"Troubled teen turns life around" (9/13/05) is boilerplate boot camp promotional propaganda. The reporter evidently swallowed the script whole, believing it to be fact, then merely plugged her name into the byline.

If the subject of the story is a real girl, she's suffering from Stockholm syndrome. There is nothing in the mental health-related sciences that supports "turns life around" as a valid description of recovery, or demonstrates the efficacy of quick fixes wrought by untrained, unqualified camp employees. Trauma, perhaps; recovery, no.

As for the parents, they are deep in denial and guilt. Add shame when they wake up and realize they've been hoodwinked and fleeced.

Jordan Riak, Exec. Dir.
Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education

Troubled teen turns life around
Lebanon Daily News, September 13, 2005

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP — Fifteen-year-old Katie McCrary has hopes to attend American University in Washington, D.C., someday. She would like to major in music or video production. Katie did not always have such aspirations. In fact, two years ago, she would have been lucky to pass eighth grade.

“I didn’t even want to finish high school,” she admitted Saturday during a family get-together at Memorial Lake State Park, East Hanover Township.

Katie’s parents, Cindy and Kerry McCrary of Union Township, said their daughter was out of control. At age 13, she was skipping school, ignoring curfews and dating an 18-year-old boy against her parents’ wishes.

Katie admitted she was sad and upset during that period of her life. She wanted to be with her friends and did not want to be around her parents. She said she wanted other teenagers to like her so she pretended to be someone she was not.

Her parents sought help from counselors at Northern Lebanon High School. They also sent Katie to a week-long counseling program at Philhaven. But nothing seemed to make a difference.

In desperation, the McCrarys agreed to let Katie move in with her older sister, now 21.

Katie was living with her sister for three months, when her father showed up at the home to find her smoking a cigarette on the front porch, he said.

“That was the last straw,” Kerry McCrary said. “We didn’t know what else to do.”

He and his wife knew they had to do something radical or Katie’s future could be in jeopardy. Cindy McCrary had researched the subject of troubled teens on the Internet and found a long-term program called Premier Education Systems LLC, whose goal is to work with troubled children and their families.

Several schools throughout the United States have contracts with Premier to run seminars for students and their parents.

The McCrarys chose Academy at Ivy Ridge in Ogdensburg, N.Y., for their daughter. Ivy Ridge opened its doors in the summer of 2001 and currently has 280 students.

“The purpose of our school is ultimately to bring families back together,” Tom Nichols, the school’s public-relations coordinator, said. “The program works on all members while focusing on the student. There’s a lot of looking inside oneself.”

Nichols said that broken families occur in all types of ethnic, social and economic backgrounds.

“It can happen to anybody,” Nichols said. “Parents need to remember it does not make them a bad parent. They’re to be admired to have the courage to ask for a hand.”

Nichols said students at the school are required to participate in community-service projects and fund-raisers. He said this allows the students to interact with people and to be a “part of something bigger than themselves.”

Katie thought the school was a temporary move and did not take it seriously at first, she said.

“It was really upsetting at first,” she said. “I thought it was a joke.”

However, that was 15 months ago. At some point, Katie said, she started listening to those trying to help her, and she started to care about herself again.

“It helps you work on yourself,” Katie said of her experience at the New York school. “I’m a different person now.”

Students at Ivy Ridge must earn passes to leave the facility and visit their families. Katie earned her first five-day pass and returned home over the weekend to visit her parents. She will return to New York tomorrow. She is on her way to earning a seven-day home pass next month and a 10-day pass in November.

She hopes to graduate from Ivy Ridge in December and return to Northern Lebanon High School as a sophomore.

“I think it’s better to face it,” Katie said about returning to her former school and friends. “I think it’ll make me stronger.”

Parents also play a big role in the program and are required to attend a three-day seminar before seeing their child for the first time.

“It has changed our lives,” Cindy McCrary said. “I’m proud of my daughter. I’m proud of how she’s turning out.”

Kerry McCrary said he started his own hauling business in 1998 and worked long days to support his family. In the past, he and Katie rarely talked.

Kerry McCrary said the program has helped him realize how important it is to spend time with his family. He even quit smoking to set a better example for his children.

“The program has done so much for all of us,” he said. “Money is not everything. ... I’m not a bad parent, but I definitely could have been better.”

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