Hello And Welcome To Spare The Rod An Anti Troubled Teen Industry Non Profit! 

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What Is The Troubled Teen Industry?

The troubled teen industry or TTI is a nebulous group of often abusive and corrupt private programs and prisons found all over the world that imprison teens and torture them into submission. You wouldn’t think a system of businesses like this could exist within the United States but it does. Religious exemptions in 35 states make it easy for religious groups, mainly Christian, Mormon, Catholic, Jehovah Witness, Baptist etc, to open up tough love reform programs that essentially beat, work or drug teens into submission. These boarding schools, wilderness programs, boys and girls homes, conversion therapy programs and rehab centers run practically unchecked and unregulated by local, state and the federal governments. They claim wide religious exemptions that allow them to withhold medication from a student, drug them against their will, refuse to vaccinate them or take them to the hospital when they are injured or sick for belief your god will heal them.

Not every program in the Troubled Teen Industry is a religious one, and that isn’t solely the focus of Spare the Rod. Spare the Rod is against ANY facility that abuses or exploits “troubled” or “high risk” teens. This can include state run psych and juvenile facilities, although those often have more oversight, checks and balances in place to protect teens and report abuses. The main difference between the public and private sectors of the troubled teen industry is regulations and over site. There is a serious lack of both when it comes to private run troubled teen facilities.  

Let us be clear, Christians are not our enemy. We are not against religion. We are for Christians taking back their religion from child abusers and people that have tainted the name of Christianity! Truly a god of love wouldn’t beat teens or work them like slaves in camps! Surely an all powerful, all knowing god would be better than that! We believe that once some of these people see what people are doing in the name of their god they will join us in calling for their closure! We are against ALL CULTS that present themselves as religious organizations and abuse children. 

This brings us to our name, Spare the Rod. You may have heard the phrase “spare the rod spoil the child”. But what does it actually mean? Does the Bible actually condone beating kids with a rod? No. This is a classic case of things being lost in translation. So what does the Bible say and how did it get twisted and used as a way to justify child abuse? 

Proverbs 13:34

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

Proverbs 23:13

“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.”

Proverbs 29:15

“A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.”

So on its face one might think this means to beat your kids until they submit to gods will when actually the word “rod” means discipline and instruction and they are paired on purpose. When it says and “if you beat him with a rod he will not die”. When we correct a child or teen it can be very embarrassing. Sometimes they even act like they might die or want to die. What I and many other people believe the Bible was actually saying before it was translated into English, “Do not be afraid to correct your child even if it embarrasses them. With instruction from you they will learn and not die.” 

These troubled teen industry programs often aren’t about instruction. They don’t teach life skills that these teens so desperately need. Many shield them from outside influences and their rules keep them from socializing with each other and the opposite sex. If anything this stunts their emotional and mental growth and is the opposite of correcting and instructing youth. It’s destroying them! It stunts their social growth. 

A lot of instructing youth is leading by example. Most parents mess up here. They have a “Do as I say not as I do” policy. This breaks the trust of the teen and they begin to “rebel”. In actuality they are just going through a lot as they transition into an adult and part of that process is them coming to their own conclusions and making their own decisions on things. Sometimes that will lead them to disagree with the parent(s). When parents lie to their kids or are hypocrites teens see that and lose respect for them. Once respect and trust are lost repairing the relationship can seem almost impossible so some parents decide to just ship their kid off to one of these tough love behavioral programs. That’s right! If you are a bad parent and just want to get rid of your teen there is nothing stopping you. If you have the money you can ship your teen off to be abused while you sip wine and relax in a quiet place. No more pesky parental responsibilities and the best part is these programs assure these parents they will return their child “changed” and that it will “heal” the broken relationship they have with their kid. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

In truth many of us survivors no longer speak with our parents or speak with them in a limited fashion. Many of us are still very upset about being abused and have disabilities and mental illnesses that have sprouted from the abuse we suffered as teens. Some of us even have chronic, physical pain and injuries. When a parent sends their teen to a program that teen instantly feels like their family has abandoned them. They feel like their own parents betrayed and sent them off to be abused.. And you know what? They are right! 

These struggling teens don’t need to be beat or worked like slaves into submission. They need unconditional love, compassion, better parents, and time to grow up, make mistakes and learn! They are missing the instruction part of the Proverbs! They get disciplined but who is setting an example for them? Where are their mentors? Who is training them to be young adults? When I was at Agape we never learned to balance a checkbook, open a bank account, hold a job, save money; heck we weren’t even allowed to watch the news or read the paper! If you shelter a teen too much, and you don’t allow them to grow and make their own mistakes sometimes and all you do is beat them or send them off to be abused you can bet on the fact that teen will not get the life education they need and will come to resent you possibly forever!

My story as well as countless other people’s stories are all recorded here on this site. There are videos, podcasts, written testimonies and lots of links and documents for you to browse. The site will continue to grow and will serve as a lighthouse warning parents and government about these abusive, corrupt, neglectful places. Spare the Rod is an Oregon based non profit dedicated to educating everyone about the dangers of the Troubled Teen Industry and fighting for justice for its victims. I encourage you to please take the time, listen to their stories, Read  some of the material on this site. Visit some of our allies in the fight against the TTI. Talk to survivors yourself! I’ve also included a lot of really helpful mental health resources and alternatives to sending your teen away. My hope is it will help you keep your teen at home and show them what unconditional love is. Teens need parents that don’t give up on them, try to understand them, and are honest with them. If you are a parent considering sending a teen to one of these troubled teen programs I beg you to reconsider! 



Brett Harper