Every year over 50,000 teens are labeled as troubled and sent to tough love and behavior modification camps. These places are designed to stop bad behavior through various therapies. This isn’t always the case, thousands of children and teens are abused every year by the staff members who are supposed to protect them. There is currently a movement to end places like this called #breakingcodesilence. You can sign a petition here. A quick search on Reddit reveals thousands of people who claim to be products of this industry. There are accounts of these troubled teens not being allowed to eat or shower. These children are sometimes being tossed around like rag-dolls by the staff members who are supposed to protect them. There was an account on reddit of a wilderness teen camp in the mountains of Tennessee from the person who watched a teen girl who almost died of a snake bite because the staff literally left the children alone on the side of a mountain with no way to get help at night time. The only way she survived was her other camp members sprung into action and carried her in the dark down the mountain on foot. To me these types of behaviors don’t sound conducive to healing or fixing a troubled teen. In fact, these seem a lot like new traumas these children will have to relive everyday. These types of stories are what surround today’s topic, Turn-About ranch in Escalante, Utah.
Sexual abuse allegations by a teen against Turn-About Ranch in were announced in a lawsuit filed by women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred and Utah attorney April Hollingsworth. Hannah Archuleta was 17-years-old when she was taken to the ranch in October 2019 after being on the “Dr. Phil” show. Dr. Phil has been known to send many teens to Turn-About ranch. Hannah claims she was sexually assaulted by a male staff member ten days after she arrived, but did not report the incident because she was afraid to. “At the ranch, I was alone and isolated from all of my family,” said Archuleta.
One month later, Archuleta alleges a second sexual assault by the same staff member, and reported the incident to a female staff member. Hannah says she was called a liar, but told to write a detailed letter in her report. This is one of the biggest issues with the troubled teen industry, children are labeled as problems and automatically deemed less credible. Generally their actions are direct reflections of how they are treated in daily life. Giving many troubled teens the mentality of “well they think this way of me anyways might as well act like it,” because no one will give them the tools in order to learn how to be any different. Hannah faced immediate retaliation and punishment for writing the letter, including being forced to face a wall or shovel manure for hours, left outside in freezing temperatures, and forced to sleep on a wooden plank, among other vindictive actions. “I expected to be treated with understanding, instead I experienced retaliation from the ranch after I spoke up in what appeared to me to be punishment for reporting my abuse,” Archuleta said. This is not the first allegation against Turn-About Ranch.
Danielle Bregoli aka Bhad Bhabie
Danielle went on the Dr. Phill show and for a while was known as the “cash me ousside” girl. Now, she is so much more with many gold and platinum records and she is even the youngest female rapper to ever be recognised by Billboard. She was sent to Turn-About ranch by the Dr. Phil show. While she was there she was not allowed to sleep, starved, “stripped of her personality,” and even witnessed a murder. The worst part is that she says Dr.Phil was well aware of the conditions he was subjecting her, and other kids, because her parents signed a release to send all her info back to Dr.Phil while she was in “treatment.” Bhad Bhabie posted a video of her allegations against Turn-About and Dr.Phil which he responded to in an interview. In the interview they only bring up Danielle on the Dr.Phil show, which she says she was coached by producers to act how she did. Dr.Phil tries to say he is unaware of how children are treated and he doesn’t keep up with them after the show. He calls the TRAUMA she experienced unfortunate and acts like it wasn’t a big deal. Bregoli said that upon entering the ranch in 2016, she was placed in teepee and forbidden to shower or sleep. “You have to sit there for three days,” she said. “They wouldn’t let me lay down for nothing. Like, I was falling asleep and they’re like, ‘Oh, get up, get up.’ So I’m just sitting here like, ‘This is gonna be really bad’ when I see these people have no sympathy.” Her allegations came a month after Hannah Archuleta announced her lawsuit against Turn-About Ranch. In 2012 a mother sued the ranch for allegedly torturing her daughter when she lived there in 2005.
This is only the snowflake on top of the iceberg for the troubled teen industry. This is not the only facility with abuse allegations against it. These are not the worst allegations out there. Often these troubled teens are being supervised by people who are not qualified. Many facilities only require you to be a highschool graduate and 21 to be a counselor. This leads to many “troubled teens” becoming counselors themselves. They either excel and help a lot of children or they continue the cycle of abuse because that’s what they know. The troubled teen industry needs reform and regulation, right now it’s a breeding ground for the very mental disorders it claims to fix. These facilities are creating trauma for children instead of giving them the love and attention they desperately need.
Written by: Erinn Malloy