By an overwhelming majority vote of 318-103, on June 25 the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 6358 (previously HR 5876), the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008.

This watershed legislation will enact necessary reforms intended to stop the abuse and torture of young people in behavior modification facilities, or gulag schools, throughout the country. It will prohibit the all-too-common physical, sexual, or psychological abuse of teens by facility staff. It will require that young people held in these facilities have access to food, water, shelter, clothing, medical care, and a telephone. It will restrict the use of physical restraints, require inspections of residential treatment centers, and more.

And it passed by greater than a three fourths majority, more than veto-proof. This vital, common-sense bill garnered strong bipartisan support, earning the votes of 229 Democrats and 89 Republicans.
Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle listened to the voices of victims of behavior modification facilities and boot camps, and of their constituents, including hundreds of NYRA members from across the country who wrote and called their representatives and made their views known.

But the fight for justice is not over yet. This long-overdue legislation still does not yet have a sponsor in the Senate. The bill must still pass the Senate before it can be sent to President Bush for his signature. You can help by writing or calling your senators and urging them to introduce the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008 in the Senate. To find and write your senators, go here.

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