Every day, young people are tortured or otherwise abused in “behavior modification facilities” or gulag schools, residential “treatment” facilities designed to set troubled and misbehaving teens on the straight and narrow. Young people at these facilities are beaten and subjected to other physical and sexual mistreatment. They are forced to exercise in the heat until they drop to the ground in exhaustion. They are forced to eat vomit or denied access to restrooms. They are physically restrained and left in isolation for hours or even days at a time. They are denied access to food and water. They are intentionally humiliated and subjected to brainwashing techniques designed to tear down their self-respect. And the operators of these facilities are not held accountable.

But that may be about to change.

Next week, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008. This vital piece of legislation will enact several necessary reforms intended to stop the torture. It will prohibit gulag schools from abusing young people physically, sexually, or psychologically; require that residents have access to food, shelter, clothing, and medical care; restrict the use of physical restraints; require that young people have access to a telephone; require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to inspect these facilities at least once every two years; and more.

This is perhaps the most important piece of youth rights legislation in NYRA’s history, and you can do something to help advance it. Even if you’re currently disenfranchised by the voting age of 18, write to your representative in Congress and insist that he or she support this bill. Educate others about this important issue. You can even write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper expressing your support for the bill. Pass along NYRA’s press release in favor of HR 5876.

We are finally within striking distance of the gulag schools. Let’s make our voices heard.

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