Customer Reviews: An American GULAG : Secret P.O.W. Camps for Teens
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on March 4, 2002
While reading this book, I took a tough emotional ride. I was sent to one of these schools at the age of 16. In fact, I was at the same school as "Katie" during the same time she was there...
Anyway, this book may not be the most professionally put together expose on these schools, but since no one else has bothered to stand up against them, this book shines. Every parent who is considering sending their child to a school like this should a) read this book and various other information online; b) realize that your child WILL be brainwashed (or converted - your choice of terms); and c) visit the school and stay awhile. Don't just dump off your child to whatever convinent program offers to re-program for you...
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on May 27, 2000
This book was a tell-tale story of what happens to kids who are considered "out of control". I myself was placed in one of the facilities that was mentioned in this book and everything that was said about it was absolutely true. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has been sent to a boarding school, who knows of someone who has, or is considering sending their own child away. There is so much information regarding the legal system and how it works for these schools, plus how it works against the children who are placed in the custody of the schools. Read it.
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on March 14, 2002
Alexia's description of her struggle to free a 13 year old from harmful treatment is well written and emotional. Her intuition, strong hear,t and courage allowed her to be one of the first to expose a part of America (and beyond) that is destroying its youth. Her book is not only informative for those who do not know what acceptable kidnapping is, but reveals many forms of child abuse that are happening every day in "treatment" centers for teens. Everyone should know her story, as well as the "voices from the gulag" included in her book.
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on April 9, 2002
Honestly, this book is a mess. The information in it is available elsewhere - in fact, I read the whole book online through netlibrary - there is too much 'Lifetime Movie' style focus on her disintegrating love life, and the lack of any real conclusion or response from 'Katie' makes it feel unfinished. The author's shading towards hysterical ranting makes it hard to believe a word she says. So why I am guardedly recommending it? Because not a month ago, a teenage acquaintance of mine was shipped away. Oh, I knew about boot camps, we all know about them, we've seen the talk shows - but you don't think it can happen to someone you know, to a good kid, with no screening process, without even checking to see if the person enrolling him had custody... No rights. The word of someone claiming to be a parent, and a teenager can be sold to strangers.
Thankfully, my teenage years are long gone. But for those who have no voice and no rights... even a flawed book deserves reading.
Here's hoping the sales enable her to get an editor and do the story justice.
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on March 18, 2002
Alexia Parks tells the truth about what happened at some of these coercive mind-control for-profit mills. It is a growing business that preys on adolescents for money. There may be some good programs out there, but as a survivor of a horrible one, I can attest personally that parents cannot be too careful about where they send their troubled teen. Lawmakers should read this and write legislation to regulate all such programs thoroughly. Many "troubled teens" in these places, such as myself, were troubled by abusive parents. I and others I've connected with in the many years since I "graduated" remain anonymous out of fear of retribution by people still involved in the cult-like group, as well as out of shame for ever having been there, even though it was not my fault. I'm a professional and a good citizen, but got here later than I would have and I'm scarred by all the abuse I endured. Bravo, Alexia, for telling this story.
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on February 3, 2009
I was there at the New Bethany Boys home from 88-90. If people want proof that this place existed and the conditions are founded then come to me and the hundreds before me and that came after me. I was definitely no angel, but I dont believe anyone, especially children should be forced to endure the treatment we lived through for a minimum of one year. We all were sent to that place without charges, arrest, convictions, or court ordered. We forcibly indoctrinated in fundamental christianity, received physical beatings from hands, boards, belts. you name we got it. It wasnt just one or two hits, I remember one personal instance where I was responsible for feeding the pigs. One day I slipped and the feed missed the trough. I got back and before I knew it I was thrown to the ground and was beat across the back numerous times. I remember thrashing around begging for the dorm parent to stop. I couldnt sit back in a chair for a month. I recall another instance that a youger boy, about 8, was receiving punishment for wetting the bed. At times I could hear him screaming, about 75 yards away from the house. The psychological impacts were just as bad. We were nothing but sinners and if didnt follow their doctrine we were scum and it was no wonder our parents no longer wanted us, their words. The worst thing was wondering when and where we were going to get beat, and not knowing what exactly would make cause for a beating. It saddens and angers me to read when people dismiss this as an exception and not the rule. Parents need to step up and stop relying on others to raise their children. Since I have left New Bethany, I now have anger management problems that never had before. I also want to vomit every time someone talks of "god" and "goodness" in the same sentence. So damn right, if the causes parents to look deeper into an institution, then good on the author. But, dont you dare say that these things didnt happen, dont you dare. Especially if you dont have any experience or proof that these things didnt happen. Good luck disproving these claims, because you cant change fact.
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on February 29, 2008
I read the book and, contrary to what irresponsible parents and brainwashed students say, its content mirrors many other tales by people who survived these ominous facilities.

The book may not be perfectly structured and well-written, but it tells the truth that everybody, including troubled teens' parents, shoulf accept. These boarding schools she describes in the book, mostly faith-based, are far from being exceptions. Their methods are the expression of their owners' fanatism and greed of money. Because even a fool could see that all they want is money.

Parents have no excuse in sending their children to such places. They may have tried everything, but it's not enough. No parent can do such a horrible thing to his child saying it's for his good. Brainwashing, abusing and violating a person, destroying his identity, his personality, his self-esteem: however good the result might be, what's good in this practices? Forcing a person to change is not the way. And any parent who thinks this is the way to do things is just a superficial, irresponsible and ignorant person. Parents are responsible for their kids and their well-being. They should take responsibility. Signing some papers, paying a huge sum of money and putting their kids in the hands of people they don't even know in order for them to solve the problem IS NOT taking responsibility. It's dismissing a problem and having somebody else do what you the parent MUST DO YOURSELF, even if you think you're not capable. If you think you've tried everything, think twice. Or even a million times. A kid should never be put into the hands of such people.

However, if a parents feels that somebody else should solve HIS problem, at least he should choose a school that is credited by the State and, more importantly, is NOT faith-based. Evidence shows that the problems described by "survivors" of these schools come up mainly in schools run by fundamentalists. Why not choose a school that has credentials? just because of money?

In Europe there is no such place as a bible boot camp like the one described in the book. European teenagers face the same problems American teenagers do, there are some troubled teens here, too, but nobody sees the need for such a horrible facility. Are European parents better than American parents? I don't think so. They're just more reasonable and wise.

Thank God MPBBA was shut down, and some others here and there have been closed, too. Too bad there are still hundreds operating in the US. I just hope that parents are seeing the light.
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on October 29, 2002
I myself was sent to three different "Boarding Schools" or "Behavior Modification" programs. This book did a great job in showing the readers what these places are really like. I Just hope it makes a parent think twice before they decide to send their teen away to a "behavior modification" program. Thanks Alexia.
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on December 9, 2014
Unfortunately I'm unable to review the book because the author chose to submit this book to the kindle store as a scan of a PDFS. This makes viewing the sourc document very unpleasant and the reader is unable to change the font size off of the original document . It also makes the text difficult to read as it comes in looking light against the background and is therefor a strain on the eyes. This is a shame as I very much wanted to rewad the book as I have a great interest in the subject matter . I'm editing the book 3 stars so as not to drag down the authors ratings on the content of the story itself , but the author should either resubmit the e-book version of this book in an appropriately readable format or forewarn purchasers.
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on November 2, 2015
I enjoyed reading the book although it was emotionally difficult for me as a survivor of the school in Ramona. I recommend the read for awareness of the schools that are out there, but have to say as a student was disappointed that the book didn't share what happened to the girl and that it seemed to be more about what it cost the author. I understand that the girl may want privacy, and if that is the case, I wish that had been addressed. I feel as if, yes, it was an expose of sorts, but not about the real pain we survivors suffer. I am sure it helped pay the legal and travel expenses.
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