As more and more Pagan groups focus on including community issues in their rites, I am often asked for “cause suggestions.” Giving money isn’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. It “feels” better to contribute clothing, canned food, or other supplies and those things are equally important (sending a carload of paper towels and cleaning supplies to the Rockaways after Sandy was EXTREMELY fulfilling and also, very important). Still, no endeavor can run without cash. Passing the hat at the end of a ritual and making a donation to cause important to people not only helps these endeavors, it builds community. Sometimes, it might be a drop in a spreading forest fire, such as giving a Sabbat collection to Doctors without Borders. Or, that same Sabbat collection might be a firehose on a brushfire for a smaller-scale cause. But enough drops will quell a forest fire and a strong hose will dampen a brushfire. It all depends on what troubles your community enough to act. A few weeks ago I posted about finding what breaks your heart and addressing it in a matter that brings you joy. Heartbreak Dejour: The Troubled Teen Industry.
In my freshman year of high school, I was fascinated by a classmate. Eerily pretty and dressed in dark, flowy clothing, the girl seemed to have tapped into a mythical wellspring of rebellious cool–the portal to which my Warner Brothers t-and-jeans-self would be forever barred. She scribbled fantastical masterpieces into a spiral-bound notebook and infuriated our religion teacher through barbed–but astute–counterpoints to the instructor’s points about “What Catholics Believe.” Toward the end of the semester, my classmate would silently read the Satanic Bible during those lectures, raising a mischievous eyebrow over the pages at the instructor whose face morphed through a spectrum of scarlet shades. I desperately wanted to be her friend, but was terrified that she would discover I was even less-cool than she surely already thought.
One day, she was gone. All our tiny school knew was that “she’d been sent to bootcamp.”
We never got the whole story. I doubt even our teachers understood what had happened. Or maybe they did. Maybe they were complicit. It certainly changed things for me and our bewildered classmates..silently reigning in our own rebellious moments, outspoken tendencies, and questioning of our authority lest we too vanish one day.
A couple of years ago, I found her on Facebook: A delightful and terribly approachable woman who is now an accomplished artist. A few days ago, she posted a link to an indigogo fundraiser for a documentary about an institution called “Straight Inc”: a brutal “treatment program” for teens considered troubled. My former classmate was sent to a subsidiary program–these places, as the film hopes to point out, are cess-pools of physical, psychological, and spiritual violence with untrained, unlicensed people acting as therapists breaking down young people–often encouraging them to be participants in the violence of others. And…these programs fuel a multi-billion dollar industry.
Documentaries such as Gasland 1 and 2 and Small Small Thing have historically ripped back curtains to reveal very, very bad things we’re told to pay no attention to and often led to monumental changes that can save lives. Fix My Kid: Straight Inc. and the Rise of the Troubled Teen Industry has the potential to address a very, very scary issue.
Kelly Matthews, the executive producer on this project said, “The abuses and trauma imposed on these children will continue until the American public understands the nature and effects of abusive treatment programs on adolescents. Fix My Kid shares the perspective of professionals, family members, and former clients of Straight and other programs to help protect future generations of adolescents from abusive treatment practices.”
This is riding up my soul like a sandpaper thong. This could be the United States’ version of the Magdalene Laundries.
For more information on the Straight, Inc. and subsidiary programs, plus what the crew plans to do with the film, please see their website at this link. The project needs $50,000 and they have set a goal of 47 days to raise the money. If you’re looking for a good heartbreaking issue to help out, this is one to consider.
Good luck to Kelly and her entire team. I look forward to seeing this important film. Please consider supporting this extremely important endeavor.