(we are working to acquire the complete records for ALL years)
We advise current and/or former staff to report any abuses you may have witnessed while working at Moonridge Academy. For information on your rights and how to take action, visit www.heal-online.org/blowthewhistle.htm. If you were fired or forced to resign because you opposed any illegal and/or unethical practices at Moonridge Academy, you have the right to take action.
If you were harmed (family or survivor) by Moonridge Academy, please contact email@example.com if you remember the long-term employees and from which years. This will help! Also, if you recognize any of these staff as having worked at another program, please send in any information about their past or present employment at other facilities and/or cults.
Please don’t place your loved one in Moonridge Academy and rescue them if they are there now.
|Tawny Davis||Executive Director||Executive Director for both Moonridge Academy and Kolob Canyon RTC (confirmedly abusive).|
|Craig Rodabough||CERTS Exec. Director||Craig oversees La Europa Academy, Kolob Canyon RTC, Moonridge RTC, and Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy. Craig is also a board member of NATSAP.|
|Tiffany Shukait||Program Director||Program Director for both Moonridge Academy and Kolob Canyon RTC.|
|Stan Stewart||Academic Director||Academic Director for Moonridge Academy, Kolob Canyon RTC, and Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy.|
|Jason Harrison||Executive Director|
|Callie Bassett||Office Manager|
|Jessica Foley||Teacher/Librarian||Also works for Kolob Canyon RTC.|
|Breanna Bragg||Teacher||Also works for Kolob Canyon RTC.|
|Darrelyn Dorais||Clinical Director|
|Kent Tasso||Executive Director||Co-Founder and CERTSGroup owner. Formerly "Development Director" at "A Gifted Education, Inc." in San Jose, CA.|
|David H. Stoker||Psychologist|
|Kevin Kirschenmann||Program Director|
|Stefanie Trimmer||Education Director||Trimmer previously worked in the same position at Kolob Canyon RTC.|
|*(Moonridge Academy, like many other programs in this industry, keeps a "tight lid" on any specific information regarding their staff, qualifications, and practices. Please contact us with the names of any staff of which you have firsthand knowledge or experience. Thank you for your help.)|
|La Europa also appears to be affiliated with the above programs. This is a serious concern.|
|This program does not keep its enrollment materials or program details online or available to the public. HEAL has reviewed many contracts/enrollment materials for programs in Utah. Please see www.heal-online.org/aspenachieve.htm, www.heal-online.org/aspenranch.htm, and www.heal-online.org/aspenbehave.htm for comparison. The contract reviews linked above are for Aspen Education Group/CRC Health affiliated programs located in Utah. You may also wish to compare the contract to those at www.heal-online.org/aspiroinc.htm and www.heal-online.org/diamond.htm. None of the contracts linked are known to be related to Kolob Canyon/Moonridge Academy. However, they are other programs located in Utah. And, there are many problems with Utah. See www.heal-online.org/utah.htm for additional information.|
Moonridge Academy Parent
Manual* (Link to Left Opens Complete Parent Manual for Those Who Prefer
*DISCLAIMER: FAIR USE NOTICE: This may contain copyrighted (C ) material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.
HEAL received a copy of Moonridge Academy's Parent Manual from an anonymous source. The contents have been verified by families who have experience with Moonridge Academy's program. As we do not have the contract or other forms, this is a limited review.
This review will be organized with HEAL's editorial comments, quotes directly from the above-linked manual, and comments/concerns regarding those sections of the parent manual. Let's begin...
The interesting lettering at the top of every page (including the initial page) of this manual is a Tibetan greeting, according to page 4 of the manual. We will discuss this further when we get to page 4. In the meantime, if you have opened the manual, we didn't want you to be distracted by the markings at the top of every page. One of the things that is clear through out the manual, is that Moonridge wants an ally in the parent more than to be an ally to the family. And, the language appears to be emotional and manipulative as opposed to professional and explanatory of Moonridge's system. These raise serious concerns as manipulative language and attitude by the program can turn to coercion and intimidation. And, HEAL finds the high-pressure and long-term selling by the program overrides their duty to provide legitimate and proper help to families in need. People who use high-pressure, undue influence, and/or other tactics to gain access to you, your family, or your money should be avoided.
"We understand the many difficult hours you have spent getting to this point and unless you really were committed to helping your daughter change, you would not be considering a school and program like Moonridge Academy."
"Moonridge Academy combines the best thinking of numerous clinicians, educators, and researchers to address the holistic needs of young adolescent girls who are struggling with issues such as body image, self acceptance, peer relationships, parent-child relationships, responsible decision making, organizational skills, sexuality, accessing resources and planning for the future. Every thing we do--whether clinical, educational, or recreational--has one ultimate aim: to reinforce the idea in your daughter that happiness comes only from living according to the natural laws of life."
"The internal structure of our program consists of: ...Experiential basis to therapeutic and program activities...Strong academics and developing a love for learning..."
"A positive peer culture continually influences your daughter..."
"Your willingness to complete your program work in a timely manner, to participate in parent weekends, and to support your daughter in this process until she graduates will be instrumental in helping us achieve these changes."
Parents should ask what Moonridge Academy means by "helping your daughter change". What methods and model does Moonridge Academy use? What are the risks associated with those methods? And, what is the likelihood that the methods employed are traumatizing for your daughter and will result in lifelong anxiety and post traumatic stress issues?
Everyone grows and learns at their own pace and in their own way. Certainly, parents, who are mistakenly considering placing a child in a program in Utah, must remember that their teen years were not all bright and shiny awards' shows. Parents have had difficulty with teenagers since the beginning of time. It is a time where parents and children are adjusting to new rights and responsibilities. And, it is a time when young adults (teenagers) are establishing their independence and independent identities. This crucial time should not be trusted to those who at best will be experimenting on your child to create a eugenics model of the mind. And, at worst, well...see www.heal-online.org/utah.htm.
What does Moonridge Academy mean by "natural laws of life"? This sounds very Darwinian and as if they promote the "dog eat dog" model. In similar programs, girls are encouraged to manufacture faults in themselves and others in order to be promoted within the program. These false confessions or manufactured/false accusations do a lot to deter the development of true integrity in individuals and this is a serious concern.
Again, what methods are used for this "experiential therapy"? You can experience being tortured, raped, isolated, degraded, and any number of other horrible events, but, this would be considered the opposite of therapeutic or helpful to reasonable people. But, in many programs in Utah, that is exactly what is meant by "experiential therapy". And, Moonridge Academy should clarify.
Moonridge Academy does not appear to be registered with the Utah Department of Education and HEAL has been unable to verify whether or not the academic services at Moonridge Academy are legitimate. This is another area in which parents should demand more than lip-service.
Positive Peer Culture is a euphemism for "confrontation therapy" which has been found to be ineffective and harmful. See www.pfctruth.com/scientificevidence.htm for more information. It is a serious concern that this program uses this method and suggests it is an abusive program.
The final quote from page 2 above discusses the importance of obedience to the program and dedication to the "program/cult" until graduation day. This again puts the emphasis on completing the contract and supporting the profit-motive of Moonridge Academy as opposed to the actual needs of your daughter or the family as a whole. This is an additional concern. Programs that demand obedience from all family members, including parents, should be avoided. See www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for warning signs and questions you should ask any program you consider.
"Moonridge Academy (MRA) is located on a small ranch in Utah's beautiful canyon country...Some, we believe, will be discovered as you and she learn more about who she really is."
"In Tibet, strangers greet each other by bringing their palms together in front of their chests and saying, "Tashi deley," which is written in Tibetan script at the top of this page and other pages in this manual. It is usually translated in to English as "Hello." It literally means, "I honor the greatness in you."
"Orison Swett Marden observed, "Deep within us dwell those slumbering powers; powers that would astonish us, that we never dreamed of possessing; forces that would revolutionize our lives if aroused and put into action."
"Residential Treatment for the young adolescent girl is not just about eliminating destructive behaviors; it is about assisting her to find an identity that will serve her well for the rest of her life."
Parents should not send their children to Utah. See www.heal-online.org/utah.htm for more information. It is arrogant for any program or professional to imply that they can introduce you to yourself or reveal the "true" individual as if the "true" individual isn't recognized as existing in the child at time of admission. This is a serious concern as additional language on this page supports the belief held by HEAL that Moonridge Academy uses oppressive and psychologically harmful behavior modification methods.
According to people familiar with Tibetan culture, here is the real meaning of "Tashi deley": "'It means,' he said, ' I honour the greatness in you. I honour the place in your heart where lives your courage, honour, love, hope and dreams. I honour the place in you where, if you are at that place in you and I am at that place in me, there is only one of us. Tashi deley." Source: http://shreyasideb.blogspot.com/2007/08/i-honour-younomoshkar-tashi-deley.html. Now, while Moonridge claims they are searching for that place in your daughter to draw it out; the actual meaning is of recognizing equality and the connection between people. Moonridge will not recognize the "greatness" of your daughter until she embraces their definition of living by "the natural laws of life". And, what do they mean by that? Is it appropriate to give strangers absolute control over a child to break them and mold them using some weird eugenics of mind theory to "transform" your daughter from who she was into who they or even you want her to be? Do you understand that by disrespecting your child and their individuality in this manner that you are teaching her to disrespect herself and others who do not meet the unreasonable and oppressive demands of Moonridge and/or the family? She will never be confident in her own decisions, only in the decisions that meet the approval of some program in Utah. Is that what you really want for her? If not, why are you considering sending her away?
Who is Orison Swett Marden? Orison Swett Marden is a leader in the "New Thought" cult movement of the late 19th century/early 20th century. He wrote a book called, "Why Poverty Is A Mental Disease". Anyone who doesn't understand that the use of brutality, force, violence, rape, slavery, and absolute oppressive control of the majority is the primary cause of poverty is an uneducated fool. These programs are trying to convince everyone that we are not accountable to each other and that it is okay to sell out friends, family, and anyone for some material gain. And, that is wholly unethical and the opposite of what most people would consider a "holistic" approach to healing. Parents should not be impressed by random quotes and should always investigate the source of the information being presented by anyone claiming wisdom or authority.
How does Moonridge eliminate "destructive behaviors"? How does Moonridge identify "destructive behaviors"? Does questioning authority constitute a "destructive behavior" at MRA? All important questions families should be asking these people. Your daughter has an identity. Her personality and the core of who she would become in life formed by age 7 if she developed properly and at least in an average manner. It is not okay for you to decide you don't like her teenage experiments with herself as she breaks away from expectation and begins to explore who she is and where she wants to go in life. It is not appropriate to send her to a brainwashing camp that will turn her into a profit-machine that has no humanity but can really scam her way into making millions as a result of the leadership at MRA. If you haven't developed your ethical standards and communication skills, don't scapegoat your kids. Take charge and look at the example you have set because that is most likely where the attitude you see in your children is coming from and why you are having difficulty. For HEAL's parenting guide and suggestions for alternatives to residential treatment, see www.heal-online.org/parent.htm.
"The program is divided into six Stages of Change; the full explanation of these stages follows."
The six stages are indeed the six levels in the level/phase behavior modification system imposed by Moonridge Academy. For more information on the issues regarding level systems, see www.heal-online.org/brainwashing.pdf and www.heal-online.org/warn.htm. We will explore our concerns with the level system at Moonridge Academy throughout the remainder of this review.
"The Treatment Team meets weekly to review the progress of students through the program. A student on Safety or Stage 1 is reviewed every week while students on Stage 2 and above are reviewed at least every other week. Each department provides input to the other departments. Students who are struggling behaviorally or emotionally are reviewed by the team and any student applying to advance to a new Stage is also reviewed by the Treatment Team."
"The Treatment Team has the final vote in whether or not your daughter has completed work on a Stage."
"Our Stages of Change program is based upon the child development research of Jean Piaget, human development theory of Erik Erikson, the experiential learning and personal growth concepts and research of Carl Rogers, the constructivist learning theory of Jerome Bruner, as well as the combined knowledge, experience, and expertise of every employee of Moonridge Academy during the spring of 2008."
"Using these repeating themes within each Stage is in accordance with constructivist learning theory, which suggests we learn in an upward spiral pattern where each new concept or solution builds upon information learned previously..."
"All newly admitted students are on Safety Status for a minimum of 24 hours after arrival at Moonridge Academy. A student moves up to Stage 1 only when she has signed the Safety Agreement, demonstrated a willingness to cooperate with expectations for safe behaviors, receives signatures of endorsement from her Mentor and Shift Leaders, and the Program Director authorizes her change in status."
"Impact.....How others are impacted by me (family, friends)? Write an impact letter. Have a Welcoming Ceremony during group therapy."
"Strengths...What are my strengths? Find out what my family sees as my strengths."
"Integrity.....Respect program and respect other people."
Advancement likely depends on "supply and demand". If there is a waiting list for the program, girls will likely move through it very swiftly to keep up with the "demand". If demand for the program is limited, girls are likely to be held in the program much longer than would be reasonable to an intelligent person and for the sole purpose of generating income for the program. Since most mental health professionals agree that individuals should always be treated in the least restrictive environment necessary for personal safety and health, it makes no sense to place children in a prison-like lockdown environment for indefinite periods. The fact that the family is removed and all of the care and authority is entrusted to a program that stands to profit only by holding children for long periods; it really doesn't seem ethical. While HEAL does support encouraging children and young adults to apply for advancement, we find that the manner in which such a system can be used to further dismiss and demean the efforts a child has made by not advancing them when they feel ready is detrimental to the personal health of the child. And, this raises serious concerns as well.
Who is Jean Piaget? And, what did Jean Piaget do in the field of Child Development Research? Jean Piaget lived from 1896 to 1980. He was a researcher and a philosopher. (Source: http://www.piaget.org/aboutPiaget.html) Jean Piaget started out in life as a biologist. He later became interested in cognitive/intellectual processes and their development. (Source: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/genpsypiaget.html) Parents may wish to read: "Jean Piaget: a most outrageous deception" by Webster R. Calloway. Calloway talks about the dehumanizing effects of Piaget's methods and how oppositional Piaget's ideas were to legitimate scientific research and discovery. (Source: http://books.google.com/books?id=j3bTqBYYtBYC&lpg=PA47&ots=O7YU9sksfX&dq=Jean%20Piaget%20unethical%20experiments&pg=PA46#v=onepage&q&f=false)
Who is Erik Erikson? What is "human development theory"? Erik Erikson lived from 1902 to 1994. Erikson is most famous for coining the phrase "identity crisis". (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_Erikson) Programs like Moonridge Academy are known to intentionally create an identity crisis (and/or nervous breakdown) in children in the program as part of the "milieu". The following is a quote from a lecture given at the University of Utah:
"Erik Erikson, for example, in his psychohistoryYoung Man Luther, writes, Neurotic patients and panicky people in general are so starved for beliefs that they will fanatically spread among the unbelievers what are often as yet quite shaky convictions. Because we did not include this fact in our awareness, we were shocked at being called pansexualists. We were distressed at the spread of a compulsive attitude of mutual mental denuding. We were dismayed at a widespread fatalism according to which man is nothing but a multiplication of his parents’ faults. We must grudgingly admit that even as we were trying to devise, with scientific determinism, a therapy for the few, we were led to promote an ethical disease among the many. (lc. 19)" (Source: http://www.tannerlectures.utah.edu/lectures/documents/stone83.pdf)
We included the above quote to show the interpretation and interest of Utah professionals in Erikson's work and how it is quoted and used. It is clear that many people in Erikson's profession have serious difficulty with respecting human rights, honoring human dignity, and behaving ethically.
Who is Carl Rogers? What are his experiential and personal growth concepts? Carl Rogers was one of many researchers that participated in CIA behavior modification experiments. (Source: http://www.cia-on-campus.org/social/behavior.html Article: APA Monitor, December, 1977 pp. 1-11) These behavior modification experiments were wholly unethical and if this is the research and basis for the practices at Moonridge Academy, we guess you can just acknowledge HEAL is right about this stuff. Right?
Who is Jerome Bruner? What is "constructivist learning theory"? It appears that Jerome Bruner's constructivist theory was built upon the work of Jean Piaget. (Source: http://bama.ua.edu/~fishe003/comps/AIL%20601/Theories-Models%20Papers%20601.pdf) Jerome's learning theory is also known as "Discovery Learning". There is significant criticism of this model. Here is a quote: "Criticism of Discovery Learning. Discovery Learning is impractical. In theory, discovery learning seems ideal, but in practice there are problems. To be successful, discovery projects often require special materials and extensive preparations. And these preparations do not always guarantee success. In order to benefit from a discovery situation, students must have basic knowledge about the problem and must know how to apply problem-solving strategies. Without this knowledge and skill, they will flounder and grow frustrated. Instead of learning from the materials, they may simply play with them. Critics believe that discovery learning is so inefficient and so difficult to organize successfully that other methods are preferable. This seems especially true for lower-ability students. Discovery methods may make too many demands on these students because they lack the background knowledge and problem-solving skills needed to benefit." (Source: http://academics.rmu.edu/~tomei/ed711psy/c_bruner.htm)
In addition, "Some educators use the term inquiry learning interchangeably with Discovery Learning. One distinction often made between the two is as follows: In Discovery Learning, the students are provided with data. By questioning the teacher, they are expected to ascertain the particular principle hidden in the lesson objective. In Inquiry Learning, the goal is for students to develop their own strategies to manipulate and process information." (Source: http://academics.rmu.edu/~tomei/ed711psy/c_bruner.htm)
Based on the above, it would appear that Moonridge Academy uses a "banking" form of education in which the teacher is the authority with all the knowledge and the students are the ones with no knowledge and act as passive recipients of the teacher's knowledge. (Source: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/cice/Issues/06.01/61alharthi_ginsburg.pdf) This is opposed to recent developments in education that show that a more mutually respective approach is more nurturing and respectful to students. And, the "banking" approach discourages participation and honest discussion and discourse of academic topics while more socially relevant forms encourage participation and help grow our democracy. All of these issues should be serious concerns for parents considering Moonridge Academy.
What are the credentials of every employee who has authority over girls and their "advancement" in the program? Parents should require evidence of the proper certification, licensing, and academic background of every individual given authority over their daughter at Moonridge Academy. We have found that many of these programs do not even require unit staff to have a high school diploma. This is a serious concern. Parents should also review the ridiculously low standards for these programs in Utah. See www.heal-online.org/utah.htm for more information.
Moonridge's explanation of Bruner's "constructivist theory/discovery theory" seems contrary to the information HEAL has found in our research on Bruner. Parents should ask for the source of the information and explanations provided by Moonridge in regards to their methods.
What is the "Safety Agreement"? Many forms programs require "students" to sign are used to force compliance with unreasonable and often ever-changing unwritten rules and policies. This includes agreeing to always obey staff. This is a serious concern as such rules do not encourage self-advocacy nor the important characteristic of being confident to question authority when necessary.
What is an "Impact Letter"? Survivors from many programs have reported that the "Impact Letter" is often required by programs. And, that this letter is expected to include horrible and constructed false confessions that will encourage parents to keep their children locked in the facility. Children at other programs have been forced to confess to being sexually promiscuous (when actually they were still virgins), using illicit drugs (even though they were drug-free), and even sexual perversion such as sex with immediate family members or animals. Children who do not confess to these false and horrible acts are not allowed to advance in the program until their "Impact Letters" are horrifying enough that the parent(s) will not question the decision for institutionalization.
It is important for individuals to know their strengths. But, it is unlikely that their strengths should be the strengths others see in them as opposed to the inner-strength or talents the child/individual feels are his/her calling/passion. How does Moonridge Academy help children recognize their strengths and talents? Does MRA dictate what those talents and strengths should be or does it encourage and gently guide individuals through in-depth self-discovery? And, is it appropriate to try to expedite the process of self-discovery through involuntary treatment? HEAL doesn't think it is appropriate at all. And, such forced and involuntary treatment is inherently disrespectful and demeaning to children/teenagers. See: www.heal-online.org/ebook.pdf for more information and resources.
When MRA says, "respect for the program", do they mean blind obedience to every whim of anyone with any status in the program setting? If so, then MRA isn't using the term "respect" properly. Since MRA believes children entering the program are not themselves and that they need to become themselves, how is this respectful of the individuals? How is MRA leading by example in developing a mutually respectful relationship with children in the program? If MRA doesn't recognize the humanity of children until they reach the right status level, how does this encourage respect of themselves or each other? These are all serious concerns that should be addressed by MRA.
"Explore how my leaving MRA may impact my behaviors in the near future. How are my current behaviors/choices impacting my peers?"
"Continue (or begin) Junior Staff role. Continuously self-evaluate my performance, my relationships with family, peers, and Staff."
"Share my skills, sense of humor, and feedback to encourage peers in their programs. Reconsider any portion of my personal Stage 6 that appears to have a negative impact on peers."
"Show my willingness to notice when I let down myself or others--and to follow up by apologizing when necessary..."
"STAGES of CHANGE ADVANCEMENT"
"She must not be on program or academic probation."
"She must go before her peers in a group session and obtain 75% of their support for a vote-up. If she obtains 75% of her peers' support she will have two positive votes towards her vote-up going into the Treatment Team meeting. If 75% of her peers do not endorse her movement, she will have two negative votes towards her vote-up going into Treatment Team."
If MRA provides individualized treatment and specially designed "programs" that focus on the individual needs of the "student", why are peers given so much control and influence over an individual's advancement? Is it remotely appropriate to take a group of "troubled teenagers" and let them determine who among them is ready to advance in treatment? What possible expertise or professional assessment skills do these young adults have? How is this remotely appropriate? Is it appropriate to allow girls with attachments issues or other abandonment issues to determine that a friend will either stay or go from a treatment facility? HEAL believes it is wholly unprofessional and inappropriate to use such a method to determine the advancement of a child through any school or program.
It is a serious concern that children in the program are given "Junior Staff" positions. This is a warning sign of an abusive program. See www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for more information and questions you should ask any program you consider for your family. It also shows that the program uses other clients as "staff/authority" over other clients without pay. And, it is one of many ways programs like MRA cut their costs while over-charging for their ridiculously idiotic "services". Is the family constantly self-evaluating and behaving horribly neurotically regarding any possible misstep that might be perceived by subjective and judgmental fools? If so, then it must be something the family finds of value. If not, then why on earth are you making a young person neurotic instead of self-confident and self-assured? Is this really something anyone considers appropriate in creating mental wellness?
"Submit the Advancement Application Form to Treatment Team along with her letter anyway and obtain a 75% positive vote including the two no-votes from her peers. This allows the Treatment Team to override her peers' perceptions of her and advance her to the next Stage."
"Postpone her application to the Treatment Team for advancement until she feels she is ready. In this case, she may request a vote-up from her peers again just one week later."
"She also will receive charms for her silver charm bracelet to honor her accomplishments when she has completed a Stage:"
"Stage 4---Acceptance....................Heart in Hand"
"Stage 5---Internalization.................Puzzle Piece"
"Expect an uneven and somewhat bumpy journey as your daughter may be working on several core issues simultaneously. It is also likely that at some point she will struggle emotionally while she is working through some difficult personal issues in therapy and it will appear that her progress has stalled out. If this happens, embrace this development for what it really is: an opportunity for your daughter to revisit some skills and principles on a previous stage and to deepen her understanding of them...Most girls at Moonridge Academy have to hit a "bottom" of sorts before they really can begin making the serious move into positive change."
"The Internalization Stage begins when a student is getting ready to transition from residential treatment either to home or to a boarding school."
"Please note that your daughter is not allowed to advance from one Stage of Change to the next unless your work for that Stage has been completed and faxed or emailed to your therapist."
It remains a serious concern that peers are given so much control over other reportedly troubled children. Please see our warning signs list and questions you should ask at www.heal-online.org/warn.htm.
You can use a hammer to build and to destroy. The symbolism of the hammer as the first charm given upon completion of the first "Stage" is telling. It suggests the program uses the hammer to destroy the child and then gives the hammer to the child as they advance and begin to support the program methods in assisting to destroy their peers.
A maze is confusing and overwhelming. The symbolism of the maze as the second charm given upon completion of the second "Stage" is telling. The child has likely experienced a mental breakdown resulting from the first Stage and is now confused and overwhelmed by the dictates and demands of the program. The child is "aware" that she is not in "Kansas" anymore. She has entered a world designed and controlled by eugenics of mind experimenters. Girls on this level are likely living in fear and confusion as a direct result of the methods employed by MRA. And, this is a serious concern.
A compass provides a sound basis for figuring out where you are and where you want to go. The symbolism of the compass as the third charm given upon completion of the third "Stage" is telling. The direction comes from MRA. The source of direction is coming from MRA. If the girl shows she is obedient and always cooperative (never questioning) to MRA practices and policies, she moves forward. If not, she moves back in the program. This is not respectful to human dignity and human rights. A compass should represent independence through knowing how to find one's way with the tools available and is a seemingly inappropriate charm for someone who has a long way to go before they see freedom again. And, what right does MRA have to violate a child's due process rights by holding them in a facility against their will when they have never been convicted of a crime nor court-ordered into treatment? We have to respect the rights of all if we expect those rights to live on.
A "Heart in Hand" suggests that the child has been laid bare for all the program to see. The symbolism of the "Heart in Hand" as the fourth charm given upon completion of the fourth "Stage" is telling. It suggests she has been stripped down to her core and her core has retreated for fear of a misstep that will make her incarceration last even longer. It suggests she is in survival mode mentally and doing everything possible to meet the expectations of the program in order to survive and make it home and to freedom. It suggests the trauma caused by the treatment she has received has made her dissociate past from present and has prepared her for the coercive thought reform advancement expected by MRA.
A "Puzzle Piece" is puzzling. The symbolism of a puzzle piece as the fifth charm given upon completion of the fifth "Stage" is telling. It suggests that MRA believes it was the missing puzzle piece in your child's life and convinces your child that they would be incomplete without the program. This does not encourage independence nor critical thinking. And, this raises serious concerns as well.
A "Butterfly" suggests that a child was a worm or caterpillar when they arrived and that they are emerging as a "butterfly" after the program's influence and as a result of that influence only. The symbolism of a butterfly as the sixth charm given upon completion of the sixth "Stage" is telling. Everyone is always developing and evolving their ideas and their bodies throughout life. It is inappropriate to suggest that development is a one-time thing done in a residential treatment setting as opposed to an on-going process everyone is engaged in throughout our lives.
The Education and Equine charms appear to make complete sense and to have no ulterior meaning. However, parents should look into whether or not the academic credits are recognized and transferable to legitimate schools.
It is a serious concern that a child may be held on a lower level due to the failure of their parents to meet the requirements of the program. This does not appear to be in line with putting the child's interests first.
It is a serious concern that children can be bumped back to lower levels of the program as a disciplinary measure. This is the greatest fear expressed by many survivors of similar programs. And, this also shows a tendency for the programs to make up excuses for holding children longer if they lose children off of their supposed waiting lists and/or need to make sure they are filled to capacity or able to cover operational costs if there are not enough children being enrolled. All of these are business interests that programs like MRA typically put ahead of the needs of children and their families.
"Different Theoretical and Tactical Approaches to Therapy:"
"trauma based interventions"
"Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)"
"EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing for trauma treatment)"
"Cognitive/Behavioral insight approaches"
"Behavior management interventions"
"Group Therapy Addresses:"
"Student's individual issues brought to group by student/peers/Therapists"
"Horse care/barn care"
"Equine Assisted Psychotherapy"
"Group/team building/problem solving"
"Horticultural therapy working in the soil growing plants, canning food, etc."
What is psychodynamic therapy? Quote: "Many psychologists have proposed theories that try to explain the origins of personality. One highly influential set of theories stems from the work of Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud, who first proposed the theory of psychoanalysis. Collectively, these theories are known as psychodynamic theories. Although many different psychodynamic theories exist, they all emphasize unconscious motives and desires, as well as the importance of childhood experiences in shaping personality." (Source: http://www.sparknotes.com/psychology/psych101/personality/section2.rhtml) What psychodynamic theories does MRA employ? Providing a list of words does not effectively confer their meaning and MRA should clarify.
What are "trauma based interventions"? Trauma based "mind control" or (TBMC) is being reported on across the web and around the world. It is the intentional creation of a mental breakdown in an individual using traumatic stimuli and with the end result being a dissociative disorder. How can creating a dissociative disorder (recognized mental illness) and causing a nervous breakdown be considered remotely therapeutic or helpful? How could such methods ever be considered ethical or respectful to those subjected to them? See: http://community.livejournal.com/mcawareness/5536.html. (Also see: History's Mysteries - Mind Control)
What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)? Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is an experimental and easily misused form of therapy designed by Marsha Linehan. Quote: "Interestingly, an argument against Linehan’s results being due simply to allegiance can be found in her own research. In an earlier study described in the DBT treatment manual , Linehan et al. tested their hypothesis that adding DBT skills training to stable, individual therapy in the community would greatly enhance the outcomes of those treatments. Linehan was one of the principle skills trainers in the study. Results did not support the hypothesis, at least as tested by Linehan, suggesting that allegiance may not be sufficient by itself to produce positive outcomes with highly suicidal BPD patients. If DBT is efficacious, why is it so? Is it simply that DBT is particularly good at insuring that patients receive stable, individual therapy of any sort? Although stability in the treatment of BPD is not to be underrated, a few studies have tentatively discounted this claim. Koons et al.  provided individual therapy to all participants in their study and still found favorable results for DBT. In the Linehan et al.  study, not only did patients assigned to DBT and TAU have equivalent number of therapeutic hours, but the number of treatment hours received did not predict outcome. Similarly, one could argue that DBT is effective because it provides a highly structured and stable environment for disordered individuals. This is a reasonable hypothesis; however, even inpatient settings such as described in the Trupin et al.  and McCann et al. [13,14] studies, which theoretically have a lot of structure for all individuals, found some support for DBT. More research is needed to test this hypothesis further by comparing DBT with a more tightly controlled alternative treatment with a similar amount of structure and stability." (Source: http://focus.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/reprint/3/3/489)
How does Moonridge Academy employ Dialectical Behavioral Therapy? Quote: "DBT is a mixture of behaviorism, CBT, and Zen Buddhism. Linehan sums up the DBT philosophy as “You’re perfect—now change.” She says, “When I began developing DBT, I was going to save the most miserable people in the world… I’m a highly emotional person, which helps me understand DBT clients.” Linehan consulted spiritual leaders, eventually borrowing the Zen concepts of “radical acceptance” and “mindfulness.” These ideas, which we’ll talk about later, anchor the program in place. “People who meet the criteria for BPD almost always hate themselves,” she says, “so I figured I needed to accept them myself, and then teach them how to accept themselves. If you don’t accept yourself as you are, you can’t change. It’s a paradox, but true.” (Source: http://www.bpdcentral.com/pdf/dbt_from_BEYOND.pdf) Behaviorism is the use of positive reinforcement and negative "consequences" system used to "condition" animals and people for effective servitude. (See www.heal-online.org/ebook.pdf for more information.) Natural behaviorists study behavior to understand it. Mental "health" behaviorists use data on how subjects respond to various stimuli to force compliance with the behaviorists' agenda(s). Children entering programs most likely hate their lives, but, not themselves. And, this hatred comes from the lack of quality of their home environments. Sending them to a program is not going to resolve the issues the family as whole has in regard to family relationships. Beyond this, we have already established that Moonridge Academy does not recognize your daughter as being whole, perfect, complete, and at a place where she can accept herself and choose to change. Moonridge Academy accepts children on an involuntary basis. MRA denies children unmonitored communications, even with their own parents. Similar programs force children to make false confessions and HEAL has no reason to assume this isn't occurring at MRA given all the data we have shared thus far. And, in forcing children to accept a "fake old self persona" forced upon them by the program that also intentionally causes an identity crisis and dissociative disorder, suggests that DBT is in the least being misused or not applied properly by MRA. Given the newness of this model and the lack of opportunity for it to be developed to be effective and translatable throughout the field is erroneous at best and shows a lack of professional quality and ethic at MRA.
What is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)? Quote: "First, EMDR is not a therapy system but a method or procedure that fits within many existing therapy models. Effects of treatment (as in any system of therapy) are dependent on many factors. Among these is the therapeutic relationship. EMDR works best within an empathic relationship. Current methods of research require strict control of extraneous variables that might confound the results of the study. This restraint, unfortunately, removes rapport which is a key ingredient for success with EMDR (and most other methods and models)...Researchers learn and practice EMDR protocols in order to test the method fairly. Typically researchers are not clinicians, and even if they are, practicing a method like EMDR without adequate training and experience is clinically unethical and/or academically useless. Clinical experience with EMDR convinces people of its efficacy. But is this replicable in the lab? At the University of Florida in 1993, Charles Figley and Joyce Carbonell attempted to discover the effectiveness of EMDR along with three other avant-garde approaches to PTSD (and less severe emotional disorders).4 They designed a different experimental approach that involved bringing successful practitioners to the University for a week-long inquiry by observation of actual therapy, measurement of before-and-after indices of symptoms, and discussion of possible commonalities among the methods." (Source: http://www.healthyplace.com/depression/emdr/effectiveness-of-emdr/menu-id-68/) Programs like Moonridge Academy are known to cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And, it is unlikely that MRA provides an empathic environment seeing as girls entering the program are subhuman until they change and stop "resisting treatment". This coupled with the facts above, suggests that MRA does not use EMDR effectively nor properly. And, this is a serious concern. Unethical and useless are two terms that suit programs like MRA quite well.
What are Cognitive/Behavioral insight approaches? Quote: "Cognitive-Behavioral Approach: Direct focus on changing thoughts, beliefs and actions that are contributing to depression, anxiety and poor coping...Insight-Oriented Therapy: Exploration of earlier and/or recent troubling events and the feeling and meaning attached to them to help increase peace and understanding.." (Source: http://www.drbcook.com/methods.nxg) These therapies are all described in very ambiguous and/or passive terms and can easily fit into the destructive and abusive behavior modification models used by programs in Utah. Cognitive-Behavioral Approach can easily be applied in explanation of coercive thought reform techniques which have been found to be ineffective and harmful. Good therapists who are empathetic and care about the individual do not advise long-term incarceration of teenagers for normal teen issues. And, Dr. Peter Breggin has stated that involuntary commitment to such programs is unethical and dehumanizing to children subjected to such treatment. (See: www.heal-online.org/ebook.pdf and www.heal-online.org/books.htm (look for "Reclaiming Our Children" and "Toxic Psychiatry" by Dr. Peter Breggin)) Time and again we see programs like MRA claiming to provide therapy and help where they are actually reinforcing the problems that are causing family struggles. This is a serious concern as well.
What is a Behavior Management Intervention? Generally, this is a term used by programs like MRA to describe the use of solitary confinement, deprivation, isolation, and/or physical restraint and/or physical abuse to "encourage" compliance with program directives. Parents should ask for specific definitions and explanations of how all of these methods are employed and/or utilized by MRA and what, if any, legitimate training MRA staff has had in any of these "therapeutic methods".
"What is "Sand Tray"? Quote: "Sand tray is a treatment approach, an intervention, and an assessment tool for trauma that provides a unique safe and protected environment to allow the client to reconstruct the trauma story (Gil, 2006). Counselors should carefully evaluate the appropriateness of sand tray as a therapeutic technique and the readiness of the client for trauma and grief work..." (Source: http://counselingoutfitters.com/vistas/vistas08/Webber.htm) Well, nobody seems to care if the child is ready for treatment or counseling or not. Forced treatment and re-traumatizing a child is completely acceptable to MRA and parents who pay them to do it, right?
What occurs in group? Parents should inquire how "issues" are addressed in group. In "Positive Peer Culture" (dramatized in the film "Boot Camp", see www.beyondbusiness.net/books.htm for details), teenagers call out their "peers" by yelling and screaming obscenities and insults to make their peers "accept" their "worthless pasts" and "accept" that the group knows the individual better than the individual knows him/herself. It is neither therapeutic nor helpful to individuals and is wholly disrespectful to the truth and the integrity of the individuals subjected to such treatment.
How is depriving a child private contact with her family conducive to mending family relationships? How does allowing families to scapegoat the child exhibiting the most distress in the home environment help the family address the issues that created the problems to begin with?
If an individual is resistant to treatment, maybe it is because the treatment is not adequate nor appropriate to address the issues involved. If you were kidnapped from your home in the middle of the night, bound, drugged, and spirited away to another state under the night/early morning sky, would that traumatize you? If you were spirited away in that manner and arrived at a program where you were told to cooperate or it would only make it worse and then told to strip naked or be held down while "staff" performed a cavity search, would you be terrified? If you begged to call your family to explain how you were being treated and were told that your family understands and supports the program and that you should cooperate too or you will be seen as defiant and on need of "Safety" status for wanting to talk to your family, do you think you would feel desperate and hopeless, frantic and alone? If so, why would you do that to someone you claim to love? Why would you do this to your child? How are these people convincing you that they have an answer to an age-old question/concern, namely, "What's the matter with kids these days?" Nothing. Kids are kids. And, they are young and prone to err. You are likely older and equally prone to err. But, no one is locking you up and having you held incommunicado until you change your ways, are they? What right do you have to do this to any other human being?
What is "sexual reactivity"? Quote: "Many clinicians who work with children who have been sexually abused understand that sexual reactivity can be part of the process of sexual abuse." (Source: http://www.lianalowenstein.com/Sexually_Reactivebarnesfortinoedited.pdf) Due to ongoing concerns regarding programs in Utah, parents should demand to know how "sexual reactivity" plays a part in the therapy at MRA.
The "Experiential Therapies" are nothing more than free labor provided by the children for the benefit of local farmers and ranchers in Utah. This is a serious concern as well and does not teach children to place monetary value on the labor they perform thereby making them less equipped to demand fair treatment when entering the workforce as adults. This is a serious concern.
"Psychiatric consults for psychotropic medication monitoring"
"Feedback to treatment team regarding somatic complaints with possible psychological or manipulative basis"
It is a serious concern that Moonridge administers or promotes the use of psychotropic drugs as such has been repeatedly misused in various treatment settings.
It is a serious concern that the program sees medical or "somatic" complaints as being psycho-somatic or based in manipulation. Many of the children who have died in wilderness and residential programs did so because the staff "honestly believed" the children were faking their ailments. This is a serious concern. Why does MRA assume a child will fake an illness? It would make sense if they could stay home or go home as a result. But, it doesn't make sense when they are already in a foreign environment with strangers and would be sent to a strange/unfamiliar doctor. Most children and adults would not subject themselves to poking and prodding by an unknown doctor if not is serious need of help. And, this is something families should think about in regards to the policies of MRA.
"Girls who come to Moonridge Academy enter with a variety of self-destructive behaviors...With a few exceptions, Moonridge Academy can generally identify the cause of her pain and help her to alleviate a good deal of it, while also helping her develop a "tool box" of techniques, principles and values, and good habits to help her make better choices when dealing with pain in the future."
"Researchers estimate that students are exposed to their peer group an average of 35-60 hours per week, while they are exposed to parents and family (when they are not sleeping) a mere 10-15 hours per week. By the fact of mere exposure alone, the influence of the peer group is twice to three times as powerful as the influence of parents."
"If you are normal, in spite of your love and intense desire to see her get well, your actions have also played some role in your daughter being here at Moonridge Academy."
"The only safeguard against your daughter not reverting to these old behaviors is to make sure that you and the other family members around you are trained to react differently, to opt out of the "dance"."
Are girls ever sent to Moonridge Academy for other reasons that have nothing to do with self-destructive behaviors? Can Moonridge Academy specifically identify issues facing individual participants? Does Moonridge Academy effectively diagnose and treat mental illness? How much does the use of pain to "understand" a client's response to pain play a part in the treatment at Moonridge Academy? How much pain does Moonridge Academy generally cause clients in its search for the underlying issues involved with a client's pain? And, what techniques, principles, values, and "good habits" does Moonridge Academy instill and what method is used to impart these to clients?
The second quoted statement from page 14 raises additional concerns. Families generally spend far more time with a child during formative years (ages 0-7 years old) than peers spend with a child. And, overall, children have been influenced by adult behavior far more greatly than any behavior exhibited by peers. While in school, teachers and other adults are in charge of directing the course of events. So, assuming peers are directing things at school is a logical fallacy at best. While children and teenagers may be influenced by any number of environmental factors, placing the fear factor on their peers is really not accurate and shows how Moonridge Academy uses anti-youth propaganda to support institutionalizing children. This is a serious concern. In after-school and/or extra-curricular activities, adults are usually present in supervisory capacities. And, even if a child spends time with friends after school; that time is usually supervised by parents or other adults in the community. Children are not isolated with other children without adult supervision in our society or in our schools. And, it is completely erroneous to suggest that peers have a greater influence than adults in guidance and leadership roles in the child's life. The quoted section is nothing but faulty logic used for marketing a needless "service". In addition, Moonridge Academy is not including the research from which they gathered the information to draw their self-serving conclusion. And, this is a serious concern as well.
Yes, you chose to send your daughter to Moonridge Academy. And, you should have chosen respectful and family-focused therapy. So, you should change your mind and remove your child and start immediately re-building your relationship with your daughter before it is too late.
The only safeguard for you and your family is to respect yourself and your family and to take control of your family from those who seek to profit off of your feelings of inadequacy. Namely, Moonridge Academy.
"Make a personal commitment to have your daughter graduate from the program at Moonridge Academy"
"Communicate this commitment to your daughter every chance you have"
"Resist the temptation to rescue your daughter"
"Support the program"
"In order to graduate from Moonridge Academy, it is not just a matter of what your daughter has done; it is who she has become."
It is a serious concern that Moonridge Academy wants your blind support in everything they do to your daughter. They won't tell you what they are doing and they will likely lie to you about what they do. But, according to Moonridge, you will have to blindly support it and not listen to your daughter's pleas for help and rescue. This is what cults do to their initiates. And, it is completely unacceptable. It is not therapeutic. And, such treatment is quite unethical.
It is a serious concern that your daughter will have to give up her entire identity and take on a new personality in order to leave Moonridge Academy. This is unethical and cruel. Why are you thinking about enrolling your child in this program?
"Chances are she has had trouble in the past finishing things and graduation comes to symbolize that she has completed a huge change process."
"It is fairly common for parents to want to rescue their daughter from difficult situations, thus avoiding the natural law of choices and consequences...When your daughter breaks a rule or acts out at Moonridge Academy resist the urge to rescue her; rather, do your part to support the natural consequences of her actions."
"As a result, you may hear a host of terrible things about the way she is treated, the injustices of line staff, why her Therapist cannot possibly help her and why Moonridge Academy is definitely the wrong place for her."
"This allows you to stand united with your daughter's Therapist and Moonridge Academy. This is so significant because of the number of students who expend a considerable amount of energy trying to get out of residential treatment rather than working on their own issues."
Life isn't something you finish and complete. Life is an ongoing process. Learning is a life-long process for those who are intelligent. And, manufactured "milestones" like the graduation "offered" by Moonridge Academy is not a milestone of anything worthy of achievement nor award. It is similar to getting an award from your employer for not cursing at customers though this is something you have never engaged in nor would even consider. And, it implies that the legitimate milestones your daughter has achieved such as 6th grade graduation, 8th grade graduation, ballet recitals, school plays, and spelling bee achievements were not valuable or recognized achievements and/or that such achievements pale in comparison to graduating the Moonridge psycho-babble program. HEAL would prefer children, youth, and adults be recognized for legitimate achievements as opposed to graduating a facility that rewards conformity and punishes critical thinking. Such a graduation does not prepare an individual for the challenges of independent living.
Parents should rescue their children from fraudulent and abusive programs. HEAL believes Moonridge Academy/CERTS/Kolob Canyon RTC are such programs. So, we recommend that you go with your instincts and rescue your daughter immediately if she is currently enrolled at Moonridge Academy. Moonridge Academy and similar programs are fairly recent additions to human society. Human beings have existed for hundreds of thousands of years without needing such programs. And, there is nothing natural about parents sending their children to live with strangers in other states or countries. In fact, it flies in the face of natural law. Parents are responsible for guiding and preparing their young for life's challenges. And, this responsibility cannot be transferred to strangers who seek to profit from your belief in your own inadequacy.
Parents should listen to their children when their children report abuse or other violations. Moonridge Academy must have a long history of abuse to include such a warning as the third quote from page 16 above. If your daughter is at Moonridge Academy and has reported abuse or other violations to you, believe her and remove her from the program immediately. How would you like to be sent to a private prison in Utah without access to communicate freely with anyone in the outside world? How would you like to be further abused and violated in that setting? How would you like it if you told your spouse that you were being held incommunicado by freaks in Utah that abuse their captives and if your spouse told you that they support the program? Would you think the world had gone mad? Would you believe that you couldn't trust anyone to help you? Would you feel helpless, alone, and suicidal? Well, if you are being honest about all of this...you will agree that such an environment is not focused on mental wellness or individual well-being.
It is not up to the program nor the parents to decide whether or not a child has matured sufficiently. Maturity comes from life experience. And, life will provide lessons when they are needed. There is no way to expedite the process of maturity. However, you can create a Dissociative Identity Disorder in your daughter with Moonridge Academy's help so that she will never be a fully-functioning and well-balanced individual. That can't be what you want, can it? If so, then you really are the one with the problem here and you should institutionalize yourself so your child has a better chance at success than you. No one "acts out" in a vacuum. Think about it.
"Parents are assisted in developing new parenting skills by completing reading assignments from such books as: Come Back, by Claire Fontaine and Mia Fontaine; The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens, by Sean Covey; Reviving Ophelia, by Mary Pipher; Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, by Cline and Fay; and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, by Stephen Covey."
"ArbingerInstitute.com. The Staff of MRA receive trainings from Arbinger that we find have great impact as we interact with one another and with your daughters. Two resources we think are particularly useful are The Anatomy of Peace and Leadership and Self-Deception."
"Moonridge Academy provides a high quality NAAS accredited education program for Junior High and High School students. Since Moonridge Academy is an accredited school, the classes your daughter takes are transferable to your home school and count toward her high school graduation."
Who are Claire Fontaine and Mia Fontaine? What reviews are available of "Come Back"? Claire and Mia Fontaine are a mother/daughter writing team that wrote "Come Back". "Come Back" is a memoir of the time apart when Claire sent Mia away and how that "helped" their relationship. While the reviews of this book are mixed; HEAL feels it is manipulative of MRA to use the book to promote residential treatment. And, the reviews from mental health professionals suggest that the book is not a valid source for therapeutic progress.
Who is Sean Covey? What reviews are available for "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens"? Sean Covey is Senior Vice President of Innovations and Products at FranklinCovey. Hyrum W. Smith is the founder of FranklinCovey. FranklinCovey and Hyrum W. Smith are associated with Eagle Ranch Academy and other abusive programs. See www.heal-online.org/erastaff.htm and www.heal-online.org/utahboys.htm for additional information. The above facts alone would deter reasonable people from basing their therapy on anything written by Sean Covey. Covey earned his BA in English at Brigham Young University in Utah and his MBA from Harvard Business School. An under-grad degree in English and business degree from Harvard does not make you a mental health expert. It doesn't make Sean Covey one either. Sean Covey is the son of Stephen Covey, the author of one of the other books recommended by MRA. HEAL stopped searching for reviews after finding the first few pages of google.com when searching for "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens" to be nothing but promotional and profit-driven websites.
Who is Mary Pipher? What reviews are available for "Reviving Ophelia"? Mary Pipher earned her Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska. Her under-graduate degree came from the University of California. Mary Pipher's work is "recommended" by Focus Adolescent Services and Stephen Covey appears to write for that website. Focus Adolescent Services appears to be a referral site. Pipher lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. HEAL's primary concern with Nebraska is the "Franklin Cover Up". See www.heal-online.org/franklin.pdf for more information. FranklinCovey, the Franklin Cover Up, and other issues surrounding the exploitation of families are covered throughout our website. See www.heal-online.org to do a search for more information. For a criticism of Mary Pipher's "Reviving Ophelia", see: The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men. It explains the myth of the fragile female and the issues with Pipher's work; including the lack of scientific data to back up Pipher's ill-founded conclusions.
Who are Cline and Fay? What reviews are available for "Parenting Teens with Love and Logic"? Foster W. Cline and Jim Fay are the complete names for the authors. Foster Cline is a medical doctor. Cline earned his under-graduate degree at the University of Colorado and M.D. at the University of Washington, School of Medicine. Cline is licensed in Idaho, Montana, and Washington. The qualifications for Jim Fay are not easily found online. But, Jim's father Charles has a Ph.D. and they appear to work together. The Love and Logic Institute is based out of Golden, Colorado. However, Cline is not licensed in Colorado. Foster Cline has been accused of abuse in the past. "In 1976, Cline's own center was accused of abusing a young patient who was bruised during holding therapy...Although Foster Cline had not treated the patient, he was the supervisor of the therapist who did: Connell Watkins. Cline himself was accused of "grossly negligent medical practice," received a letter of admonishment from the board, and was ordered to stop using therapy that used verbal abuse and unpleasant physical stimulation. After the case was settled, Cline moved to Idaho." (Source: http://www.westword.com/2000-07-27/news/suffer-the-children/4/) Now that we see who these people are and what methods they espouse, are you sure you want to follow their advice? Do you think abuse resulting in bruises, verbal abuse, and "unpleasant physical stimulation" is appropriate in dealing with children or any human being? If not, why are you still considering Moonridge Academy?
Who is Stephen Covey? What are the reviews for "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families"? Covey was born in 1932 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Covey has an MBA from Harvard and earned his doctorate in religious education from Brigham Young University. He is the co-founder and vice-chairman for FranklinCovey. Covey is not a therapist. He is not a legitimate mental health professional nor medical doctor. He is a businessman. And, FranklinCovey is a serious concern given Hyrum W. Smith, WWASPS, and countless other nefarious associations. FranklinCovey and Hyrum W. Smith are associated with Eagle Ranch Academy and other abusive programs. See www.heal-online.org/erastaff.htm and www.heal-online.org/utahboys.htm for additional information. In a brief search for this book, we found only page after page advertising it. We were unable to locate any criticism or review of this book. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can provide a professional and honest critique or review of this book.
The Arbinger Institute was founded by Michael Merchant, the CEO of Anasazi Wilderness Program. HEAL has provided a review of Anasazi's contract at: http://www.heal-online.org/anasazicontract.htm. Anasazi employs individuals who formerly worked for abusive programs such as Provo Canyon School and Discovery Academy. The Arbinger Institute appears to be another front for the Utah-based program industry. And, Merchant and other Arbinger leadership graduated from Brigham Young University. Do not let impressive sounding names lull you into being deceived. Always check the credentials and criticism for any "therapy" you consider for your family. Cults are very dangerous and can bleed families dry financially and emotionally. Do not be scammed.
NAAS was forced to change their name to NWAC after a lawsuit was filed for misappropriating the name of a legitimate accreditation agency. NAAS was also a co-defendant in a lawsuit against the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools in 2006. (Case Citation: Bruce Dungan, et al. v. World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools, Inc., NAAS, et al., United States District Court, Northern District of New York, July 25th, 2006) The attorneys representing the plaintiffs in this case were Hancock & Estabrook, LLP. The lawsuit was filed as a class action. Academy at Ivy Ridge was the basis of the lawsuit. NAAS "accredited" this school. Quote: "Ivy Ridge Academy accreditation rejected: The Academy at Ivy Ridge will not be allowed to resume issuing high school diplomas. The State Education Department has rejected the Academy's application, according to stories Friday in St. Lawrence County newspapers and The Watertown Times. A letter from the State Education Department to Ivy Ridge quoted in the Watertown Times says, "The Department's review revealed that AIR is principally a behavior modification program and not a school..." For complete story, click here. So, NAAS/NWAC accreditation does not provide effective assurance that the credits "earned" at Moonridge Academy are transferable. This is a serious concern.
"Throughout her stay at MRA your daughter will be expected to complete homework and turn it in on time in order to move through the stages and also earn program privileges."
"Students are able to talk with other classmates in classes and study halls about assignments only. They are not to be discussing other program related things or have random discussions. This can done during breaks."
"Students are only to use the bathroom during breaks from classes."
"Study halls are used for homework completion only for students who are on stages Safety through Stage 2. When a student gets to stage 3 and on she can choose to work on homework, stagework, and/or consequences."
"Students will be pulled from study halls weekly for therapy so they should not always count on it being there. Plan ahead!"
"The computers are for school, therapy or level work only. No typing of letters. No using of the computers for level work during school!!!!!!!!"
"All students are always to obtain staff's permission and have staff supervise their internet use regardless of what stage they are on."
"Students have 5 minutes between classes for using the bathroom, filling their water bottles, chatting with people, etc."
"Graduations don't always fall at the best time to coordinate schooling as they typically fall in between semesters. Moonridge Academy offers the opportunity for a student to complete school credits after she transitions appropriately from the program through graduation or an approved established transition plan. Extended Schooling is not offered to students if a student is taken out early. Schooling is offered on a voluntary basis and requires a commitment from both the student and parent(s) to complete the program."
"The cost of the extended schooling program must be paid prior to beginning work and is per class per credit as follows:"
"One Term or 1/4 year (.25 credit)=$360.00 per class and must be completed within 3 months."
"Two Terms or 1/2 year (.50 credit)=$720.00 per class and must be completed within 6 months."
"Three Terms or 3/4 year (.75 credit)=$980.00 per class and must be completed within 9 months."
"Four Terms or 1 year (1.0 credit)=$1,440.00 per class and must be completed within 1 year."
"There is an initial set up fee of $500 for extended schooling which needs to be paid prior to the teachers preparing work."
"While your daughter is on Safety or Stage 2, your family Therapist and the Program Director will call/email weekly to give you updates on her adjustment to Moonridge Academy. Generally, when your daughter has begun work on Stage 1 your family begins family therapy by telephone. However, in some instances, family therapy will begin earlier/later if your Therapist determines that it is therapeutically appropriate."
"Studies about which types of therapy have the most impact on troubled teens show that family therapy to be one of the most powerful resources available. We strongly encourage parents to understand this and to do everything in their power to make time for regular therapy sessions."
Requiring completion of reasonably assigned work before being awarded additional privileges is reasonable. However, programs like MRA operate like the Step-Mother in Cinderella; often piling on so much work that making it to the "ball" or in an MRA client's case, to the monitored phone call home (considered an "earned privilege" as opposed to right at MRA), can seem unachievable and strengthen the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness the girl is already experiencing. Families should look at the privilege/consequence model being used and determine whether or not such a system is disrespectful and harmful to their child and family.
On page 30 (discussed below), youth in the program are not allowed to socialize and can be punished for discussing anything any staff subjectively deems to be "inappropriate". This includes their family, friends, and former schools. It is unlikely that the children are any freer during their 5 minute break between classes than they are in the rest of the program. And, the language of the second segment quoted above does not reassure HEAL that children are allowed to speak to one another freely during classroom breaks. The oppressive system in place at MRA deters democracy and encourages abuse. This is a serious concern.
The warning regarding bathroom breaks should be taken seriously. It is likely that your child will not have adequate time to use the bathroom during break if there isn't an empty stall for each girl readily available between classes and/or your child will risk punishment of being late if she gets into the bathroom too late. People can't control their environments. And, it is unreasonable for MRA to create an environment that is likely to result in undue stress and/or physical injury. (i.e. bladder infections, UTIs, Toxic Shock Syndrome, etc.).
If a girl on Stage Safety through Stage 2 completes her homework and wishes to work on "stagework" or "consequences"; what opportunity is given for such an individual to "plan ahead"? Why are there so many mixed messages? And, how can anyone function with so much disrespect and unreasonable and oppressive control being exerted by the program?
Students in a structured environment should know every part of their schedule and what to expect. Why do therapy sessions get "sprung" on girls in the program and why are therapy sessions used in such a manner as to cause unnecessary strain and stress on a troubled girl? Does this make sense to anyone? MRA should be avoided. That is the plain and simple truth.
Why can't children who have completed their school work continue on to work on their other program assignments during school?
The girls can't even e-mail for help. They are under constant supervision and have little to no access to phones, the internet, and regular "snail" mail. It raises serious concerns regarding the safety and welfare of children who are being held incommunicado in rural Utah.
MRA pushes families into using their transition program by manipulating them into believing completing school will be difficult if the families don't sign up for another year. This is absolutely absurd. And, it raises serious concerns regarding the transferability of credits and the costs of the program. This coupled with the accreditation coming from NWAC, raise serious concerns.
Parents should have regular communication with their children from day one of any program. It is inappropriate to allow any "therapist" or staff to control when you have access to your own child. This is over-reaching and raises serious concerns regarding the welfare of children at MRA. Controlling communications in this manner is a warning sign of an abusive program. For more warning signs and questions you should ask any program you consider, visit www.heal-online.org/warn.htm.
Out-patient family therapy in which all participants are in agreement to work together to solve family problems is highly recommended and effective. However, this is not the "family therapy" that is offered by short phone calls that are more about supervising the "progress" of the entire family through this bogus program as opposed to getting to the root causes of family problems and improving family communications. MRA does not support families. If MRA cared about families, they would only serve those in their local community and would demand parents participate in all aspects of their program from day one. Since MRA allows itself to be used as a warehouse for unwanted and/or "throwaway" kids, then it does not truly care about improving family relationships or helping individuals with mental health issues. This is quite clear and another reason this program should be avoided.
"Should your daughter be dropped back to a lower Stage for any reason, after family therapy has already begun, the family therapy will continue unless you and your Therapist determines otherwise for therapeutic reasons."
"Your daughter is assigned a Primary Therapist and meets with her Therapist two to three times weekly, or as often as needed...There will most likely be times when your daughter is required to bring issues that she is working on individually with her Therapist to the larger group in group therapy."
"As noted above, you have family therapy most weeks after your daughter has graduated from Stage 1. Typically it will be phone call with you, your Therapist, and your daughter. Occasionally family therapy may be with just you and your Therapist. There will most likely be times when your daughter is required to bring issues that she is working on in family therapy with you and her Therapist to the larger group in group therapy."
"Issues group: students bring their personal issues to work on with peer input"
"DBT skills group: facilitates the learning of emotional regulation skills, distress tolerance skills, Core mindfulness and interpersonal effectiveness"
"Sand Tray therapy: students use the sand and symbolic items to represent core issues"
"Horticultural therapy: an experiential group using plants"
"Young Women's Lives group: a group addressing topics from the Young Women's Lives curriculum"
It is a serious concern that being "dropped" to a lower level is used as a "consequence"/punishment. In cult-like programs, this particular threat and "consequence" is the most devastating to a youth who believes in any progress that has been made and works to further create hopelessness and helplessness in the individual being "dropped". Please see www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for additional warning signs of abuse and questions you should ask any program you consider for your family.
It remains a serious concern that direct contact with the outside world, including parents and immediate family, is dictated solely by the program. Families report that when they question the dictates of therapists at programs like MRA; they are often ridiculed and accused of undermining their child's progress. This creates a barrier in which families feel frustrated and programs like MRA exploit the situation by inciting discord between family members. This is a serious concern.
Having a phone conversation with your child's therapist regarding your child's adjustment and progress is not "family therapy". It is unprofessional and inappropriate for MRA to claim that such is considered "family therapy" by any reputable mental health service provider.
Issues group sounds like nothing more than "positive peer culture" and/or "confrontational therapy". Both of which have been denounced as ineffective and harmful by legitimate professionals. This is a serious concern as well as bullying and ridicule have no therapeutic value.
Does MRA intentionally cause distress in girls with mental illness? Does MRA do this to test their ability to handle stress? If an individual had difficulty handling abuse, then they are normal. And, training them to accept abuse is abusive and inappropriate. This is a serious concern.
"Sand tray is a treatment approach, an intervention, and an assessment tool for trauma that provides a unique safe and protected environment to allow the client to reconstruct the trauma story (Gil, 2006). Counselors should carefully evaluate the appropriateness of sand tray as a therapeutic technique and the readiness of the client for trauma and grief work..." (Source: http://counselingoutfitters.com/vistas/vistas08/Webber.htm) It appears that MRA claims to use Sand Tray Therapy in a manner that is opposed to the actual theory of sand tray therapy. This again shows that they are using professional terms to mask their true actions. And, this is deceptive. Do not trust MRA.
The horticultural therapy is basically MRA and/or their associates using the children in the program as free farm labor for their own gain. This is outrageous and unethical. Please do not fall for this scam.
What is the Young Women's Lives curriculum? The Young Women's Lives curriculum appears to be provided or designed by Hazelden. What is Hazelden? Source: hazelden.org. Hazelden celebrates abusive programs like Provo Canyon School and Red Rock Canyon School. In their materials, they include work by Stephen Biddulph. It was also reported by a MRA survivor that MRA refers families to confirmedly abusive Provo Canyon School. This is a serious concern.Excerpts from provocanyon.com/programoverview.html (August 15th, 2010)
"...Based upon the Adolescent Recovery Plan written by Steven Biddulph and published by Hazelden, Inc., the program offers screening, evaluation, groups, individual workbooks, family support, and aftercare support for those students struggling with substance abuse or dependency..."
"Severe or highly specialized medical problems are not available through Provo Canyon School."
"Provo Canyon School operates a strong therapeutic (clinical) model of care in working with youth."
Prior to Hazelden, Stephen Biddulph was with Provo Canyon School and Red Rock Canyon School. No good description of what is done under this plan was found online. But, PCS does include an overview written by Biddulph which includes completely inaccurate and unscientific data. This overview and issues arising from it are discussed later in this review.
Provo Canyon School, what is meant by the second excerpt above? Do you only make available limited or general medical problems? And, if you meant you do not take children with highly specialized medical problems, why did you accept a boy with a traumatic brain injury in 2009? Also, you claim a 40-year history in your documents...In that history, schizophrenia was mentioned as treated by your facility. Do you consider schizophrenia a serious or highly specialized medical problem? Do you think you are equipped to deal with the severely mentally ill? If so, why are you not licensed as a mental health care provider in Utah?
In regards to the third excerpt... Do you operate in a "therapeutic-community" style using confrontation therapy? You reportedly do and continue to do so. These methods have been shown to be harmful and damaging to participants. Why do you use these methods?
Excerpts from thetruthaboutprovocanyonschool.org/articles.php (August 15th, 2010)
"Mr. Biddulph was a clinical therapist (1990-1998) at Provo Canyon School and director of substance abuse treatment, and clinical director and chief operations officer (2004-2007)."
"Alcohol operates on the body in the same way that other illicit drugs do, such as amphetamines and methamphetamines."
"As much as twenty-eight percent of teen suicides have been attributed directly to alcohol abuse."
"Approximately two of every five American college students could be termed binge drinkers."
The first excerpt is provided to further evidence Biddulph's connection to Provo Canyon School. We would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that Red Rock Canyon School has been sued for both wrongful death (death of Katherine Lank) and allowing the sexual abuse of a minor by placing him alone with sex offenders at night. Biddulph formerly worked for Red Rock Canyon School.
Regarding the second excerpt... In looking it up online, there are many contradictory theories and suggestions. Some studies show that meth is worse for fetuses than alcohol, other studies show the opposite. This field has too many variables to make the above statement without additional qualification. It seems to be a scare-tactic. This coupled with the paragraph beginning "Alcohol is a depressant" and ending in "causing death" on the same page suggests an intent other than assisting families in crisis. It compares alcohol use to the use of heroin, codeine, and morphine. That is a bit of a scare-tactic and suggests the use of emotional-triggers to persuade families instead of reason. Anyone who preys upon the fears of the individual is not acting in the individual's interest, the same goes for anyone who preys upon the fears of parents and families.
The third excerpt is more scare-tactics and a false statement. It is a convenient "out" to say, well, he said "as much as" and since that implies possibility as opposed to fact-based data, he is in the clear as far as making false claims. That is some fancy "footwork" when dealing with a court of law and nitpicking details of truth or falsity in advertising. But, it does not show that Biddulph is particularly interested in making fact-based claims or using scientific data to sell his "services" and "products". In fact, Biddulph only mentions alcohol abuse (lumped in with drug abuse by the CDC and therefore isolating alcohol abuse as a singular factor is horribly inaccurate) as the direct cause of "as much as 28 percent of teen suicides". This is absolutely inaccurate according to the Center for Disease Control's report available online at http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pub/youth_suicide.html. Such a statement is meant to sound like scientific data, but, it is just fodder for emotion-based, fear-baiting advertising as opposed to a genuine and helpful statement of facts and resources.
The final excerpt above is also horribly inaccurate. The Center for Disease Control shows the statistics for binge-drinking among college-age adults to be only slightly higher (at 27.4%) than the national average for binge-drinking adults overall (at 24.3%). Here we have Biddulph again inflating the data to maximize the "fear factor" to convince parents that everyone (youth or adult) who has a sip of wine at a wedding is a "binge-drinker". His outrageous statement that "approximately two of every five" or 40% of American college students are binge-drinkers, is outrageous and slanderous to a large percentage of those students (over 12% being inaccurately depicted by Biddulph for effect in his sales pitch to parents).
Biddulph goes on to virtually argue for abolition of alcohol in saying, "These are just a sampling of indicators of the affects of alcohol on youth that researchers are discovering. Any other product with as many defects and potential harm as those of alcohol would be banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and immediately removed from store shelves. People would, in fact, be suing manufacturers for damages. Yet, for reasons stated, we seem to make exceptions for the psychoactive drug called alcohol." HEAL finds it unreasonable to advocate for abolition as opposed to teaching responsibility and encouraging adults to exercise all of our freedoms with a sense of responsibility to our fellow Americans. Abolition is an unreasonable position and really points to the hyper-vigilant environment of fear and control at programs like Provo Canyon School.
[End of Biddulph/Hazelden Commentary]
It is quite clear that Hazelden and MRA are just exploiting families and claiming expertise based on years of fraud rather than on any legitimate field of study in mental health. It is a serious concern that Hazelden created the model for the Young Women's Lives curriculum. And, based on this and the above we heartily advise against placing anyone at MRA and that parents remove children currently enrolled in this program.
"In an emergency situation our staff is instructed to get immediate medical intervention. The Nurse Coordinator or Director will contact parents as soon as possible if there is a medical emergency. The Medical Clinic will bill your insurance company; however you are responsible for all payments to the medical clinic."
"Students complete a Medical Request form and submit to the Nurse if the illness or injury does not need immediate medical attention."
"Students follow their medical care plans as prescribed."
"Students going to the doctor may only be treated for the symptoms listed."
"Stages work must be signed off by the Nurse even if the student is not taking any medication."
"If a student wishes to discontinue taking her prescription medication she must first discuss it with the Nurse and obtain medical approval."
"Nurse tracks student menstrual periods and vital signs regularly."
"Students are NOT allowed to know their weight unless for therapeutic reasons her Therapist or the Nurse determines otherwise."
"When a student goes to the doctor Staff accompanies the student into the examining room."
If improper restraint or another form of abuse or injury (exposure, etc.) is incurred as a direct result of incompetence, carelessness, or intentional wrongful conduct, shouldn't MRA be responsible for the costs of medical care? It is a serious concern that this program demands the right to decide what is "somatic" and what is "legitimate" illness. People injured by food-poisoning at public and private schools have been compensated for those injuries. So, it raises serious concerns that MRA is focused on avoiding any responsibility or accountability regarding the health and welfare of children in their program. Ken Stettler of the Utah Department of Licensing once told a mother who reported on an abusive program in Utah that parents should really do their research before sending their children to Utah. He showed no concern for the injuries she and her child sustained. And, this is a serious concern. Everyone should avoid Utah because children have no protection when held on private compounds in rural Utah. See www.heal-online.org/utah.htm for additional information.
Children in residential treatment may be frightened to report illness and/or may try to fight through any illness to avoid further humiliation and abuse. If a child reports being ill, reasonable steps should be immediately taken by the program to protect the child and the other children from further illness. And, it is inappropriate to use a bureaucratic system of request when a child is ill. This is a serious concern as well and really doesn't encourage children to report illness at onset. The sooner viruses are caught, the easier it is to protect the individual who is ill as well as others. It is in the best interest of children to get immediate medical attention if they feel enough discomfort that reporting the discomfort to the Nurse has become a consideration. This is especially true in programs that tend to claim that children reporting illness are "manipulating" and that if the program (a non-medical facility) does consider such reports to be "manipulating" it will count against a child's "progress" in the program. These are all significant stressors that can deter children from reporting illness when they are legitimately ill and it can result in severe illness and death. These are all things parents should consider before sending their child to a program.
Doctors are not always competent in their field and do not always take patient concerns and discomfort seriously. Angela Smith, HEAL HQ Coordinator, started on Depo Provera (birth control shot) in 1996. At the time, she was a strict vegetarian and exercised (jogged) daily. Within the first 3 months of being on Depo Provera, and without any other changes to her routines, she gained over 100 pounds. She reported this to two physicians. Both physicians acknowledged that weight gain was a side effect of Depo Provera, but, claimed that the amount of weight gain suggested she had changed something else in her routine. She had not. And, it turned out Depo Provera was originally a chemical-castration drug used on sex offenders that also apparently worked as birth control. The weight gain wasn't all. There were also pre-cancerous cells in her cervix and other reactions that appeared to be directly related to Depo Provera. She ceased taking Depo Provera after the third shot. And, her cervix healed within one year of stopping the Depo. The weight issue is something she is still struggling with today. But, it appeared the doctors were more interested in covering their own butts instead of blaming the drug they prescribed and accepting some responsibility for the failure to safeguard their patient from injury/harm. It is important that individuals understand that 3 extra years in school and an internship do not equal genius or even competence. Parents should encourage their children to question the authority of doctors who stand to benefit from long-term institutionalization of those in their care.
It should be up to the physician what diagnostic questions are asked and answered when treating a patient. It is inappropriate for MRA to dictate what a child can and can't discuss with a doctor treating her for illness. There should be no rules dictating what the child can report to a physician and to include such is inappropriate. A stomachache with fever may include a headache. But, the stomachache may be overwhelming the pain of the headache. And, this may be what is reported by the child to the Nurse at MRA. If she is taken to the doctor and the doctor asks if she has a headache but she believes she will be punished since she didn't mention the headache before and adding it once in front of the doctor would be against the rules puts unnecessary strain and stress on a child who is already ill. It is cruel and unusual treatment and should not be tolerated.
Is the Nurse qualified to sign off on Stages/Level system work? What training does the Nurse have to evaluate the work? In such cases, does the Nurse have final authority on whether the work was satisfactorily completed or might the completed work be required to be re-done by other staff? If so, this places additional and unnecessary stress on a child who is ill. If a child is ill and the assignment completion is approved by the Nurse and later discounted by staff or the director, then why make a child do it when they are sick? Maybe, let children recover from illness so they can focus and do their best on assigned work instead of forcing them to complete work that may be required to be repeated. This seems to be an ineffective use of time and resources as well as an unnecessary stress on an ill child.
It is inappropriate to force psychotropic medications on a child. This is especially true at a non-medical facility such as Moonridge Academy. If a child is having an adverse reaction to medication, immediate steps should be taken to get the child of the medication safely. No child should be forced to take psychiatric medications at the behest of non-medical service providers.
MRA is not a medical facility. Their tracking of menstruation and vital signs is likely in support of the psychiatrist and to monitor physical symptoms association with taking psychiatric medication. But, menstruation and vital signs may vary due to a number of factors including the stress and anxiety caused by the environment at MRA. Survivors of abusive residential programs have reported spotting throughout their entire stay at a residential program due to the stress alone. These are serious concerns. But, does MRA or any residential program take into account the stress of the environment they create for their "students"? It is quite apparent that the needs of the children and the families "served" by residential treatment are not the priority of the "service" providers.
If a "student" is not enrolled in MRA for an eating disorder, there is no reasonable basis for keeping the child's weight a secret. And, secrecy and other practices at these programs can intensify the distrust and feelings of despair of children in these programs. It is unreasonable to keep a young woman from knowing her weight unless depriving her of this information is of therapeutic value. The opposite is what is suggested by MRA and is counter-intuitive and just plain wrong. Empowering young women to take charge of their health and well-being includes treating them with respect and allowing them to participate fully in decisions regarding their health and well-being.
It is a serious concern that staff accompanies a child into the doctor's examining room. The doctor should have a nurse on staff that can provide witness if needed. Children may feel the doctor is an opportunity to report regarding sexual abuse, physical abuse, or other violations at MRA. The only apparent reason MRA demands to be present is to exert oppressive control and make sure that no incidents of abuse are reported to the physician. This should raise serious concerns for parents as well.
"Students on medical sick day remain in bed except for activities to care for personal needs."
"Students may listen to music if approved by staff."
"Students are restricted from housekeeping chores such as food preparation or dishwashing until recovered from illness."
"If your daughter takes psychopharmacologic medication, our contracted Psychiatrist will evaluate and prescribe psychopharmacologic medications for your daughter as necessary."
"Should the Treatment Team (Director, her primary Therapist, Program Director, Staff Nurse, etc.) or the psychiatrist wish to consider a psychopharmacologic medication change, we will consult with you first before proceeding."
"Medication reviews are scheduled monthly until the psychiatric team determines that your daughter is stable on her current medications. At that time medication reviews may be scheduled every two to three months. The cost for these appointments will be deducted from your daughter's trust account."
On page 22, Moonridge claims that children are required to complete their "Stages" work, even while on medical sick day. This contradicts the statement that children on medical sick day are to remain in bed and or only required to attend to personal needs. Personal needs as used in the quote above suggests using the bathroom or similar activities. So, clarification is the least that is in order.
Do children have to earn the privilege of listening to music? What forms of music are approved by staff? Are children ever forced to listen to music that makes them uncomfortable? Is music ever used as a punishment? Does the program use music as part of their behavior modification model? If so, how is it used?
What chores are children to perform while ill? And, if they are to perform chores, doesn't this again suggest a contradiction with the sick bed policy?
If a child is already on medication, shouldn't the
psychiatrist monitor the child's current prescription? How often are
prescriptions and/or doses changed or altered by Moonridge's contracted
Psychiatrist? These are serious concerns given the ongoing issues with
false diagnosis in the field of psychiatry. See
for more information.
http://www.ahrp.org/cms/content/view/783/9/ for more information.
Does Moonridge receive compensation from the pharmaceutical industry for participating in experimental drug trials? Other programs in the industry have and do. So, this is a serious concern. Should non-medical professionals (i.e. Director, Program Director, primary Therapist, etc.) have a say regarding what medications are appropriate for a child? This is also a concern.
Who is Dr. Nielson? Why doesn't Moonridge provide Dr. Nielson's full name? Is it Dr. Cantril Nielsen (not Nielson) who formerly worked at Eagle Ranch Academy? If it is Dr. Nielsen, HEAL understands that Dr. Nielsen has relocated to Idaho. However, other Utah programs still claim him as their contracted psychiatrist. So, this also raises serious concerns. How can the same psychiatrist be contracted to and effectively meet the needs of the children in multiple programs in Utah and/or Idaho? How much extra does this cost the families? Why does Moonridge charge so much when they don't include the expenses that cover basic mental health services? If Dr. Nielson is contracted with Moonridge, why is there an additional charge for the services provided? If it is Dr. Cantril Nielsen, here are some facts about him you may be interested in:
"In the 1980s, LDS Psychiatrist Cantril Nielsen found himself caught between his conflicting religious and professional oaths. Nielsen paid a sizable wrongful death malpractice settlement in the masturbation-shame suicide of 16-year-old Kip Eliason. The lawsuit alleged that Nielsen violated professional standards of psychiatric care by prescribing that his patient should follow his Mormon bishop’s advice to abstain from masturbation in order to be “worthy,” rather than basing treatment on empirical medical evidence required by medical ethics."
Case Citation: Eliason v. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, et al., No. 80195, D.C. (Ada County 1983).
"When Dr. Neilson is meeting with your daughter he will call you to confirm your support for any recommended changes."
"All students receive a psychological test, the MMPI-A (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-Adolescent version) and the Beck Depression Inventory from which a brief report for treatment planning and medication management purposes will be written. Our staff psychologist administers the test and writes the accompanying report."
"In addition, other screening tools may be administered to assist in the following diagnoses: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, obsessive compulsive disorder and others. The cost for these tests and screenings will be deducted from your daughter's trust account."
"If the MMPI-A and the Beck Depression Inventory do not answer our diagnostic and treatment planning questions, we may recommend that your daughter undergo more extensive neuro-psychological testing or other testing administered by our consulting Neuropsychologist. The costs for theses additional tests will be deducted from your daughter's trust account and will be discussed with you in advance."
Why are there spelling issues and no full name provided for Dr. Neilson/Dr. Nielson? Who is he/she? Why doesn't MRA include Dr. Nielson's full name and correct spelling so parents can know who is treating their child?
What is the MMPI-A? Is it accurate? What are the
current finding regarding this test? Quote: "At issue is the
"Fake Bad Scale" that was incorporated into the Minnesota Multiphasic
Personality Inventory last year for use in personal injury litigation. A
front-page critique in today's Wall Street
Journal includes publication of the items on the contested scale, a
test security breach that will no doubt have the publisher seeing red.
for additional basis of concern regarding the misuse and misdiagnosis of
mental health "consumers".
http://www.ahrp.org/cms/content/view/783/9/ for additional basis of concern regarding the misuse and misdiagnosis of mental health "consumers".
What is the Beck Depression Inventory? Is it accurate? What is the criticism of this test? Quote: "The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) is a widely used instrument in the measuring of depression and its severity. BDI is a simple instrument: there are twenty-one multiple-choice items; the respondent answers according to his or her feelings as remembered over the past two weeks. The BDI was developed in 1961 for use in care situations so that patients who may have a mood disorder could be detected, but was not originally designed to make a diagnosis. The instrument was revised in accordance to changes made in DSM IV (APA, 1994) for Major Depressive Disorder — the items now match more closely the list of symptoms in the DSM — and is now used primarily to measure the severity of depression in patients diagnosed with depression, though other uses (including more purely diagnostic purposes) remain prominent as well. However, some critics still believe that the BDI, or any self-report instrument, is insufficient to diagnose the disorder of depression. (Coyne, 1994) It should be noted that BDI is often used to screen, or as part of a diagnosis, rather than being used as a singular diagnostic tool." (Source: http://en.oboulo.com/validity-of-the-beck-depression-inventory-59136.html )
What are the qualifications of the staff psychologist? Does the staff psychologist administer the tests personally or are they administered by unqualified staff with the "results" being reviewed by the "staff psychologist"? If tests are administered by program staff, why is there an additional cost?
What is neuropsychology? The information available on neuropsychology suggests it is a new and experimental field that requires more research. One method used in neuropsychology is brain-imaging. Quote: "Even when you’re skewering an entire field of science, the better part of valor might be to use terms such as “circular analysis” rather than, say, “voodoo.” The latter is how a team of scientists characterized some findings from brain imaging, as I described in a print column and a previous post about an upcoming paper in Perspectives on Psychological Sciences (but available ahead of print here) by Ed Vul of MIT, Hal Pashler of UC San Diego and colleagues. Its original title of “Voodoo Correlations” in fMRI studies has been replaced by the much-politer “Puzzlingly High Correlations” in fMRI studies, but the message is the same: conclusions from brain-imaging studies of social and emotional aspects of human behavior (jealousy, altruism, social pain and the like) might be wrong and cannot be trusted unless they are re-done with greater statistical rigor. Now a new study, published last night online for the May issue of Nature Neuroscience, offers an equally devastating critique. Nikolaus Kriegeskorte, Chris Baker and colleagues, of the National Institute of Mental Health, analyzed all the fMRI studies published last year in five top journals (Nature, Science, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron and Journal of Neuroscience). Of the 134 fMRI papers, 42 percent (57 papers) committed a statistical sin at least once: they were guilty of what the NIMH scientists call “double dipping.”" (Source: http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/lab-notes/2009/04/27/brain-imaging-and-more-voodoo-but-politer.html)
How is using your child as a science project helping your child get well?
"If your daughter refuses to take prescribed medications without first following the above procedure, she will be placed on a Safety Time-out...Another reason for placing your daughter on a Safety Time-out is that she is required to follow all program rules and policies while enrolled at Moonridge Academy, and she may not unilaterally discontinue any prescribed medication."
"The equine program at Moonridge is managed by a non-profit organization Reins of Change."
"to learn and participate in horse care"
"to learn and participate in stable management"
"to learn about veterinary care"
"The Pony Clubs have different certification levels called the Standards of Proficiency and all students are required to join the Pony Club and achieve their "D" certification...Your daughter will have mandatory equine assignments to complete while she is enrolled at Moonridge (See the section titled Your Daughter's Stage Work for specific assignments)."
It is a serious concern that individuals who have a financial interest in keeping young women drugged are allowed to do so against their will. It is a serious concern that a girl refusing psychotropic drugs would be put on punishment or "Safety" status in isolation for refusing to be drugged.
What is Reins of Change? Reins of Change Foundation appears to be located at 145 Cascade Ave, Alpine, UT 84004. Now, there is a Reins of Change in Elgin, IL. See: http://www.reinsofchange.com/about/staff.htm. We can find no evidence that Reins of Change in Alpine is affiliated with the Reins of Change program in Illinois. Reins of Change Foundation in Utah has not filed tax returns since 2008 and they claim a total of $622 in assets and there total revenue is listed as $620. See: http://nccsdataweb.urban.org/orgs/profile/204039314?popup=1. This "foundation" was founded in 2007. And, the public information states that Reins of Change is a non-operating foundation. (Source: http://nccsdataweb.urban.org/orgs/profile/204039314?popup=1) This is the only information HEAL was able to find regarding Reins of Change in Utah. In the least, it sounds suspicious. In searching for the 145 Cascade Avenue address, we found that it is currently the address for Alpine Haven Family Ltd Pa. (Source: http://www.socialwelfareservices.org/Business_Profile/637072250/alpine-haven-family-ltd-pa.html) What is Alpine Haven Family Ltd Pa? The phone number listed for Alpine Haven Family Ltd Pa is (801)772-0727. The city associated with that phone number for Alpine changes depending on website. Some say American Fork or Alpine, while others claim Provo as the correct city for this "service". The phone number is a "land line" and shows two official addresses associated with the number in American Fork. A volunteer with HEAL called the phone number for Alpine Haven Family Ltd Partnership at approximately 11pm (Pacific) on March 23rd, 2011. A woman answered "hello". And, we did hang up. We expected that if it were a legitimate business line they would not answer at this hour and that an answering service or voice-mail system would pick up. Based on the call, we were not successful in determining if the number belongs to Alpine. The registered agent for Alpine is Kent Tasso. (see: https://secure.utah.gov/bes/action/details?entity=5775212-0180) Kent Tasso is the co-founder of Moonridge Academy. (see: http://www.teenage-depression.org/programstaff.htm). So, why is it that MRA needs to suggest that the horse or equine or other services are provided by someone other than MRA? And, why the misappropriation of the name of an Illinois company? And, do you see now how these people operate? Secrecy and illusion. They want your money and they provide just enough information to make you think it might help and then rip you and your family off and apart. Sick? We think so.
What "Pony Club" in Utah does Reins of Change (if it even exists) participate in? What is the evidence of this? HEAL has found no evidence suggesting that Reins of Change legitimately exists or that such a charity participates in any legitimate Pony Club activities. HEAL e-mailed The Pony Club in Lexington, KY to request verification or invalidation of Moonridge Academy/CERTS' claims that they are accredited by The Pony Club.
Parents should ask what labor children are to provide without compensation and how that labor benefits the program? At this point, it all seems highly unethical and questionable. Moonridge Academy, Kolob Canyon RTC, and all CERTS-related programs should be avoided. These look like scammers to us.
"Horse Management Class is held twice a month in the evenings. It involves learning the anatomy of horses, horse care, guess speakers such as equine veterinarians, etc."
"All students participate in horticulture activities, growing a fruit and vegetable garden as well as planting and maintaining flower beds and baskets on campus."
"Activities may include hiking, horseback riding, swimming, field trips, bowling, shopping, movies, plays, museums, and service projects."
"A Shift Leader or Stage 5 or 6 student leads the devotional. Devotionals consist of music, poetry, inspiring thoughts or stories, a challenge for the day, or something to be grateful for."
"Students meet every evening for a Close of the Day Group. This group is led by Stage 5 or 6 peers and is supervised by staff...Time is taken at the end to acknowledge the good things people see in others."
Who teaches the "Horse Management Class"? Does MRA even provide a legitimate equine component? It is hard to say given the lack of information and the lack of assets claimed by Reins of Change Foundation/Alpine/MRA/CERTS in Utah. What do girls in the program learn about a horse's anatomy and how personal in the experience? The misspelling of "guest" as "guess" was how it was written in the parent handbook.
Since MRA charges so much, why don't they hire groundskeepers to take care of gardening around campus? Why use your children for free labor while you pay them a fortune? This is truly unethical and should raise serious concerns for parents considering placing their children at MRA.
What does MRA mean by "service projects"? Parents should request a complete list for the last two years of every service project that has been assigned to girls in the program. If MRA is unwilling to provide such a list, this will raise additional concerns. It again suggests child labor violations and this is an ongoing problem with programs in this industry.
At what level do children get to participate in arguably fun activities such as bowling or going to the movies? And, what alternative on-campus "fun" activity is provided to the children who haven't "earned" the privilege of going outside?
It is a serious concern that children are placed in leadership positions over other children in the program. This is a warning sign of an abusive program. See www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for additional warning signs and questions you should ask any program you consider for your family.
What types of "good things" are generally acknowledged in the Close of Day Group? Does it include being obedient, hard-working, and absolutely passive towards those claiming authority? If so, this is a serious concern as well. It is important that young adults be taught to question authority and to demand fair and proper treatment in a work and/or educational setting. MRA does not appear to provide an environment that encourages young women to question authority and/or take affirmative action to demand fair and proper treatment. This is a concern as such an environment supports the abuse model of severe mistreatment, apology, "honeymoon" period of seeming safety, and forward to the next instance of severe mistreatment. This is mentally debilitating to young women and sets them up for abusive relationships in the future. This is a serious concern.
"Frequently your daughter will hear from a speaker teaching about principles of life such as honesty, hard work, love, and forgiveness. These are traditionally held on Sunday evenings and she will be dressed in her Sunday outfit."
"Students go to the Cedar City library where they can check out reading materials."
"Service projects are varied in size and scope and may include cleaning litter, helping maintain a local trail, or repairing broken toys. All students are encouraged to seek service opportunities within the larger community of their neighbors and in the smaller community of their peers."
"Mail sent by family and (at the appropriate Stage) approved friends"
"Reading materials-approved by the Program Director"
"New journals (old journals brought from home must have Therapist approval to remain in the bedroom)"
"Knitting and crocheting supplies (hooks, needles, and other sharps)"
"In contraband: Suitcases...Clothing articles not allowed in the program...Purses...Jewelry...Pictures in excess of what fits on the bulletin board"
"An Intake Supervisor searches all incoming property...All property considered contraband will be sent home or kept in her contraband bin."
"Upon leaving the Moonridge Academy program, the facility will make every reasonable attempt to make sure that your daughter is leaving with her property only. Property in question will be held until the owner is identified. All property left on campus for any reason longer than 30 days will be considered property of Moonridge Academy."
"Banned Items...Aerosol Sprays...Mouthwash...Fluoride Wash...Personal Radios...Unapproved Books or Magazines...Personal computers" [Banned Items list ends on Page 30 and is continued on that page below]
Parents should inquire as to the identity of any guest speakers and verify whether or not the individual is ethical and qualified to provide information on the topics discussed.
It is inappropriate to deny a child contact with her friends and extended family unless there is a specific danger involved in the contact (i.e. extended family has committed sexual abuse on the child or another family member, etc.). The program will destroy your child and create a new child that is easily controlled and that will obey anyone that is perceived to be an authority. This is dangerous. And, the program cannot destroy your child if she has the support of her friends and extended family. This is why barring contact with friends at the beginning (even those approved by parents) is "necessary" for the coercive thought reform to be "effective". And, this is one of many reasons HEAL believes Moonridge Academy and similar programs are harmful and to be avoided. Children deserve an education, not institutionalization.
Parents should inquire about any banned books at this program and the reasons for banning them. Some children have reported that their religious texts were banned. One HEAL Coordinator was denied a King James Bible at a Utah program. And, the "rules" and book bans do raise additional cause for concern.
If a young woman is already keeping a journal or has a journal from a previous therapist or program, why does MRA need to exclude that from her materials? They want her to destroy who she was and not have reminders of who she is and her memories and experiences (good or bad). It is inappropriate to deny a young woman access to her journals. It is more appropriate to allow her some privacy and to decide whether or not she wishes to keep her journals as she matures. It is not appropriate to ban someone's personal diaries because you or the program are not comfortable with the content. These are the young woman's private thoughts and should be respected as such.
Is knitting and crocheting used as a punishment? If so, this can be very detrimental. Hobbies that are soothing when chosen and/or taught by loved ones can take on punitive characteristics when one is forced to participate. This goes for working with common allergens like plants and animals too.
Why are excessive pictures considered "contraband"? Contraband normally refers to items that pose a threat to self or others. How are family photos a threat to the child? They are only a threat to "progress" when that "progress" is determined by the destruction of the "old personality" and the creation of the "new personality" using the MRA behavior modification system. Pictures of joyful childhood moments may remind a young woman that she is loved and had joy before the program. The program wants her to hate and despise everything about who she was prior to the program. And, this is why we at HEAL think programs like MRA are more like cults than anything else with which they could be compared.
Is the young woman allowed to watch the Intake Supervisor search her belongings? Is there an inventory of all items made that the young woman signs off on to insure that there are no errors regarding the belongings that should be returned to her? At most programs, the youth are not allowed to watch the search of their belongings and there is no inventory made of those belongings. Theft of personal items is common at programs. And, yes, theft by staff is common. You may have an elderly relative at a retirement home that has complained of staff stealing from them. This is unfortunately very common at residential programs for young and old.
If there is no inventory made, then it would make sense that they may have difficulty figuring out what property belongs to whom. However, this problem is easily solved by including the young women in the search of their items upon entry and creating an inventory of those items upon entry. The inventory should be updated whenever anything is added to it or when any item is sent home, lost, or otherwise no longer to be counted (i.e. stained pants that needed to be given away or thrown out). Prisons and jails do exactly this type of inventory to insure that such issues do not arise.
The banned items should be explained. For instance, what if someone is prescribed fluoride mouthwash by their dentist because of oral disease or some other issue? Is it appropriate for the program to ban mouthwash? There are mouthwashes that do not contain alcohol and this issue can be easily resolved. Individual packets of mouthwash are now sold everywhere. Little Listerine strips, for instance, are readily available. Are such strips or other forms of mouthwash allowed? Since the program provides 24/7 supervision, shouldn't some form of mouthwash be permitted?
Why are personal radios not allowed? Well, this again is because the program wants complete control of every aspect of the environment and to deprive youth of access to news and the outside world. If there is another reason for this, we'd like to hear it. Programs can submit requests for review/editing by visiting www.heal-online.org/invite.pdf. To see the requests log, visit www.heal-online.org/request.htm. Personal computers are also not allowed because they provide too much access to the outside world, including news and e-mail. Given the nature of the world today, it is likely harming the children to deprive them of personal computers. They will be behind and find school and employment difficult if they do not have proficient computer skills. This is also a serious concern.
[Banned Items List Continued...]
"New clothes (All items need to be inventoried)"
"Books (All of them need to be searched and then approved by the Program Director)"
"Purses, wallets, bags (run risk)"
"Students do not use alcohol, drugs or any other substances that may be harmful."
"Students do not swear."
"Students do not talk about sex unless they are in a therapeutic situation or an education class where sex is a topic of discussion."
"Students do not use gang signs, graffiti, or paraphernalia."
"Students are not allowed to have inappropriate conversations, i.e., glorifying old behavior, unhealthy talk about drugs, friends, boyfriends, bands, racially degrading comments etc."
"Students are not allowed to negatively compare MRA and/with past programs/schools."
"Students do not pass notes of any kind to anyone, unless approved by Staff."
Why are cell phones not permitted? Can't the program inventory the phones and create an appropriate time of day or during the week for them to call friends and family? Or, is MRA afraid that if the girls had cell phones the authorities would be notified regarding occurrences at the program? Questions to be considered.
MRA doesn't want old clothes or ratty clothes, but, new clothes are banned too! What exactly does MRA allow by way of clothing? Does MRA understand that clothing and hairstyle are two healthy avenues of self-expression that do not pose a risk to the well-being of an adolescent? It appears they do not.
Band t-shirts are another form of self-expression and appreciation for music. It may be appropriate to ban certain t-shirts if they depict sex, drugs, or violence. But, why ban all band t-shirts? Is John Lennon a threat to the program? Is Willie Nelson? If so, isn't that odd?
HEAL previously covered the issues with the book bans at this program. Parents should inquire as to the exact guidelines regarding reading materials and look at any items they approve but the program disapproves. Parents will likely be shocked at the types of books and music that these programs ban.
Why isn't there an inventory or special shelf where goodies from home can be kept for snacks? It seems it would make sense to have such an option so that the children can keep their connection with home. But, as discussed, MRA is not interested in maintaining established relationships.
Money and purses does make sense. But, parents should ask why a run risk is so likely? If someone has not been court-ordered into a program and is being held incommunicado in a foreign state, they will likely try to escape. Wouldn't you? Try treating children and young women with respect and see how quickly they begin to show more respect towards themselves and others.
Parents should ask what are considered inappropriate pictures. A teen girl in a program in Washington reported that a quilt that contained photos of her entire family was sent by her mother for her while in the program. It had photos of her family and her pets. But, the program said it was inappropriate. They didn't explain why it was inappropriate. But, this gift from a mother to a daughter was deemed "inappropriate" by the staff. This program also declined to allow the girls siblings visit her on-site. All of these issues raise serious concerns when rules are discussed. Do not expect programs to be reasonable; check out their actions and look at the facts.
HEAL supports not allowing alcohol and drug use by minors. However, parents should inquire what other "substances" the program considers harmful. The Mormon religion opposes chocolate and other products that contain even trace amounts of caffeine (i.e. tea). It is our understanding that caffeine is not allowed at many programs in Utah. If parents feel that caffeine and/or chocolate is an approved substance for their child and such substances are legally approved for minors to use, then the program really shouldn't overrule common sense, the child's rights, or the family's authority. If the program does attempt to over-reach in this manner, it is inappropriate and should raise serious concerns for individuals and families.
Swearing can help relieve pain and is not always a bad thing. According to a 2009 research study, "Swearing makes pain more tolerable." It is inappropriate to punish people for swearing while causing them pain in order to teach them to be more tolerant of pain in the future. This is especially true when research shows that swearing is a drug-free mechanism by which pain may be better tolerated. If there is an issue with excessive swearing or some indication of mental illness that precludes a normal exercise of free expression in regards to language skills, then that should be addressed professionally. There should be no rules barring normal self-expression and this is an additional concern as it suggests further civil rights violations at this program.
It is normal and healthy for young adults to discuss their sexuality and sexual curiosity. If the program is too conservative to properly assist young adults in navigating their development, then the program shouldn't exist. HEAL understands why sexual activity would be banned by a residential program for minors and we support that, especially when that sexual activity is involuntary and/or involves staff. However, if teenagers have reached the age of consent, it is appropriate to allow them to have private conversations about this new privilege and responsibility outside of a therapeutic or educational setting. Discussing what is learned in a sex education class outside of that class will help students remember and reinforce the lessons learned in the class. And, it appears that Moonridge Academy does not operate in a reasonable manner nor do they appear to respect the developmental needs of the young adults in their program. This is a serious concern.
Parents should ask for a specific list of items/patterns/colors that are barred by the no gangs, graffiti, paraphernalia rule. Some programs have barred the Star of David. Others have claimed that anything silver is occult/gang/gothic symbolism and those items are banned. Obviously, this rule can be over-generalized and result in oppression and prejudice as opposed to enforcing any suggested safety standards. This is a concern.
It is a serious concern that children are deprived of their civil liberties including freedom of association and freedom of expression, guaranteed by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. What parents would consider a normal conversation about joyful moments from the past may be labeled by program staff as "glorifying old behaviors", even if those behaviors were approved and supported by the family. This is a serious concern and parents should really consider whether or not they think they would be comfortable or able to heal from past mistakes in such a controlled and oppressive environment. Why is it against the rules to discuss music or bands that the children like? Why can't they discuss their friends and family or fun times from home?
It is a serious concern that this program makes talking negatively about the program against the rules. This makes it punishable for children to report abuse or other violations that occur at the program. And, this is a big red flag warning regarding an abusive facility. See www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for more on the warning signs of abuse and questions you should ask any program you consider.
It is a serious concern that the children are offered no semblance of private communications with each other or with their families. MRA appears to be a truly oppressive and violative program and no parent should risk placing their child in such an environment.
"Students respect the physical boundaries of others (i.e., no laying heads o each others shoulders/laps, no snuggling during movie time, no hand holding etc.) without Staff permission."
"Students call each other by first names. Nicknames may be used unless otherwise directed by staff."
"Students do not leave personal items out of place without Staff permission."
"Students are not allowed to hang out in their bedrooms unless approved by Staff."
"Students who have a bathroom inside their bedroom must ask for permission to go to their bathroom, whether or not they are inside the bedroom."
"Family Leaders and Jr. Staff students need to announce where they are going within the house and should inform staff if they will be out of the line of sight of staff."
"Jr. Staff are permitted to be on a different level of the house to do specific tasks when prompted by Staff."
"Jr. Staff may not escort a student to a different floor of the house unless there is a Staff member on that floor of the house."
"The posted schedule is followed unless directed otherwise by Program Director/Director."
"Male Staff are not allowed in student's bedrooms when students are in them, unless there is a safety issue, or unless accompanied by female Staff."
It is a concern that children in a lockdown setting cannot show each other platonic affection and comfort each other when in pain without staff permission. This is another example of the over-reaching and oppressive environment at MRA.
Parents should inquire as to what "nicknames" are used and/or encouraged by staff and whether such "nicknames" are used to humiliate or otherwise harass clients.
A girl at another Utah program reported being placed on severe punishment for leaving a hair accessory ("scrunchy") on top of her dresser instead of in the dresser drawer. The punishment was days in isolation. This is a serious concern as MRA has made leaving something "out of place" against the rules and therefore punishable.
What does the program mean by "hang out"? Are young women in the program not allowed to take a time out and/or relax in their own space without staff approval? How does such a rule encourage independence or self-regulation?
Survivors of similar programs have reported that they are not allowed to use the bathroom privately. This includes being watched/monitored while on the toilet and in the shower. This is a serious concern regarding the disregard for personal dignity in monitoring someone's hygiene habits to such an extent. A victim of Kolob Canyon RTC (sister program to MRA) said that the clients were required to leave the bathroom door open and to shout out a count of (1, 2, 3, etc...) while on the toilet. This makes using the bathroom a traumatic and stressful experience and can result in serious health problems including urinary tract infections. UTIs that go untreated can result in permanent physical harm and even death. This is a serious concern.
It is a serious concern that children more advanced in thought reform are placed in positions of authority over other children in the program as "junior staff". This is a cost-cutting measure by the programs and also creates a serious risk to both the children placed in positions of authority as well as those over whom they are given authority. See www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for additional information regarding warning signs of abusive programs and questions you should ask any program you consider for your family.
How often does the Program Director/Director change the schedule? This statement contradicts the statement above that the therapist (who is neither the program director nor director) is allowed to change a child's schedule and pull them from study hall at will. (Pages 18-21 Quotes above)
Who decides if there is a "safety issue"? How often do male staff enter a girl's room on a "safety issue" without chaperone? Parents should ask how often such occurs and what circumstances surrounded those events. This is a serious concern because their is rampant sexual abuse at juvenile detention centers (public and private). HEAL has received no complaints regarding sexual abuse at MRA as of March 30th, 2011. However, the risk of such abuse is present and likely given the nature of the program and the lack of access to report abuse for possible victims held at programs like MRA.
"Students leave their slippers outside their rooms during sleeping hours to prevent running away and hiding unsafe items."
"Students dress modestly and appropriately."
"Students may not wear underwear, undershirts, or thermals as outer garments."
"Students may not have bandanas, or nylon head coverings."
"Students must wear socks and slippers in the house."
"Shoes are to be kept in the locked shoe closet."
"Students have a dress-up "Sunday outfit" for special occasions."
Are the bedrooms carpeted? If not, and a young woman needs to use the bathroom during the night, shouldn't her slippers be close by? Isn't the purpose of locking shoes in a lock-box to prevent running away? Isn't the point of having girls wear slippers instead of shoes to deter running away? If wearing slippers deters run attempts, why are slippers not allowed in bedrooms at night? Since the program supervises the girls 24/7 and searches their rooms and bodies at will, does it make any sense that the girls would have access to something worth hiding in their slippers? Basically, this rule seems illogical and out of the realm of reason when weighed against the purported purpose of the so-called rule.
Parents should ask what the program means by "modest" and "appropriate". It is likely more Puritanical than most parents would deem necessary or appropriate in regards to dress codes.
Some thermal shirts and other t-shirts are for outer-wear. Parents should ask if the rule applies to all t-shirts and thermals or just those that are sold as underwear.
If, as claimed by the program, the girls are to work at a horse ranch as part of the program, then they should be allowed to wear the appropriate protective clothing for such tasks. Traditionally, cowboys and ranch hands do wear bandanas to protect their face from dust and debris. Why are bandanas not allowed when such would be appropriate gear for the assigned tasks? It is unreasonable to label all bandanas as "gang-related" when John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, and many other American icons have worn bandanas and have done so in the horse ranch setting.
What areas of the compound constitute "the house"? And, if girls go in and out of their rooms, are they to leave their slippers off and outside their rooms every time they enter the rooms? If they do not, are they punished? This is a serious concern as severe punishment for minor "mistakes" such as not taking off slippers when entering the bedroom are common at programs like MRA.
When are girls allowed to wear their shoes? And, are they allowed protective steel-toed shoes for their work at the ranch? If not, this is inappropriate and places the girls at unnecessary risk of injury.
Young women should be encouraged to decide for themselves what is appropriate to wear to an event. MRA should not dress up their captives to impress guests. MRA should respect the young women in the program and allow for self-expression in the form of choosing the outfits they wear to events. MRA likely wants the girls to dress up for guests in order to keep the idea going that they are an upscale private school as opposed to a scam.
"Tops/shirts must be long enough to cover the stomach, do not reveal cleavage and are not so form-fitting as to broadcast the breasts."
"Shirts/tops may not be sleeveless."
"Clothing may not have unapproved logos, writing or artwork on it."
"Students accept confrontation without arguing, or assuming an aggressive posture."
"Students do not support negative behaviors."
"Students do not use profanity or vulgarity."
"Students do not take a "victim" stance."
If MRA is a private residential program for young women, shouldn't the dress code reflect this? If the staff at MRA are so sex-starved that they can't handle a young woman wearing fashionable and tasteful clothing that fits properly, then obviously there is something wrong with the staff. Young women need to be taught to respect themselves and to require that others respect them as well. Respect has very little to do with how one chooses to dress. And, given that the program supposedly sends all inappropriate clothing home, this rule would seem pointless. However, it appears that at some programs in Utah, even a t-shirt that is approved upon arrival can result in punishment if another staff decides it is inappropriate attire. What does MRA mean by "broadcast the breasts"? Women have breasts and some have larger breasts than others. Regardless, girls with larger breasts who cannot hide them should not be made to feel awkward and should not be punished for the shape of their bodies.
There is nothing obscene about sleeveless shirts. Utah gets very hot in summer. And, there are tank tops and sleeveless shirts that are comfortable and stylish without being inappropriate. Are you sending your child to a conservative training cult or a residential treatment program? It is hard to say when you get into the rules and practices at these programs.
What are approved logos, artwork, etc. for clothing? If all clothing that does not meet MRA's standards is sent home or kept in the contraband box, then what is the purpose of this rule? Again, these are serious concerns because children are punished at programs like MRA for wearing clothing that the program approved upon entry. And, this creates confusion and frustration. It does not assist in developing critical thinking, reasoning, or living skills. This is a serious concern.
MRA uses "confrontation therapy" which has been found to be ineffective and harmful. This is a serious concern and no one should trust their family members with people who use this method.
What does MRA consider a "negative behavior"? This is a serious concern because what would be seen as normal self-expression at home and welcome participation is considered a "negative behavior" at many behavior modification programs. Parents should ask for a list of all "negative behaviors" for which girls have been cited or punished at the program. If compiling such a list creates difficulty for the program, narrow the timeframe to 6-months and ask for a list of all "negative behaviors" girls have been cited for during the most recent 6-month period. If the program is unwilling to provide you details regarding their methods, avoid it like the plague.
What does MRA mean by profanity and vulgarity? Confrontation usually involves name-calling and/or identifying issues by using terms such as "druggie whore" and such. This is inappropriate regardless of the context. But, are there times at MRA when such is allowed and encouraged? And, why is there a double-standard? Parents may be surprised by what is and is not allowed at programs like MRA. And, you should definitely require that every rule be explained regarding what it means and how it is enforced.
MRA claims to help with a variety of teen problems. And, it claims to help victims of abuse recover from that pain. If someone feels attacked due to PTSD and responds appropriately given their circumstances, it is not appropriate to accuse them of "playing the victim". There are real victims of real abuse in this world and none of us deserve to be dismissed or disrespected because those who attack us dismiss our suffering as "playing the victim". This is a disgusting and disrespectful practice at programs like MRA.
"If a student violates a program rule she is given a chance to self-correct in order to lessen the severity of the consequence."
"All consequences are due within 24 hours of being assigned. If not completed the student will stay up one half hour later (9:30pm) to complete her consequence(s)."
"A student who receives a consequence also loses all free time until the consequence is complete."
"The consequences listed below are suggestions, they are not "automatic" nor are they the only consequences staff may assign."
"CATEGORY OF RULE VIOLATION"
"102 Disrespect to/arguing with Staff-Not listening to directions..."
"Role play/conflict resolution"
"Max. 500 word essay that reflects the behavior"
"Therapeutic assignments by Therapist & Mentor (to be completed before reinstatement)"
"2000 word essay. 24 Hours to complete consequence/reminder."
"5000 word essay. 24 Hours to complete consequence/reminder."
"Some additional possibilities for consequences might include:...a reading assignment related to the particular issue...doing book/internet research about the issue/problem...an art project that symbolizes the impact of the student's behavior on self, on peers, on staff, or on family...participating in role plays where the student utilizes one or more DBT skills that would improve or correct her situation/behavioral outcome..." [Quoted section ends on Page 36 of manual]
As discussed above, the rules for this program are often ambiguous, extremely subjective, and overly oppressive. If a girl in this program leaves a hair accessory on her dresser, she will face penalty and punishment. This punishment is referred to as "consequences" by the program. However, the consequences are often cruel and unusual when the "offenses" are taken into consideration. This is a serious concern.
Parents should require a complete list of "consequences"/punishments that are assigned to girls in this program. This program claims it may use the punishments listed or may inflict unlisted punishments on the girls at the program. Parents should also inquire and calculate the likelihood of completing "consequences" within 24 hours given the strict and enforced structure and schedule of the program. It is likely that this system sets girls up for failure. As was mentioned in the survivor statement linked above, girls are level-dropped in this program for honestly sharing their concerns with their families. This only serves to enrich the program, not the individual client/student. That is unethical and raises serious concerns.
It is unlikely, based on the program's reported structure, that girls are allotted much, if any, free time on the lower levels of this program. This also sets girls up for failure and does not encourage healthy self-confidence or self-esteem. This is also a serious concern.
This program drugs some, if not all, of its clients. Psychiatric drugs can cause amnesia, apathy, drops in IQ, and other serious side effects. If a girl is having difficulty focusing, the first step should be to look at the factors involved (including environmental and medical) that effect the girl's state of mind. Girls should not be punished for "not listening to direction" if that is a probable or common side-effect of the drugs prescribed by the program and/or it's contracted psychiatrists. Also, there is a difference between not following direction and not listening. It is not unusual in programs like MRA for staff to very subjectively perceive a child is not listening. And, former clients of this program have reported unreasonable and oppressive methods at this program. This is a serious concern.
At another program in Utah that accepts referrals from MRA, a girl questioned staff for clarification. She was wearing a shirt approved by and allowed by that program. The staff on her unit stated the shirt was inappropriate. She asked for clarification because the shirt was approved. She was accused of arguing with the staff member. She was seeking clarification because she understood that the items she was permitted to have (including the shirt involved) were approved for use. The ambiguity and subjective enforcement of these rules create confusion and frustration. Neither confusion nor frustration are helpful in reducing anxiety, curing depression, or improving a child's self-image. These are all serious concerns.
It is a serious concern that this program does not list all possible consequences and does not describe "Therapeutic assignments" in detail. As this program considers forcing a child to provide free labor at a ranch and/or farm to be "therapeutic", the likelihood that forced, hard manual labor, is a common "consequence" or punishment. This is a serious concern because such assignment financially benefit the program and/or their business associates at the expense of a child who needs understanding, compassion, and a legitimate education. As was reported by one survivor of MRA, the academic credits earned at MRA do not transfer. This is also a serious concern.
MRA appears to be nothing more than a private prison or private correctional facility. As a private correctional facility, it would be appropriate to only accept court-ordered youth who have had their due process rights honored and recognized prior to depriving them of their civil rights. This is also a serious concern and something families should consider. Children grow up and as parents age, institutionalization may become an option. When the proverbial shoe is on the other foot, parents may regret their choices to institutionalize their children when the children were found to be inconvenient. And, many of the companies who run programs like MRA also operate equally abusive homes for elderly. This should be a concern for every family member and families should really think about the consequences of dismissing inconvenient family members in this manner.
"You may receive a "Good Job Card" for good choices, going the extra mile in a situation or relationship. These cards may be collected and used for a special activity such as being able to choose the Saturday evening movie, having extra time with a particular staff, enjoying some additional time by yourself or engaging in a craft project."
"Students support all positive behavior."
"Students are expected to participate fully in their treatment."
"Students get adequate rest each day."
"Moonridge Academy does not allow parents to send food (including candy) or drink except with permission from the Program Director for special occasions."
"Any food or drink sent without special permission from the Program Director becomes the property of MRA."
"Students may not leave the table until they have been excused by Staff."
What does MRA assign or permit as a "craft project"? Are "craft items" created by the children sold and/or does the program financially or otherwise benefit from such an activity? Does it confuse clients to be told not to "staff shop" while being rewarded with extra time with the staff of their choice? What does extra time with a particular staff entail?
What does MRA consider "positive behavior"? What does MRA consider "support"? Support of "positive behavior" may include the attacking of "negative behavior". What do such attacks look like? In the report submitted by an MRA survivor, she reported the program director insulted her. Insults and humiliation are a common theme at programs like MRA. And, parents need to thoroughly investigate and research any program they consider. HEAL believes MRA should be avoided.
What does "participate fully in their treatment" entail? If a young woman is placed in a program involuntarily and in violation of her due process (civil) rights, then it is wholly unreasonable to expect absolute submission and compliance. Programs such as MRA shouldn't expect young women or their families to leave their civil rights at the door. This is a serious concern.
What does MRA mean by "adequate" rest? Does MRA set girls up to fail by assigning extraordinary tasks with limited time to complete them and then hold punishment out as a threat of such assignments are not completed? If so, doesn't that structure discourage or prevent access to the time and resources to obtain adequate rest? These are serious concerns as well. Sleep deprivation and the use of exhaustion to break down children in residential programs is a common practice.
MRA likely doesn't allow chocolate or anything with caffeine. It is a serious concern that the values of MRA may not be in line with the family's values. It is an additional concern that items sent by families without director permission are kept/confiscated by the program for its use. If a family sends something without permission, it should be returned to them if not delivered to the intended recipient. It appears to be an over-reaching, oppressive, and unethical rule. Parents should have the right to send their children care packages that they choose without program interference.
MRA clients are likely not able to do much without asking for permission. As reported by an MRA survivor, she was watched when showering and going to the bathroom. Programs like MRA often disallow children to use the toilet when needed and this results in sometimes serious complications (kidney disease, UTIs, etc.). Please see the survivor statement linked above for more information.
"All gifts need to be item requested and inventoried to ensure that they remain the property of the individual girl."
"Approved Gift Giving List:...Flowers...Any approved MRA Clothing...Stationary...Journals...Crochet and Knitting Supplies...Personal letters of support and love...Family pictures...Personalized Pillow Case...Hair accessories...Personal Care Items that they use...New pajamas or slippers"
"Students may voice complaints and recommend changes to the program without being subject to coercion, discrimination, reprisal or unreasonable interruption of care, treatment and services."
"Students may discuss a grievance with their Therapist, the Program Director, or the Clinical Director if they believe it is reportable. If speaking directly does not result in a satisfactory resolution, you may put your grievance in writing to the Executive Director of Moonridge Academy."
"Grievances are filed only after a student has attempted a conflict resolution with the Staff member and a mediator, unless the grievance is a reportable offence (physical or sexual abuse, or criminal activity)."
"Grievance forms are turned in to the Program Director or Clinical Director (or the Director, if the grievance is against the Program Director)."
"You can expect to have your grievance handled expeditiously and in writing. As stated on the Student's Rights/Responsibilities Form, grievances against Moonridge Academy can be filed with the Office of Licensing. You may contact the Licensing Administrator at (435)674-3944."
If all items are inventoried, then how is it possible for an individual leaving the program to not have their items when they leave? In the review of pages 27 through 29 above, MRA states that they may hold onto property to determine who owns what before releasing it to a girl who is leaving the program. They also claim that all unclaimed items will become property of MRA after 30 days. These policies contradict the policy above that claims all property is inventoried to ensure girls in the program have their belongings. Again, if MRA allowed the girls and/or their families to participate in and sign-off on the inventories, it would greatly reduce the likelihood of lost or stolen items. Why doesn't MRA do this?
Flowers are a nice gift as long as no one who is allergic to the flowers is subjected to them. What precautions does MRA take to ensure that children with allergies are not exposed to allergens causing discomfort and illness?
What does MRA consider "approved clothing"? Does the standard change depending on the Staff in-charge at the time of inventory? This is a serious concern as confusion regarding dress code and approved items often results in severe punishment of children at programs like MRA.
Stationary and journals are both requirements for the program. Girls are expected to write home semi-regularly. And, they are expected to keep journals. These are not exactly what one would consider appropriate gifts to someone who is already institutionalized. This raises mild concerns regarding the lack of joy and personal enrichment at this program.
Are the girls forced to and/or rewarded for knitting and crocheting? Are the knitted and crocheted items used to benefit the program or their partners by supplying blankets or other items that financially or otherwise benefit the program? This is a serious concern because often the "therapeutic assignments" at programs like MRA are nothing more than forced, unpaid labor.
Parents should be sending letters and interacting with their child regularly. It should not be seen as a "gift" to receive support from one's family when one is a minor. This is a serious concern as it does not recognize the familial or legal duties that parents have to be actively involved in their children's lives. The same is true regarding family photos.
A personalized pillow case is a nice gesture. However, what is the likelihood that such a gift will be taken and/or destroyed by program staff to further beat down and break a girl who is in the program? This is a concern as other children have been denied personalized bedding items provided by family as a punishment at similar programs. And, this is unacceptable.
Hair accessories are nice and can be fun. However, the likelihood that any hair accessory that would help a girl express herself would be disallowed. It is inappropriate for parents to treat children like "dress up" dolls. The girls should have a say regarding what hair accessories they use and should not be punished for self expression. However, the behavior modification experts claim that self-expression (a first amendment right) is the opposite of behavior modification goals. So, how un-American is MRA? And, why are considering it?
Personal care items are necessities and should be taken out of the "gift" category. Parents/Guardians are required by law to provide necessities to their children. To do so is not a gift. A gift is something you give to show you care, not something that you are legally required to provide. This is a concern.
Girls at MRA likely require new slippers regularly as slippers are the only footwear allowed during the majority of the duration of the program. And, necessities are not gifts. Necessities are something guardians/caregivers are required by law to provide to children.
The language regarding a client "may voice complaints...without being subject to coercion..." is a concern. HEAL would like to see a more definitive statement from MRA such as: "Moonridge Academy never uses coercion, discrimination, reprisal, or interruption of services to silence criticism. Moonridge Academy encourages students to participate in the structure and schedule of the program and their personal treatment plans. MRA provides children in the program regular access to the telephone and number of the Office of Licensing so they can report any wrongdoing. MRA also provides access to the telephone and number for law enforcement and/or Child Protective Services if a girl in the program wishes to file a report regarding MRA's practices and/or any abuse." Using terms like "may" is ambiguous at best. MRA may or may not allow children to voice complaints without being subjected to coercion or reprisal. However, voicing a complaint and filing a grievance appear to be two different things. And, this raises additional concerns. If a girl files a grievance, is she punished? According to survivors, the grievance process is a sad joke. And, this is completely unacceptable.
This is a review of the parent handbook. It looks like girls are left with no way to report abuse without having it handled in-house. It is left up to the parents to file a written grievance with the program. This is an additional concern. If abuse is involved, the timeframe for reporting and investigating is very limited. By the time a girl at MRA has an opportunity to alert her family and ask for help and have the family contact the program to go through the in-house process the time is up for reporting to the proper authorities and to expect an effective investigation. This is a serious concern because this is the primary way these programs get away with extensive violations and abuse.
How often does MRA consider an act of staff to be abuse? Does MRA use the legal definitions of physical, psychological/emotional, and sexual abuse to determine if an act is abuse? Do girls at MRA get a list of these definitions so they understand their rights and the laws that protect them? According to survivors, MRA forces girls to sign (under duress and coercion) a "contract" waiving their rights while in the program. Such a contract is likely unenforceable given that minors can void most contracts and beyond this, contracts/waivers signed under duress are generally void or voidable. This again shows the unethical nature of MRA. Why are you still considering it? If your child is at MRA, shouldn't you be making travel arrangements to remove them at this point?
HEAL has received copies of responses from the Office of Licensing regarding reports against programs. The Office of Licensing generally claims they have a very limited scope and that matters of abuse should be discussed with Child Protection Services and/or law enforcement. If a parent and/or child in the program is told to file reports with the Office of Licensing and they are not the appropriate agency with which to file, then this is a serious concern as well.
"Laughter/Fun (Emotional Regulation)"
Page 40 includes multiple areas in which girls can "earn" points at MRA. Is it appropriate to award points based on someone's emotional state? If this program is for teen girls with emotional problems, is it appropriate to blame their emotions and/or punish them for their feelings whether the feelings are happy or sad? HEAL thinks it is appalling to award and/or punish anyone for feeling their feelings whatever those feelings may be. MRA should be disgusted with itself.
"Students sit up straight and pay attention at all times."
"Students never support negative behavior."
"Students do not rescue others."
"Students avoid distracting behaviors (fidgeting, whispering to others, nail biting, cuticle picking, knuckle cracking etc.)."
"Students are sincere in feedback to other peers."
"Students encourage peer support and feedback."
"Students do not tattoo or mark their bodies or anyone else's."
"Students must use deodorant."
"Hair is pulled back out of the student's face while on Safety."
"Students do not cut, color, or modify their hair without supervision and permission from Staff and parents. If colored, it must be natural hair colors."
"Students may not shave any part of their head nor cut their hair without parental and Staff permission."
"No yelling, screaming, or squealing around the horses."
"No sudden movements."
Are the chairs provided by the program ergonomic (i.e. provide proper spinal support)? If not, it is inappropriate to demand anyone make themselves uncomfortable for long periods of time based on a rule that is not supported by program equipment. It is also inappropriate to drug people with drugs that cause side effects such as apathy, sleepiness, marked drowsiness, etc. and then demand they pay attention at all times as a rule. This is unreasonable and raises additional concerns regarding the ethics and sensibilities of MRA.
Both the definitions of "positive behavior" and "negative behavior" are not provided by nor explained by MRA. There have been vague suggestions in the materials provided and the rules provide some ambiguous and unfair/unjust guidelines. But, the program and the staff determine whether behavior is positive or negative based on whether it benefits the program and their scheme/scam. And, this is highly unethical and a serious concern given that girls in this program are being denied their civil rights without due process of law. It is good for people to demand that they be respected and have their rights recognized and respected. This is positive. However, MRA would claim such would be "resisting treatment" and would therefore be a "negative". Parents should really consider the overall life lessons a young woman will learn when her family sends her to a re-education center such as MRA.
Students should have the right to speak the truth and defend unjustly attacked and abused peers during group sessions and always. It is an ethical and moral obligation to defend those who are being unjustly accused and attacked. And, MRA's disapproval of girls bonding with and protecting their fellows from attack, verbal abuse, humiliation, and ridicule is not in line with American values. This is a serious concern.
MRA reportedly creates a distressful environment and encourages and engages in humiliation and ridicule of girls in the program. When people who already have anxiety disorders or other issues are trapped in an unhealthy environment (i.e. MRA), then they will attempt to soothe themselves through any number of self-soothing behaviors (i.e. rocking, nail biting, etc.). If MRA wishes for girls and/or their clients to disengage in self-soothing behaviors, then MRA should create an environment that is respectful and stress-free so that their clients can relax and discuss their issues with mutual respect, compassion, and understanding. Creating an inviting and relaxed environment would reduce the stress level of the clients and therefore eliminate the majority of self-soothing behaviors. Self-soothing behaviors are not meant to distract, they are meant to assist in calming one's anxiety. If you have someone in your care that is experiencing high anxiety, the appropriate response is to deescalate and assist by being respectful and allowing the individual to calm down. It is inappropriate to torment people in group humiliation sessions and then claim it is against the rules for them to respond naturally by self-soothing. To put it in MRA's terms, self-soothing is a natural consequence of placing an individual in a stressful and abusive situation. If MRA wishes to avoid the consequence of having clients self-sooth, then MRA should create an environment where such would not be necessary.
MRA is not sincere nor honest in how it represents itself to the public. It is unlikely that MRA understands the word sincere. And, it is a concern that MRA considers any statement that may injure its reputation to be "insincere" and that any statement that supports the MRA scam to be "sincere". Parents should ask what MRA means by sincere and what types of comments have been considered insincere.
MRA's requirement that students encourage peer "support and feedback" simply means that individuals do not defend themselves when verbally abused and attacked. And, this is a serious concern as it is likely not what most parents picture their child doing in a supposedly "therapeutic" environment.
Tattoos and piercings require parental consent unless the individual is legally permitted to do it by statute. HEAL is familiar with many survivors of programs like MRA that would have never considered a tattoo or other permanent change to their bodies prior to being subjected to the cruelty at such programs. In fact, one HEAL coordinator got two tattoos after turning 18 because the program said it wouldn't take kids with tattoos. And, it seemed like tattoos would protect people from institutionalization. But, this is not the case. Programs like MRA send good kids down bad roads from which they rarely return intact.
It may be inappropriate to force girls to use deodorant. Some people have very sensitive skin and severe allergies. Even hypo-allergenic products irritate and cause reactions. And, this is a concern.
Rainbows are created by sun shining through water or light through prisms. This is a natural phenomenon. Natural hair colors range from white to black. White contains all the colors of the rainbow. Here we are teasing MRA a bit, but, the issue is with the lack of self-expression and the lack of reasonableness in dealing with youth. HEAL would rather see a young woman with rainbow-colored hair than dead from suicide because she was never allowed to be and express herself.
Also, the parents and the individual girl should be allowed to decide when and if a haircut or styling is appropriate, needed, and provided. The program should not have any say in the hairstyle a girl has while enrolled in the program. MRA should encourage individual self-expression and diversity. We are the "melting pot" and Americans come in all shapes, colors, sizes, and styles. It is best that young people learn how to accept and interact with those who may dress and/or look different from what they are used to being around. This will help young people interact as the world becomes more connected and integrated. HEAL supported an integrated and diverse world.
What if a young woman has a friend or family member with cancer who is going bald from Chemo-therapy and they want to shave their head in support or in a charitable endeavor? Would MRA allow this? If not, why not?
Are there times in the program when yelling, screaming, and squealing is permitted? If so, is it during group therapy? Why is it okay for the girls to yell and scream at each other in group and not around the horses? Why do the girls need to be more respectful of horses than they are to each other? Does that make sense to anyone?
It's probably a good rule to remember not to make sudden movements around a large animal that could seriously injure or kill you if disturbed. But, why are girls forced to work with and take care of horses without compensation? Hmmm.... Slave labor that is provided at the expense of the slave's family for covering necessities is a wonderfully devilish scam. Please don't fall for it.
"Barn must be swept morning and evening shifts."
"Stalls must be scooped everyday (Summer time twice a day)."
"Water the horses once a day."
"Students must ask Staff to take a break when working with the horses."
"No more than one earring per ear, placed in the lower lobe only."
"Students may not wear jewelry in a pierced body part other than an ear."
"No hemp jewelry."
"Students are to do laundry on their weekly laundry day."
"Students may also have night Staff launder PE outfits, work or rec riding clothes."
"If a student does not do laundry on her appointed day she must to wait until her next scheduled laundry day."
"Students must wash their sheets and pillowcases and towels at least once a week."
"Students go to the Library every other week."
"Students may check out only approved books."
"Staff is not allowed to check out books from the library on the facility account."
"Students should have their own library card."
It remains a serious concern throughout this review that girls are assigned farm/horse care duties and forced to provide free farmhand labor or face punishment. It is also a serious concern that the girls are forced to do so without proper breaks or being given breaks when needed. If someone is doing hard manual labor it is appropriate to allow them to take breaks when they are physically tired, exhausted, and in need of a rest.
If parents approve of their child's piercings regardless of location, it is not appropriate for a program to override the decision and force compliance with absurd rules that do not respect individual self-expression (constitutional liberties).
Why is hemp jewelry banned? Here are a list of quotes regarding hemp from people you likely know of and respect:
"An acre of the best ground for hemp, is to be selected and sewn in hemp and be kept for a permanent hemp patch." - Thomas Jefferson's Garden book 1849
"Make the most of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!" -George Washington, The Writings of George Washington Volume 33, page 270 (Library of Congress), 1794
Above is the United States Department of Agriculture wartime message to grow hemp to ensure victory of the allies during wartime. Hemp is one of the most American and earth-friendly materials one can use for clothing, paper, jewelry, rope, and more. It is a mild concern that hemp jewelry is banned at this program. There is nothing wrong with hemp.
If a girl is on "Safety" status or is otherwise detained and/or prevented by program staff through a surprise therapy session or something of the like, is there an opportunity afforded for them to switch laundry days with another girl so as to not lose out on laundering at least her linens/towels/etc. as is required by the program? If a girl is unable to do laundry due to a program intervention, is the girl punished additionally for not performing her laundry tasks even though the program has prevented the successful completion of the task? These are serious concerns because these types of unreasonable standards are applied at many programs in Utah.
Students who are on the "necessary" level are allowed to go to the Cedar City Library to check out approved books. Parents should not be fooled into thinking that all girls in the program are allowed to check out books or visit the public library regularly. This is confirmed by the survivor statement linked above.
"Students are on no-talk one-half hour prior to lights out."
"Lights out will be at 9:00p.m. each evening except on special occasions."
"Students are to be in bed by 8:30p.m."
"All incoming and outgoing mail is monitored to assure that it is being sent/received to/from approved individuals. In certain circumstances staff may request that a student's therapist review mail (incoming or outgoing) for truthfulness. Parents are informed if therapists are reviewing a student's mail."
"Students may receive mail from one friend that has been approved by their parents or legal guardians when their therapist and parents deem it appropriate. The Primary Therapist may change this at any time when they deem it may not be therapeutic."
"E-mail letters may be received at: email@example.com."
"Note: Items sent by parents and other family members must paid for by the student from her Mock Personal Student Account money, unless all Moonridge students are sent the same item."
"Eyeliner is not allowed."
The "no-talk" rules are discussed in the section reviewing page 44 of the manual below. These rules are unreasonably excessive and oppressive. See discussion of page 44 for more information.
Is it considered a "special occasion" when a girl in the program is forced to stay up past lights-out to complete a consequence/punishment? And, how often are girls in the program assigned consequences that require them to stay up past lights-out? If the consequence requires lights-on to complete, is an exception made to provide the necessary lighting and equipment for a girl to complete a consequence after lights-out per the rules of the program? These are all serious concerns because placing unreasonable limitations, standards, and restrictions on an individual that prevent him/her from successfully completing assigned work is detrimental to the self-esteem and well-being of the individual.
The same concerns above in relation to lights-out apply to bedtime as well. Are the girls punished for staying up past bedtime to complete consequences per program rules? If so, this is highly unreasonable and as one HEAL volunteer puts it, "crazy-making" behavior on the part of Moonridge Academy.
It is a serious concern that all incoming and outgoing mail is monitored. This is a violation of the children's civil rights. See the ruling in Milonas & Rice, et al v. Provo Canyon School for more information on why this is a recognized violation of the civil rights of children at MRA and similar programs. For more information on children's rights and how they are violated at programs like MRA, see www.heal-online.org/legalarguments.htm.
It is a serious concern that children in the program are not encouraged to keep their ties with family and at least family-approved friends while enrolled in the program. Cults typically cut off their initiates from contact with the outside world for the first few months and then discourage reuniting with non-cult/non-program controlled individuals such as friends and family who have not been brainwashed by the cult/program. And, such is also the pattern of abusers. Abusers will batter or sexually assault a victim and then threaten the victim or their family if the victim reports the abuse/assault. Abusers isolate their victims by telling them that they deserve to be abused and that if they tell no one will believe them. The problem with programs like MRA is that if abuse occurs, it is handled in-house and/or goes unreported to protect the "public image" of the program at the expense of the children whose lives are entrusted to such unscrupulous programs. As you can see, these are serious concerns. This is especially so since women are particularly vulnerable to abuse and spousal abuse is still a serious problem in the United States. We cannot entrust our young women to programs that will program them to be subservient and obedient to authoritarian and abusive partners.
We included the e-mail option and e-mail address for letters to show another way MRA is manipulating the lack of security with e-mail communications to ensure access to the communications between enrolled children and the outside world.
It is a serious concern that girls in the program are not allowed to receive necessities without their parents sending enough for everyone (which if applied to everyone every time an item was sent would result in too much of that items and overstock for the entire list of girls in the program) or only if that item can be purchased through some "Mock Student Account". Parents and legal guardians have a duty to provide necessities to their children until the children reach the age of majority. It is unreasonable to deny children their necessities unless everyone is sent the same thing (which would likely result in bonus grab bags for the staff as opposed to supplying the children in the program with additional items).
There is nothing wrong with eyeliner. What is the purpose of disallowing eye-liner? Other forms of make-up are approved including "natural shade" blush, lipstick, chapstick, etc. This is a minor concern as it limits self-expression and places an undue burden on young women who should be honing their make-up application skills for later in life at this age. For more information on the appropriate ways to handle disagreements in regards to the use of make-up, see www.heal-online.org/parent.htm and scroll down to "Make-Up".
"No student is to carry money on her person unless student is traveling with her parents, or going on a home visit."
"No student is to keep money with her personal belongings."
"Only music approved by the Program Director is listened to."
"While driving, students may only listen to approved radio stations (98.1 or 99.1 FM) and approved music."
"The no-talk rule applies to all parts of the program...school, mealtimes, free time, etc."
"No-talk consists of no body, facial or vocal communication including laughing, humming, tapping, etc."
"Respect no-talk when enforced. Students who are not on no-talk are not to talk to students who are on no-talk without Staff permission."
"When on no-talk a student must raise her finger and wait to be acknowledged by Staff before talking (even to Staff)." ["no-talk" section ends on page 45]
In regards to the first two quotes from page 44 of the manual, it appears that MRA's policy in regards to having access to money (even spending money during approved program outings for those on higher levels of the program) is overly oppressive. Other programs allow the girls up to $10 personal spending cash when taken on outings (i.e. shopping mall, movies, bowling, etc.). It seems extraordinarily unreasonable and not in line with teaching any form of financial responsibility to deny girls an allowance or some spending cash for outings.
What kinds of music are played by 98.1 and 99.1 FM in Cedar City, Utah? 89.1 is reportedly an "Adult Contemporary/Soft Rock" station operating out of St. George, Utah. KREC/Star 98 supports the "School of Life Foundation" which provides materials to confirmedly abusive Eagle Ranch Academy in St. George, UT. KREC also advertises as the "Lite Rock" station. HEAL was unable to locate a playlist or artist list for the type of music played on this station. 99.1 FM is "Utah Valley's Classic Country" station. HEAL was unable to find a playlist or artist list for 99.1 FM. HEAL has no problem with classic country nor soft rock music. However, such music may be used to cause discomfort by forcing girls to listen to music that they find disturbing or unappealing. For instance, some classic country songs promote abuse and murder. These types of songs are inappropriate for young women that have been exposed to abuse. Some of the songs promote violence and vengeance. One classic country song by Johnny Paycheck is called "Pardon Me I've Got Someone to Kill". This song is about killing someone over jealousy and a celebration of the plan and act. The final act includes killing his wife, her lover, and himself. This is not exactly appropriate for young girls who are struggling. If you search for the term "kill" and/or jail, you will find countless songs celebrating lifestyles that lead to both. And, this is a serious concern. Why is this music approved while other styles are banned? Certainly, even the most misogynistic music, regardless of genre, is inappropriate for young women. And, it seems that the musical choices offered expose the girls to music as arguably harmful as any other genre might include. MRA should not be hypocritical as to style and therefore reveal racist tendencies. It is apparent that Jazz, Blues, R & B, Alternative, Rock, and other music are banned by MRA. And, this is a concern.
It is a serious concern that the program policies are contradictory. Supposedly, "no-talk" when enforced is enforced throughout all aspects of the program and it includes remaining completely still and silent (no body language, no facial expression, no verbal communication). And, then this is contradicted by requiring girls to exhibit body language by raising a finger to get staff's attention (since they are not even allowed to speak to staff when on no-talk without first getting permission). MRA's phrasing in regards to "all parts of the program" likely needs to be corrected to be clear in what the rule is, how it applies, and how it is enforced. The language is inconsistent and not in line with providing a clear guideline for behavior. This is a serious concern as it can lead to girls misunderstanding rules and/or being punished for raising an eyebrow or crossing their arms. That's ridiculously controlling and not an environment a loving parent would subject their child to at any point in development.
"Therapeutic activities: all students attend the activity, although students on Safety will not participate in the activity."
"Off campus service projects: all students attend the activity, although students on Safety will not participate in the activity."
"School field trips: all students attend the activity, although students on Safety will not participate in the activity."
"Staff must take the activity schedule with them and may not deviate from the approved activity."
"Students on Safety do not participate in any off-campus activities, but may accompany other students to the activity (e.g. rec riding, equine, ropes, etc.)"
"Our general rule is that two Staff accompany students off campus at all times. One staff member may accompany a student off campus with Program Director or Director permission."
"Staff must give the Program Director a week's notice that a student requires money from her trust account for an off campus activity or the activity may be cancelled."
Therapeutic activities (see page 12 review above) include working the barn, taking care of horses, and working the fields and canneries. Parents should take this forced labor as "therapy" seriously as it does not encourage their daughters to demand a fair wage for their work. And, it is quite inappropriate to enslave someone and call it therapy.
What are the off-campus service projects girls are assigned? Are they paid for this work? Who benefits from these services? Are they for-profit or non-profit organizations/businesses? Do the girls get to choose their service project and/or are they encouraged to seek out local businesses that they are interested in as careers for these projects? What benefit do the girls get out of participating in these projects and is it equal to the value of the labor they provide? Regardless, if you as a parent are paying for therapy, why is your child told that they must earn their keep by providing free labor? These are all serious concerns.
Where does the program take girls on field trips? Parents should ask for a complete list of all field trip locations and the purpose/educational/therapeutic value of those trips. This is a minor concern. In addition, parents should inquire if the program allows individual staff members to take individual girls off-campus for "private outings". This practice at other programs has led to serious abuses and is an additional serious concern.
What safeguards are in place to ensure that staff who take children off campus stick to the approved activity?
Why are children on Safety and/or No-Talk (discussed above) forced to tag along on activities in which they are not allowed to participate? What purpose does this serve? Doesn't such a practice further alienate these girls? This practice suggests that Safety is not a status referring to the needs of the child, but, as a means of excusing excessive and oppressive policies that are utilized by the program to break the girls down and crush their spirits. This is a serious concern.
It is a serious concern that a single staff can take children off campus without any system of accountability regardless of whether permission is granted by the director or not. Such outings have led to serious abuses (sexual assault) of girls at other programs around the country and in Utah. And, this is a serious concern.
It is a serious concern that if a staff forgets or omits to request funding for an outing that the outing is cancelled. This is unfair to the young women who have "earned the privilege" and they should not be punished nor penalized for incompetent or irresponsible staff.
[HEAL has put the "PRIVILEGE CHART" in the table format as it is shown on Page 46 of the manual linked above.]
In the declaration submitted by one survivor of Moondridge Academy, she states she spent the majority of her time on "Safety" status. She was there for over a year. Parents should inquire what is the longest a girl has spent on Safety status and consider what it would feel like to be locked in a strange compound in Utah without hearing from friends or family for months or years. Now, compound that with the passions of youth and you will get a glimpse at the fundamental wrongness of the practices of programs like Moonridge Academy. Girls at MRA are not allowed to even receive letters from family until off of "Safety" which is left to the inadequate and incompetent discretion of staff/directors who stand to make more money the longer they keep family members from communicating. This is a serious concern.
It is a serious concern that the program limits contact, even at Stage 4 and higher, to family and one "approved" friend. If a girl is to be successful in returning to her community and feeling welcomed as opposed to estranged from that community it should be encouraged that she maintain contact with all positive supports including extended family, clergy, and friends. It is a serious concern that girls at this program are denied contact with their communities and isolated by these cult-like programs.
It remains a serious concern that all phone calls are supervised and monitored as well as so very brief. Children and young adults need the support of their families. And, their families should be encouraged to call as the youth should be encouraged. Programs like MRA will and do disconnect calls if a child reports wrongdoing or illegal activity at the program. It is this purpose that is served by the phone call rules and it raises serious concerns as a number of programs (i.e. The Pines RTC) have failed to report even sexual abuse to authorities in a timely manner thereby hampering the ability of law enforcement to effectively investigate and prosecute the guilty. HEAL has copies of letters that were delayed and then sent to authorities in Utah from another program and authored by an injured teenager. The responses we have reviewed from these so-called authorities were that the child should just "suck it up" and "work the program". This child was reporting abuse and civil and human rights violations. And, the response from those charged with insuring the welfare of minors was appalling. No investigation ensued and those perpetrators are still at it. This is completely unacceptable and why HEAL does not refer to programs and recommends specifically against placing a child in any facility in Utah.
The "privileges" related to clothing, hairstyle, makeup, and jewelry are all based on "Treatment Team discretion". This is a serious concern because if the rules state that a girl on a specific level has specific privileges and she exercises them within the guidelines the Treatment Team can arbitrarily claim the girl is not within these guidelines and use it as an opportunity to inflict punishment and ridicule. In addition, since MRA and similar programs do not take any responsibility for the belongings you send with your child, it is a good idea not to send anything of sentimental or pecuniary value. Please remember that MRA claims to separate "contraband" items from "approved" items during inventory. And, if that is the case, there should be nothing in the possession of a girl at MRA that would be in violation or considered "contraband". So, if believing she has earned a privilege based on MRA's stated guidelines she wears a shirt a staff member arbitrarily decides is unflattering or "out of bounds", then the girl can and will be punished. This creates confusion and does not show respect for the intelligence of the girls in the program or their families.
Hospitals and legitimate treatment centers have set visiting hours during the week and on the weekend. Any program that controls visits and communications to the extent MRA does is not a legitimate treatment center and should be avoided. Parents can visit their children's schools without making an appointment. Parents can visit their children in the hospital (including psychiatric hospitals) without making an appointment. If the child is deemed to be not a threat to self or others, then an off-site lunch visit or other family outing is encouraged by legitimate professionals. Since MRA does not encourage such and actually treats everyone like cult initiates, it is best to avoid it entirely.
It is also a minor concern that children are not allowed to practice their religion or attend services until they have "earned the privilege". One does not "earn the privilege" of community worship. Houses of God welcome worshippers. So, why is this not allowed? It has also been reported that many programs in Utah reward children for converting to Mormonism and treat others harshly who refuse. This is something all parents should consider when evaluating therapeutic services.
It is a serious concern that girls in this program can spend the majority of their time on "Safety" status as was reported by an MRA survivor and therefore never have an outing and be held at the compound for months or years. This does not prepare young adults for independent living and raises serious concerns regarding the motives behind such practices.
"When a student's program grades drop below the acceptable level for the Stage she is on she has a one week warning. If her grades do not rise to the minimum acceptable level on the second week, she is on Program Probation. When a student is on probation she loses current privileges including off-campus activities for the Stage she is on."
"While on program probation a student's social call is limited to one minute to inform her parents that she is on program probation and cannot have her social call. If a students is on probation during Parent Weekend she may not have off-campus lunch or overnight privileges."
"MRA administration encourages students to attend the spiritual meeting of their choice when the student reaches Stage 2 and has her Therapist's and the Program Director's permission."
"Clergy may visit on Sunday during the appointed time. Other arrangements may be made through the Program Director."
"Fire drills and evacuation drills occur regularly at Moonridge."
"If the regular house alarm goes off all students meet downstairs in the green bedroom."
"Students are automatically on no-talk."
'"Students on Safety remain within 2 feet of staff at all times."
"Students on Safety MUST have a female Staff inside the bathroom with them. Staff is not to turn their back to the student in the bathroom."
"During shower time the Staff member MUST be able to see the drain."
It is important to realize that "program grades" have nothing to do with academic progress and grades. The program grades are doled out by other girls in the program (junior staff) and staff. And, if the staff (or junior staff) has a personal dislike they can arbitrarily drop girls without legitimate cause. And, if a girl complains about unfair treatment, her punishment is made worse. Programs like MRA set children up for failure and have the opposite effect as is needed on a child's self-esteem an individuality. This is a serious concern. The survivor report shows that MRA arbitrarily drops girls to lower levels in order to maximize their profits. This is unethical and a serious concern.
Visits and calls are not just privileges to be earned by the child, but, involve the rights and unity of the parents and family as a whole. It is inappropriate and not in-line with family unity and respect for the family as a whole to deny contact between parents and their children. This is especially true when such is used as a punishment. It should not be considered a privilege to speak to one's own family. What if someone held you captive and told you that you had to earn the privilege to even speak to your family or hear from them? Would that teach you respect and help your self-esteem or make you feel abandoned and neglected? Think. This is a serious concern.
Why are girls in the program not encouraged nor permitted to participate in the religious service of their choice at all levels of the program? Parents should also ask if MRA encourages one faith over another and, if so, what faith they attempt to convert their students to while enrolled.
What if a family is of a minority faith or is a secular and non-religious family? Are those children encouraged and/or coerced into accepting the faith of the program director? How often to clergy of the faith of a specific student visit such students while in the program? How does MRA make arrangements to ensure all girls get access to the spiritual guidance of their choice? What religion is followed by the program director and with what church is he affiliated? Parents should look into this if they are concerned about their family and their child's rights in regards to spiritual/religious choice.
It is a concern that the fire drills are included in discussion of other kinds of drills. It is unclear if there are ever any fire drills and/or whether the phrase "fire drill" is being used euphemistically by the program to cover runaway/crisis response drills that often include using higher level initiates (junior staff) to track, capture, and/or restrain other girls in the program. Parents should ask for details on what occurs during each of these supposed drills and what the policy and practices are related to such drills.
It is a concern that girls are automatically on no-talk during a fire drill exercise. This could result in children in real danger not speaking or announcing where they are and that they need assistance. This is a serious concern as it places children in harm's way. Also, having a fire drill where the initial meeting spot is inside the building is not an effective fire drill. Legitimate fire drills result in everyone knowing the nearest exit and meeting outside away from the danger in a specified spot (i.e. near the oak tree at the west side of the property). It sounds as if MRA is incompetent in regards to fire drills or like they are being deceptive regarding their safety precautions and procedures.
It is a serious concern and violation of privacy to watch every girl on "Safety" when they use the toilet or shower. This is a serious concern and since everyone at the program is treated the same upon entry, every child entering the program will be violated in this manner. This is a serious concern. And, again, we advise against placing a child at MRA.
"Students on Safety must wear their house slippers at all times."
"New students are automatically on Safety until they sign the Safety agreement and the Program Director removes them from Safety."
"Any shift leader may place a student on Safety."
"Stage 1 and Stage 2 students are not allowed to use the computer with internet access. If they need to use the internet for a school project then Staff is to run the keyboard/mouse."
"Stage 3 and above students are allowed to use the internet but Staff must observe and monitor computer usage."
"Staff is spread around the classroom during school/stage work time, (i.e., one in the front, one by the door, and one towards the back)."
"Staff is responsible to observe students while they are in school or to assist students with class assignments if instructed by the Teacher. Staff may also be asked to complete program assignments/activities while the students are in school."
"Students are on no-talk during school and level work/homework time unless they are discussing school."
"Staff does not talk to students during class time unless needed."
"Students are not to talk to Therapists, Program Director, assistant Program Director, Education Director, Nurse, etc. unless it is during break time."
"Sleeping and daydreaming are not part of the school curriculum."
The rule that girls on Safety must wear their slippers at all times is contradicted by the rule that slippers are to be left outside the bedroom doors to avoid using them to hide contraband. Confusion is a tool to create apathy and frustration. And, such is not in line with providing ethical and respectful services.
What does the Safety Agreement say? Does MRA explain to girls in the program that since they are minors they cannot be legally bound to any agreement unless the agreement is for providing basic necessities they would not otherwise have such as room and board? Since the parents are paying MRA for room, board, and so-called "therapy", it raises serious questions regarding what such an agreement entails and whether or not minors in the program are being treated ethically and respectfully. According to the survivor statement, MRA does not consider the needs of the girls first, but, its own needs. This is a serious concern as such results in girls being on Safety status for reasons other than their own personal needs and safety. Since Safety involves being watched while using the toilet and showering, using it as a "stage drop" punishment includes the notion of using humiliation as a tactic to change "behavior". This is unacceptable and violative of the rights of the girls in this program.
Are junior staff ever placed in shift leader positions? Do shift leaders ever delegate their responsibilities to junior staff? And, what qualifications do shift leaders have to determine whether Safety is necessary?
How does treating all of the young women in the program as if they can't be trusted helpful in building trust? MRA claims to help with the following troubled teen problems: "eating disorders, anger and defiance, sexually acting out, or drug or alcohol abuse. In other instances, a girl may not yet have begun these activities, but because of depression or anxiety/self-esteem issues..." (Source: moonridgeacademy.com May 6th, 2011) Eating disorders, normal rebellion to establish personal independence/autonomy while entering adulthood, normal sexual curiosities, depression and anxiety/self-esteem issues are not issues that infer the children have any problems with being honest or trustworthy. Why does MRA treat depressed girls or girls with eating disorders like criminals?
What kind of "program assignments" are staff expected to complete? Does this refer to junior staff or paid staff? Since staff are given program assignments, this too suggests a cult-like environment where the staff are indoctrinated under the program director (i.e. leader) and everyone serves the interest of the owners who simply wish to make easy money while treating those "beneath them" like servants and slaves. This is unacceptable and not in line with American values.
No-talk consists of not making any form of communication by sound, movement, or expression. If a girl is interested in the material she is learning, she may respond to that material with a normal physical or facial response. It seems inappropriate and overbearing to put girls on no-talk. Teachers and schools should encourage class discussion, curiosity, questions, and participation from their students. If MRA discourages such, it weakens the confidence of the girls and therefore results in a reduced ability to be direct and assertive. This is a serious concern.
It is a serious concern that girls in the program are discouraged from interacting with program staff and educators during school-time. This is not an atmosphere where young women will thrive. And, that is unacceptable.
Drugging should not be part of the school curriculum either. And, drugs that result in apathy, sleepiness, and other side effects can cause what appears to be daydreaming and sleeping at inappropriate times. People pay attention when they are physically alert and interested in the material. Forcing girls to labor at the horse ranch and on the farm weakens them physically and can result in exhaustion. Forcing girls to do so and then attend class and expecting them to be alert for such a class is unreasonable. And, allowing educators to teach without inspiring attention, interest, desire, and action on the part of their students while blaming the students for lack of interest is unreasonable. It appears that MRA does not take any responsibility for the effects of their own practices and this is a serious concern.
"Everything that enters MRA is subject to search."
"New students' bodies are visually inspected at admission."
"All Students are subject to pat-downs every time they re-enter Moonridge from an off campus activity."
"Students are subject to individual searches upon admission, when returning from a home visit or overnight, and when deemed necessary by the Staff."
"Staff does not touch a student during a search unless it is an issue of safety."
"Students squat and cough when being searched."
"Staff visually observes student's body and reports any marks, wounds, scars, etc. and documents on the Individual Search Form."
"Room searches are conducted periodically and whenever deemed appropriate."
"Students receive a consequence for having contraband items in their possession."
"Introduce student to Moonridge Program."
"Review the program rules with the new student."
"Sign new student's safety agreement."
"Keep the new student on 2-foot when Staff cannot supervise student."
"Non-program discussions must be monitored by Staff."
Young women who have not been convicted of any crime and/or have exhibited no criminal tendencies should not be treated like criminals when seeking treatment. Having a blanket policy to search all incoming "students" that includes their naked bodies and their belongings is over-reaching. This is especially true when the children have not packed for themselves and were spirited away by escorts with their parents handling the packing. It is an extraordinary violation of privacy and does not support building a trust-relationship between therapists/programs and their charges.
Who performs these physical exams? Is it a licensed medical doctor? It is a medical professional with any legitimate credentials? Do men perform these searches? And, since physical labor is part of the program, isn't this exactly what slaveholders did to prospective slaves before purchase? This is indecent and immoral and no child seeking help or in need of help should be subjected to such treatment. In fact, the Supreme Court recently ruled that such searches violated the civil rights of minors when performed by school personnel. This is a serious concern.
Why are the girls in the program subject to being treated like criminals and experiencing violative touching such as "pat-downs" every time they come and go from the facility regardless of their having been supervised by staff during the entire excursion? This is excessive and suggests a perverse ulterior motive in having such a policy.
It remains a serious concern that girls who may be victims of sexual abuse are subject to being manhandled by staff at this program without just cause. These girls are not criminals and should not be forced to endure repeated strip searches every time they leave the building or have a family visit. Is MRA a private prison or a treatment facility? They act like a private prison, but, advertise as a treatment program. Parents who are paying to have their children treated like and sometimes turned into criminals at a so-called treatment facility ought to have their heads examined.
It is a serious concern that staff can touch the girls during strip searches. This is violative and given that the majority of girls are not there under court-order as adjudicated youth, it is not acceptable that they be subjected to such humiliating and violative treatment. This is a serious concern.
Overall, these girls are being treated like criminals when many of them are simply suffering from depression, anxiety, or trauma from previous abuse. These are not young ladies that deserve to be treated or indoctrinated into believing they deserve to be treated like criminals for having been victims of abuse or for suffering from mental illness. If you are capable of common sense, then you likely have long understood why MRA is not an appropriate choice reading through this review.
A "Shadow" is a student who has attained higher levels in the program who is assigned to monitor, spy, and often mislead new girls to ensure they make mistakes and are put on punishment. It is a serious concern that MRA allows other students to have control over new/lower level students. This is a sign of an abusive program. Please see www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for additional warning signs and questions you should ask any program you consider for your family.
What does introducing a student to the program entail?
If the program rules are similar to the parent manual descriptions then they are confusing and poorly written and communicated by the program itself. It is a serious concern that girls can be punished for making a facial expression or expressing any feeling (including crying) while on Safety and/or No-Talk. This sets these girls up for failure, punishment, and ridicule while at MRA and such practices are in direct opposition to creating confident and loving individuals.
Why are other young ladies in charge of signing off on someone else's treatment papers/Safety agreement/etc.? How does such a practice help protect the confidentiality of individuals in the program? And, why is such authority given to other "troubled" teens? This is a serious concern.
Here we find another contradiction. If a girl is on Safety she is supposed to be monitored by staff at all times. Do they force girls in the program to watch other girls shower and use the toilet? Isn't this just more of the Stanford Prison Experiment? Don't we have enough "Lord of the Flies" data to show that it is not acceptable to place children in charge of other children? And, given the claimed troubles of the population to be served, isn't this a serious concern to everyone? It appears MRA is admitting that they do not provide 24/7 qualified supervision of the girls in their care. And, this is an additional concern as it suggests false advertising.
What constitutes a non-program discussion? At some Utah programs, discussing what you think may be for lunch or anything at all, really, is off-limits and punishable. This is a serious concern as it teaches young women to be subservient to abusers and manipulators. This will not help them succeed in life and will set them on a course of utter destruction because it will indoctrinate them into accepting abuse and not standing up against abusers while protecting them. This is not a healthy mindset for young women. And, this is a serious concern.
"Assists the student to confront negative peer pressure."
"Engenders appreciation for parents and other authority figures through giving the student a "bird's eye" view of the challenges and rewards of assuming a position of authority in life."
"There are two leadership role categories: Family Leader and Junior Staff. When the student has reached a satisfactory adjustment on either Stage 5 or 6, she is reviewed for a position as Family Leader. At MRA, the Family consists of the entire student body and Family Leaders bear responsibility for assisting family members to succeed in the Program."
"Responsibilities of Family Leaders"
"Take responsibility for designing and implementing a workable system of chore assignments. Assign chores, ensuring that Family members have the broadest range of chore experiences possible."
"Organize and supervise deep cleaning sessions."
"Delegate organize, and monitor chores in the schoolhouse."
"Facilitate morning and evening groups."
"Monitor, comment upon, and report Family members' behavior in the school setting."
"Maintain behavior acceptable to the Stage she is on and participate in the program as a role model to other students."
"Privileges of Family Leaders"
"Inform senior staff regarding leaving the room, going upstairs or downstairs, etc."
"Additional off-campus activities as possible according to staffing availability."
"No mouth checks when taking meds."
"After succeeding as a Family Leader, the student is considered for promotion to the position of Junior Staff member. This will ordinarily occur on Independence Stage. The role of Junior Staff member is to assist MRA staff and shift leaders to supervise, augment, and better all aspects of the MRA experience for Family members."
"Responsibilities of Junior Staff Members"
"Check chores and rate success of student in completing chores. Communicate findings to Shift Leaders."
Again, MRA references using confrontational "therapy" which has been discredited by experts as being harmful and ineffective. This is a serious concern.
It is extremely dangerous and inappropriate to put children in charge of other children at one of these facilities. Imagine an encouraged "Lord of the Flies" scenario. It does not foster mutual respect or self-respect to make "authority figures" out of these girls. It fosters continued degradation of self and others through creating an illusion of authority that is often and regularly abused by those given the privilege/responsibility of that authority. This includes program directors, parents, and youth in programs like MRA. This is another warning sign of an abusive program, please see the warning signs list at www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for more information.
To cut costs and exploit the free labor youth are coerced to provide in order to achieve a chance at going home, MRA uses the girls in this program as "Family Leaders" and "Junior Staff". It does not teach young women to value their labor and for such to go uncompensated while MRA rakes in tens of thousands of dollars each month (if not more) is absolutely unconscionable. If MRA is going to charge extraordinary amounts for a worthless and reportedly non-transferable diploma and peer-lead therapy from untrained and unpaid girls also enrolled in the program, then no family should do business with them.
Do you find it appropriate that children are forced to provide the "Family Leader" services without compensation? HEAL certainly does not.
Placing youth in a position to assign chores allows the program to use the girls against each other and to create in-fighting while placing their own responsibility for putting the youth in charge back on the youth themselves instead of providing effective guidance, education, and training. This puts the girls at odds with each other and quells the possibility of long-lasting friendships or alliances to take legal action when the girls are finally free from the bondage at MRA. It is a great tool for manipulating and alienating the girls within the program. However, it is not effective nor appropriate when the goal is to raise self-esteem and restore confident and successful young women.
How much of the ranch work, cleaning, gardening/groundskeeping, and other janitorial/service jobs ( i.e. food preparation/food service) are the girls forced to provide for the program? Why is all this labor going uncompensated? Why are parents paying to have their children work like slaves while their "masters" at MRA rake in the dough and claim it is all "therapeutic"? This is obscene and should raise serious concerns for labor law enforcement agencies as well as families.
It is unprofessional and inappropriate for MRA to place clients in charge of facilitating group therapy sessions. The fact that MRA uses "confrontational therapy" and allows this format for group sessions goes to the heart of the problem. MRA is not a therapeutic facility with educated and trained staff providing therapeutic services. This is a serious concern.
It is not appropriate to turn children into spies to report back on the "behavior" of other children. Children enrolled in this program have no psychological training for determining what behavior is appropriate or justified when exhibited by another child. It takes a deep understanding and respectful relationship to determine the cause/trigger of a behavior and the appropriateness and/or level of concern any behavior should generate. In addition, it is inappropriate to punish or place children in the program in a position to report "punishable" (resulting in "consequences") behavior of others to staff. This does not create a trusting and empathetic relationship between girls in the program or the program staff and their charges. Many survivors of programs in Utah have reported that they were encouraged to find "wrongdoing" when placed in "leadership" positions and were punished for not finding fault with their peers. This is a serious concern and does not encourage any faith in MRA or the men who run it.
Poor behavior is usually a result of a poor, non-nurturing, and ineffective environment. MRA should really evaluate their methods and their disrespect and violations against the children in the program to understand why they respond in fashions MRA finds unsatisfactory. The people who operate MRA are not perfect and fall far below even reasonable standards for social behavior given the nature of their business. It is unreasonable and hypocritical to hold the girls in the program to standards MRA fails to meet on a repeated basis. This is a serious concern.
The privileges are really not what reasonable people would consider to be "privileges" worthy of earning for all the labor and effort provided by the girls in "leadership" positions in the program. Is it a "privilege" to be able to leave a room with a stop-watch to time your time out-of-sight of staff? This certainly seems like it should be a right and that not having any "private time" for months or years into the program (must reach level 5 or 6 to become Junior Staff/Family Leader, remember?) is a violation of the civil rights of children in the program. This is a serious concern. It should not be seen as a privilege to use the shower or toilet in private. Such a practice is degrading and should not be tolerated by decent people.
The additional off-campus privileges based on staff availability are included in the privileges that come with "earning" the "privileges" for the stage the girls are on at the time. This is not a "privilege" that is suggested to be dependent on "Family Leader" or "Junior Staff" titles according to the review of page 46 above. So, suggesting that by the additional labor provided they will receive any additional benefit they haven't already earned, is disingenuous and insulting. This is a concern.
It is not a "privilege" for laborers to not have the violation of having someone stick a gloved hand in their mouth to search for pills they are force-feeding their "clients" (victims). It is respectful and how the girls should be treated anyway. MRA is not licensed as a medical facility and really ought not be doling out psychotropic medications. If the girls are providing grounds-keeping, animal-husbandry/animal care, gardening, canning, jarring, agricultural, and domestic services, they should receive at minimum, minimum wage and benefits equal to those earned working at the same positions in the same capacity in the same field for the same amount of time. This is a serious concern.
It is absolutely inappropriate for girls to be given "Junior Staff" rolls in the program. It is absolutely violative of labor laws to "employ" these girls without compensation. It is absolutely unconscionable to rip-off families for tens of thousands of dollars while using their children as slaves and preparing them for nothing but manual labor jobs, if that. It is absolutely inappropriate for "Junior Staff" to provide ratings/grades for other girls in the program. Trained professionals should be evaluating the progress of any child in treatment. This should never be left to untrained, uneducated individuals, regardless of whether they are paid staff or clients placed in "Junior Staff" positions to cut costs at the expense of the children and families who need legitimate help. This is disgusting.
[Responsibilities of Junior Staff Members continued...]
"Monitor menu components, inventory food on hand, make shopping list and communicate with staff shopper."
"Take responsibility for noting improvement that are needed to the physical plant and grounds. Submit plans for improvements. Organize and carry out improvements once approved and budgeted by Program Director."
"Devise, organize, and implement activities for Family for Saturdays and Sundays."
"Assist Family members to utilize planners."
"Check pencils and pens out and in during school."
"Plan menu, organize, and help staff cook weekend meals according to budget in coordination with Program Director."
"Assign shadows for new students. Monitor performance of Shadows and coach them toward success in that role."
"Check off showers taken by Family Members."
"Check off progress for hose Family members who are working on daily Stage goals and habits."
"Assist senior staff in grading Family member behavior and in making written comments in room logs."
"Privileges of Junior Staff"
"Exempt from having to ask for permission or inform senior staff regarding leaving the room, going upstairs or downstairs, etc."
"Additional off-campus activities as possible according to staffing availability."
"Parents invited for therapeutic overnight and 5 hour off campus visit."
"No mouth checks when taking meds."
"May shower at any time when off-shift so long as doing so does not interfere with the scheduled showers of others and so long as her shower does not interfere with any regularly scheduled, mandatory activity (such as group therapy, equine, etc.)."
"May organize her schedule when off-shift."
"May request and use stop watches when out of line-of-sight of staff."
"Additional off-campus activities as possible according to staffing needs."
"Wears Junior Staff shirt while on duty."
Does MRA do any work for the money they receive besides "supervising" the free slave labor children are forced to provide? The answer would appear to be NO. If MRA is not fraudulent, the word "fraudulent" has ceased to have meaning. Let's take a look at all the jobs that the girls in this program are required to perform thus far:
Food Inventory, Grocery Lists & Meal Preparation: This would be reasonable as part of a "independent living" course for school credits that actually do transfer to legitimate schools. However, in this case, it is an assigned responsibility/duty and shows a lack of responsibility/duty of MRA to provide chefs, dieticians, and nutrient rich foods. MRA receives plenty of $$$ to afford hiring educated and trained staff. Why don't they?
General Maintenance (Including Facilities and Grounds): This is wholly inappropriate. Leaks, mold, and other problems require specially trained maintenance personnel who can identify such problems and resolve them. It is a serious concern that the program will punish girls for speaking "negatively" and then require them to make suggestions for improvements. This requires very careful wording by the girls assigned such chores. They must say, "the faucet may need a new washer to stop a possible leak". They can't say, "the faucet is leaking and needs a new washer." This would be too critical of the program and suggest the program isn't taking care of maintenance. But, by leaving such decisions and suggestions up to the girls, it shows the program wants no responsibility at all for what it does and how it maintains its property. MRA receives plenty of money to afford hiring educated and trained maintenance and grounds staff. Why don't they?
Weekend Supervision/Activity Planning: This is wholly inappropriate. The structure of MRA does not encourage diplomacy or democracy. It encourages bullying and forced obedience to anyone claiming authority. This is a serious concern. And, the weekend "activities" are all about the "improvements" suggested and required to be fulfilled by the one who notices the problem. This also encourages girls to avoid taking notice of facility or other problems because they do not wish to take on building or maintenance projects that ought to be done by paid professionals. MRA acts to set up the girls as the parties to blame for any of its failures while taking thousands from unwitting families. It is outrageous and should be stopped.
Planners: It is a good habit to keep a calendar. But, it is not a good habit to record everything you say and do so it can be judged by people who benefit by finding fault with it so there is an "excuse" to keep you locked up longer. Slaveholders used to record everything about their slaves including how long it took them to take a breath, go to the toilet, what size and color of their bowel movements, how long they took to eliminate waste, and a number of other dehumanizing and humiliating practices. It wasn't okay in the 19th century and it isn't okay today. Our children will never be slaves and if MRA and Utah continue down this path, it will only lead them to ruin and historic infamy for human rights abuses. Our children and we do not wish to be "overseers" either.
Pen/Pencil Check-Out/In: The girls in this program are required to keep planners and journals. They are also required to do school assignments. Why are they not allowed access to pens and pencils without checking them in and out? Even prisons allow inmates to have writing materials without a check-out/in plan. MRA is worse than most prisons.
Shadow Assignments: It is inappropriate to place children in charge of other children in a treatment program. This is a serious concern and one of many warning signs listed at www.heal-online.org/warn.htm. Do the shadows monitor toilet use and showers or do actual paid staff handle that task? Regardless, as stated above, watching someone shower or use the toilet is invasive and humiliating. It is inappropriate and should not be allowed. It is also inappropriate to condition young women to be bullies and to only show respect to bullies. This is an additional concern.
Showers: Do girls in "Junior Staff" positions watch other girls using the toilet and showering as part of their "duties"? If so, this is completely inappropriate. It is completely inappropriate to make girls watch other girls in that position and for the girls to be watched while using the toilet and showering. This is a serious concern.
Progress/Behavior Evaluation: The girls in the program are not educated nor trained on how to evaluate the behavior or progress of a girl receiving treatment, except possibly their own. It is completely inappropriate to leave behavior/development evaluations up to "peers" in the program. This again shows that MRA is not hiring nor utilizing trained and professional staff to provide behavior/emotional evaluations. Since they receive so much money, why can't they afford to have legitimately educated and trained staff to evaluate, supervise, and guide their clients? They can afford it. But, they prefer to scam families, not help them. Do you get the picture yet?
Girls/Clients of MRA provide the supervision, diet planning/meal preparation, groundskeeping, facility maintenance, behavioral/mental health progress evaluations, facilitate group therapy, facilitate weekend projects, take care of horses, bottle/jar/harvest produce, and all while supposedly healing from trauma and focusing on their educations. If the girls are struggling/troubled, how can they possibly address the underlying issues and resolve them while being worked to death by MRA?
Again, the majority of the so-called privileges for junior staff is absurd and not reasonable at all. Privileges that include being able to kiss ass on a more regular basis are not what healthy individuals consider to be privileges.
Room/Staff Absence Privileges: Is it really a privilege to be able to leave a room to use the toilet without having to ask permission? Is it really a privilege to do so with a stopwatch to make sure you don't take too much time using the toilet (who cares if you have diarrhea, right?) And, does it seem like a privilege to anyone reading this to be timed every time you use the toilet and to be aware that you will be punished if it goes over regardless of any physical reason for the delay? If you wouldn't subject yourself to it, you shouldn't subject your child to it.
Off-Campus Activities: Do the girls ever really get additional off-campus activities? It all depends on staffing availability and staffing needs, according to MRA. And, since additional off-campus activities come with reaching the upper "stages" of the program, then it really isn't a privilege or added benefit beyond what the privileges of their stage already entail. This is very general as well. Do the off-campus activities include going grocery shopping or doing other errands for the program? Are these off-campus activities ever purely for fun or educational purposes in which MRA receives no in-kind or pecuniary benefit? These are serious concerns as going off campus to run errands for the program is really not a privilege or for the benefit of the client. And, teaching young women that running errands is a privilege does not prepare them for being assertive and successful adults in the real world, or, at least the world outside of Utah.
Parent Weekends/Visits: This is also not a privilege. Parents have a right and responsibility to be with their minor children and the minor children have a right to be with their parents. This "privilege" is also included in the privileges for reaching the upper "stages" of the program. And, since it is for "therapeutic purposes", it really isn't a privilege. Therapy is a service programs like MRA claim to provide and to be the main purpose of their operation. If that were true, receiving therapy would not be considered a privilege to be earned "working the program". This is a serious concern and again points to the fraudulent practices of MRA.
No Mouth Checks: MRA is not a medical facility and should not be administering psychotropic drugs to minors. This is a serious concern.
Taking Showers: Girls at MRA are required to participate in all mandatory activities and to work their full "shifts" as "junior staff" without compensation. Somewhere in the middle of all that work, they are to find a moment to shower that does not conflict with any other girls time to shower. The girls shouldn't be forced to work and provide extra "staffing" for the program without compensation or proper education/training. And, they should be ensured a shower and the right to hygienic living by ensuring that they are not over-scheduled or over-worked. If MRA overworks girls, it is their failure, not the failure of the girls.
It is not a privilege to use a stopwatch and have the anxiety of knowing that every second is being monitored and counted while you try to use the toilet or shower. Programs like MRA create anxiety disorders in individuals who don't already have them and exacerbate the problem for those with anxiety disorders by their methods alone. This is a serious concern and goes to show that some in the "mental health" field are intentionally creating mental health disorders in order to bolster the supposed need for their "services" and "expertise". This is a serious concern for everyone who cares about democracy and freedom.
Junior Staff Shirt: It is not a privilege to be a slave. It is not a privilege to be forced to work without compensation under duress, coercion, and threat of extended time in servitude. It is not a privilege to wear a shirt identifying you as a slave. This is disgusting and MRA should be closed.
That's the end of the so-called privileges. Would you want to live in a world where your privilege was being forced to work without compensation under duress while being kept from your family until you perform enough labor to earn your "freedom"? This is the USA. We are a FREE COUNTRY! And, the family members of HEAL who have died in service believing they were fighting for freedom will not have shed their blood in vain. The USA will remain a free country. If Utah doesn't like, they can get the hell out of the union!
"The staff uses the following interventions:"
"Following are some of the situations when your daughter's behavior may need immediate modification:"
"When the staff determines that her behavior requires intervention."
"When a staff member uses behavior modification she/he will follow these principles:"
Many programs consider a "Time Out" to be a time in isolation. What does MRA mean by "time out"? This appears to be explained on page 54. We will develop the discussion in the review of that page.
The problems with "no-talk" are described in the review of page 44 above.
What is the two-foot/ten foot rule? The two-foot rule at MRA is described above and is required that "new" clients stay within 2-feet of staff at all times. This is a very controlling and hostile environment that is not appropriate for civilized human beings. The ten foot rule is described and discussed in the review of page 54 below.
Safety Status is used as a punishment as opposed to a necessity for someone who is legitimately a danger to self or others. This is a serious concern given the severity of the neglect involved towards those on Safety Status and raises serious concerns. The issues with Safety Status have been addressed in other sections of this review as well as the survivor statement linked above.
What does Academic Probation mean at MRA? Does Academic Probation occur only in relation to academic performance or is it used as a punishment for non-academic "offenses"? Are children denied access to school/education at MRA? And, why does MRA give out credits that are not transferable to legitimate schools? These are all serious concerns.
It is a serious concern that this program uses isolation as an "intervention". In reviewing page 53 below, we find that MRA claims they do not use isolation but contract with programs that do use isolation when MRA feels such excessive and torturous "treatment" is "necessary" to break the will and spirit of the child so they will be compliant in servitude. It is inappropriate to abuse solitary confinement as a means of breaking down a child. Children need encouragement and support, not abuse and torture.
It is a serious concern that searches are used as a means to control behavior. Examining an adolescents naked body whenever one feels like it is both humiliating and invasive of the privacy rights of the minors. The Supreme Court ruled that such searches do violate the civil rights of minors. And, this is a serious concern. This again is why Utah should leave the union or be kicked out for failing to ensure the civil rights/constitutional rights of children in Utah.
It is a serious concern that MRA is a behavior modification program. For more information, please see our free e-book at www.heal-online.org/ebook.pdf.
"Staff may not use humiliating, demeaning or inherently frightening interventions."
"Your daughter may not discipline other students."
"Mechanical restraints and seclusion are not allowed."
"If she becomes a danger to others or herself, staff use a passive physical restraint to keep her and others safe...Moonridge Academy does not use invasive methods such as isolation rooms..."
"If the Treatment Team determines that your daughter's behavior warrants isolation, she will be required to transfer to another facility since MRA does not use this type of intervention."
"Students must have written permission from their Primary Therapist to speak with their parents on any non-call day."
"Students do not have private telephone conversations with family unless the parents have sought permission from the Program Director and/or Therapist in advance."
"Students may never have a private phone call with an approved friend."
"Students may make or receive two 10-minute phone calls a week to parents/guardians or other approved family members after they have completed Stage 4."
"Students may make one 10-minute weekly call to an approved friend after they have completed Stage 4."
"Calls must be made on the assigned days unless prior arrangements have been made through the Therapist."
Staff may or may not use humiliating tactics at MRA. The use of the word "may" as opposed to a more definitive and non-ambiguous phrase such as "Staff are prohibited from using, etc." suggests that MRA wants you to believe they do not use these degrading practices while they watch children use the toilet and shower. MRA's practices of violating the civil rights of minors (including their 1st and 14th amendment rights) is in itself a degrading and humiliating practice. This coupled with the fact that they hold the children incommunicado and force them to strip for "searches" at will while also watching them use the toilet and shower is really quite contradictory to MRA's suggested claim that they do not use humiliating and demeaning methods. This is a serious concern.
Clients may not be allowed to discipline other clients. However, what happens to their status when they are "Junior Staff" or "Family Leader/Group Therapy Facilitator"? When wearing the "Junior Staff" shirt, are they in that moment your "daughter" or MRA "staff"? MRA claims staff (and does not specify junior or senior/paid or unpaid) evaluate and discipline clients in the program. Frauds like MRA like to play on words and it is important to scrutinize the materials they provide to get to the truth and clarify any ambiguities or misunderstandings. This is a serious concern. Also, MRA claims they do not use restraint as consequences/discipline/punishment/etc. So, this would also clear the way for them to argue that allowing "Junior Staff"/clients to restrain other clients is not contrary to their claimed policies. This is an additional concern. Many survivors of programs like MRA have the most difficult time forgiving themselves for participating in the abuse and degradation of lower "stage"/level children in the program at the direction of the program. And, this is a serious concern.
Mechanical restraints are not allowed. What about chemical restraints? Are drugs used as a means of gaining apathetic compliance/obedience to authority? This is a serious concern as other programs in Utah have used psychotropic drugs (including powerful anti-psychotics such as Haldol) to debilitate children in the program.
MRA claims that an "intervention they use" is isolation. [See Page 52 above] On page 53, MRA claims it does not use seclusion. Seclusion is another word for isolation. These two policies contradict each other. MRA claims it does not use isolation and transfers girls to other programs that use isolation if MRA feels it is warranted. To what programs does MRA transfer girls? And, what "behaviors" does MRA consider worthy of committing someone to solitary confinement [considered torture by human rights and ethics experts worldwide]? This is a serious concern.
What does MRA mean by "passive physical restraint"? And, do you realize that MRA and Kolob Canyon RTC created CERTS to "certify" their methods so they could provide the appearance of accreditation and credentials without having been certified by any legitimate training or educational institution? Talk about a scam! What is "passive physical restraint"? In an article describing abuse at another facility (namely Pressley Ridge): "After Dallas' arms were broken in the restraint, doctors placed matching casts on him from armpits to fingertips, immobilizing his arms and rendering him helpless. Janet Emery, vice president and chief development officer for Pressley Ridge, a $60-million corporation with operations in six states and Washington, D.C., later insisted that only one of Dallas' arms had been broken. In addition, she said, workers were forced to restrain Dallas to protect the "defenseless" Lionel: "This occurred as the staff conducted a passive restraint to prevent the young man from committing a violent act toward a defenseless child..."Passive physical restraint" is the jargon institution officials use in explaining use of a dangerous procedure."" [Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 20th, 2005] Any procedure that results in broken bones would not be considered "passive" to reasonable people. This is a serious concern.
It is a serious concern that children are not allowed access to a telephone to contact emergency services and their parents. Hospitals (including Psychiatric Hospitals) provide telephone access to patients. Sometimes there are time limits or other limitations, but, the right to call family or the authorities for help is respected by legitimate healthcare providers. Preventing access to communicate with the outside world is a warning sign of an abusive facility. Please see www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for additional warnings and questions you should ask any program you consider for your family.
It is a serious concern that parents must get permission from the program to have a private conversation with their child. This puts the program "in charge" and takes the control/power/authority away from the parents. The parent's wishes should always be respected by the program and it is a serious concern that the program exerts so much control over the family. This is also why HEAL considers MRA to operate like a cult. Parents have a right to have private conversations with their own children without permission. And, MRA's overreaching in this area again shows the nature of the program and why it should be avoided.
It is a serious concern that girls in the program cannot have private conversations with their "approved" friends. Once a girl has "earned the privilege" of talking with a friend on the telephone, hasn't she also "earned" the trust to speak with that friend privately? Does MRA not believe in it's own methods? Why does MRA treat even girls "progressing" or "succeeding" in the program worse than criminals? Even prisoners know that their calls may be monitored, but, are not always monitored. Why does MRA treat these girls worse than convicts? And, why do parents think this is acceptable?
The overall limitations and restrictions in regards to communicating with the outside world as well as the delay between enrollment and completing "Stage 4" [reportedly can take months to get off of Safety Status] are serious indicators of a cult-like, isolated compound in Utah, that is more concerned about keeping secrets and making money than helping families heal. This is a serious concern.
"The student's Primary Therapist, in conjunction with her parents will develop an Approved Calling List of individuals and their phone numbers that the student will be permitted to talk to on the phone when the student achieves the appropriate Stage."
"Weekly social phone calls to parents and/or friends must either be made collect or with a calling card."
"If a student does not respect the personal space of others she may be required to maintain a distance of ten feet from that person."
"Time-out is used when a student has refused to participate in program activities and will not self-correct and rejoin activities."
"Time-out consists of being separated from other students and program activities and includes the following:"
"a. Sitting at a time-out desk in the group room."
"b. A student is on no-talk with all other students."
"c. Students lose phone privileges while on time-out but may make a 1-minute call to parents to inform them of their time-out status."
"When a student is placed on time-out she is within line-of-sight of Staff at all times."
"If the assignment has not been completed, the student will automatically be placed on a second time-out and receive another corrective assignment. Both the original and the second corrective assignments are to be completed by the end of the second time-out."
"If at any time during the time-out a student refused to comply with the requirements of time-out as delineated above, Staff will stop the clock and time-out will be suspended until the student complies with time-out. Once a student begins to comply with time-out, the clock starts again and time-out resumes."
"Time out can last as short as 30 minutes or as long as 4 hours."
It is a serious concern that children in the program are denied access to a telephone to speak privately with their parents on any level of this program. This is a warning sign of an abusive facility. Please see www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for additional warning signs and questions you should ask any program you consider for your family.
It is a concern that MRA charges so much for "tuition" while not covering the basic expenses such as a weekly 10-minute call (on "appropriate stage") to their parents. If the families are to pay for these calls, they should have more say on when and how calls are conducted.
Ten feet is a very short distance and if someone is being physically or verbally aggressive towards another human being, a greater distance such as 50 feet would be more appropriate in deescalating the situation. But, according to survivor reports, this rule is not meant to stop physical aggression, but, to hinder friendship and camaraderie among girls in the program. This rule is not used to protect the safety of girls in the program. It is used to control the girls and prevent them from forming bonds or friendships with their peers. This is a serious concern.
What program activities do clients most often refuse to participate in and what is the basis of the refusal? If MRA were to examine its policies that inherently disrespect and disregard the needs of their clients, then perhaps they may be able to improve and change so as to not end up with uncooperative clients. This would begin by accepting only voluntary or court-ordered placements. This would resolve due process concerns. And, in stating "voluntary" we mean an individual who is seeking treatment and has made an informed decision not based on false advertising or deceptive marketing regarding the services they feel will best assist them in their endeavor to heal. It is unlikely that MRA will ever measure up to what reasonable would expect of a residential treatment center or therapeutic school.
Time-Out sounds reasonable unless you examine how it is used. It can be doubled and doubled again, so the claims that time-out has a maximum of 4 hours is deceptive. One time-out can last up to 4 hours and then be extended and compounded depending on the "behavior" of the client. This is not in-line with what real professionals mean by setting maximum time limits to punishments/consequences. Such are not to be extended on the whim of the punisher. And, the attitude of MRA towards clients is nothing less than disrespectful and intended to condition the girls into being submissive to male authority. Any woman who would subject her daughter to such an environment is not acting intelligently, nor in the best interest of her daughter. No parent should send their child to MRA or any program in Utah. See www.heal-online.org/utah.htm for details.
The other issues with time-out including the "no-talk" and removal of phone call with family are excessive and disrespectful to the well-being of the client and her family. MRA should be ashamed for assuming so much control over another human being, let alone an American citizen. These are serious concerns and parents should avoid sending children to MRA and similar programs.
"Should a student be released from time-out and still refuse to comply with program rules, she may be placed in additional time out not to exceed 12 hours of time out in a 24 hour period."
"Students are allowed to use the bathroom on time-out, but must be accompanied by Staff into the bathroom."
"Parents are notified by the Program Director when a student has been placed in time-out."
"Parent Weekend is designed to integrate your changes with your daughter's program and is a demanding, exhausting and highly structured weekend where your family has an opportunity to serve together, work together, play together and learn together."
"Generally, parents do not attend Parent Weekend unless their daughter has been in the program for about 3-4 weeks. Whenever there is a clear therapeutic reason, your Therapist may recommend that you forego attending a Parent Weekend. While this rarely happens, when a parent makes a statement to their daughter as powerful as "I love you, but this is your program and you must take it seriously before I sacrifice my time and energy to be with you"; it is often the catalyst needed to bring about lasting change in your daughter."
"Parents usually can see some degree of compliance in their daughter and glimmers of change, but the ever-present manipulation to get her out of the program can be tiring. Saying "goodbye" at the end of the weekend can be difficult and most girls will play the "guilt/abandonment" card in order to retain/maintain the control she once had at home. This is an important opportunity for you to recommit to your daughter the need to graduate before leaving Moonridge Academy." [Quote ends on page 56]
Time-out can take up to 12-hours and be renewed daily. This is a serious concern as it clearly shows a distraction from legitimate academic and personal needs attention. 12 hours is triple the claimed maximum of any time-out describes as having a minimum of 1/2 hour. This is a concern and again suggests a lack of clarity in MRA's policies and procedures.
It is a serious concern that staff watch children use the toilet and shower in this program. This is a serious violation of privacy and can traumatize and/or re-traumatize sexual abuse victims.
Does the child notify the parents in a 1-minute call or does the Program Director notify the parents in the event of a time-out? These policies are contradictory and do not explain why the child is humiliated in calling if it is something the Program Director has already done. This seems to be disrespectful of everyone's time, including the client's.
Parent weekend is likely run like the seminars described in regards to WWASPS and Eagle Ranch Academy. It is a serious concern that "exhaustion" is part of the parent weekend protocol as exhaustion is an intentional result of over-working individuals in the coercive thought reform process. See www.heal-online.org/brainwashing.pdf for more information.
Programs should not encourage parents to abandon their children to the program. MRA should encourage and support as much family interaction as is possible given travel/time restrictions. This is one of the reasons HEAL recommends parents only choose treatment options that are within convenient driving distance of the parents so that they can ensure the welfare of their child while receiving "treatment". There are a lot of violations and a lot of abuses at programs like MRA and it is not acceptable for parents to abandon children with strangers and allow those children to be held incommunicado in complete control of their captors. Such violation of basic civil and human rights does not result in respectful, loving relationships. And, since MRA endorses such abandonment and works to infantilize the parents while holding children accountable for their parents' own failures, it is certainly not equipped nor encouraging of responsible parenting or family unity. This is a serious concern. Parents have both a moral and legal responsibility to be actively engaged in their children's lives until they reach the age of majority. MRA should not be supporting irresponsible and entitled behavior on the part of the parents. This is not something educated professionals would recommend to struggling families.
Parents should feel guilty and ashamed for abandoning children to strangers in a strange land (UTAH) who seek only to enslave them while profiting off of their scams. This is a serious concern and parents should apologize to their children for subjecting them to such violations and abuse. It is immoral and arguably very illegal for parents to enroll children in private prisons where they are watched while using the toilet and showering and forced to provide free labor under threat of extended imprisonment or other "consequences"/punishments. This is a serious concern and shows that MRA does not hold adults morally or ethically accountable. This teaches children that childhood is enslavement and that adulthood is "freedom" from responsibility. This is not an appropriate message to send young people and is a serious concern.
Programs like MRA push the parents to commit to "graduation" because they want to milk as much money out of the families as possible. As soon as the insurance is running low or college fund is bankrupted, MRA will push up the "graduation" date. This has nothing to do with the actual progress of the girls at MRA. It has only to do with how much money MRA can milk out of keeping a girl in the program and this is a serious concern. Children should always come first and it is inappropriate to hold someone who has never been found guilty of any crime in a private prison indefinitely as long as there is a pay-off. This is highly unethical and a serious concern.
"Do not be surprised if your daughter attempts to get your unwitting help in breaking certain program rules on her first overnight--things like drinking caffeinated beverages, watching TV, calling friends or shaving with a real razor."
"Teach her that only the truth and following rules is OK. Show her that what you really are desperate for is a daughter who will follow the little rules as well as the big ones, because in the end integrity matters most."
"Do not expect perfection. After all, she is still a teenager with issues."
"Your daughter will soon graduate and, in many cases, return home."
Parents should be in charge of their family's activities and are equipped to decide what is and is not appropriate for their child and/or family. It is horribly inappropriate for MRA and their religious ideas to dictate how families interact. Caffeine is disallowed by the Mormon Church. And, this is why it is disallowed at MRA. Television is disallowed because it may remind your daughter that there is an outside world of diverse views and ideas that contradict the tyrannical, Orwellian, cult environment MRA has imposed. The same reason applies to calling even "approved" friends and extended family. Isolation and control over the child to ensure that MRA is always in control through fear and force. This is unacceptable and is not in-line with American values. This is a serious concern.
MRA defines truth as what it wishes others believe to be true. This is exemplified in their deceptive marketing practices and contradictory statements throughout their promotional and program materials. It is okay and necessary to question authority in order to become truly independent, self-sufficient, and confident. If you do not wish your child to lay down and take abuse and enslavement, then you really ought to avoid placing her in a program like MRA. Here we also see a misuse of the word "integrity" as well. Here is how Merriam-Webster defines "integrity":
Integrity is defined as strict adherence which can also arguably mean to satisfy all requirements or to be complete. This is similar to many of the definitions of perfection. MRA needs to clarify what it means when using language because many of the terms used in their descriptions are contradictory and unprofessional. This is a concern.
In what cases will children not return home after "graduation"? How often to girls in the program go onto another CERTS or partner program for "transitioning"? And, how much more money can MRA and their partners squeeze out of the families who are misguided enough to enroll their children in the first place? These are all serious concerns. Experts in adolescent psychology and human psychology as well as the law repeatedly show how quasi-illegal programs like MRA violate and destroy children and families. So, why do parents buy into it? Peer pressure? Infantilization? Adults as well as children benefit from self-knowledge and self-confidence. It is extremely important that adults not scapegoat their children when they are facing their own failures. This is a serious concern. HEAL puts children first. We hope you do too.
What does MRA mean by "graduate soon"? When are parents given the handbook? Why are girls kept in the program for years while their parents are consoled into believing that their child's placement is "short-term" as implied by the language of this section? Short-term placement is a matter of days or weeks, not months or years. Any program that tells you it is short-term or committed to returning children home as soon as possible and keeps them for months or years is lying to you. This is a serious concern and again highlights MRA's lack of integrity and, therefore, inability to teach or instill integrity in others.
"The purpose for any visit to the program is for therapeutic purposes to address important issues with your family and possibly to have face-to-face family therapy with your Therapist. It is not for fun, because you miss your daughter, just because it is her birthday or because she is homesick. Your Primary Therapist must approve therapeutic visits at least one week in advance."
"The location and duration of a therapeutic visit depends upon the Stage your daughter is on."
"Your daughter completes a Visit Pass form prior to the visit and will be required to identify goals to be accomplished by the visit. You and she must agree to abide by all program rules during the visit, and you will complete an evaluation of her behavior, attitude and attendance to goals and program rules."
It is a serious concern that MRA does not see the benefit of the bonds between parents and children and the necessity of leisure time for both. It is a serious concern that MRA dictates when a parent can have face-to-face contact with their child. This creates a circumstance prone to abuse.
Hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, prisons, and jails allow regular visits and phone interaction between patients/inmates and their families. Why does MRA operate so differently from licensed mental health providers and correctional facilities? Why is the environment so much more oppressive? What is the claimed "therapeutic value" of doing such? Experts in the field of adolescent and family psychology have spoken out against such practices as being traumatic and destructive to individuals and families. This is a serious concern.
Shouldn't the purpose of a "visit" be determined by the parents, the therapist, and the child? Why is the child given the responsibility that really belongs to the adults? This is inappropriate and does not teach children to be responsible adults as it does not provide examples of responsible adult behavior. The behavior endorsed by MRA's practices is to allow adults to cover up wrongdoing and scapegoat kids while accepting no responsibility for their own incompetence and/or wrongdoing. This is a serious concern and exemplifies how MRA does not provide the guidance claimed to encourage and assist youth in healthy development. Parents are very subjective and are not in a position to provide an effective evaluation. If they are just happy to have some time with their child, they may be "too lenient" and if they are still bitter/hateful/angry/infantile, they may purposely or in concert with the program actively set their child up to fail to ensure additional punishment and incarceration. This is a serious concern and shows the unethical nature of the program and how it encourages irresponsibility and vindictiveness in parents. The language of MRA coddles parents while ostracizing and villainizing children. This is inappropriate and not in-line with American values or ethical standards.
"It is also MOONRIDGE ACADEMY policy that no firearms are allowed on campus unless it is an on-duty law enforcement officer and their child is not a resident in a MOONRIDGE ACADEMY facility."
"Students off of Safety may have a 5 hour on-campus visit with parents if approved by therapist and Treatment Team."
"Students on Stage 3 or at Treatment Team discretion may have overnights in Cedar City with their parents. Length of overnight is arranged with the therapist."
"There is no required minimum or maximum number of home visits. Parents/guardians and your Therapist together will determine how many visits are needed to ensure success once your daughter graduates and is home for good."
"Typically a first home visit is 5 days in length; two travel days and three days home. We have found that visits longer than that for a first visit often result in regression in emotional and behavioral functioning."
"The length of stay on subsequent home visits varies depending on your needs and success in previous home visits. You, your daughter, and your Therapist will determine the length of home visits."
It is a reasonable policy to disallow firearms at any childcare facility. However, HEAL would recommend programs like MRA discontinue operating in a way that would inspire families to come to the facility armed.
How is it a privilege to have non-social "therapeutic" visits with family members? This is a serious concern because the needs of a child at MRA are not being addressed unless those needs are "earned" by "Stage work" and "completion". Adults with the responsibility to provide for minors cannot deprive those minors of their basic needs as punishment. That is considered abuse throughout the US. And, this is a serious concern. The children's needs are not the priority at MRA and this is a serious concern.
Programs like MRA make deals with local hotels and this is part of why they are not shutdown. Hotels in Cedar City benefit by not reporting on unusual or illegal activity. And, this is a serious concern as it has lead to cover ups and corruption throughout Utah. The Chambers of Commerce in Utah work to protect business at any cost to the point of having child protective laws changed to protect criminals in the behavior modification industry. This is a serious concern and a primary reason why people shouldn't send their children to Utah.
MRA benefits from having your child kept from you, especially while their are any obvious (physically noticeable) marks, bruises, or or other signs of abuse or neglect. This is why MRA and the "therapist" demand control over visits. And, this is a serious concern.
"For all visits, you must sign a Liability Release form indicating that you accept responsibility and release Moonridge Academy of responsibility for your daughter while she is out of our physical custody."
"We have developed a list of approved gift giving ideas. We feel it is important to limit the amount of money also spent on girls by their families and friends. We have set that amount at $100.00."
"We discourage gifts of candy. If any food or candy is sent, enough must be sent for all sixteen girls."
"It is important that you be as supportive as possible during these calls and remind her of her purpose in being at Moonridge Academy."
There is likely a liability release in the contract as well. Most programs in this industry accept no responsibility for the welfare of children while in the care and custody of the program. Many programs claim that the parents and/or outside contracted therapists are responsible for the welfare of children in the program and accept no liability or responsibility for children up to and including serious injury and death. Parents should have an attorney review any contracts prior to signing them. If not, the parents should read any contracts or waivers thoroughly. An additional concern with the release of liability is that MRA demands control of parents and children in the program and that both parents and children adhere to MRA's policies and rules, even during off-campus/home visits. This gives MRA the control without the responsibility. And, that is unethical and a serious concern. If a child has been traumatized by MRA's practices and seeks to run or to share the details of the abuse, but, fears speaking up and chooses a more drastic measure such as running away or attempting suicide, that responsibility should remain with MRA as MRA has created the desperate circumstances that lead to such life-threatening decisions on the part of children in the program. These are serious concerns.
Parents should be in control over what gifts are appropriate and what they wish to send their child as long as it does not exceed the space allotted to the child to keep belongings. It is inappropriate for MRA to dictate how much can be sent and what can be sent to children in the program. This is disrespectful to the parents as adults and decision-makers. This is a concern.
It is a serious concern that parents are to send "enough for all 16 girls" when sending items to their children. It has been reported to HEAL that at other programs, when items are sent for the girls in adherence to the program's policies, it is still given to staff and the girls do not get any of the treats intended for them. This is a serious concern and shows how theft and other abuses are common at programs like MRA.
Programs like MRA are paranoid that you may catch on to their scam and be prone to remove your child and thereby deprive MRA of their massive profits. This is an additional reason communications and visits are controlled and monitored. MRA wants you to keep your daughter in the program as long as they can convince you it is necessary so they can keep reaping the financial benefits of her being held as a captive slave at MRA. This is a serious concern as it does not show that MRA puts the needs of the children first and that the primary purpose of MRA is not treatment, but, profit.
"Students and parents may voice complaints and recommend changes to the program without being subject to coercion, discrimination, reprisal or unreasonable interruption of care, treatment and services. We encourage all students and parents to use conflict resolution skills (See Program Policies/Rules: Conflict Resolution) when voicing concerns."
"If you placed your daughter at Moonridge Academy with the assistance of an Educational Consultant, your daughter's Therapist maintains contact with the Educational Consultant throughout her stay at Moonridge Academy."
"CERTS owns and operates Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy, which is located in Cedar City, about 30 minutes from Moonridge Academy...The concept behind recommending a student transition to Mountain Springs is to give her a semester of schooling and less structured living in which to flex her new "greatness" muscles."
"Students may learn to drive, have a part-time job, travel to Washington DC with other students, and/or perform service outside the United States."
MRA would be more clear to say that students and parents are never accused of manipulation when reporting complaints and that all complaints are taken seriously and addressed immediately. It would also be more clear to say that MRA never silences criticism and never punishes or gives consequences to girls in the program for speaking their minds regarding MRA's practices and policies. However, the use of the phrase "may voice complaints...without being subject to coercion...etc." suggests that it is not a strict policy and that the language used to describe the policy is ambiguous at best and not representative of a transparent program that leads by example in imparting integrity, honesty, or other pertinent values to youth in the program. This is a serious concern as it again suggests deceptive and manipulative language on the part of MRA in describing the program.
Many Educational Consultants are nothing more than glorified pimps that profit from their referrals to programs/scams like MRA. Often, educational consultants are current/former program staff/parents with no real expertise in child psychology or appropriate treatment for struggling families. This is a serious concern. See our report on the IECA for additional information: www.heal-online.org/ieca.htm. It is a serious concern that someone with no expertise in education or mental health can dupe families into paying additional fees for referrals to programs that give kickbacks to those referrers. It is a huge money-making scheme and no family should fall victim to the trap of behavior modification. We recommend that you investigate any program or individual (i.e. educational consultant) and their credentials and business associations prior to doing business with them or hiring them as a consultant. If you are not willing to do the work to determine whether or not you or your family is being scammed, then you will likely end up in a far worse place than you are now. This is a serious concern.
MRA operates Mountain Springs in order to maximize profits and not for the benefit of the children or their families. This is a serious concern. The MRA program either "works" or it does not. Extended incarceration or "halfway" house experiences prior to returning home are not in-line with promoting individual and family health and unity.
It is a serious concern that girls at Mountain Springs are sent to Washington DC and outside of the US to do unidentified "service" projects. Please read The Franklin Cover Up by former Congressman John W. DeCamp (R-NE) revealing the exploitative exchanges between programs and those who prey upon abandoned children/teens. This is a serious concern.
"Student has not been physically restrained in the past six months"
"Parent support for transition"
"Educational Consultant input prior to transfer recommendation"
"Students graduate from Moonridge Academy after they have completed all their work on the 6 Stages of the program. There is no specific time to graduate...it happens when your family and your daughter are ready, and when the Treatment Team votes your daughter to graduation."
"The number one criterion for graduation from Moonridge Academy is success and completion of your daughter's change process...This means that you may have as little as two weeks notice that your daughter is ready to graduate. On the other hand, her unfinished business may be significant and require extending her stay at Moonridge Academy to resolve these issues."
"Graduation ceremonies occur on Mondays, Wednesdays or Thursdays from approximately 10:00 to 2:00. Moonridge Academy does not hold weekend graduation ceremonies, nor do students graduate during a Parent Weekend."
The first four quotes for page 65 are in regards to the qualifications that will lead to a recommendation to extended "treatment"/PROFIT for Moonridge and/or CERTS by way of Mountain Springs. By the description, it would appear that restraint is used frequently at MRA and this is a serious concern. Improper and misused restraint has led to serious injury and death at multiple programs in the behavior modification industry. This is a serious concern.
The therapist/program will recommend Mountain Springs if there is an opening at Mountain Springs because they want to fill that opening and make some $$$. This is not an ethical position and does not place the child's nor family's needs first. This is a serious concern. Parents have reported that they are losing their homes and unable to afford an attorney to sue the programs that scammed them. Now, their children have no college fund and they are losing their homes. This is a serious concern as programs like MRA prey upon confused families who do not understand that the biggest manipulators are those seeking to bankrupt the family, financially and emotionally. This is a serious concern.
Parents should work to reunite the family as soon as possible and should not institutionalize their children for extended periods of time with unqualified staff at fraudulent and abusive programs. Parents should not support nor endorse additional "treatment" when the child and family are capable of living together and working together on family issues. This is a concern.
If a parent is reluctant to agree to "extended treatment", but, the industry pimp (educational consultant) uses peer pressure along with the program to push the parent into extending enrollment or enrolling in the transition program, then the parent is being manipulated and should immediately remove their child from the facility and see that the only people benefiting from MRA are those profiting from their scam. And, this is a serious concern.
Graduation occurs when the insurance runs out or when parents are fed up of paying extraordinary fees without seeing real results and bringing their children home. It is a serious concern that decisions of when a child is ready are not determined by the child/family with the input of the therapist, but, by the Treatment Team. This is disrespectful of the family and the importance of family unity. This is a serious concern.
MRA is not resolving any issues nor do they help any child with any issue. MRA keeps children in the program as long as possible to milk the enrollment for all it is worth in real dollars as well as to have already "trained" "junior staff" and "family leaders" to run their program. It is all about cutting costs and exploiting families. Please do not fall for their scam.
It is a minor concern that MRA does not have graduation ceremonies on the weekend or during a time that is convenient or hospitable to parents and their schedules. MRA is open 7-days a week and there is no reason they cannot be more accommodating to families. They certainly charge enough to afford being more accessible and accommodating to families.
"Our policy about contacting staff is that your daughter may call, email or write to a staff member as long as she uses the Moonridge Academy phone number, the staff's email address or writes to the staff using the Moonridge mailing address. Students may not contact staff at their home at any time."
"Students may not exchange addresses or phone numbers with any student while they are enrolled at Moonridge Academy. After she graduates, your daughter may write letters addressed to all the girls in the house and staff will read these letters to the students."
"Moonridge no longer provides any services, custodial, educational or therapeutic when a parent removes their daughter from treatment. We require twenty-one days written notice of early withdrawal or there is a charge for twenty-one days' tuition."
"If the treatment team determines that the Moonridge Academy program cannot best serve your daughter's needs, we will assist you in making other choices and plans for your daughter's ongoing treatment and care. In most instances we will give you fourteen days notice of our intent to discharge your daughter. However, should there be an emergency that creates a safety or health issues for your daughter or other students, it may be necessary to make an immediate change in your daughter's treatment and/or care."
The policy regarding contacting staff members is reasonable. However, if once the former student becomes an adult and wishes to continue an association with a program staff, it should be up to the individuals involved how communication is conducted. Another issue with the communication barriers is that if a family is pursuing legal action and wishes to talk with specific staff members as potential witnesses, it should not be barred by the program. Such a policy works to protect the program from scrutiny and accountability in many instances and this raises concerns.
It is a serious concern that children are not allowed to exchange contact information with each other. This is likely to prevent released children from alerting the parents of other children to the real conditions and dangers that exist at MRA. It is also likely intended to prevent "graduates" from uniting and filing a substantial lawsuit against MRA for various abuses and violations. MRA protects its own interests and cares little for the needs of the children. Even summer camps, hospitals, and normal schools allow children to exchange contact information. Why doesn't MRA?
It is an unfair standard that MRA will give 2-weeks notice and requires at least 3-weeks notice from families. This is an unfair term of the contract and suggests an agreement that is not equally protective of the contracting parties. This may be "acceptable" in some transactions, but, not when families and children are at stake. This is a concern. MRA assumes that if you choose to remove your child that they can change your mind within 3-weeks or that you will give up on the idea due to having to pay for services not received regardless of your decision. This is exploitative and unconscionable. Parents should not enroll their children in MRA. MRA knows the decision to remove is usually based on the discovery of their quasi-illegal and violative program policies. And, it is unreasonable to force families to pay for services not rendered regardless of the current location of their child. This is an additional concern.
To which programs does MRA refer? This will assist you in understanding the types of facilities MRA considers appropriate and therefore help you determine whether or not MRA is legitimate or associated with organized crime (i.e. CEDU was sued for RICO violations). HEAL has already uncovered that MRA agrees with the methods used at notoriously abusive behavior modification program Provo Canyon School. And, Dr. Cantril Nielsen (referenced on page 69 of the handbook) also works/worked for Eagle Ranch Academy. See www.heal-online.org/era.htm for more information. This is a serious concern. Don't trust MRA and don't take their advice if you care about your financial future and your family.
"You want her in an environment where she feels safe, can choose working friends and can succeed academically. You and our Educational Director will plan together for this aspect of your daughter's transition home."
"You can contract with your Therapist to receive telephone family and/or individual therapy once your daughter returns home. If you and/or your daughter will be working with a Therapist at home, that Therapist must be a part of the telephone therapy with the Moonridge Academy Therapist. The cost for a 60-minute telephone individual and/or family therapy sessions is $90.00 per session."
"Tuition is billed and paid in 30-day increments according to your treatment contract. The daily rate includes admission, discharge and graduation procedures; Parent Weekends; therapy; education; room and board; recreational activities; transportation to medical appointments; etc. Please note that special contracted services such as medical treatment, private lessons, additional transportation costs, etc. are not included in the daily rate."
"Tuition payments must be received before the start of your daughter's next 30-day tuition-period or you will receive a late fee and/or your daughter can be discharged from the program for non-payment. Late payments may also be assessed interest as explained in the contract."
"While clinical costs are included in the daily rate some insurance companies may require billings detailing individual therapy services rendered."
"In some instances, the insurance company will only reimburse for the psychotherapy and psychiatric/psychological portion of her treatment. Please check with your insurance company about this prior to admitting your daughter to Moonridge Academy."
"If you are in need of a therapist making phone calls to your insurance company, this will cost $35.00 each time that they talk with the therapist."
"If you intend to submit medical bills to your insurance company for reimbursement, please inform your insurance company of the names of our medical care team:"
"The IHC clinic will bill your insurance directly, but you are responsible for any deductibles and co-payments and non-covered expenses not paid by your insurance."
According to survivor reports, MRA's academic credits do not transfer. This is a serious concern and why parents should not entrust academic planning to MRA or MRA's staff.
It is a serious concern that therapy sessions are both claimed to be included in the monthly tuition and to come at an additional hourly fee. This policy is contradictory and raises concerns regarding what "tuition" actually covers in regards to program components.
It is unethical for MRA to add penalties for late payments that include fees and interest. This also shows the profit-motive of MRA and how families and their needs are secondary to MRA's bottom-line. This is not a facility that cares about children and families. MRA only cares about money. And, this is not an environment suitable to the education of young people. This is a serious concern.
Watch out for double-billing. Programs like MRA often double-bill and charge for services not provided. Please review all billing information and ensure that you and/or your insurance company are not being duped. This is a concern.
MRA is not a licensed medical facility and that is why insurance companies may refuse to cover "treatment". This is a concern. It is an additional concern that MRA charges $35 per call when your insurance company requires communication with the program. MRA is in a specific line of business where such calls should be included in their business expenses and not visited upon their "clients".
It is a concern that injuries or illnesses caused by MRA's negligent or intentional misconduct are not covered by MRA's insurance. MRA should carry insurance to cover incidents that result in injury or illness to children in their care and it is unethical for MRA to place the burden of their own negligent or intentional wrongdoing onto the families that made the error of trusting them. MRA should exemplify responsible adult/business practices and since they do not, people shouldn't entrust their children to the program.
"Dr. Cantril Nielsen"
"Moonridge Academy pays Dr. Nielsen directly for his services out of your daughter's trust account. These costs are not included in your tuition."
"Township Pharmacy, Cedar City, Utah"
"Moonridge Academy maintains a student trust account for clothing, non-insurance covered medical charges and parent/staff approved incidentals purchased while your daughter resides at MRA. We require $1,200.00 at the time of admission to fund the account."
"We require that a $500.00 balance be maintained in the trust account, and statements are available each Parent Weekend."
"All Moonridge Academy and professional contract balances must be paid in full at the time of discharge. Moonridge Academy will not release any school or medical records until all financial obligations have been satisfied. All remaining monies from the student trust account, after all balances have been paid, will be returned to you and the trust account in your daughter's name will be closed."
Dr. Cantril Nielsen works/worked for Eagle Ranch Academy and Sunrise RTC. He has also reportedly moved to Idaho. It is a serious concern that MRA is associated with confirmedly abusive programs such as Provo Canyon School and Eagle Ranch Academy. It is an additional concern that any supposed "service" provided by Dr. Nielsen is not included in the extraordinary tuition costs.
We have included the name of the pharmacy used by MRA to show that their "business" supports other local businesses and creates a protective barrier through corruption for itself. This is a serious concern.
Parents send clothing to and with their children when the child enrolls in a boarding school or program. What is the purpose of having such a large balance at the time of admission? Parents should ask for receipts and verify every expense claimed by the so-called "trust" account. Don't trust MRA with your "petty cash". Make sure you are not being swindled.
With the highly-structured nature of the Parent Weekend, requesting a ledger may be an easily overlooked detail for many parents. MRA should provide a monthly copy of the expense reports regarding expenditures from the "trust" account. Does MRA provide a copy of the ledger outside of Parent Weekend requests? This is a concern.
MRA only cares about money and getting paid. They admittedly provide no follow-care or services to children removed from the program or who do not continue on to their "transitional" program. This is a serious concern and again shows that MRA does not put children and families first.
"Moonridge Academy (hereafter "MRA") supports your rights as follows:"
"The right to be treated with dignity, the right to reasonable personal privacy, the right to have the student's opinions regarding the student's treatment and future considered, and to the greatest extent possible, honored."
"The right to protection from acts of violence, protection from physical, verbal sexual and emotional abuse."
"The right to protection from discrimination based on the student's race, color, national origin, culture, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, political affiliation or disability."
"The right to receive mail from student's parents, regardless of whom the mail is from; and the right for that mail be unopened, uncensored and unread."
"The right to send and receive private, unopened, uncensored mail to and from client's guardian, attorney, physician, clergy and the Office of Licensing."
"The right to communicate with and have visitors except those restricted by parents/guardians or by your MRA therapist."
"The right to communicate with and have visits from student's guardian, attorney, physician, and clergy."
"MRA does not tell anyone outside MRA anything about you. You may receive a listing of all individuals to whom information has been released."
"You have the right to protective and advocacy services."
What does MRA mean by "supports your rights"? If MRA obeyed the law and respected children's rights it would not permit staff to watch children using the toilet and showering. If MRA wishes to be believed in regards to any recognition it has of the rights of clients, it should choose more definitive language. For instance, "supports" should be replaced by definitive terms that are made clear throughout the description of claims of "recognized" or "supported" rights. The language is ambiguous and contradicts program policies stated elsewhere in the handbook. This is a serious concern as it suggests a culture of deception at MRA.
It is unreasonable to watch young women use the toilet and shower. It is unreasonable to conduct physical/strip searches without probable cause. And, both acts violate the privacy rights of minors at MRA. This is a serious concern and has been developed elsewhere in this review. The very first "right" MRA claims to support they admittedly violate on a regular basis. This also shows deception and manipulation of language by MRA with the intent to confuse individuals and families regarding the actual practices of MRA. This is a serious concern.
MRA requires girls in the program earn the "privilege" of their rights. This likely applies to every "right" denoted in the handbook on pages 70 and 71. This is a serious concern. Verbal abuse and sexual harassment have been reported by survivors of MRA and it appears that MRA works to cover up such allegations and reports. This is a serious concern. The likely misuse of restraint would also be considered physical abuse and is an additional concern and contradiction when reviewing MRA's policies.
How does MRA protect individuals from racism, sexism, homophobia, and other prejudices? What does MRA do in regards to "diversity" and tolerance training? This is a serious concern. In addition, MRA claims to support such rights without claiming what procedures or practices are in place to ensure those rights are being "supported" by the program. This is a concern.
MRA restricts the right of children to receive uncensored/unmonitored mail. This is clearly stated on page 46 and discussed in the review of page 46 above. And, this again shows that MRA actively violates the rights it claims to support. This is a serious concern. Don't trust liars and scam artists. Recognize MRA for what it is and avoid it.
The Office of Licensing is not the appropriate office to file criminal or child welfare complaints. The Office of Licensing in Utah regularly refers complainants to the accrediting agency who refers back to the Office of Licensing who refers to Child Protective Services who refers to Law Enforcement who will then often claim that the report was made too late to effectively investigate. Please do not put your child in jeopardy. Say no to MRA.
Parents should have the right to visit with and have private phone conversations with their children. This is the case at all legitimate psychiatric hospitals, medical centers, treatment hospitals, and schools. It is a serious concern that MRA retains control over when and if the parents communicate with the child. It is an aggravated concern due to the fact that MRA monitors all communications regardless of the parents' wishes.
MRA claims to share information about your child with the Educational Consultant and with other programs in order to "assist" you/parents in finding "appropriate" placement. The most appropriate place for your child is in your home and under your care and guidance. It is inappropriate to use children as a scapegoat for family problems. And, children act out when their environments are unhealthy. That can only be corrected by the adults who are in charge of those environments. And, this leaves the responsibility for family health with the parents, where it belongs. MRA contradicts itself in saying it does not share private information with anyone outside of MRA when it claims to do so in other parts of the handbook. These contradictions raise great cause for concern and distrust of MRA's claims.
MRA does not provide in the handbook, or, likely anywhere else, the appropriate offices to contact or access to contact those offices, when abuse or other serious violations occur. This is a serious concern and again shows that MRA lies to parents. If your child is currently enrolled at MRA, we recommend you remove her immediately for her own safety.
"You may have telephone conversations with family and approved friends unless your Primary Therapist indicates otherwise and your parents agree."
"You have access to religion and education while you are at MRA."
"Any work you do at the facility outside of chores and stage work must be voluntary, or MRA must pay you for it. Off-campus service is excluded."
"MRA will explain all restrictions to you and your family. MRA will explain these rights to you in a way that you can understand."
"We will continue to gather information about you while you are at MRA. You are responsible to report to MRA staff any perceived risks to your care, treatment, and/or services and any unexpected changes you experience."
"If you do not understand the care, treatment or services being provided, you are responsible to ask questions."
"You are responsible to understand the rules and expectations and to follow instructions."
"You are accountable for the consequences of not following the recommendations for your care and treatment."
MRA permits conversations with "one approved friend" and not "friends" according to page 46 and other sections of the handbook. This again contradicts stated MRA policy and shows disorganization, incompetence, and/or deception on the part of MRA. This is a serious concern.
The academic credits reportedly do not transfer to legitimate schools and colleges. This is a serious concern and addressed elsewhere in this review. It is also a concern that MRA pushes its religion on individuals enrolled in the program. Parents should really research Utah and programs in Utah. No child should be sent to a program in Utah.
MRA will not move children through the program unless they take on additional responsibilities such as "junior staff". Junior Staff work a full shift, but, are not paid for it because they do it "voluntarily". MRA coerces children into taking on these added chores by withholding their freedom and using it as a bargaining chip to force children to provide free labor. This is unethical and raises serious concerns regarding the welfare of minors enrolled at MRA.
MRA should explain the meaning of it's rules and policies in clear, concise, definitive and written terms. If there is ambiguity (and there is as shown) in the language used by MRA, it is up to MRA to clear up the language and make it's positions and policies clear and in writing. It is a serious concern that MRA will give consequences/punishments to children who ask questions or point out flaws in the MRA system while claiming that they welcome such "feedback". MRA likes to manipulate people verbally/orally while leaving written terms ambiguous. This is a serious concern and adds to suspicion regarding MRA's motives. Money is the only thing that motivates MRA. And, this is a serious concern.
MRA takes no responsibility when it is in the position to know that it's practices are arguably illegal, definitely immoral, and seriously unprofessional. This is a serious concern. Teen girls are not in a position to know what they should expect out of treatment or whether or not the effects of the treatment are intended or not. It is inappropriate of MRA to place the burden and responsibility it owes to clients on the clients themselves. And, this is a serious concern.
MRA takes no responsibility in making itself clear and leaves clarification to verbal/oral communications that can be dismissed by authorities. MRA does a good job of protecting itself from oversight and investigation. But, it does a very poor job of protecting the children at MRA. And, this is a serious concern.
Blind obedience is for Nazis, not teenagers. It is a serious concern that blind and devoted adherence is expected of girls at MRA. This environment is similar to cults and this raises serious concerns regarding the welfare of children enrolled at MRA.
MRA provides inadequate care and treatment. It puts children in charge of other children. And, its policies practically jump right off of our warning signs list at www.heal-online.org/warn.htm. Please do not place your child in MRA.
"The student and family are responsible to report to MRA staff any perceived risks to the care, treatment and/or services and any unexpected changes the student experiences."
"The family has the right to be informed of all fees to be charged in advance of admitting a student to treatment at Moonridge Academy."
"If the student or family does not understand the care, treatment or services being provided, they are responsible to ask questions."
"Students and their families are responsible to understand the rules and and expectations and to follow instructions."
"Students and their families are accountable for the consequences of not following the recommendations for care and treatment. Students and their families are informed of the potential consequences of not following the prescribed care treatment and services."
"Families are responsible to promptly meet their financial commitments to MRA."
"The right to be informed of the program's fees and other costs that the student is responsible to pay for"
"The right to receive medical care"
"The right to treatment services"
"The right to communicate by telephone or in writing with family, attorney, physician, clergyman or case manager except when contraindicated by professional or supervisory personnel."
"Statement of maximum sanctions and consequences."
MRA takes no responsibility when it is in the position to know that it's practices are arguably illegal, definitely immoral, and seriously unprofessional. This is a serious concern. Teen girls are not in a position to know what they should expect out of treatment or whether or not the effects of the treatment are intended or not. It is inappropriate of MRA to place the burden and responsibility it owes to clients on the clients themselves. And, this is a serious concern. The same is true of the families. It is likely parents are not informed on proper treatment if they chose MRA to begin with and to place the burden on them to pinpoint issues with MRA's treatment strategy when MRA actively engages in manipulation, deception, and other tactics is highly unreasonable. Throughout this review, it becomes clear that MRA is not qualified to provide treatment/therapy to children and families.
MRA has the responsibility to inform families of all expenses and fees they can expect. It is inappropriate to claim it is a right to know and then excuse not sharing the information because the family didn't think to ask. This is especially so when therapy and other "services" are supposedly included in the base "tuition" rate. MRA should be very clear regarding what the total costs are for the program/"cult". And, it should be MRA's responsibility to disclose the information as opposed to the family's responsibility to ask. This is especially so since MRA uses manipulative and deceptive marketing practices. Best bet, avoid MRA.
MRA takes no responsibility in making itself clear and leaves clarification to verbal/oral communications that can be dismissed by authorities. MRA does a good job of protecting itself from oversight and investigation. But, it does a very poor job of protecting the children at MRA. And, this is a serious concern.
Blind obedience is for Nazis, not teenagers and their families. It is a serious concern that blind and devoted adherence is expected of girls and their families at MRA. This environment is similar to cults and this raises serious concerns regarding the welfare of children enrolled at MRA.
MRA provides inadequate care and treatment. It puts children in charge of other children. And, its policies practically jump right off of our warning signs list at www.heal-online.org/warn.htm. Please do not place your child in MRA.
What fees are children enrolled in the program responsible to pay? Is this how they manipulate children into working for free? This is a serious concern. Peonage is no more acceptable than slavery. MRA cares about money, not children and not families. This is a serious concern.
MRA reportedly denies children access to prompt medical attention and excuses itself by claiming that the kids are "faking". Many children with serious illnesses have died or been seriously injured by lack of adequate and prompt medical attention at programs like MRA. This is a serious concern.
What does MRA mean by "treatment services"? MRA claims to be a residential treatment center. However, it is not licensed as a medical facility nor a mental health facility. This is a serious concern.
It remains a serious concern that private phone calls between children and their parents is denied and solely allowed with a staff monitor at the discretion of the program. This creates an easily exploitable environment that puts children and families at risk. This is a serious concern.
MRA should put any and all consequences/punishments in writing and parents should be notified of any and all consequences and the circumstances surround those incidents. Parents should be an advocate for their child and ensure that their child is being treated respectfully and fairly. The first step in protecting children from humiliation, cruelty, and harm is to keep them away from programs in Utah. Do the right thing, don't enroll your child at MRA and pull them if they are currently enrolled.
These pages include staff information (see staff list above) and the cover page of what appears to refer to the "Stage Work" of girls enrolled in the program. The staff information that is pertinent is discussed in the staff list above. And, the cover page is something we do not feel requires review. We hope you find this review useful and that you choose to keep your child at home or with family. Thank you for reading this review.
March 1st, 2014
Last Updated: March 1st, 2014