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“I was legally kidnapped.”

This article discusses how some teenagers are legally kidnapped and taken to troubled teen industry programs against their will. 


Imagine being taken on a surprise vacation by your parents or being woken up in the middle of the night for your worst fear of being kidnapped comes true; that's what happens to a lot of these children who went through the troubled teen industry. 


As parents sign over all guardianship rights to these transport companies, these strangers are completely in charge of the minor and can not be sued for anything happening to the child during the transporting process. These can include them harming themselves and being hurt by the transporters. In other words, children as young as 13 years old are forced to leave everything they have ever known without any of their belongings with normally two strange men and allow them to take them across the country and drop them off sometimes in the middle of the woods. 


In like manner, in an article called, “Why is Legal Kidnapping Still a Thing and Why aren’t we talking about it?” Written by Scarlett Varley in The Gavel, it explains that, “parental rights are transferred to these companies through an affidavit or a power of attorney agreement, which gives the workers permission to restrain the child or to authorize medical attention. Soon after the parents agree, transportation services show up in the middle of the night, wake up the teen, and kidnap them, sometimes using handcuffs, hogties, or cable wires with varying degrees of aggression.”


A lot of people may think, how is this even possible, how is this even legal? Because these are minors, the children have no say over what happens to them. The children cannot get lawyers or speak to the police because they cannot physically get there. It is important to note that these troubled teen industries are mostly for children with mental health issues or disorders. To clarify, most of the children are good kids and want a little help to become a better version of themselves which everyone can need help with from time to time. With this in mind, the teens may just want to please their parents and go to the industries or want to get better for themselves, not that they have any choice. 


A survivor of the Chrysalis School and Intermountain Hospital from 2001 to 2004 named Meg exclaims how when she was only 15 years old two men came into her room in the middle of the night and kidnapped her. Horrifyingly, these men were very clear that she had no choice but to go with them by saying “we can do this the easy way or the hard way.” The men forced her to go to the bathroom and change out of her pajamas while watching her before shoving her into an SUV and driving Meg to the LAX airport. 


Tikki Reichman, an 18-year-old from New York, expresses that she had no idea what was happening to her, and the ‘goons,’ or transporters took her without even giving her a lot of time to gather herself and say goodbye to her family. 


“The transport team took me from my hotel room in Las Vegas and I started crying at the airport, and I didn’t even know that treatment existed. And then the next day I ended up in the woods.”

“If you try to run away you will get tackled to the ground, body slam you, spit on you, anything they want, they don’t care.” 


Even Though some children know that they will be leaving with a transport team, some do not. Some teenagers are not told that they will be taken to these troubled teen industry programs until right up to that moment. It is not uncommon for parents to trick their children into thinking they are going on vacations or taking them out for ice cream when they are allowing their children to be legally kidnapped by the troubled teen industry. 


Erika, now 16 years old, was only 14 when her parents wanted to take her to Hawaii for the first time. When she and her family showed up, she was taken by two strange men, about 250 pounds each, and shoved into a car that took her to her first wilderness program called Pacific Quest. She expressed how she tried to run away but could not because she was overpowered by her transporters. Erika’s parents have signed guardianship over to Pacific Quest so Erika has no say if she was going to go or not. These men were required to take her to the wilderness rehabilitation program by law. 


Erika describes her feelings at that moment as being, “so surprised, hurt, and overwhelmed. At that moment I lost all trust in my parents.” 


Another teenager named Ari describes their experience as well of being legally kidnapped. When he was just 16 years old, he too was taken to the unknown. When he was at Uniah Academy, his therapist allowed him to be kidnapped. 


“We were in the school building and my therapist came in and told me it was time for therapy. We went into the house and she sat me on the couch and then the transporter came in and told me that I was leaving. I remember I was crying and didn’t speak much because I was very scared. There were two men on either side of me very close, almost touching me and one was gripping the back of my shirt so if I tried to run away I would be choked by my shirt.”


Furthermore, Ari’s parents know about this and allowed this to happen to them but no one told Ari in advance for unknown reasons. 


Generally speaking, these young teenagers will be taken out of their homes, and have no idea where they are going for the sake of their “own safety” and “mental wellness.” In reality, these children have no say in what is happening to them and feel hopeless in this process. How would you feel if you had no say over your own life anymore?

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