Sunday, October 2, 2011

TB: A lesson learned in fear (from

This story was originally written on a webpage called, which sadly is not online anymore properly because the boarding school closed sometime in 2009. All rights and credits goes to the author Blair Dowell, who posted the original story on

My name is Blair Dowell. I was sent to TB the 22nd of March, 2001. At that time I had just turned 15 years old. My overall experience there was definitely one of a negative nature. I have somehow blocked almost the entire experience out of my mind. I was there for 15 months and literally cried every day. The daily schedule consisted of waking up at 7:30 am and cleaning the "house"... and to put lightly, the said house was disgusting. We slept on wooden slabs that pulled out of the wall, with the money our parents were paying this was the best they could provide. Go figure. Although Jamaica is known for its wonderful year round tropical weather, showering outside at 8 am in any country is ridiculous. Yes, our showers were outside. Not to mention the water often was out, so we would lug around ONE bucket of water to shower with.

That can't be sanitary?? I hate to admit this but I also had lice for a month or so, as well as many other girls. The nurse was pretty much useless, at one point I pulled out lice from my hair and a friends and put it in a tissue and showed her. At that point the nurse called us to her office and she poured kerosene in our hair. Yep, kerosene.

Wow, the food is a whole other story. I am not a picky eater. But let me tell you the food was horrible and I mean that in every sense of the word. I would try and hide my food in napkins, but of course I would only end up getting in trouble. They served us mounds of dough that they called dumplings (if you're thinking Chinese dumplings, think again) they wer ebasically mounds of cooked dough with salt and some red gooey fish stuff on the side. Occasionally for breakfast they served us the same red gooey fish stuff with 2 pieces of buttered bread which they plopped right on top of the fish, so now you had two soggy pieces of bread filled with fish and the nasty fish crap. YUM, and you HAD to eat it. I lost 20-30 lbs there.

'Tattling' was of the norm there. You basically moved up levels if you told on as many people as you could. And of course during group you gave a lot of feedback and attacked people.

Group was a joke. That is the hour and a half of the day we spent sitting around in a group and one person would share about past experiences. Basically there was no "right" or "wrong". If you were raped... it was somehow your fault. "How did you put yourself in that position?" "Were you wearing provactive clothing? Well then you provoked your rape stop blaming the person and take accountability!" Do you really tell someone who has been raped that somehow they provoked it. Please. I think that is WRONG. Many times in group the "case manager" (more program lingo, the family rep. basically the person who deals with the parents, the middle man and group leader) would have one person stand up and the whole group would be dedicated to pointing out what was "not working" for the person. Basically calling them out in front of everyone, belitting and almost always the person was in tears. I don't care who you are, or how tough you are. Try being stood up in front of 20 of your peers and being told what was wrong with you. Somehow that was supposed to be constructive criticism. I do know the difference, and that was nothing of that sort.No one had a degree there. No one was licensed to work with children much less give out advice about such serious issues such as rape, molestation, drug abuse etc. Communication was already tough in the first place. It took me awhile to just get used to their awful grammar and slang. BTW that was not a jab at their culture, just the laziness of their speech, so mainly the individuals that worked there.

If you heard about the suicide that took place on August 10th, 2001. I was there, I saw it happen. Now let me tell you. Watching someone leap off a 3 story building to their death is a WHOLE new issue in itself. Within 2 days we were told not to talk about what happened. If we did we would receive a CAT 5 (the worst consequence) and would be sent to O.P a.k.a R and R... and would have to lay on our face. I am not psychologist either, but I would think that after seeing something like that a normal person would need to talk about it, deal with it.

There is much more I could talk about, but I believe my ramblings gave you a brief overview of the place. I could go into much more detail, just contact me if you need to know more. Let me tell you, although my post seemed distasteful towards the program (well it is), I am not out to get anyone. I am only stating my experience. If you were sent there, or you have sent a child there and have a great experience, congrats to you. And a little update on how I am doing, I am currently a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. I am an active member of my sorority Alpha Omicron Pi. I am currently majoring in Political Science/ Pre Law. I would say I am doing pretty decent. If I could say so myself. Well you all havea great day. I hope I provided some adequate information.

Datasheet about the boarding school from Secret Prisons for Teens
The original story (Cached version of - may take a while to load)

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