon Martin-Crawford, Hearing on Child Abuse and Deceptive Marketing by Residential Programs for Teens, H. Comm. on Educ. and Lab. http://edlabor.house.gov/testimony/2008-04-24-JonMartinCrawford.pdf (updated Apr. 24, 2008); Also see Video Testimony: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dr47O5OjC_A ; Kathryn Whitehead, Hearing on Child Abuse and Deceptive Marketing by Residential Programs for Teens, H. Comm. on Educ. and Lab. http://edLab..H..gov/testimony/2008-04-24-KathrynWhitehead.pdf (updated Apr. 24, 2008); Also see video testimony: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUtUiDDMUl4
 CAFETY’s Accomplishments - http://www.cafety.org/cafetys-accomplishments