After experiencing my good teen making some bad choices, I found myself surfing the Internet until I was so confused and stressed that I couldn’t make a decision. One group of specialty schools and behavior modification programs kept popping up wherever I clicked, and I figured they must be good. Then I received their beautiful glossy literature with a video that could make any parent weep.
Once the initial sticker shock wore off, the cost was reasonable in comparison with other programs, or so I thought until I enrolled my child. The hidden costs added up like a grocery bill. I was totally misled by the sales rep and made a rash decision. Mistake number one: being clueless as to whom you are speaking with when reaching out to these toll-free numbers. This is a common mistake for parents in a desperate situation. A swift sales rep is there waiting for you; meeting questions with the answers you want to hear and making promises that convince you they can help your child.
My true nightmare was just beginning.
Impressed by the fancy words and glossy brochures, I enrolled my child with the understanding that they were qualified to help. I am ashamed to say I never did a background check on these programs. I had called their parent references that they gave me (and later found out they were paid to talk to me, some actually receiving a free month’s tuition). I know many of you are thinking I must have been nuts, and you are right. In this stage of my life, I was at my wit’s end and just wanted help for my child.
Long story short, my frenzy and desperation led to my biggest mistake. I was looking for therapy and internalization through the help of professionals, but what I inadvertently ended up with was more of a teen warehousing program. This was not what they had sold me.
In retrospect, red flags went up shortly after I dropped my child off and I asked who the psychologist would be. Guess what? There was none, unless I wanted to pay extra! So who led the group therapy they raved about? There was no group therapy, there was a person, usually another student, who sat in a circle with them as they reflected. Their psychologist was available for another $100 per visit. But their sales reps had told me that there was a licensed therapist “on staff and on site.” I should have pulled my child then, but I thought I was over-reacting since I was in such a state of confusion and frenzy. The staff was very good at convincing me to “trust the program” instead of addressing my concerns.
My child wrote me letters: some good, some bad. According to the program, the good ones were considered manipulation; the bad ones were considered proof that she needed to stay longer. I couldn’t win and neither could my child.
During my child’s entire stay of almost six months, I was never allowed to speak with her. I only spoke with an employee once a week for 15 minutes (in further research, I discovered these employees had no credentials and many weren’t educated beyond High School, including the President of the organization). I later found out it usually takes up to six months to speak with your child, and in most cases up to a year to see them.
It took me months to realize that I had made a big mistake. In order to visit my child it was mandatory to attend some very bizarre seminars; I wrote my withdrawal letter immediately after the second seminar.
I brought my child home suffering from depression and nightmares from her time in a WWASPS program, and fear of being sent back had created suicidal thoughts. My child went immediately into real counseling where, after almost two years, an excellent psychologist helped us recover from this horrible, traumatic post-WWASP experience. When my child felt confident that I wouldn’t send her back, I heard some unspeakable stories. I have also heard similar stories from many other post-WWASP aka WWASPS students and families suffering from the same post traumatic symptoms. Through this experience I have developed the opinion that fraud and misrepresentation, combined with a vulnerable parent, can lead to danger for a child. I believe in sharing my knowledge of this (very political) industry with as many families as possible.
So who am I? I am a parent that refused to be silenced. In 2001 I posted my story of what we endured. How my child was abused, how I was duped, and how they (in my opinion) continue to dupe others. WWASPS decided to sue me to have my story removed from the Internet. It went to a jury trial, and I won with truth as my defense. My story is here and is also published in Wit’s End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen (Health Communications, Inc). I have continued to help families through my organization founded from our experiences, Parents’ Universal Resource Experts, Inc (P.U.R.E.)
As of March 2013, it is believed that WWASP aka WWASPS or Premier Educational Systems has affiliations with the following, click here.
If you are one of the many parents struggling with their teenagers — good kids making bad choices — you are not alone. If you are in need of teen help, residential therapy is an excellent resource. In reality there are many more good programs than there are not so good; the key is to do your homework. I created a list of tips and questions to ask schools and programs before enrolling your child, as well as other valuable information. Be an educated parent and you will have safer and healthier teens. So ditch your denial and get proactive! Your child deserves a chance at a bright future.
Learn from my mistakes, gain from my knowledge…..
A scary and horrific combination!
Stacey Honowitz, a regular on HLN, CNN, Fox and MSNBC is also a leading state prosecutor with over 17 years dedicated to the Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Unit.
However most importantly one of her accomplishments is her two educational books that serve to help parents, children, advocates and others to finally talk about this difficult subject in a manner which is comfortable for everyone.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Stacey Honowitz answered a few questions:
Q) What changes in a child’s behavior should raise a red flag for parents?
Stacey: Some behaviors in small children are nightmares, bed wetting, a constant need to be with you, a fear when you go to change them, and a general fear of staying alone with the person after they never had a problem before. I don’t like to generalize, because some of these behaviors are indicative of other issues, but sometimes a decline of grades in older kids, and a lack of enthusiasm for things warrant a discussion. It might not be abuse, but certainly if something doesn’t sit right with you, make sure and ask if they feel uncomfortable about something and want to share it.
Q) What sorts of behaviors from an adult should raise a red flag for parents to prohibit that adult from ever spending alone time with their child?
Stacey: This really goes back to the first question that you asked. Sometimes a person will pursue a child by engaging in behaviors that the child will enjoy. Constant gift giving, a relationship based on “being friends” and “don’t be afraid to tell me anything” coupled with an opportunity to spend “alone” time with them.
Red flag number one, the person calls and communicates with the child by phone or computer without you being present, and constantly asks you if they can “take your child” out for the day, or that they would love to babysit while you do what you have to do. Most parents are thrilled to have an adult take such an interest in their child, but they must realize that many times there is an ulterior motive.
Q) If a parent is suspicious of an adult’s behavior, what steps can the parent take?
Stacey: If any parent believes that another child is being abused please do not feel like your are intruding by trying to help. Most parents later on say “I thought something was happening but it was not my place.” It is your responsibility to alert either a family member, school authority or protective services if you suspect some type of abuse either sexual or physical. If you have a relationship with that child there is nothing wrong with you questioning the child, and asking “is everything okay” or “do you need my help with anything going on at home.” Better safe than sorry is a motto that really holds water.
For more information, order Stacey’s books:
Mention my name to any “sales rep” of Red River Academy or affiliate of their programs (see the listings here) and you will find out fast that I am not their favorite person. They will send you to some very ugly websites about me, but will neglect to tell you I not only defeated them in a jury trial and in the appellate court, I also won an $11.3M jury verdict for damages of Internet defamation of all those ugly sites they are sending you to. The funny thing about the Internet, it is the world’s largest tattoo machine, and like a tattoo – some things are hard to get removed – and trust me, I have tried. However I have been legally vindicated. And God knows they have tried to bury me – virtually and literally – but here we are going into 2012 – and my story is still going strong. Read on….
As a victim of the WWASPS organization – I am often called or receive many emails about our (my daughter and I) experiences with them. Obviously not pleasant. Though I am happy to say the program she was at, Carolina Springs Academy, which attempted to go through a name change to Magnolia Christian Academy (or School) depending on the day you Googled it, is finally closed – it has been rumored some of the staff is now at their affiliate program – Red River Academy and/or Horizon Academy.
Let me be clear for legal purposes – these are rumors – but if I were placing my child in program, I personally wouldn’t take any chances – and furthermore, Red River Academy is clearly named in the current lawsuit which is extremely disturbing with allegations of fraud, abuse, neglect and much more – (click here) that is current.
So when the “sales rep” tells you that “Sue Scheff” is a disgruntled parent – I say – YES, I was – you put my daughter in a box for 17 hours, she was mentally and emotionally abused – food and sleep deprived – I was complete defrauded – and she also missed out on 6 months of education. None of which I had signed up for. Grant it, this was 10 years ago – a lot has changed – but those original owners haven’t – so in my humble opinion – I wouldn’t trust any of their programs with my pets….. BTW: I am the only parent to have defeated WWASPS in a jury trial. Most of the other (many) lawsuits have settled out of court with silence agreements. I don’t have one, which is why I can still share my story – which is why I get slimed online – which is why their sales reps have all sorts of stories about me – including “the jury made a mistake” – neglecting to tell you I won the appellate court too. No one condones child abuse – period.
I have been called a crusader (and not in a flattering way) though I take it that way. I have made it my mission to find the better programs and schools, since I do know what it is like to be at your wit’s end. I know what parents need help. I am not against residential therapy, which brings us to many of my stalkers that were formally abused in programs that believe all programs should be closed down. That is being extreme – they are not a parent trying to save their child’s life and future.
I will share with you that there are more safe and quality programs than there are bad ones – it is just about doing your homework and research. Today you are more fortunate than I was – you have more access to information and you can learn from my mistakes and my knowledge.
Please – take 10 minutes to read my story and see the list of programs that are and were once affiliated with Carolina Springs Academy – and from there, you make your own choices for your child.
I had one parent that almost went to Red River Academy that actually said the sales rep said they could have their teen “extracted” within a few hours? Extracted? Really – is your child a tooth? Please don’t get rushed into a quick decision – this is a major emotional and financial decision.
My organization is Parents’ Universal Resource Experts – and no matter what those “sales reps” or the Internet fiction – I don’t own, operate or manage any schools or programs! We are about educating parents when they are looking for help for their at risk teen…. Don’t get scammed when you are at your wit’s end.
Oh – and when these “sales reps” send out these defamatory links about me – another FACT they neglect to tell you is I won the landmark case for Internet Defamation that awarded me $11.3M in damages for what was said about me online! Lies and twisted facts! Here is my recent appearance on Anderson Cooper.
This is strictly my opinion from my own experiences and you are free to make your own decisions…..
Yes, your teen is failing.
Yes, your teen is experimenting with drugs.
Yes, your teen is hanging out with less than desirable kids.
Yes, your teen may be having sex.
Yes, your teen is disrespectful.
Yes, your teen needs help! They don’t need to be harmed!
If you feel you are at your wit’s end and have exhausted all your local resources – therapy isn’t working or your teen simply refuses to go, it may be time to start thinking about residential therapy.
This doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, quite the contrary, you are giving your teen a second opportunity at a bright future.
Need more information? Visit www.HelpYourTeens.com.
“There are other parents that want to”
“It’s just not for me”
EXCUSES! When it comes to your child and their education, teachers, schools and communities, parents need to make the time and become interested in an organization that is targeted at making a better academic life for your child.
Concerns about public schools are much in the news, in recent times. Politicians, business leaders, college admissions officials, and academic researchers, have much to say about the quality, or lack thereof, of teaching methods and subject matter. How can a concerned parent make sense of it all and judge whether their child is receiving a proper education?
In the middle of it all, ignored by many and supported by not nearly enough, are local Parent-Teacher Associations. Local PTAs can and should be a valuable resource for any parent with questions, concerns, or ideas about how their children should be taught and cared for by schools.
If you want to know how your school compares academically with local, state, and national standards, your local PTA can provide that information for you. If you have specific questions about how your child’s classroom operates, and what teaching resources your child’s teachers have available to them, your local PTA can help you obtain the answers you are looking for.
Your local PTA will be happy to provide informational materials, as well as offering you an ear for specific questions about curriculum and available services that you feel are not being addressed adequately by school administrators.
All local Parent-Teacher Associations have members that focus on parent concerns about teachers and/or classroom activities. Quite often, these concerns turn out to be based on misconceptions about classroom activities or one-sided reports from students to parents. If, after attempting to raise an issue with a teacher or administrator, a parent still feels the issue is not being properly dealt with, the local PTA can act as arbitrator or information collector in helping to find solutions.
If you think that you have ideas that would benefit your school’s ability to educate the kids in your community, the local PTA is a great place to bring your ideas for discussion. As a group, teachers are eager to hear any ideas you may have about helping them work better with your children. A local PTA gives you direct access to teachers ears, whether your ideas are about general teaching or specific issues with teaching your child.
This is, in fact, the major reasons that PTAs were created; to help teachers and parents work together in answering each other’s questions and addressing the education needs of students.
If you have even a few hours per month that you can devote to increasing the quality and responsiveness of your community’s schools, consider volunteering with the local PTA. I’ve heard other parents speak of Parent-Teacher Associations as if they are purely teacher’s advocacy organizations. That’s not the case. Teachers have unions for that sort of thing. PTAs are set up to foster connections between teachers and parents, to address issues of concern and improve the ability of both parents and teachers to help students achieve and grow.
As a parent, you have the opportunity and ability to get in there and be part of the solutions that help both teachers and other parents understand, improve, and grow in their ability to give students the best possible education. Don’t ignore your local PTA. Support it, join it, help it grow and be as effective as possible in this critical and difficult endeavor.
National Drug Facts Week is Monday, October 31st through Sunday, November 6th, 2011.
Why do people and teens smoke when they know it is bad for them?
Maybe they smoke because they can’t stop. People start smoking for different reasons,but most keep doing it because of one reason—they are addicted to nicotine.
DID YOU KNOW? Research says that teens who see a lot of smoking in movies are more likely to start smoking themselves. Sometimes characters smoke to look edgy and rebellious; but sometimes it’s justabout “product placement” — the tobacco industry trying to get into your head and your pockets.
FACT: More than 4 in 10 people who begin drinking before age 15 eventually become alcoholics.
Teen Prescription Drug Use:
FACT: In 2007, prescription pain medications like Vicodin and OxyContin were involved in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.
Want to learn more FACTS about teens and substance use? Download Shatter the Myths.
Be an educated parent – you will have safer and healthier teens.
Through the many resources available in Broward County, teenage pregnancies have been decreasing. According to National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy there have been more than 354,000 teen births in Florida, between 1991 and 2004, costing taxpayers a total of 8.1 billion dollars. In September 2006 report by Guttnacher Institute, Florida ranked 6th in a nationwide study with 97 per 1,000 pregnancies in women between ages of 15-19. (Broward County Teen Pregnancy Help).
National Women’s Law Center will be hosting a free conference call.
Know Your Rights: A Conference Call for Pregnant and Parenting Students!
Wednesday, August 10, 3pm Eastern
Pregnant and parenting students have a right to equal educational opportunities! Interested? Get more information about protections for students against discrimination.
Expert Speakers will include:
- Lara S. Kaufmann, Senior Counsel, National Women’s Law Center
- Jeanette Pai-Espinosa, President, National Crittenton Foundation
- A student who is pregnant or has been pregnant while attending school, whether at the high school or post-secondary level?
- A member of the school community who wants to ensure that pregnant and parenting students do not experience discrimination but instead stay in school and succeed?
- Someone who works with students or advocates for young mothers’ rights?
Whether you’re a student, guardian, educator, counselor, or community member, our experts on Title IX can help answer your questions. To register, please complete the form.
Be an educated parent, you will have healthier teens.
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