In 2021 Northern Illinois Academy was closed down after the authorities took interest in the poor management the owner – Sequel Youth & Family Services had installed at the facility.
The management lacked putting in place proper supervision with their employees often hired to secure as much profit as possible over other considerations like qualification and interest in treating the children at the facility with the care they needed.
The lack of a proper management at the facility led to a number of incidents according to local media coverage including use of dangerous methods of restraint, criminal charges had been brought against an employee for choking a child, sexual relations between employee and patient, removing family pictures as punishment, increase in medication due to changing rules of use restraints instead of issuing medication based on the patients needs.
Overall it sounds like a bad place to be as a child.
- State removes youths from Aurora residential facility after ‘troubling’ report cites improper treatment, use of physical restraints and minors frequently running away (The Chicago Tribune)
- Worker at juvenile mental health facility in Aurora gets 10 years for sex assault of child (The Chicago Tribune)
- State takes action against Aurora academy that serves children with disabilities (The Daily Herald)
- Youth Transferred From Aurora Facility Amidst Abuse Allegations (The Patch)
The facility was founded in 1963 as a summer camp but transitioned into a year around facility marketed as a therapeutic boarding school.
In 1990’s the approach towards the children were modelled into a strict behavior modification program with 4 levels. The results was a number of cases where the children ran away and were restrained just to prove strength in a powerstruggle between children and the employees.
March 2021 one of the buildings called “The Barn Center” burned to the ground.
The Feedbacks from former students are not positive. On Reddit one former student wrote:
Unfortunately, the experience was nothing short of traumatic. There was so much that happened that I won’t be able to do other survivors justice, but I’ll do my best. There was a hyper-regimented structure that broke down all the actions into components of “the program” (a proxy for following their system that was essentially absolute obedience to authority figures such as parents, on their terms). The program was a level system, which was in turn governed by a “point sheet” (each 45 minute period was overseen as a block, and you were rated on how you did. The net total of your periods determined your daily score, which in turn collectively determined your week, etc. The levels came with increasing privileges (such as being out of staff supervision and increased prestige), but they were obtained by following exactly what the therapists mandated. My therapist was particularly sadistic and was a major factor in my self-hatred, which has taken me years to effectively overcome. The overarching ethos was to “break” (they considered it reform or instruction) each student through constant pressure; this was tailored by the therapist and the lead teachers and dorm staff for that student’s unique profile. For example, if a student liked video games, they would use specific tactics to curtail video games in order to instill cooperation (admittedly, some of them were genuinely addicted, but it was abhorrently dehumanizing throughout). Not a single student had a voice. Not one. The specific tactics were abusive restraints (the staff were very aggressive with their restraints in both usage and function), tricking parents into thinking the school was a beneficial component, and the standard tactics you and many of the members of this subreddit are all too familiar with. The only noteworthy exception was that social pressures weren’t sanctioned by staff the same way they were elsewhere. It is telling that of the 4 years I was there, only 2 students that I can remember were actual “success stories”, one of whom got into an elite STEM college (I forgot the name), while the other one is in school to be a social worker (I hope he didn’t get gaslighted, as he was a stellar human being. I’m sorry that you went through treatment centers/therapeutic schools of any kind. They wreak havoc upon nearly everyone who comes through them. Hopefully this description is beneficial.
Another student wrote:
Holy shit this was my first program, I went for a year or so back in July 2015 to mid 2016. It was hell, I had a similar reaction once I was there and I have a lot of stories about that place, and I friend I had there who stayed after I left and I saw again recently who said it got only worse since I left (they banned Pokémon cards despite it being the one thing most of us found solace in, it was when I actually learned how to play and really got into it as well. Oh the joys of playing it with house mates in Jefferson on weekend mornings before staff woke up. I hated that place but it had its moments where I could mentally escape for a bit). I was on Green Sheet A LOT and tried to escape a few times (they have a alarm for staff when the doors open at night, so I never got much farther then the road near the cafeteria or maybe the nearby post office, where they publicly restrained me as well!). I got locked in the same room as well for a long time, with nothing but some random sleeping bags and a wall board I fiddled with to keep my mind active. A few times I didn’t want to go to school with the dress code of khackies (sensory issue, they are uncomfortable as hell and feel restrictive. They probably did it to keep us from moving too fast now that I think about it, or too look nice for school photos that they took without my permission and I kept taking down on the board with photos they had, ones with me I mean). I got sent to that room because of the pants rather then, I dunno, letting me just wear sweat pants or even uh maybe just letting me stay in the dorm or just NOT LOCKING ME IN A SECLUSION ROOM. Yeah but I have quite a few stories about that place so if you want someone to talk to about that more obscure place then I’m all for it. While most programs are in Utah there are others outside it people don’t talk about as much like LKS.
It does not sound like a fun place to be as a teenager.
Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo, Michigan is presently being investigated after employees tried to restrain a boy who died as result of this process. In general there are focus on how to restrain persons after some police officers killed a possible criminal while it was recorded and later shown on Youtube.
So now there is a general demand for changes in the police force. But what about children in residential care? Many children have died and very little attention has been used on changing the methods or making rules about when possible restraints should be used.
At Lakeside Academy they could use some outside supervision into their treatment approach. A parent writes in a google review:
FIRST My son went over 3 months without his psychiatric medications due to their negligence. I called continuously trying to find out why when he was transferred there his meds were abruptly discontinued and requesting he see the psychiatrist asap. It was a month before I found out he wasn’t getting them (found out from my son) and then another 2 and 1/2 months before they finally had him see the psychiatrist and started him on 2 of the 3 meds yet never requested his psychiatric records to know what his diagnosis and med history was. His behavior went from good to horrible and he took a huge decline with not having the meds that help stabilize his chemical imbalances.
SECOND My son injured his ankle and it took them FIVE days to have it seen and x-rayed even though he was in a lot of pain. He ended up with 3 fractures and required surgery and screws in his ankle.
There are a few nice staff but if you have kids with medical needs be prepared for medical neglect.
It has been reported that the authorities ordered the removal of students to leave room for a proper investigation. It has also been revealed that some students ran off into the neighborhood.
Supervision of this facility is very needed and until that happens it is safe to say that it cannot be fun to be there as a teenager.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral choir in Melbourne has been revealed to be the hunting ground of a pedophile hiding in the service of the church. He was brought to justice but not before the damaging caused upon the children resulted in the death of one of the victims properly as result of the horrific memonries.
It could not have been fun to be member of the choir as a teenager.
A 15 year old boy died after he was restrained by the employees. Even when the court in the end came to the result that one of the employees was innocent of his death, it does not change the fact, that every restraint include the risk of taking the life of the child. Despite the trial the facility did not change its ways. A girl later needed treatment as result of her interactions with the employees.
A facility where the focus is on use of power instead of counseling is not fun to be at as a teenager.
On Track Wilderness Program was involved in the Brown Schools organization. Today it is mostly known due to the tragic death of Charles Chase Moody caused by an illegal restraint hold.
Backed up by other testimonies it is safe to state that it could not have been fun to be there as a teenager.
- Teen Died in Illegal Restraint Hold (corrections.com)
- A Nashville girl in the wilderness near Mason, Texas (Just another hike)
- Death in Texas at “On Track” Wilderness (Fornits Home for Wayward Web Fora)
A teenager started a fight but got crushed in the events which led to his death at an age of only 15. While it is not acceptable for any person to use violence it is also important to question the guidelines letting a smaller question of medication to grow into a fight.
It seems that it is not fun to be a the group home as a teenager.
Teen who died following altercation at Berea group was physically restrained (Northeast Ohio Media Group – Cleveland.com)
Dangerous restraint holds, deaths is nothing to be around but in the asylums of past decades it was often the case. Edgemeade – Raymond A. Rogers Jr. School was one os such places and a teenagers died there according to articles.
It didn’t sound like a fun place to be as a teenager.
- Questions raised in death of teen (The Baltimore Sun)
- Boy’s Death At School A Homicide – District Heights Youth Died After a Struggle (The Washington Post)
- Factsheet about the facility