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We Will Not Be Silenced Anymore: A Website for Troubled Teen Survivors Edited by: Whitney Edna Ibe

This article sheds light on the website “Unsilenced” which aims to reveal the harsh truth of the troubled teen industry and the secrets that happen in the treatment centers. 


The Unsilenced website has been founded by CEO Meg Appelgate and COO Gregory Wilkins.

The website includes tabs such as news, awareness, investigate, policy, survivors, links, about, and shop along with all of their social media. Some statistics listed on their home page can include that there are 120k+ children in treatment centers, 350+ deaths recorded, and 5,000 centers at this time. 


Additionally, the website describes itself as “the voice of youth rights.” Moreover, every child should have their own voice on how they are treated. Yet, that is of course that is not always believed by some of these institutions. 


First, the news tab gives the readers links to blogs, activism that is happening with a calendar, and an option to sign up for their newsletter. In like manner, Paris Hilton, a celebrity, has put out a book describing her harmful journey at the Provo Canyon School in Springville, UT called Paris: The Memoir. Also, there will be a Protest and vigil in Pembroke, MA at the Pembroke Hospital called, Justice for our Angels, in collaboration with the We Warned Them Campaign.


Next, the awareness tab includes a blurb on what the troubled teen industry is, industry timelines, Project Speak, survivor stories, program red flags, and safer alternatives. To start, Project Speak is an arms community with knowledge “to educate school and judicial systems, child placing agencies, healthcare professionals, and insurance companies on the Troubled Teen Industry.” Project Speak includes that this is their way of making sure that they take part in bettering youth rights. 


Comparatively, there are hundreds of survivor stories on this website to show just how these students did not even have a voice in the matter of their treatment or when they could use the restroom. According to Harley’s testimony, “the bathroom breaks were at set times, and if we had to go outside of them, we would be cited. We often held our bladders both in O&A and in the main program, so UTI’s were commonplace.” To clarify, if a child had to use the bathroom, not in the time they were allotted, they would be punished by the program. 


The website fortunately adds a list of red flags to look for when signing your child or yourselves up for one of these programs. These red flags can include, “the program requires children to initially ‘earn’ the right to have normal social interactions (i.e. needing to be at a certain level in the program to have basic conversations with their peers), the program uses a contract with terms that ask the parents to sign over their custodial rights or agree to not report child abuse, the program uses attack therapy or group attack therapy on children,” etc. 


Next, the investigate tab includes sub-tabs such as program archive, document search, a program map, program deaths, closed programs, and public record requests. Most importantly, it can be seen that a lot of programs have been closed down due to misconduct, but usually, a new program would pop up in their place making the horrible cycle continue. Furthermore, the program map can show exactly where every program is with a location, phone number, and website. Last, any death that has been recorded has been taken notice of and listed with their name, cause of death, program, year, age, and a link to more information that can be given about the child.  


Next, the tab policy includes state impact reports, state legislation reports, legislative watch, and legislation news. To start, the state impact report shows its readers statistics about how many children are placed in residential treatment centers in each state. For example, “an estimated $23 billion of public funds annually are used to place youth in residential programs. Daily rates for residential treatment ranges from $250-$800, costing up to $292,000 per year, per child,” in Texas. Identically, that is about $400 per child per day. It is not unrealistic to say that these programs can be funding Texas itself. Lastly, it is important to note that some bills that are for and against the troubled teen industry with controversial methods used. This can be found in the Legislative Watch tab. 


The next tab, “survivors,” includes sub-tabs such as survivor independence packs, survivor resources, report abuse, request records, support groups, and share your story. In some cases, teens will age out of the programs and can become homeless. The survivor independence packs provides teens with, “essential tools, information, and helpful guidance on issues they may be naive to due to their time in a facility…These packs will contain a backpack, hygiene products, a book about the TTI, gift cards, and a laptop preloaded with extensive resources to help the survivor navigate life outside of the program.” To conclude, some teens end up with no resources when released; this starter pack gives them hope for the future. 

The next tabs, links, give its readers links to educational research, advocacy groups, tv/movies, podcasts, and books about the troubled teen industry. The second to last tab, about, shows what the website, “Unsilenced,” is all about and who the leaders are. Also, there is a sub-tab called to donate, where you can donate to put a stop to abusive programs. Lastly, there is a shop tab where you can shop for “Unsilenced” merchandise. 


Generally speaking, the website “Unsilenced,” helps bring awareness to the survivors of the troubled teen industry. It would not be uncommon for someone not to know what wilderness therapy or an RTC is. All in all, this website helps create a non-judgemental space for survivors to speak the truth and get help as well.

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