There are not many groups addressing the critical issue of abuse towards "troubled" kids in residential contexts, such as boot camps, "therapeutic" boarding schools, and often unregulated religious homes (for example: Missouri; http://www.edchoice.org/Documents/SchoolChoice/Private-Schools-Laws-and-Regulations/missouri.pdf). The scope of the problem was best demonstrated in 2007 when the Government Accountability Office found over 1600 staff members involved in abuse in residential contexts in one year. It's also important to note that 17 States were not tallied in this count and the other States were reporting incompletely (http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08146t.pdf). But despite the rampant nature of the issue, very little has been done as the GAO demonstrated in follow up reports in 2008 and 2009 along with great investigative work by journalists like Maia Szalavitz and Art Levine.
CAFEY is a young organization that has had some real impact on the issue. They have helped involve and supply information to journalists, confront people actively harming kids (see petition CAFETY supports against Josh Shipp: http://www.change.org/petitions/josh-shipp-and-lifetime-television-network-stop-placing-children-at-serious-risk-of-ill-treatment-and-torture), and organize contact of politicians central to the issue, among other things, The work I have seen CAFETY board members and volunteers put into the issue has been remarkable. They put in a ton of time and effort. I think CAFETY is improving and becoming more influential and that really puts a smile on my face.
My status with CAFETY is as a volunteer.
CAFETY is playing a great role in exposing the abuse perpetrated by the troubled teen industry. Members of CAFETY testified before Congress, drew attention to the Judge Rotenberg Center (which shocked a child 31 times over 7 hours while he was tied to a four point restraint board, among many other abuses), and much more. You can see Kat's testimony to congress, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUtUiDDMUl4. Also, to show the type of thing CAFETY is fighting, watch this video (graphic/disturbing, but important): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtRGQRtwh2U.
when i was sent to a baptist troubled teen school that looked like a real residential treatment center and degraded and told i should pray away my gay i after a few years i left so confused and believed them. a few years later i was still anxious and had nightmares. that was when i found CAFETY. kat took a lot of time to speak with me and gave me then confidence to listen to myself and what that anxiety and nightmares were trying to tell me. that place was not treatment it was psychological torture. i struggle still and can't contribute to the cause as much as i would like because i am often too depressed, but i am grateful to know CAFETY exists and will be there to help me become an advocate for myself and for other kids that are imprisoned as residents when i am in a better emotional place. i will never forget the gift this organization gave me. the gift of support in discovering my truth hidden under the lies of the school and their so-called therapy.
I found CAFETY in 2006 after having firsthand experience with the "Troubled Teen" industry. I had been sent successively to a Wilderness Program and a Therapeutic Boarding School. I would describe both experiences as traumatizing. After searching online, I came across CAFETY, who perform several important functions for the benefit of people like me. CAFETY advocates for the rights of teens imprisoned by this industry, educates the public on the workings and dangers of TBS's (and other like institutions), and acts as a resource and support community for families (parents, teens, etc.) and others who have been affected by this destructive industry. After finding CAFETY, I was able to begin my healing process knowing that I was not alone, and that people were working to protect others from the same experiences that I had as a "student" of one of these programs.
CAFETY has helped me with my own issues of being a victim to this troubled teen industry...AND helped me learn to just keep talking to and educating anyone that will listen. Separating the family unit is not a way to mend the issues, in my opinion. Torture is not treatment or therapy. There needs to be a checks and balances for EVERY residential treatment center in America, and CAFETY is working towards this round the clock. Regulation is key to these kids having their human rights not being violated or totally dismissed. Thank you CAFETY for all your hard work, dedication, late nights, time spent educating yourselves and others...you're more than an inspiration, you're helping change the lives of youths/families all over the U.S.
Along with being a volunteer I was also a donor, designer, and advisor for CAFETY, and this organization truly, deeply, impacted my life for the better. I had a long and personal struggle with the same institutions that CAFETY fights to regulate, so knowing that my input helped to regulate this industry that so badly needs oversight, that my communications with others still struggling from within that system helped parents feel empowered and children who were in situations I once faced feel reassured - that was the most therapeutic experience to heal from my own past. Now I feel empowered, fully able to move on, and I confidently point to CAFETY as an organization of hope for peers of mine who I know struggle as I have. Originally I was not sure of the potential reach CAFETY would have, but I am beyond satisfied with their progress, their work --our work-- and it makes me incredibly hopeful and optimistic for their future as an organization for youth rights.
I love CAFETY! It is a member driven organization that seeks to united survivors of abuse in residential treatment programs. Additionally, there are plenty of opportunities to effect policy change, and bring attention the children who are still in abusive programs.
For a brief period of time I served as a volunteer for CAFETY by researching potential foundations that might donate funding to the cause of ending the abuse of children and youth who are confined against their will in centers which claim to be offering "rehabilitative services", but which, instead, are destroying the lives of individuals who are and will be this country's future. I greatly admire the work which CAFETY has done, particularly its founder, Kat Whitehead, in bringing this issue to the fore with members of Congress on Capitol Hill and in lobbying support around the country. The abuse that occurs in these "boot camps" and "rehabilitative centers" is nothing more than torture. I fully support CAFETY in its cause, now and in the future.
Prior to volunteering for the Community Alliance For The Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY), I had worked harmoniously with many members of this organization. After several years of watching this organization grow and improve I made the decision to formally volunteer my time and effort to support CAFETY's mission and goals. This organization has become a beacon of hope and direction by inducting members and field professionals who are dedicated to finding the best solutions possible who also possess the understanding and training to do so. What I most appreciate about the members of this organization is their readiness to act when necessary, yet are not driven by impulse. I find this to be a methodical and effective approach. It is my sincere belief that CAFETY will continue to improve and evolve into an organization that will inspire all who work to improve the rights and safety of children.
I am a young woman who was abused at one of the Residential Treatment Centers in Utah that CAFETY exposes. (Island View RTC) I am so grateful for all the work that they do to educate the public and prospective parents about these horrible institutions. CAFETY got me in touch with a reporter who interviewed me for a story exposing the treatment center that I attended. This really helped me move forward in the healing process. THANK YOU CAFETY!!!!
I helped with the art auction, and I am so impressed with all the work Kat and the others have done over the years. CAFETY is truly an organization with all soul-- dedicated to their cause of protecting the lives and well being of children. And they are making real changes. Go CAFETY! Down with the JRC!
Cafety has allowed many victims come together and share theory stories. This group has allowed victims such as myself feel as if we no longer have to be victimized from our past. I personally rate this group higher than a 10 as they are attempting to bring change to our government and stop child abuse in all forms.
It is sad and unfortunate that children in America have fewer rights than those in many third-world countries. CAFETY's work focuses around ensuring that basic human rights are awarded to children in vulnerable or otherwise high-risk situations. CAFETY is a perfect example of an organization that utilizes the experiences of those who were negatively impacted by loopholes in current legislation or societal beliefs and works to educate and advocate to prevent future generations from experiencing what other's endured. Fair, diplomatic and professional, CAFETY offers a widely unrepresented group of child abuse survivors a conduit through which they can both heal as well as help others.
I work with CAFETY as a volunteer doing outreach and chapter development. We, the all-volunteer staff, dedicate countless hours to the issue of protecting youth in or at risk of placement in abusive treatment centers, boarding schools, group homes, wilderness therapy, etc. We fight for their rights and work to educate the public on this issue. We also seek to empower survivors of abuse, which is how I got involved with CAFETY. I have been given the opportunity to speak at professional and trade conferences, do media appearances, and speak to the general public about my experiences and what I went through, which has been cathartic and amazing for me. I personally, through CAFETY, have worked to help keep children out of schools known to be abusive and to help parents become educated in what to look for in order to avoid abusive programs. I love working for CAFETY because of the dedication of those i volunteer with and the good i know we do!
I worked with CAFETY as a law clerk over the past summer. In doing so, I got to work on an issue that - to my knowledge - no other nonprofit organization is working on. Namely, CAFETY seeks to end the unnecessary institutionalization and the institutional abuse and neglect of children in residential behavioral modification facilities. In working with CAFETY, I was able to participate in legislative and policy advocacy, drafting CAFETY's letter in support of regulations that would limit the use of painful electric shocks, food deprivation and restraints in Massachusetts facilities; attending a summit with representatives of the residential treatment industry, researchers, family advocates and youth rights advocates to represent CAFETY'S concerns with the industry's practices; and corresponded with survivors, parents, attorneys and reporters about the problems in and alternatives to residential treatment programs. CAFETY has also participated in organizing and holding protests of organizations that run and promote abusive programs; testified before Congress in support of a bill that would prohibit child abuse and neglect in such programs; and worked with other reputable statewide, national and international organizations that protect the rights of youth and people with disabilities towards mutual goals. In the near future, CAFETY will be working with Disability Rights International, drafting a report to the United Nations on how conditions and practices in residential programs for youth violate international human rights protections against torture, in hopes of bringing international attention and involvement to this issue.