Help at any cost: How the troubled-teen industry cons parents and hurts kids
By Maia Szalavitz
Published by Riverhead Books (a division of Penguin Putnam). Publication date February 16, 2006

In this riveting and deeply troubling book, Maia Szalavitz shows that we don't have to go to Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo to find examples of harsh violations of human rights: frighteningly similar abuses are inflicted on American teenagers today, in programs ostensibly established to help them. Help At Any Cost vividly illuminates the human costs of these "treatment" programs, and the urgency of challenging their misleading claims before more of our children are irreparably harmed.

Elliott Currie, Ph.D., Professor Criminology, Law and Society, University of California-Irvine.

A piercing, incisive look at an out of control industry that puts profits ahead of children and wreaks havoc on families. The violence of the Tough Love credo that has dominated youth rehabilitation for decades will shock you to rage and tears. A must read for anyone concerned with the welfare of our children today.

Stephen Elliott, former ward of the state and author of Happy Baby and A Life Without Consequences.

Read TOUGH LOVE QUACKERY: Maia Szalavitz's presentation to The Cato Foundation, April 20, 2006

How much of the industry that provides residential drug treatment for teenagers consists of institutionalized child abuse? I don't know, but Maia Szalavitz makes a strong case that the answer is "too much of it," and that no system is now in place to detect and remedy those abuses.

Mark Kleiman, Director, Drug Policy Analysis Program, University of California-Los Angeles

In this long awaited study of the booming "teen help" industry, Szalavitz bravely takes on an important issue impacting teens more today than ever before. In this thorough and riveting example, she calls for parents, educators and mentors of teens to take a closer look at the "help" their teens are receiving. In fact, the lives of many teens depend on it!

Lynn Ponton, MD, author of The Romance of Risk: Why Teens do the Things They Do, Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco.

"Help at Any Cost is the fascinating, disturbing story of an American Abu Ghraib that preys on troubled teens and their unwitting parents. Maia Szalavitz's meticulously researched account lays bare one of the most under-reported injustices occurring in America today. It is a chilling portrait of the dehumanizing effects of the war on drugs and of lives wasted by a teen help industry run amuck."

Evan Wright, best-selling author of Generation Kill and PEN award recipient.

Maia Szalavitz has written a brave and independent book. In an era when we believe children are regularly dying due to drugs, sex, suicide, and crime, parents are ready to try any solution to "save" their children. Szalavitz has discovered that the tough-love programs many parents resort to do more harm than good, and she writes with facility about research while presenting on-the- ground reportage that puts flesh on the often-horrifying stories of children caught in the maws of tough love therapy. Finally, she presents parents with tools with which to evaluate these programs and to otherwise make sound decisions to help their troubled children.

Stanton Peele, Ph.D., J.D., author of 7 Tools to Beat Addiction.

This powerful book describes with sensitivity and clarity how fear, ignorance, greed and inhumanity converge to create a "therapy" industry that humiliates, degrades, deprives and tortures our own children– sometimes to death. This amazing, sad, hopeful book is a clarion call to all who value children: every parent and every professional working with adolescents should read this book. And then give it to any policy maker, legislator, clinician, educator or caregiver you know.

Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D. Senior Fellow, The ChildTrauma Academy, former chief of psychiatry, Texas Children's Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine.

As a survivor of a teen boot camp, I was stunned by Szalavitz's brilliant expose of the "teen help" industry. A book-length investigation into the dark side of this booming business was long overdue, and Szalavitz nailed it on the head. It's a landmark study of a business that frequently hurts -- and sometimes kills --teenagers. This book deserves a wide audience.

Julia Scheeres, author, Jesusland and survivor of Escuela Caribe, located in the Dominican Republic.

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