Maia Szalavitz is an American reporter and author who has focused on science, public policy and addiction treatment. Raised in upstate New York, Szalavitz graduated from Monroe-Woodbury High School in 1983 and attended Columbia University.
February 8, 2016
You’ve probably seen ‘scared straight’ segments on some daytime talk show like ‘Maury’ before. You know the kind where they throw troubled teens in jail for a day to get yelled at by a drill instructor and come out crying for their parents?
What if we told you there was a whole industry set up around this where you can legally have your child kidnapped in the night and sent to the wilderness or to live in a religious group home for months on end? These programs prey on middle-to-upper-class families, operate where there are no child labor laws, and use torture, fear, and manipulation tactics to “fix” troubled youth. Also the counselors need no formal training and are often child molesters.
The best case scenario if you’re a teenager sent to one of these camps is that you come home with PTSD and severe trust issues for the rest of your life, however in many cases you may just die there. It’s one of the scariest things happening in America right now that you probably didn’t know about.
Cracked editors Jack O’Brien and Robert Evans speak with Maia Szalavitz, who literally wrote the book on the teen rehab industry, about how these centers operate and why so many families are conned into paying them thousands of dollars to hurt their kids. Then they speak with Sarah Cummins, whose family sent her to Utah to live in one of these centers where she was forced to manipulate other girls, do endless manual labor and hug her counselor who turned out to be a sex offender.