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…..
State Attorney R.J. Larizza will be presenting Celebrity Speaker Stacey Honowitz on February 2nd at the World Golf Village IMAX Theater!
This is a must attend event. The Community Empowerment Series is being presented by St. John County Education Foundation and Community in Schools of St. Johns County and sponsored by The St. Augustine Record and First Coast News.
In the light of the recent event in Newtown, CT, it proves no towns are immune to bad things happening in them. Opening our CES with a topic of stranger danger, sexual predators and talking to our kids about private parts is critical today. These can be difficult subjects for parents, however our expert, Stacey Honowitz, will give our community the tools we need to help empower us to be safer and stronger as a community.
St. Johns County is privileged to be featuring celebrity parenting experts that will be speaking on topics that will empower us to continue to have one of the best counties in Florida. The three forums will be held in February, March and April and will feature some of the leading experts in the field of parenting, cyber bullying, online predators, and much more.
Tickets for the three events can be purchased online at www.communityempowermentseries.com.
Parents are encouraged to bring their children, and grandparents, school counselors, educators and anyone that wants to make our community a safer place for kids should attend the series.
The purpose of the Community Empowerment Series is to strengthen our community and enrich our parents, teachers and everyone working with our children to be safer and kinder- both online and off. This series is providing parents with how-to’s on some of the most important issues facing children today.
The three part series will be held at the IMAX Theatre in World Golf Village. Stacey Honowitz, who has been featured on Good Morning America, Larry King Live, and Dateline NBC, will be speaking on February 2nd about the media and sex cases, along with how to talk to young kids about private parts. Session two will take place on March 9th and will feature Dr. Michele Borba speaking on peer pressure, bullying and cyber-stalking. Dr. Borba has authored dozens of books and has made appearances on Dr. Phil, The View, The Doctors, FOX News and many more. Theresa Payton will lead session three on April 27th and will talk about internet safety. Payton is a former White House Chief Information Officer and has a weekly segment on North Carolina’s WBTV about protecting your cyberturf.
For more sponsorship information and more information visit www.communityempowermentseries.com.
The St. Johns County Education Foundation is recognized as the direct support organization for the St. Johns County School District. The SJCEF leads efforts to provide funding opportunities, support initiatives that enhance public education and recognize and inspire teachers and students within St. Johns County. For more information, please visit www.sjcef.com or visit Facebook and Twitter pages.
The recent tragedy in Newtown, CT has many conversations sparked about the need for mental health services. As a Parent Advocate for over a decade, I speak with parents on a daily basis and hear their desperation for assistance with their tween or teenager. Some parents are at their wit’s end and feel like a hostage in their own home by their own child, however the resources can be limited for some.
Residential therapy is an excellent option however it can be costly. Some insurances will help cover the cost, but only a portion of it usually. In most cases it is usually a PPO insurance that will cover the clinical component of a residential program and even with that, usually a parent has to be prepared to pay the upfront costs and file the claims to be reimbursed. (This all depends on the mental health policy and what it covers). HMO can be very limited when it comes to mental health, which is why we are hearing a lot about being under-insured in mental health.
When it comes to Residential Treatment Centers, another concern parents need to be aware of is the scams that are out there. I was once a victim of one over a decade ago, which prompted me to created my organization – Parents’ Universal Resource Experts, Inc. (P.U.R.E.) Parents need to understand there are some programs and schools (or programs that claim to be schools) online with toll free numbers going to marketing arms ready to prey on desperate parents. This is exactly what happened to us. Though there are many excellent programs and schools in our country, like with many other businesses, there are always those that are less than what you would want for your child.
I always encourage parents to do their due diligence. The program that duped my family, though it is closed now, has several other programs opened under different names. They have a specialty of always changing names, in my opinion. But you will notice the staff seems to stay the same. Recently I heard how their LaVerkin, Utah program has gone from Cross Creek to Horizon Academy to Riverview now I just heard they are calling themselves Youth Foundation. I don’t know – but I do know if you are doing things the right way you don’t have to hide under all these name changes – of course, that is my opinion again.
As you can imagine, this group has a script they share with their potential parents about me too. I am a disgruntled parent. Yes, I am – you harm my daughter, a parent becomes disgruntled. You dupe me, scam me – I become disgruntled. I won in a “jury trial”. I didn’t settle out court with a confidentiality – though they will tell you a jury made a mistake -I will say not jurors condone child abuse. Now they are facing another lawsuit. What is there excuse now? I assume that is why the name change again.
Either way – use your gut. If it doesn’t seem right – it usually isn’t.
At the end – your child needs help – get them help. Don’t make a rash decision, make an educated one.
Who is watching your kids on campus?
Colleges that had 10-20 security cameras a few years ago, now have as many as 150-200 cameras following activities around campus.
Source: Online Colleges
Recently I was interviewed by Career Thoughts.
Parents’ Universal Resource Experts, Inc was created after I was duped online by trying to get my own daughter help. I was a parent at my wit’s end. I was vulnerable – I was scammed – and my daughter suffered the consequences.
Many people have asked about her, and she is now a grown woman, successful in her career and has two children of her own. We have overcome the hurdles – not because of the horrific program she went to, but in spite of it – and because of the fantastic help we found after it to help de-programize her from the damage they did to her.
I always share with parents to learn from my mistake and gain from my knowledge. That is the biggest gift I can give.
We thought maybe a change of schools – maybe a new school year – maybe a fresh start – maybe a new maybe…..
Let’s face it, as parents we hope and pray that our teenager will grow out of that defiant behavior. This age of entitlement and spoiled rotten brat syndrome is getting worse by the day.
The only refreshing thing is to know you are not alone! Though it doesn’t make it easier.
One thing I can’t stress enough is parents can’t ignore the warning signs of a teen going down a negative road, especially if they are in their late teens. Remember once they turn 18 they are no longer in your control – though they may still be living with you, you can’t force them to get help.
If your teen is 16 or 17 years old (especially 17+) and they are spiraling out of control, it is imperative you seek help for them. So many times, unfortunately, the once a week therapy session rarely is enough to make a difference at this point. Usually a teen has been through several therapist – and they won’t even attend.
Don’t be a parent in denial – don’t think it is only marijuana – or it is only because of the friends he/she is hanging with – remember your teen is making the decision to smoke the pot and hang out with those friends. They are making these bad decisions.
Learn more about getting your teen back on a positive road. Visit www.helpyourteens.com where we have helped thousands of families since 2001. There is no shame in admitting your teen is struggling. We have been there. Getting help is what responsible parents do.
Parents Can Rule, Kids Can be Cruel – New Mobile Phone Study Reveals
AT&T Commissioned Poll on Families’ Mobile Behavior Sheds Light on Rules-Setting and Bullying; AT&T Offers Modern Tools to Help Manage
The AT&T Mobile Safety study of 1,000 parents and 500 children by GfK shows that there’s an opportunity for parents and kids to have more discussions about the sometimes contentious topic of mobile phones.
Surprisingly, 90 percent of the kids, ages 8-17, agree it’s okay for their parents to set rules for their use of such devices; conversely, far fewer (66 percent) say their parents have actually set such rules.
AT&T* commissioned the study to better understand the most prevalent wireless safety issues for families. Survey results show that 39 percent of children ages 12-14 know someone who has received a sexual message or picture over their phone – a figure that jumps to 53 percent among children ages 15-17. Additionally, nearly one in five 8- to 11-year-olds surveyed have received a mean or bullying text message. Yet, kids say that discussing mobile safety is low on the list of talks parents have with their kids.
“The AT&T Mobile Safety study sheds new light on very serious issues that can arise for children who are using mobile devices,” said National PTA® President Betsy Landers. “Today’s parent should be aware of today’s technology and how it can affect their children. Being an engaged parent includes having a conversation about wireless safety with their children as they grow up.”
While the study results bring up a variety of concerns, there are ways parents can manage how a mobile phone is used. AT&T offers tools that can block what content may be accessed, times of day phones can be used and ways to block texts and calls from bullies. Additionally, AT&T FamilyMap can help parents locate their children and it will send alerts at predetermined times with the child’s location, such as when they should have arrived at home or school. Full survey results, information about AT&T’s menu of parental controls and a library of resources on mobile safety topics can be found on The Mobile Safety website.
According to The AT&T Mobile Safety study:
· The average age a child is given their first phone is 12.1; the average age for a child’s first smartphone is 13.8, among those with a phone.
· 48 percent of children ages 12-14 have ridden in a vehicle with someone who was texting while driving. Among those ages 15-17, the percentage of teens who have ridden with a driver who was texting increases to 64 percent.
· One in four teens ages 15-17 have received mean or bullying text messages (compared to nearly one in five reported by both 8- to 11- and 12- to 14-year-olds).
· More than half of teens ages 15-17 know someone who has received a sexual message or picture over their phone (compared to 39 percent among those aged 12-14).
· 58 percent of parents say that their mobile phone provider offers tools or resources for parents to address issues like overages, safety, security and monitoring. One in seven is not sure whether they have access to these services.
“Mobile devices are becoming parents’ and kids’ preferred way to communicate on-the-go,” said Janiece Evans-Page, assistant vice president – community engagement, AT&T. “The Mobile Safety website is our way of helping families – providing them with educational resources and raising awareness about products to help manage safety issues.”
“The fact is, there are a variety of free to low-cost tools that can give parents peace of mind, and we want 100 percent of the parents out there to know their options – not just 58 percent of them.”
Research published in the AT&T Mobile Safety study was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs, and involved a nationally-representative dual-frame random digit dial (RDD) sample consisting of both landline and cell phone telephone interviews with:
· 1,000 adults who have a mobile phone and children between the ages of 8-17 who also have a mobile phone
· 500 children between the ages of 8-17 who have a mobile phone (55 interviews were conducted among children ages 8-11; 186 among ages 12-14; and 259 among ages 15-17)
The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points among the full parents sample and plus or minus 4.6 percentage points among the full children sample. The margin of sampling error will be higher for subgroups.
For more information, visit www.att.com/familysafety.
When I first posted our story of Deception, Misrepresentation and Fraud it was almost immediately I was sued by them in a an attempt to silence me – and get my story removed. What they didn’t expect was for me to fight back.
After defeating them in a jury trial of their peers in Salt Lake City, Utah, (let’s face it) no one condones child abuse, my story is still online.
Since then, thankfully, Carolina Springs Academy attempted a name change to Magnolia Christian Academy, and shortly after that closed their doors. However WWASPS still continues in several other branches such as Red River Academy in Louisiana, Cross Creek in Utah, Horizon’s Academy in Utah and the newly River View also in La Verkin Utah.
Though I did win that trial – WWASPS and their sales reps continue to tell parents I am disgruntled parent – or I own or manage other teen help programs. I don’t. I help educate parents so what happened to me doesn’t happen to them.
After they lost their appeal to attempt to say the jury made a mistake, I went through a time of awful Internet defamation. It seem that a group of people decided to slander and libel me online – and it got to a point where it effected my life, my family and my organization that had literally helped thousands of families with at-risk teens. It left me with no option but to sue the people/person we could identify through the Internet for Internet defamation and invasion of privacy.
With that lawsuit, I again, in a jury trial, won over $11.3M jury verdict for damage done to me. During depositions it was discovered that WWASPS was indirectly involved with this person and actually referred her to the attorneys she was using. And at one point WWASPS was receiving the bills for her legal fees.
This trial was back in 2006. Today in 2012, I hold no grudges over this person – I actually only wish her well. We all have moved on in our lives. My only grudge is with the people that harmed my daughter and that, in my opinion, continue to defraud and possibly harm (at least emotionally) families and kids today.
There are many excellent programs in our country. I don’t tell parents where to go – I just hope they do their due diligence. If your gut is telling you there is something not right – chances are very good – your gut is right!
Be an educated parent – you will make a better decision for your teen.
Helpful tips for finding teen help programs – click here.
On 31st May each year World Health Organization (WHO) celebrates World No Tobacco Day, highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce consumption.
World No Tobacco Day 2012 will educate policy-makers and the general public about the tobacco industry’s nefarious and harmful tactics.
Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death. As a parent you can be a role model and an example to others.
Does your teen smoke?
No one needs a reminder that smoking is bad for you, but here are some key facts about tobacco:
- Tobacco kills up to half of its users.
- Tobacco kills nearly six million people each year, of whom more than 5 million are users and ex users and more than 600 000 are nonsmokers exposed to second-hand smoke. Unless urgent action is taken, the annual death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030.
- Nearly 80% of the world’s one billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.
- Consumption of tobacco products is increasing globally, though it is decreasing in some high-income and upper middle-income countries.
Communication is key to prevention.
Tobacco Free Florida Quitline is a tremendous resource and hotline for both parents and teens to help you and your child kick this habit.
Learn more about WHO and TFI click here.
As I speak to parents on a weekly basis, I often hear how maybe if their teen spent some time behind bars they would appreciate what they have, or if they struggled through a rough primitive program, Wilderness program, militant style, boot camp or that type of model, they could scare their teen straight…. I explain to them if they thought about another approach – finding a a program that can actually determine where this negative behavior is stemming from? From there work through it and start building to make it into a positive road to a bright future.
This recently released book almost seems to mirror what I have been thinking, though unfortunately, on a more extreme scale, these kids are incarcerated at a young age without a family that seems to truly care or without the means to get them outside help.
New Book Born, Not Raised: Voices From Juvenile Hall, Indicts Juvenile Justice System, Poor Parenting and Education Failures
San Diego Author Susan Madden Lankford, who explored homelessness and female incarceration in her two previous award-winning books, examines the plight of youngsters serving time in juvenile hall in her latest book BORN, NOT RAISED: Voices From Juvenile Hall (Humane Exposures Publishing).
For two years, Susan Lankford and her daughter Polly Smith interviewed more than 120 incarcerated teenagers, eight of them weekly. In this book she features their voices, views, writing and drawings—along with interviews with pediatric psychiatrists, neurobiologists, judges, probation officers and other professionals. In researching her previous book on women in jail, Lankford learned that a majority of them had at least two children in foster care, living with relatives or in detention. Because of the lack of basic parenting skills needed to produce productive individuals, many of their kids end up in jail, too.
“In studying these teens for BORN, NOT RAISED, I learned the major factors that added to or reduced the likelihood of their incarceration and recidivism,” Lankford explains. “One of the main things which I stress in the book is that there is a critical need for a family with a good-enough, consistent, loving and nurturing figure who helps children through the developmental stages to produce a curious, empathic and responsible youth, capable of resilience, adjustment, impulse control and good social skills.
“In this book I indict today’s educational system for its failure to respond to the needs of the global market and technology, as well as to the critical needs of students. I detail terrific programs which have discovered how to motivate kids who can’t meet classroom demands.
“A third major point is that we need to start teaching parenting early. Fourteen-year-olds in juvenile detention often have kids but have no idea how to parent properly. We also need to teach the reasons and means to avoid drugs, gangs and violence.”
Lankford believes that BORN, NOT RAISED contains information useful for university curricula, social work, psychology, criminal justice/corrections, medical school, law school, parents and parents-to-be.
“In researching this book, Polly and I became convinced that early education and youth development are the most effective strategies for breaking the cycle of at-risk behavior and helping youth from difficult backgrounds to learn the skills that will enable them to thrive,” Lankford concludes.
Order today on Amazon.
Watch a preview on YouTube.