Saturday, February 18, 2012

VoiceReclaimed at Green Chimneys

The author known as VoiceReclaimed gave permission to have her story published on the webpage Reddit. All rights belong to the original author.

Green Chimneys was the most traumatic experience I ever survived. When I was sent there for one summer, I had no idea of what kind of a place this was.

I was in for a rude awakening that this was not a "regular" camp when the medication cart was brought in after every meal. I later learned that there were kids who saw psychiatrists, but I don't know where the psychiatrists' offices were. I had no idea that meds and psychiatrists were involved. Althought I dodged the med bullet, I did not dodge the beatings one. (If you read GC's online statement, they say they are "authorized to medicate kids." Many survivors I've listened to say that they were given inappropriate medications and that staff experimented with meds).

There was a girl in charge of the room I was in. She was 13 and I was 10. She would beat me and the 8-year-old to a pulp. She once made me lie on the floor and walked on my back. When I yelped in pain, she said, "no phony back spasms." She beat me every single day and once even beat me so hard with a baton that I still have a scar from that beating.

School was another rude awakening. I had no idea that school was part of the routine. I thought it would be a regular camp with summer activities, not school! Even so, school was fraught with problems. The teachers would slap and kick kids; they would call kids retarded. Each grade was divided into A&B bands, e.g. 2A, 2B. I was in 5A. If you were in a B class, you were deemed "slow" and typecast as lacking intelligence.

Classes were held from 9-12 each morning. Other survivors I've talked to said that during the year, you spent more time on that farm than you ever did in class and that when you left GC, you had to play catch up in your subsequent school.

Dr. Samuel B. Ross would hold public beatings; his 2nd in command Richard B. Hill was deemed a racist by other inmates. They would make kids eat cigarettes in front of the entire inmate population. Ross and Hill once dragged a boy out of the Slop Hall because the boy said he wanted more food. Meals were meager portions. Ross even dragged a girl out of the dorm by her hair because, wonder of wonders she did not want to leave on the last day. I can't imagine why anyone would want to stay and his ill treatment of her raised that question all the more.

Ross often threatened to send kids to Rockland State. He once lit after a boy and beat him because the boy was horsing around instead of heading off to class one morning.

I would leave breakfast and head to class early so as to avoid my roomleader. I was so glad I was assigned to a table across the room from her so she couldn't hit and kick me. I would enter and exit the Slop Hall via the laundry room so as to avoid her salutory kick whenever she saw me.

Sexual behavior flourished. Once, two boys exposed themselves to me in class. I arrived early so as to avoid any beatings. The teacher I had, a Mrs. N told me I'd be in trouble just by being present and I didn't know the boys would be there! The Rosses were called in and Sameul B. Ross Jr. threatened those boys within an inch of their lives. My roomleader's brother, then in 7th grade dragged me behind the boys' dorm where 2 of his 8th grade friends were waiting. They told me to take off my clothes, and I refused. One boy said he'd pin my arms behind my back so the others could get started. I had to think of an escape, so I thought if I just kept them talking, I could make a run for it. I did. I made good and sure never to stand at the end of or behind any building after that.

I learned from other survivors that hawks and predators roamed in the boys' dorms as well. Staff and some older students were hawks. In 2001 there was an article about an 8-year-old boy who was raped by 3 older inmates.

The Girls' House dorm where all the girls slept was a nightmare. The year prior to my arrival, a man was notorious for sexual abuse. He left just before my arrival, but his wife remained and she would hit kids at the drop of a hat. The "dorm parents" were a young, punitive couple who were largely disinterested in the kids. The husband was physically and verbally abusive. The wife just verbally. She once dumped a bowl of clay on an older boy's head during an art class for no apparent reason. They both told me I was retarded and nothing I said had any value. I have 2 degrees and can read some Chinese, so I think I disproved their claim.

Another survivor, whose opinions I deeply respect has impressed upon me all the more the value of looking to the positive. This survivor, who had many horrific experiences is a good person who lives by paying it forward.

My reason for sharing my experience was not to point fingers, but to alert people as to the dangers that can take place in these RTCs. I am also reclaiming the voice that I felt was taken from me. People would not listen to me then, even when I was covered in welts and bruises. Green Chimneys was a closed community. All medical care was done by the late Sam B. Ross, Sr. whose "medical care" was to give you a once-over-lightly. Everything was done on the campus and you weren't near a shop or a town, so you were isolated. An electric fence was installed in or about the end of the summer I served there. Green Chimneys is a dangerous place.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Testimonies from Danes

At the blog called Vidnetsbyrd fra det mørke asyl which can be translated as Testimonies from the dark asylum, Danes will tell how they experienced their stay at Danish group homes, boarding schools or treatment centers.

United States is far from the only country in the world where children suffer when they are forced to live outside their family home. It is time to deal with the abuse worldwide.

What is the present situation in Denmark?

For the next 3 years the government will conduct a survey of the situation for the 14,000 children living in foster care.

The area is a costly area for the public sector. In Denmark there are few programs for private customers. Often the continuation schools are used instead. In Danish they are called “efterskole” and are basically normal boarding schools, but they are strict compared to the level of freedom Danish teenagers have compared with teenagers in the United States. The reason for using only light precautions in cases where teenagers act out is that there is more awareness of life of teenagers.

Teenage pregnancies are rare due to the fact that the law allows teenagers to get birth control medication without parental consent at age 15 and the minister for social services has attacked TV-shows like "Teen mom" followed up with action of social services against some of the Danish participants basically without reason in order to scare teenagers from being mothers. Alcohol is legal to purchase if the percentage is below the safe limit of 16.5. Parents do know that their children drink because there is no reason to keep it a secret when it is legal and partly integrated in the educational system (A lot of the high schools have Friday bars which are actively marketed so they can attract students). Drug use is seen but due to the easy access to alcohol not so widespread as in U.S. High Schools and are you caught with drugs in town you will normally get a two year ban from the night life which is equal with no life for a Danish teenager or young adult.

But for the approximately 14.000 Danish children who are placed in the foster care system life is a nightmare. They are bounced around in the system. 25 percent experience that they are shipped either home to possible neglect or sent to a new group home / foster family within a year.

Abuse of the children in foster care are seldom reported and even when this happen, complaints are ignored even the complaints come from teachers, neighbors and therapists observing marks from beatings on the children.

The main concern is that the authorities keep no regular supervision of the children in foster care allowing violence between the children and abuse from the adults in group homes and foster families.

A report from the department of social services revealed that it was impossible to show an improvement of the situation of the child because it was taken in the social services compared to being left in neglect back home.

None seem to know what do work and what doesn't work.

Hopefully the survey will show what the authorities should do to improve the present situation. Today is only possible to pray.