Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.

Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.
e-mail: batushkad@yahoo.com

Monday, February 02, 2009


Editor: It is a positive development that Luzerne County Judges Mark A. Ciavarella and Michael T. Conahan are being brought to justice for their actions in profiting from placing youth in detention facilities.

However, it is necessary for us to examine the problems inherent with residential and detention facilities themselves. In these settings, youth are placed often under conditions that lead them to further emotional distress. The decisions to place children is often not based on a genuine interest in the child’s best interests, but what will be profitable and the easiest way out of having to actually rehabilitate youth and meet their emotional needs.

It is no wonder that the socio-economically disadvantaged youth are the ones that are so frequently seen in this system. How does placing a child into a detention center or residential facility, which often is geared toward the concept of staff forcing conformity through rewards, punishments and often deprivation, teach a child who seeks to use power inappropriately that this is wrong?

How does a militaristic system teach anything but that children must submit to someone stronger than themselves? It only reinforces wrong ideas about power and domination.

These facilities are bound to create new emotional problems for these children. But the system profits here, as well, because then they are able to label and drug the children and make money in the process of billing for this injustice.

A youth is removed from the home, programmed, and when they conform to the expectations, released back to the setting that led to their distress and misbehavior to begin with. It becomes a vicious cycle.

These facilities are also very costly and their efficacy is questionable. The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law noted the ineffectiveness of these facilities in treatment of youth as well as the many documented abuses that occur in such places.

Community-based options have proven effective and need to be more readily available and implemented.

We need to shift our focus to true rehabilitation and to addressing actual social problems, not locking our children away, drugging them into submission, and ignoring their needs.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dr. Edmunds:
Thank you for a wonderful article. These places are not places of treatment. Many children are abused in the facilities you mention. These children are sadly thrown away and the system just makes money off of them. It is very sick. I thank you for your caring heart and standing up for what is right.