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teen challenge - Monterey bay

watsonville, ca


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teen challenge - monterey bay

 intake packet REVIEW

HEAL has found multiple problems with Teen Challenge's (TC/TC's) enrollment agreement including apparent unconscionable terms and/or contradictory terms leaving us to believe that Teen Challenge is running a money-making scam on families in need of assistance.  We will be alternating between purple background and/or words for HEAL critiques and questions and a light pink with red words for the words of Teen Challenge - Monterey Bay in their intake packet (as was downloaded from on October 17th, 2010).  HEAL will not repeatedly link to the intake packet in full throughout this review, and, we advise readers to scroll back and/or open the intake packet in a new window while reviewing our work for accuracy or if additional contextualization is preferred.  This is an independent review and if you are in need of legal assistance or advice, please consult with an attorney
Application (Page 1 of 11)


"The enclosed application provides Teen Challenge with a student's health, medical, psychological, and substance abuse history."


"Genital exam - if indicated for sexual transmitted diseases"


HEAL has serious concerns about Teen Challenge and the Monterey Bay program.  The initial page of the application begins with the requirements regarding a "student's" protected physical and mental health information.  On page 2 of the Program Entrance Agreement (Agreement--see below), Teen Challenge clearly states that it is a Christian Discipleship ministry only.  Also, they clearly state that they are not a licensed medical nor mental health care provider.  And, they clearly state that they do not provide professional clinical counseling services.  Teen Challenge is not a medical nor mental health facility.  Teen Challenge is not a school.  And, Teen Challenge is not a legitimate drug treatment provider.  Given that all of these statements are true and confirmed by Teen Challenge, why on earth do they need to have an initiate to their discipleship program submit all of their protected health information?  Teen Challenge is not qualified to assess the meaning of the information provided in protected health documentation.  So, it makes no sense to provide them with this much personal and private health information.

Teen Challenge requires everyone bring their own money to pay for prescriptions.  However, they do not allow their initiates to have any money on them for the first 61 days of the program and only $3 once they achieve the "right" status level.  This is covered below as well. 

Why does Teen Challenge need to know if an individual has STDs?  Sex is forbidden, even among married couples, at this program.  Since Teen Challenge isn't a medical care provider and abstinence is a requirement of the program, why do they need to have their initiates submit this information?  What do they use it for?  And, will it be used to harass and/or abuse the individuals sharing this confidential information with a party that has no regulating body that will enforce HIPAA laws at a non-medical, non-licensed program?  These are all serious concerns and we believe Teen Challenge includes the mental health and medical health request information to suggest that is providing treatment services it is not qualified to provide.  And, this is a serious concern.

Application (Page 2 of 11)


"Date of Birth"

"Blood Type"

"Insurance Information"

"Will the insurance company pay for your stay at Teen Challenge?"

It may be an understandable requirement to include the name and date of birth of those applying to Teen Challenge.  However, it doesn't make sense that they require an applicant's blood type.  Why does a non-medical religious program need this information?  Also, HEAL hopes there is not a single insurance carrier that covers Teen Challenge.  They are unlicensed, unregulated, non-medical, non-mental health, religious discipleship programs.  There should be no requirement by Teen Challenge for this information.  Why do they ask for this?  If they are accepting minors into the program, it makes sense to have a copy in the event of medical emergency so that medical attention will occur swiftly and with little complication.  However, it is still a serious concern that this religious discipleship program claims to provide any form of substance abuse treatment.  Teen Challenge is not licensed to provide drug treatment.  Teen Challenge is not qualified to provide legitimate mental health or drug treatment. 
Application (Page 4 of 11)

"List any major operation-START WITH YOUR MOST RECENT"

"When were your eyes last examined:"

"When were your teeth last examined:"


Teen Challenge is not a medical facility.  It does not provide optical care, dental care, nor medical care of any kind.  Why do they ask these questions of applicants? 

Oh...  It is like a modernized slave inspection.  The only reason they want this information appears to be in order to ensure that applicants will make good slaves.  The work isn't compensated and they actually charge their slaves for the privilege of being treated terribly and enslaved.  They also have a civil rights waiver (discussed below) to supposedly protect themselves from lawsuits or criminal charges for civil and human rights violations.  Are you really still considering Teen Challenge?  Why?

Application (Page 7 of 11)

"Family medical history"






"Please circle the word or words below that describe you now:"












Teen Challenge is NOT A MEDICAL FACILITY. There is absolutely no reasonable basis for providing them with your family's medical history.  It is inappropriate for them to even ask.  This is a serious concern.  Please ask any and all family members to be listed on such a form for their permission before sharing their protected health information with an unregulated and unlicensed religious discipleship program.

It remains a serious concern that Teen Challenge requires your protected health information when it is not a medical nor mental health services provider.

What does Teen Challenge mean by "OFTEN BLUE"?

What does Teen Challenge mean by "IMPULSIVE"?  Teen Challenge may say impulsivity in committing to their program is a good thing, while impulsivity that leads to decisions Teen Challenge wouldn't approve are bad.  Also, Teen Challenge is not a mental health care provider and therefore such a question is unlikely to result in a proper assessment of the applicant's needs.

Teen Challenge misspelled "INTROVERT".  It is not the only misspelling in the documentation.  And, these errors raise multiple concerns regarding the competency of Teen Challenge to provide any service. 

What does Teen Challenge mean by "HARD-BOILED"?

Teen Challenge misspelled "IMAGINATIVE".  Teen Challenge also misspelled "INFLUENCED".  Does Teen Challenge believe being "EASILY INFLUENCED" is a good thing that they should reinforce or a bad thing in which they teach critical thinking and reasoning skills in order to avoid being influenced by those who mean harm to initiates?  Given the nature of the program and the civil rights waiver, HEAL believes Teen Challenge requires individuals who enter their program to be easily influenced.

What does Teen Challenge mean by "WORTHLESS"?  It appears programs like Teen Challenge are only successful because the institutionalize abuse.  Many who have studied the effects of spousal abuse and child abuse have found that fear and a sense of worthlessness imposed by the maltreatment make individuals easy to control.  The amount of control Teen Challenge exerts over those in the program suggests that they hope that initiates enter already beaten down so that the breaking process imposed by Teen Challenge will be easy for Teen Challenge.  This is also true of their question regarding being "SUBMISSIVE".

"HAPPY" and "FOLLOWER" are coupled together on the form.  Does Teen Challenge believe that initiates are only good as followers and not leaders?  Does Teen Challenge believe that being happy and being a follower are synonymous?  These are serious concerns as HEAL has reason to believe that Teen Challenge is a cult that rips off families and destroys lives.

Anyone considering placement or enrollment in Teen Challenge should be frightened and we advise against such placement or enrollment.

Application (Page 8 of 11)

"Would you as a student of our program, be willing to authorize doctors' or agencies involved in previous treatment to release the above mentioned confidential information, (7) (a) (b) to Teen Challenge?"

Teen Challenge is NOT A SCHOOL.  People enrolled in Teen Challenge are not "students".  Teen Challenge is NOT A MEDICAL NOR MENTAL HEALTH FACILITY.  People enrolled in Teen Challenge are not "patients".  Teen Challenge claims to be a Christian Discipleship program.  Therefore, people who enroll in the program would be considered "disciples" or "initiates".  HEAL uses the term "initiate(s)" throughout this review because we believe that Teen Challenge is nothing more than a cult that uses false promises to recruit new members for the cult.  Historically, such recruits have been called "initiate(s)".  Since Teen Challenge is not a medical facility nor a mental health facility, we suggest you always say no to sharing that protected health information with Teen Challenge.
Application (Page 9 of 11)


Teen Challenge is not a substance abuse treatment program.  There is no reasonable basis for supplying this information to a Christian Discipleship program.  This again suggests that Teen Challenge engages in deceptive marketing practices.
Application (Page 10 of 11)


There are multiple misspellings by Teen Challenge in the above section.  Knowledge is spelled "knolwedge".  Applicant is spelled "applicatn" and "appllicant".  And, whether is spelled "wherther".  This program cannot even effectively proof-read their own documents.  This is a serious concern.

Also, since it is only a Christian Discipleship program, it should not require protected health information from applicants.  Will Teen Challenge accept an applicant for discipleship without providing his/her mental and medical health information?  If not, then this is also a serious concern as there is no reasonable basis for the program to require that information.

Application (Page 11 of 11)


"Name of person completing and filling out application form:"


"Relationship to the applicant:"




It is a minor concern that the application can be completed and submitted by someone other than the person to be enrolled.  How often are people (including minors) involuntarily enrolled in this program?

There are multiple misspellings in the last paragraph above.  It is a serious concern that the program term is one year.  That is an extremely long period for an individual to be withheld from his/her family and community.  What does Teen Challenge mean by "strict discipline"?  Why do they require a "civil rights waiver"?  These are serious concerns.

Agreement (Page 1 of 3)

"I also understand that I assume full responsibility for keeping the terms of this agreement (abiding by or breaking rules).  Infractions on my part, therefore, constitute my decision not to cooperate with the program as agreed.  Such failure to comply with any of the terms of this agreement, or any directives by Teen Challenge, will subject me to possible dismissal by Teen Challenge and from the program, and I agree to bear the responsibility for any disciplinary or dismissal consequences for such.  In such case, Teen Challenge and Teen Challenge staff will be entitled to recourse to any legal action provided by law."

"I understand Teen Challenge is not a "drug rehabilitation program".  It is a Christian discipleship program which is aimed at those with life-controlling problems.  As such, I realize that building a relationship with Jesus Christ is the heart of the program.  Extra peripheral helps, such G.E.D. training, vocational guidance and training, etc., are only secondary."

"I understand that Teen Challenge shall not be responsible for the medical or dental needs of a student prior to entry or during program attendance.  Student's medical and dental expenses incurred by students while enrolled in Teen Challenge shall be the responsibility of each individual student.  This shall include an accident or injury while student is enrolled and participating in the program."

"I understand that withdrawal from drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or any other chemical will be done "cold turkey" (without a graduated chemical detoxification) aided by prayer."

"Student Conduct Policies and Guidelines"

Teen Challenge requires complete cooperation from and control over initiates.  Survivor reports suggest that Teen Challenge claims to allow people to leave at any time (see below), but, holds an individual's shoes, identification, and money and will not release these items to people when they choose to leave.  In addition, in accord with the Civil Rights Waiver (see below), initiates "permit" Teen Challenge to deny them access to the outside world.  This denial of access stretches to telephone and mail communications.  If someone wishes to leave and can't contact family nor recover their personal belongings from the program, can they really leave it?  The program is very coercive and this is not healthy for anyone.

Teen Challenge admits that it is not a drug rehabilitation program.  Teen Challenge also admits that any supposed benefit from enrolling the program is secondary to being a productive member of the Teen Challenge cult.  This is a serious concern.

If Teen Challenge operates a program and the conditions imposed by the program result in injury or illness, Teen Challenge should accept financial responsibility for those injuries.  The program is charging individuals and/or their families thousands of dollars.  Teen Challenge is also using initiates for free labor to make money for Teen Challenge.  So, it is a serious concern that the program uses and abuses individuals in this manner without accepting any responsibility for any injuries that arise out of their own methods and practices.  Again, this is not legal advice.  If you need legal advice, consult an attorney.

It is a serious concern that Teen Challenge is not a medical facility and that it accepts individuals in need of legitimate medical help.  Detoxification is a serious and life-threatening process that often requires medical assistance.  Prayer may soothe the soul and even heal the mind.  But, addiction is a physical condition that requires legitimate medical assistance.

HEAL would love to receive a copy of the "Student Conduct Policies and Guidelines".  You can send a copy to: HEAL, 126 SW 148th St, Ste C100-422, Seattle, WA 98166-1984. 

Agreement (Page 2 of 3)

"STUDENT TO PARTICIPATE IN PROGRAM WORK EXPERIENCE ACTIVITIES-I understand and agree that I will participate in the work experience programs of the Center as long as I am in the program and will work willingly and I will complete all assignments given to me.  Student work experience assignments are an integral part of the program, not only in terms of character, responsibility, honesty and good work habits; but also as a way of financial support basis for the program.  Students shall not be paid for work performed will in the program."

"I am not in Teen Challenge to "do time", but to do whatever is necessary for me to be a true follower of Christ."

"I understand that the counseling I am to receive is not professional clinical counseling.  It will be Biblical counseling, and for the most part "Peer Counseling"."

"I also understand that, while Teen Challenge meets its own National Certification Standards, it is not licensed by the State as a mental health facility.  I agree not to hold Teen Challenge liable for any possible negative consequence, be it physical or emotional, resulting from my living here.  I understand that I am here voluntarily and that I may leave at any time."

"I authorize the Teen Challenge staff to search my person and my belongings upon admission into the program.  It's further understood that I release the right to Teen Challenge to make room searches and also my physical search of my person as deemed appropriate by Teen Challenge.  I also authorize Teen Challenge to search my incoming and outgoing mail or any items brought in later by visitors for drugs, information, or any matter that might be harmful to my progress or other students.  I understand that all phone calls made by or received for me will be screened and/or monitored."

"I understand that Teen Challenge or Teen Challenge staff shall not be held responsible for any of my personal property while I am in the program in case of damage, fire, loss or theft, or left upon leaving...Any funds credited to my account, return ticket, etc., may be forfeited to the general fund if I fail to comply with program procedures."

"I agree that Teen Challenge Monterey Bay may reveal information about me to any or all of the Teen Challenge Monterey Bay staff.  I understand that Teen Challenge Monterey Bay has a policy of maintaining confidentiality of all my private communications between Ten Challenge Monterey Bay and me.  Generally, such confidential communications will not be disclosed to a person or persons outside the Teen Challenge program, including my family members, unless I have signed the Authorization for Release of Confidential Information for the release of such information and/or records.  Even then, Teen Challenge Monterey Bay reserves the right to privileged information unless required by law in accordance with Federal Law 42 CFR Part II.  This means that Teen Challenge Monterey Bay has no duty to notify or inform family members about any program communication(s) between Teen Challenge Monterey Bay and myself."

It is a serious concern that individuals in this program are expected to provide uncompensated labor under coercive conditions.  This concern is compounded by the fact that individuals pay to be in this program.  The entire practice seems wholly unethical and possibly illegal.

Do people entering the program receive constant verbal reminders regarding the details in the agreement?  Does Teen Challenge advertise as a discipleship program that requires absolute control over initiates and expects to be paid while using these initiates for free labor?  Here is a quote from the (February 21st, 2011):  "Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Endorses Teen Challenge 8/17/10 - It was an honor for the Tucson Teen Challenge center to host the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)." Since this program is not a drug treatment program, why is it so heavily involved with the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Drug Free America Foundation?  And, why is this association on the main page of the Teen Challenge - Monterey Bay website?  Why do they imply they provide drug treatment and detoxification assistance when they are not licensed nor qualified to provide such services?  These are serious concerns.

Teen Challenge appears to be nothing more than a cult-recruiting center.  Many of the "clients" do go on to work or run Teen Challenge programs.  And, this is a serious concern.  What does Teen Challenge believe it takes to be a "follower of Christ"?  And, does Teen Challenge's values reflect true Christian values?  Since the program controls the relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, and initiates and the outside world, these all raise serious concerns.

Peer Counseling and/or Positive Peer Culture are often synonyms for "confrontational therapy".  Such therapy has been proven to be ineffective and harmful.  This is a serious concern.  It is also a serious concern that Teen Challenge is so arrogant to assume that their narrow interpretation of the Bible and/or their misuse of the Bible as a tool for personal financial gain is anywhere within reach of the real meaning of the Bible.  If they believed in Jesus Christ, they would behave humbly and would show compassion, respect, and understanding to their brothers and sisters in Christ.  Since Teen Challenge does not do this, it raises serious concerns regarding their motives and actions.

It is a serious concern that Teen Challenge subjects initiates to enslavement and other forms of coercion and abuse and accepts no responsibility for injuries resulting from Teen Challenge's own policies and methods.  This is unethical and raises serious concerns.  It also shows that Teen Challenge does not follow the Christian ethic or leading by example and plays the "blame game" to avoid responsibility for their own negligent and/or malicious conduct.

Teen Challenge claims individuals can leave at any time.  However, they do not explain how Teen Challenge will react when an attempt to leave occurs.  According to survivor reports, Teen Challenge withholds an individual's shoes, identification, and money when they attempt to leave.  Teen Challenge requires initiates to sign the "Civil Rights Waiver" that supposedly gives Teen Challenge the "right" to deny initiates contact with the outside world.  If you are allowed to leave a program without shoes, identification, your own money and belongings, and without contacting family for assistance, are you really being allowed to leave?  If you allow or sign off on the program strip searching you and confiscating/stealing items from you that would assist you in leaving the program, are you really free to leave?  If you are confronted, attacked, and/or restrained "for your own good" by the program, are you really free to leave?  If the program denies you contact with anyone in the outside world for the first two months, are you really free to leave or ask for help in leaving? 

It is a serious concern that if an individual is denied access to their shoes, money, and belongings and they leave for their own personal safety that the program assumes the right to confiscate the money and/or items and use as it sees fit.  The program should either hand over all the belongings immediately to individuals who wish to leave the program or should be required to turn those items over once the individual returns with the authorities or family to retrieve those items.  The withholding or holding hostage of identification and/or other items is unethical and seemingly illegal.

It is an additional concern that the program reserves the right to confiscate any items it deems "harmful" to the progress of individuals going through the program while denying any responsibility for the care or safe return of those items.  Survivors have reported that their Bible was considered contraband because it wasn't the preferred version used by the program.  This is a serious concern.

Teen Challenge is not a correctional facility and not an arm of law enforcement.  Teen Challenge is not a drug rehabilitation program.  Teen Challenge is not a medical nor mental health facility.  Teen Challenge therefore has no legal right to search individuals or their rooms.  And, this appears to be an additional civil rights violation and/or waiver request.  Such searches and permission to physically touch individuals may also include the use of restraint to perform such a search.  The use of restraint to detain individuals in this "voluntary" program raises additional concerns.

It is one of many warning signs of abuse that Teen Challenge monitors/reads/listens to all mail and phone calls.  This deprives individuals the liberty to discuss issues with the program they are having in a private manner with their families.  This raises serious concerns.  For more warning signs and questions to ask any program you consider, see

If one chooses to leave the program, is that considered non-compliance with program procedures?  If so, do people who choose to leave automatically forfeit their money and belongings?  Is this something the program suggests is the case?  If so, this is a serious concern.

What is Federal Law 42 CFR Part II?  It is Federal Regulations, Title 42, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 2.  This law applies to drug and alcohol abuse treatment programs only.  Since Teen Challenge is not a drug and alcohol treatment program, it does not fall under these confidentiality regulations.  And, by quoting this legislation in their documentation, they imply that they provide drug treatment services and this is something they disclaim elsewhere in the documents.  So, what is Teen Challenge?  The only thing Teen Challenge claims to be is a Christian Discipleship program.  It is not licensed nor qualified to provide any other treatment or service.  And, it is arguably not even qualified to provide Christian Discipleship training.

Agreement (Page 3 of 3)

"Furthermore, in consideration for the opportunity to obtain this program ministry, I promise that I will not take any legal action in the future for anything said, done or omitted by Teen Challenge Monterey Bay during enrollment in the program.  I agree to hold Teen Challenge harmless for any legal claims of negligence or damage of any sort which a person could assert relating to the program ministry."

"I specifically release Teen Challenge Monterey Bay and its staff from any and all financial or legal responsibility in case of accident, injury, illness, or other imponderable misfortune, and release Teen Challenge Monterey Bay and its staff from all liability of any kind whatsoever as a result of this agreement and my participation with them."

"I understand that I have civil rights guaranteeing confidential communications by phone and mail, as well as exercising the religion of my choice.  I also understand that Teen Challenge Monterey Bay is an evangelical Christian discipleship ministry for people with life controlling problems.  Therefore, since I choose to be a Student in this program, then I also realize and submit to the ministry's expectations to attend Christian religious activities as coordinated by the ministry."

"I do herby agree to abide by all rules, regulations and conditions of Teen Challenge Monterey Bay program."

It is a serious concern that Teen Challenge operates in a manner that violates the workers' rights, human rights, and civil rights of individuals in the program and then demands to be released from any and all legal liability or responsibility in regards to harm caused by their methods.  What are all of the legal claims that people can raise against Teen Challenge Monterey Bay?  How many lawsuits and/or settlements have arisen in the past that inspired the language in this agreement?

Hey!  We have an answer regarding whether or not Teen Challenge demands that people be submissive to their particular will and for the sole benefit of Teen Challenge.  The answer to the question raised in Application, Page 7 above, regarding whether or not Teen Challenge looks for submissive personalities for their cult, is YES!

Once again, Teen Challenge has misspelled "hereby" as "herby".  Does Teen Challenge explain in detail the rules, regulations, and conditions of the Teen Challenge Monterey Bay program prior to accepting initiates?  If not, how can anyone be held to have agreed to terms of which they had no knowledge at the time of signing?  This is a serious legal and ethical concern.

Medical Form (Page 1 of 1)

"My medical opionon"

Why does a non-medical religious program require medical information?  Seriously, this should be a serious concern for anyone looking into enrolling themselves or a loved one in Teen Challenge.  Also, another misspelled word.  It should be "opinion" not "opionon".  Page after page reveals errors in reasoning and grammar/spelling.  HEAL would not look to such unqualified and unprofessional programs for assistance.
Work Assignments (Page 1 of 1)

"I understand that IF I am admitted as a student, that I will be required to participate in Teen Challenge Monterey Bay Work Therapy Program."

"I understand that IF I am admitted, I will be performing my work assignments not as an employee of Teen Challenge Monterey Bay, but solely for my benefit, to further my spiritual growth and maturity, character development, recovery from controlled substances, and readiness to back into the work place."

"Accordingly, by submitting this Application, I am not applying for a position of employment, and IF admitted, I understand I will not be receive ANY compensation or in-kind benefits in exchange for the performance of any work assignments."

"I further understand that if I fail to perform my work assignments, Teen Challenge Monterey Bay may revoke my status and privileges as a student, not because performance of work assignments are the consideration for the receipt of such status and benefits, but because each student's participation in the Work Therapy Program is a necessary and vital part of the recovery process."

Teen Challenge requires all initiates to participate in the Work Therapy Program.  This means that providing free labor to the program is mandatory.  This raises serious ethical concerns.

The second section claims that the work therapy is for the sole benefit of the initiates.  However, this is obviously not the truth.  Here is a quote from the Agreement (Page 2 of 3) above: "Student work experience assignments are an integral part of the program, not only in terms of character, responsibility, honesty and good work habits; but also as a way of financial support basis for the programStudents shall not be paid for work performed will in the program. Emphasis added.  And, another misspelling revealed in the Teen Challenge paperwork.  Instead of "will", Teen Challenge intended "while".  All of these issues raise serious concerns.

It is un-Christian to enslave our fellows.  And, this is quite clearly the intention of Christ's teachings.  It is a serious concern that Teen Challenge forces people to provide free labor for their own financial gain.  This is unconscionable.

Once again, Teen Challenge suggests it is a drug treatment program by claiming that the work therapy program is imposed as part of a recovery program.  Teen Challenge is admittedly not a drug treatment program.  (See: Agreement, Page 1 of 3, above)  This again suggests deceptive marketing practices on the part of Teen Challenge.

The only "recovery" service claimed by Teen Challenge is recovery from substance abuse.  If the trade-off for working for free is supposed to be getting off of drugs/recovery from addiction, then it should apply to those in recovery only.  If Teen Challenge is truly a discipleship training ministry, why is drug treatment a constant focus of their advertising and documents?  Teen Challenge is not a drug treatment program and it is not licensed to provide mental health nor medical care.  So, there are a number of serious ethical concerns regarding their advertising and business practices.

Civil Rights Waiver (Page 1 of 1)

"The right to confidential communications and the exercise of religion of choice are civil rights.  However, Teen Challenge, in the interest of the discipleship process for the student, reserves the right to monitor and/or control communications.  Further, as an evangelical ministry, we require students to attend religious functions.  This waiver shall be administered at the time of admission or as soon thereafter as the student is capable of rational communication."

"I voluntarily give my consent allowing staff to exercise these procedures."

"I fully understand my rights and what I am waiving."

HEAL believes no program nor church should ever require an American Citizen to waive their constitutional rights in order to participate in any treatment or ministry.  If Teen Challenge cannot operate in a manner that honors the rights of individuals who enter the program, then it should not exist.  Also, since Teen Challenge is not a mental health facility, they should not be left to decide whether or not an individual entering the program is capable of rational communication.  The atmosphere at Teen Challenge is far too controlling and subjective to assume that their enforcement or practice in regards to these policies are done in a manner that is least restrictive and most respective of the individual enrolled and the needs of his/her family.

HEAL recommends no one waive their constitutional rights in the manner required by Teen Challenge.  This includes first amendment rights and the rights against unreasonable search and seizure.  These rights are the rights Teen Challenge demands you waive and it is not right or in line with the law or Christ's teachings.  These issues raise serious ethical, moral, spiritual, and legal concerns.

Non-Negotiables (Page 1 of 1)

"Leaving the program, which can include - consistent defiance towards authority, leaving the premises without permission or not being where assigned."

"If the student shows true penitence and the determination to work toward changing old habits, the Accountability Committee may choose to reinstate the student.  A restriction may be imposed, such as a 30- day hold on the program, 30- day blackout with no outside contact, etc."

What actual legitimate authority does Teen Challenge have in regards to initiates?  Since Teen Challenge Monterey Bay claims to provide "a new way of life for men, women, and children", this suggests a requirement that adults that should be treated equally and with respect are expected to be submissive to those running Teen Challenge.  This is serious concern as it does not imply an atmosphere that encourages critical thinking or self-respect. 

How can a program exert complete control over an individual and restrict their access to the outside world and still claim to be voluntary?  Communication blackouts are among the warning signs of abusive, cult-like programs.  See for additional warning signs and questions you should ask any program you consider for your family.


"Loss of privileges will be cumulative.  Should a Student be found to be smoking during a 30-day blackout period, he will have an additional 30 days' loss of privileges added to the current loss of time, etc."

"A Crisis Phase Student must have four (4) clean tobacco-use tests in a row to promote to First Phase."

"A fifth Phase student caught smoking will have to work two weekends in a row."

"Staff caught smoking will forfeit two weeks' pay."

Teen Challenge uses a level system.  The first 61 days the individual is held at the program incommunicado and, according to reports, without access to identification, shoes, or money.  The level system implied in the smoking policies document is another warning sign of an abusive program.  See for more information.

Teen Challenge - Monterey Bay staff may wish to review the article at regarding the possible illegality of the last term mentioned above regarding docking two weeks' pay if caught smoking.  This appear to be unreasonable and unconscionable.  And, HEAL would recommend that staff contact labor lawyers for answers.


"By my signature below, I expressly authorize and instruct Teen Challenge Monterey Bay (TCMB) to perform a Background Check Report(s) on me in conjunction with my job and/or enrollment application.  I understand that if TCMB hires and/or admits me, my consent will apply throughout my employment and/or enrollment to the extent permitted by law, unless I revoke or cancel my consent by sending a signed letter or statement to TCMB."

"By my signature below, I authorize the disclosure to TCMB of information concerning my employment history, earning history, education, credit history, credit capacity and credit standing, motor vehicle history and standing, criminal history, and all other information TCMB deems pertinent by an individual, corporation or other private or public entity, including without limitation the following: employers; learning institutions; including colleges and universities; law enforcement agencies; federal, state and local courts; the military; credit bureaus; motor vehicle records agencies; and other applicable sources."

"I further acknowledge that a telephone facsimile (FAX) or photogenic copy of this release will be as valid as the original."

"Maiden Name or other name(s) used"

"Social Security Number"

"Date of Birth/Place of Birth"

It is absolutely absurd and completely inappropriate for a church/ministry or any employer/school to do such an extensive background check on individuals entering the ministry/program.  There is no reasonable basis for TCMB to have this much confidential information on anyone involved with their program.  TCMB is not the CIA nor the FBI.  There is absolutely no reasonable basis for requiring this information.  And, it raises serious concerns regarding the amount of misuse and serious damage that can be caused by giving unlicensed, unregulated programs access to all of your personal and private information.  How often has TCMB used information in these reports to coerce or harass staff or initiates?  This is a serious concern.

"Have you ever been charged, indicted, received a deferred prosecution, received a deferred judgment and sentence, entered a plea of guilty, entered a plea of no contest, or been places on adult diversion for any violation of any law?  Note: You must response "yes" even if the charge(s) or action was ultimately dismissed, expunged, pardoned or the matter was not prosecuted."


It is inappropriate for TCMB to ask for information regarding any arrests even when the individual was not prosecuted and charges are dropped.  Why does TCMB require all of this private information that has nothing to do with being a disciple of Christ or enrolling in a ministry program? 

"This Center does not require Students who are HIV+ to notify other Students in the program of their HIV status, since HIV+ alone is not a contagious condition that others should be concerned about."

"Teen Challenge is not a medical care facility and is unable to provide 24-hour on-site medical supervision."

"All Students are prohibited from any sexual intercourse (relationships) with other STUDENT OR STAFF."

"Any HIV+ Student who intentionally puts another person at risk of being infected with the HIV virus will be IMMEDIATILY DISMISSED FROM THE PROGRAM."

It is absolutely false to state that HIV is not contagious.  It absolutely is a contagious disease.  See:

Teen Challenge is NOT A MEDICAL FACILITY.  This has been covered above, but, here we have Teen Challenge admitting again that they are not qualified to provide drug rehabilitation treatment services.

And, the final quote above has yet another misspelling.  It should read "immediately" not "immediatily".  TCMB appear to be unqualified and incompetent. 



All contact with the outside world (including immediate family) is controlled by and must have the approval of TCMB staff.  This is a serious concern. 
Im Here Letter (Page 1 of 1)

"I arrived at Teen Challenge Monterey Bay on _____.  I will be on a 30-60 day "black out" period during which time I may have no contact from outside the program.  I need to use this time to settle into the routine of the Center, familiarize myself with the rules and schedule and to focus on my issues."

"After that time, I am entitles to one 15-minute phone call per week on Saturdays (hours to be determined).  I may call you on the phone collect, or by using a phone card.  At this time, I may also send and receive mail from immediate legal family.  Mail is unlimited; please remember to be encouraging.  The people with whom I may have mail or telephone contact are:"

"After the first 60 days, I may have Sunday visitors here at the Center, with my immediate legal family and Pastor, from 1:00p, to 5:00pm.  I do need to know about visits ahead of time to put in a written request.  I may also request an 8-hour pass on pass weekend (9am-5pm Saturday), during which time I am allowed to leave the Center with family members or other approved accountability."

"Watsonville, CA 95019"

"I am not allowed to hold money until after Day 61, where I can only keep $3 on my person at a time."

"As I successfully progress in my program, I will be given additional privileges, such as passes for home and other off-campus activities.  I will let you know more about these when the time comes.  I am aware this will be the most difficult year of my life."

It is a serious concern and a warning sign of an abusive, cult-like program that there is a communications "blackout" period.  Please see for warning signs and questions you should ask.

Also, families should remember that all mail and phone calls at TCMB are read/monitored and even censored or withheld as part of the program.  This is a serious concern as well.  It is not necessary to hold people hostage and incommunicado to train them in Christian discipleship.  There is no limit to the control and arrogance of TCMB.

It is a serious concern that families are not welcome to visit their family members at TCMB on a regular basis from day one.  This is another sign of an abusive program. 

Also, many of the sentences above do not make sense and contain spelling/grammatical errors.  Why are initiates not allowed to use their own words to inform their families about TCMB?

We included Watsonville because there are two locations mentioned in the intake packet.  One is in Freedom, CA and the other address listed is Watsonville.  Is there a central mail-processing location that is different from the program location?  Are initiates allowed to tell their families where they are?  If not, this raises additional concerns given the restraints on free speech, free assembly, and communication with the "outside world". 

It is a serious concern that individuals are held incommunicado with no access to funds and no true ability to leave the program in a safe manner.  Experts have stated an individual can be brainwashed in as little as a few days.  So, since Teen Challenge operates like a cult, it raises serious concerns.

Why will a year at Teen Challenge be the most difficult year of an initiate's life?  If you are dealing with a population that has been abused, addicted, scorned, thrown away, or otherwise mistreated, then you should provide a caring, compassionate, respectful, and loving environment to help individuals truly heal from their painful pasts.  It is absolutely obscene to claim to provide a healing atmosphere while ripping off families and enslaving their loved ones. 

Based on the above and reports we have received regarding Teen Challenge, we advise against enrolling yourself or a loved one in this program.


Also See: Staff List and Background Information