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The Vox Box

Mon., Oct. 15, 2007, 2:30 p.m.

Report recounts horrors of youth boot camps

This New York Times article describes "reports of abuse of troubled young people in privately run boot camps and other residential treatment centers" as widespread, with examples numbering in the thousands, according to a federal report released last Wednesday.

The report is about the "bad kid" camps I'm sure we have all heard of. The ones kids are sent to that "disappear" and for thousands of dollars, the place will kick the kid back into shape--sometimes literally.

This story describes the tale of Aaron Bacon, who died at 16 while at the Northstar Expeditions in Escalante, Utah. Aaron's father, Robert, says the boy was starved, and they sent him there to try and get him away from the influence of drugs at home.

A “bloody and tattered journal” he was forced to keep as part of his therapy contained, instead of poetry, “an unbelievable account of torture, abuse and neglect,” Mr. Bacon said. Aaron had spent 14 of 20 days “without any food whatsoever,” while being forced to hike 8 to 10 miles a day. “On the days he did have food, it consisted of undercooked lentils, lizards, scorpions, trail mix and a celebrated canned peach on the 13th” day, Mr. Bacon said.

“I feel I sent my son to his death, to a program that now I know couldn’t have provided any of the services they promised,” he said, his voice cracking.

Gregory D. Kutz, managing director of forensic audits and special investigations at the accounting office, also testified. He said Aaron was beaten “from the top of his head to the tip of his toes” during his month in the program. By Diana Jean Schemo/NYT

QUESTION: Have you known anyone sent to these homes/camps? Do you think they can help?

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In 2006, then-editor Steve Smith of The Spokesman-Review had the idea of starting a publication for an often forgotten audience: teenagers. The Vox Box was a continuation of the Vox, an all-student staffed newspaper published by The Spokesman-Review. High school student journalists who staffed the Vox made all content decisions as they learn about the trade of journalism. This blog's mission was to give students an opportunity to publish their voices. The Vox Box and the Vox wrapped up in June 2009, but you can follow former staffers' new blog at