Help at Any Cost: How the
Troubled-Teen Industry
Cons Parents and Hurts Kids

A Book By Maia Szalavitz
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Also by Maia Szalavitz

Past Events

Saturday, June 24, 2006 - 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Tough Love and Coercive Persuasion: The Utilization of Cultic Techniques to Manipulate Parents at Adolescent Behavior-Modification Facilities

Philip Elberg, Esq.; Maia Szalavitz

In the past few years, hundreds of "tough love" behavior-modification programs including boot camps, wilderness programs, and "therapeutic" and "emotional growth" boarding schools have been created for American teens in the United States and abroad. One group of facilities operated by the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs (WWASP) has a current enrollment of more then 2,000 adolescents.

In his litigation on behalf of former patients of a predecessor of these programs, Straight/Kids, Philip Elberg concluded that their ability to retain patients in what amounted to a private jail was in large part due to the ability of the program operators to lure parents of adolescents into a cultic environment in which their concern about their children caused them to abandon their ability to think critically in favor of "working their own program," and trusting its operators to do what was right despite clear evidence that the program was a fraud and their children were being harmed.

At this program, Mr. Elberg and Maia Szalavitz, the author of a recently published book entitled Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids (Riverhead Books, 2006), will discuss the history of these facilities and how one of them, WWASP, has utilized Large Group Awareness Training Sessions to trick parents into believing that their child's survival depends on their absolute faith in the word of the WWASP staff and in disbelieving what they are told by their children and even what they see with their eyes.

The talk will focus on how, by using manipulative and coercive techniques, the tough-love salespeople have created a growth industry without any scientific or therapeutic basis.

Cato Institute

Thursday, April 20, 2006
12:00 PM (Luncheon to Follow)

Featuring the author Maia Szalavitz, Senior Fellow,; and with comments by Evan Wright Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone Author, Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America, and the New Face of American War. The Cato Institute
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

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As the War on Drugs continues to fill America's prisons with nonviolent offenders, many cities and states are looking at mandatory treatment as an alternative to incarceration. Although treatment is generally preferable to prison, not all methods of treating drug addiction are the same. Some methods, particularly the "tough love" programs aimed at teens and adolescents, have documented records of mental abuse, physical abuse, and even death.

Talk Radio Interview

March 26, Maia will be a guest on Mr. Dad's Positive Parenting talk radio show. Tune in live in the San FranCisco Bay Area
8 a.m. PST: KOIT (96.5 FM/1260 AM)
6 a.m. EST: WGMS (103.5FM)
or Listen Online
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Thursday, Mar 02 Book party at Serena Bar Szalavitz (at far left) relaxes with moderation counselor Ana Kosok and World Policy institute fellow Michele Wucker.

The Brian Lehrer Show

~ WNYC 93.9 FM and AM 820 Friday, Feb 17th Click Here to listen.
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Air America with Rachel Maddow ~

Wed, March 1
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