Monday, February 27, 2012

Christopher Noroski at the Family Foundation School (

This story was originally written on a webpage created to provide statements for a GAO hearing in 2007. The address is and it waits for your statement if you believe that your stay at a boarding school included unfair treatment or even abuse. All rights and credits goes to the author Christopher Noroski, who posted the original story on
My name is Chris Noroski and I attended The Family Foundation School from 2001 to 2004. It has recently come to my attention that a bill has been introduced in Congress HR 5876 in order to regulate Therapeutic Boarding Schools and treatment facilities for “at-risk” teens. As a former student at one of these facilities, I can not even begin to express how important this measure is to me and more importantly, to the neglected and abused children still attending these facilities to this day.

As a child, I grew up with just my mom and I was an only child. As I reached adolescent, I was defiant and rebellious towards my mom, perhaps to a bigger extent than to most kids my age. I was very verbally abusive towards my mom, told her I hated her, wished she were dead, etc. I also spat in my mom’s face, blocked the doorways and told her that she could not leave the house until she gave me what she wants. I also am ashamed to admit that I had slapped my mom across the face. I also cut school quite a bit and had quite an anger management problem (I had punched quite a few holes in my bedroom wall prior to being sent to FFS).

When I was fifteen years old and after displaying these actions for a year or so, I was woken up in the middle of the night by two men, who proceeded to handcuff me, shackle me, and put me in the back of a Lincoln town car. I had no idea who they were, where I was going, or why. Honestly, I thought I had been kidnapped at first. I was a scared, scrawny, 15 year old kid.

During my time at The Family School, I witnessed many things that I would consider to be child abuse. About two weeks after I arrived there, I refused to go to school until I was able to talk to my mom. They told me that wasn’t going to happen and made me stand in a corner of a room all day and did not feed me anything until I complied. When I still refused, two staff members then picked me up by neck and held me against the wall in the corner of the room while yelling obscenities at me. I was slammed over a table, which proceeded to fall on top of me and I received a blackeye. It should be important to note that I made no physical advances or threats on either staff member; I just nonviolently stated that I was not going to comply with their demands.

I attempted to behave myself for the next two weeks or so until they would allow me to speak with my mother. I promised I would not say anything bad to my mom on the phone, but as soon as I got on the phone I told my mom what had happened to me. A staff member took away the phone and reassured my mom that I was lying, while looking at me and my black eye just a foot away. I was then put on “family” blackout, on which I was not allowed to talk to my mom for months.

Being stubborn, I refused to admit that I needed to work their program. During my first few months there, several staff members tried to get me to admit to problems that I did not have, such as drug and alcohol abuse, two things that I had not tried at all.

Also, the school has a very strict anti-masturbation policy. On several occasions, I was forced to get up in front of “the family” (a group “therapy” session where a student stands up in front of 30 peers and about 5-10 staff members and people take turns telling you what is wrong with you). Students were encouraged to call me a pervert, and girls told me that I was a disgusting person because I masturbated. All of this was discussed over meals. That is an embarrassment and public humiliation that no student deserves. A lot of the policies at FFS exist to publicly demean the student. They seek to destroy a student’s will to fight by making you feel worthless. It is no surprise that one student while I was at FFS committed suicide. While I did not know the student (Tom M), he committed suicide after a short time at the school. I can not say that I blame FFS for that because I did not know Tom well, but I do remember that the first month was the hardest time at the school, and that I also entertained suicidal thoughts when I was first there.

During my final year at The Family School, I was a member of the school Basketball Team, and we all got in trouble for making inappropriate comments about girls on the cheerleading team. The comments were honestly not that out of the ordinary for high school adolescent guys (still perhaps not the most wholesome comments). We were forced to stand up in front of the house (the entire student body and 30-40 or more staff members who each yelled at us for at least 2 hours). Students, particularly the girls were encouraged to mock us. One girl was even applauded for saying that “If we talked about her like that, she would cut our dicks off.” This type of derisive behavior was encouraged.

Male students were discouraged from talking to the female students. Some boys got in trouble for as much as “making eye contact” with female students. Smiling towards the opposite sex was strictly forbidden, and I did not have any female friends while at this school. Granted, some boarding schools are all-male or all-female, but here it was co-ed yet natural hormones and feelings were meant to feel unnatural by the FFS staff. I would say that this was probably the most lasting negative effect of my stay at FFS. Prior to my arrival at FFS, I had had only one girlfriend in my life. Since leaving the school, 4 years ago, I would say that it has just been in the last year that I have been able to reopen up around the opposite sex, and realizing that being attracted to girls is not “a bad thing”. I don’t have to fear standing in a corner if I smile at a cute girl anymore, but that has taken time. Three years of my formative teenage life in terms of dating and maturing as a person were taken away from me by FFS.

Some of my peers at FFS certainly were very dangerously “at-risk” teens. There were students who were facing 20 years or more in prison if they did not complete The Family School program, others were sex addicts who had abused siblings, others were suicidal/extremely depressed. The main issue that I have with programs, The Family School in particular is their false marketing strategies. They claim to be a “college-preparatory boarding school.” I don’t think that I could have been worse prepared for college than I was by FFS. I was confused and by the time I graduated I halfway thought I was a drug addict/alcoholic even though I had never done either in my life.

The lies that I told to get by and finally escape that place still haunt me today. Students were encouraged to tell other students their faults down to the nitpickiest things. I fought the FFS system for 2 years. The result was I placed on work sanctions on 10 different occasions. These sanctions lasted between a week and 2 months in my case and consisted of menial labor all day, with no formal education. I was taken out of school to do tasks such as carrying buckets of rocks from point A to point B all day and then the next day carry the same rocks from point B to point A. I also built drainage ditches, resodded parts of the campus, and during the summer was given a manual lawnmower and sent outside into 100 degree heat all day, sometimes without sunscreen or enough proper breaks for water. These “sanctions” were 7 days a week from the moment we woke up 6:15 am (work usually began around 8:30 am) and lasted until 7:30 pm. I would approximate that I missed 6-9 months of formal education doing this type of labor.

After two years, of refusing to comply with The Family School way of life, I finally assuaged my behavior to their policies so that they would let me graduate. I told on my fellow students, and was a nitpicking, pain in the ass hypocrite. Staff praised me for “holding my peers accountable” If we didn’t tell other students their faults, it was assumed that we were “being dishonest, not working our programs, wanting to relapse, etc.”

In many ways, FFS operates like a cult. They try to get you to believe that if you do not do what they say you will die. You become dependent on what they say, because they tell you that you will never leave the school if you don’t do what they say.

FFS boasts a 100% college placement rating. I can not count the number of times where students were told “if you do not go to college, you will relapse and die.” They portray an image that is plainly not true.

I saw that FFS responded to Jon Martin’s testimony at the recent Congressional hearing in April 2008 and it seemed to me that they were taking credit for his success as a person. I remember two weeks after I graduated they put a picture of me up on their website with quotes from my graduation speech, which was heavily edited by the administration. They told me what to say and how to say it so that the visiting parents could see the joys and successes of their program. I remember crying during my graduation speech, not because I believed a word of the “touching” speech I was giving, but rather because this horrendous experience was finally over. I was finally free.

Of my five peers who graduated the program when I did, not a single one remained “sober” after leaving there. The truth is that most former Family School students succeed in spite of FFS rather than because of it.

Once I left The Family School, I tried to tell my mom what happened at FFS. She would not believe me. She would call me a liar and say that I was just bitter at her for sending me there. I had realized that my mom had been tricked by FFS into believing that they were trying to help me. I no longer blamed her, but just wanted her to believe me when I told her of the abuses that went on there. Only recently, following the latest Congressional hearing has my mom broken down and said that she was sorry that she did not realize what was happening there.

HR 5876 MUST BE PASSED. Every child has the intrinsic right to be able to be protected and not abused. Programs such as The Family School do not ensure these rights. Students must be allowed to talk to Child Services. There was no access to Child Services while at The Family School.

Sometimes, students need “tough love”. While I believe that I would have naturally grew out of my immaturity over my teenage years, that is not the case for all “troubled teens.” Therapeutic boarding schools and programs are a good idea, but only under proper supervision and regulation. HR 5876 allocates $50,000,000 per year to regulate these programs and to allow phone access to students to Children’s services. I am truly grateful to Kat Whitehead and Jon Martin for being courageous enough to make headway into this very difficult subject.

At first, I was not sure that I wanted to submit testimony, but I remember how scared and alone I was during my first month at FFS, where I was physically and emotionally taken advantage of. That is an experience that no one should have to go through, particularly a defenseless child with nowhere/no one to turn to. It is my hope that we can move forward as a society and insure the protection of the weakest ones among us, because in my opinion that says a lot about the character of our society as a whole.

I am no longer bitter or angry about what happened to me at FFS. If anything, I am a bit sad. I have one year left at The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota where I am pursuing a degree in Science and Mathematics for Elementary Education. I am backing up the words I write here and believe I have found a career and a purpose that I can find meaning and inspiration in. I want to protect our nation’s children and to be an integral part in being a positive influence rather than a demeaning influence even if it is one classroom at a time.

Please consider my testimony and spread the word that HR 5876 must be passed!

2013 the school changed its name to Allynwood Academy due to the bad press.

Datasheet about the boarding school at Fornits Home for Wayward Web Fora
The original statement on

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jordan McClure at the Monarch School (

This story was originally written on a webpage created to provide statements for a GAO hearing in 2007. The address is and it waits for your statement if you believe that your stay at a boarding school included unfair treatment or even abuse. All rights and credits goes to the author Jordan McClure, who posted the original story on
  • Facility Attended: Monarch School
  • Dates and Ages attended: February 2006 through May 2007
  • State Facility located: Heron, Montana
  • Reasons for being sent to facility: Poor Grades, overall defiance Residence prior to placement
  • Home Accredited (if known – ie. JHACOA): NIPSA
  • Regulated by the state: no
  • Access to attorney and or advocate: absolutely none at the Monarch School
  • Diagnosis prior to attendance (if any): n/a

Experienced the following:
  • Trauma due to escort services: No
    • Description: Escorted unknowingly by parents
  • Communication and Privacy Rights Violations Yes
    • Description Screened weekly handwritten letters, no negativity about the program allowed. Two monitored 15 minute calls per month Forced ultra specific uncomfortable details about past sexual, drug related information and overall exploitation of past experiences used to humiliate and conform.
  • Mail monitoring Yes
    • Description: manditory weekly letters mentioning nothing bad about the program, screened.
  • Call-monitoring Yes
    • Description: Two 15-minute calls twice per month.
  • Filtered, Restricted or Interrupted Correspondence Yes
    • Description: on campus visits for students not already 100% compliant with program
  • Seclusion Yes
    • Description: 'Solos' on a 14 to18 day outdoor trip, solos lasting up to 2 or 3 days
  • (Seclusion) Self: Yes
    • Description: was forced to stay on a 'work assignment site' digging a stump out of the ground and was almost crushed by the stump as i was instructed to get it out of the hole i dug around it. on bans, not allowed to talk to, make eye contact or acknowledge anyone, even staff, except for the headmaster and Peer Group Leader and therapist all day solo work assignments often, even on holidays
  • (Seclusion)Witnessed Yes
    • Description: others on work assignment
  • Physical Restraint No
  • (Physical Restraint) Self Yes
  • (Physical Restraint) Witnesses No
  • Peer conducted restraint: Yes
    • Description: Peers would put fellow students in stress positions in workshops
  • Forced labor Yes
    • Description: every day except sunday
  • Restricted Access to the Bathroom Yes
    • Description: Had to ask permission, during 'workshops' students could only go on breaks. sometimes 5 or 6 hours inbetween breaks.
  • Scare Tactics Yes
    • Description: self: multiple staff (4 or 5) screaming at the top of their lungs directly at me while the 12-14 other students joined in during group, witnessed this almost every group, had group twice per week, monarch now does it three times per week. pounding it into the kids heads that they 'would be dead' if it was not for monarch. Frighteningly about 80% of the students thought this and talked about it often. during workshops staff would use physical force on students to help put them into a state of hysteria during 'therapy exercises' example: student on hands and knees with students and staff member pushing down on shoulders and mid back and screaming insults and judgements in your ears.
  • Exposure to harsh elements (ie. Extreme heat, snow or rain) Yes
    • Description: wilderness instructor made all students strip down to under layers ie. long underwear, dowse entire body and until full into the second stage of hypothermia (so we could see what it was like, more for us to fear this particular staff.
  • Excessive Exercise Yes
    • Description: work assignments often required heavy lifting during one workshop students would run in place as fast as they could until they absolutely could not stand anymore all while being yelled at and told that they aren't trying hard enough
  • Food/Nutritional Deprivations Yes
    • Description: during workshops kids would be fed cornflakes for breakfast, a cheese sandwich and for dinner macaroni and cheese. kids would be out of it and tired, very susceptible to influence in that state self: denied my vegan diet and was pressured to eat meat, many vegetarian students became meat eaters dude to taunting and harassment by staff.
  • Physical Punishment Yes - forced work.
  • Emotional, Physical, or Sexual Abuse by Staff Yes
    • Description: constant verbal attacks in group as well as other attack therapy techniques. Staff would go off on students in the main hall in front of the entire school and go on and on screaming in the student's face

Education and Mental Health Treatment – [ Please rate: (1) Unsatisfactory (10) Superior

  • Individualized Treatment Plan 1 2 (3) 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    • Description: Basically the same treatment for everyone, some students just had to stay longer if they weren't doing "well" enough
  • Satisfied with training background of staff members who provided: Education (1) 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    • Description: no training necessary
  • Therapy (1) 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    • Description: one therapist with a Ph.D, used the Monarch/CEDU/Synanon therapy mold.
  • Support 1 2 (3) 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    • Description: Some of the staff genuinely cared but were tainted by the program. Staff were forced to go through the workshops with the students.
  • Satisfaction with After Care provided: (1) 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
  • Do you now experience any of the following:
    • Nightmares: Yes monthly
    • Anxiety: Emotional breakdowns, exactly like the ones that students, including myself, were put into during workshops through bioenergetic and primal threapy. they occur under stress. (this is common among people i went to monarch school with)

  • Additional Comments: The staff there are victims as well as the students, this place comes from a long line of places EXACTLY like it, CEDU, Rocky Mountain Academy and now Monarch School. Mount Bachelor Academy, Carlbrook, and Boulder Creek Academy use the same workshop and therapy mold.

Datasheet about the boarding school at Fornits Home for Wayward Web Fora
The original statement on

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Book: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Book cover
"Coming out" is not an option for many teenagers because they risk ending up at a boarding school or other kind of program being removed from their familiy and friends while they will forced to participate in therapy in order to give up the choice of gender for a partner they had in mind.

One book covering this topic is The Miseducation of Cameron Post by the young author Emily M. Danforth.

On the webpage of Amazon you can read this description of the book:

When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief doesn’t last, and Cam is soon forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both.

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship—one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to “fix” her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self—even if she’s not exactly sure who that is.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a stunning and unforgettable literary debut about discovering who you are and finding the courage to live life according to your own rules.

Today many teenagers find themselves shipped off to remote living family members. They are the lucky one. The real damage are put upon those who ends up in the hands of so-called professionals. It shouldn't be so living in year 2012, but it is sadly the case.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Leah Pallor at The Family Foundation School (From

This story was originally written on a webpage created to provide statements for a GAO hearing in 2007. The address is and it waits for your statement if you believe that your stay at a boarding school included unfair treatment or even abuse. All rights and credits goes to the author Leah Pallor, who posted the original story on
My name is Leah Pallor. I am not very good at writing but I do know what I endured at the Family Foundation school from April 1998-November 1999 and I will share it all.

I was 15 years old when it all began. An adolencent that was suffering from depression due to losing my father at age 10 to cancer and a dramatic social life at public school. My grades were going down and my family was very worried about me. I was sneaking out at night to see my friends and if I was told "No" I would would just leave home anyway.

I was sent to a local boarding school, but was expelled only 2 months after. My mom felt depserate and looked into places she could send me for help. This is when she came across The Family Foundation School.

I was awoken in the morning by my mom and two escorts who shackled me and put me in the backseat of a car where I would be headed to "my new school". I cried and was so confused, but I complied because I wanted to shackles off.

As I arrived at the school I was escorted inside where I was stripped of almost everything I had. I remember my second meal they served me was fish. I get sick from fish everytime I eat it. I explained this to them but they told me I had to eat it anyway. I refused so they had me sit in the corner where they took my shoes away and told me I wasnt allowed to eat at all until I ate my fish. Next mean that came around they brought my fish back out and said I had to eat it.

They literally starved me and told me I will go to the hospital and get fed through tubes. I finally gave in and ate the fish and after about two bites, I vomited. Everytime we had seafood I would vomit but they still amde me eat it.

I was so fed up and scared that I decided to run away. The police found me coming out of the woods and the school promised me a phone call home if I came back and so I did. They never gave me the phone call. I was taken the privelage of speaking to or getting or sending mail to my family for three and a half months.

I was put on "sanctions" where I couldnt wear makeup, jewelry or name brand clothes. I had to wear my hair in a tight bun or else they would cut it off and even though my clothes were huge on me they still said they were too tight. my mother had to keep buying new clothes to send me there. I only had two outfits they approved of me wearing. The whole time I was there, the staff humiliated me by making me out to be a sex addict flirt when all I ever did was kiss a boy. Sex wasn't even on my mind yet.

They had me make a dishonesty list to share with my mother and everytime I made a real one out they told me it wasnt good enough. They didnt approve the list until I said I was doing worse things than I really was. I was on "blackout" with boys almost the whole time I was there which really affected me when I came out of the school. I was wrapped in blankets and forced to eat nothing but dry tuna and water even though it made me sick. I was also put on a sanction to eat nothing but bread and water and remained on that for almost three weeks.

When my sister came to take me out of there she said my complexion was very green in color due to malnutrition. I left the Family School very brain washed and afraid of the world and never to trust anyone. I still have nightmares that I am there and when I try to run its like running under water and I couldnt get out. I definitely feel traumatized by my experience and I am so grateful that something is trying to be done to fix this and stop this.

The children are our future...Stop the abuse

2013 the school changed its name to Allynwood Academy due to the bad press.

Datasheet about the boarding school at Fornits Home for Wayward Web Fora
The original statement on

Sunday, February 5, 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.
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