Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kidnapped for Christ

Over Christmas break I flew to LA, where I met up with filmmaker Kate Logan. She interviewed me for her documentary Kidnapped for Christ, the Escuela Caribe expose she's been working on the past six years.

It was intense....

Escuela Caribe was an abusive religious reform school located in the Dominican Republic. It was founded in 1971, and only recently shut down. Many alumni have provided testimonials of their time at this site. For the past seven (?) years, I've been working on my EC captivity narrative, UnReformed.

Kate first encountered EC in 2004. She spent a day on the campus, and left with the impression that the school was rehabilitating hardened juvenile delinquents, teaching them about Jesus.

In 2006, Kate and Peter, her cameraman, returned. Initially she planned to make a feel-good piece about the school. But once she arrived at Escuela Caribe, she couldn’t deny that the kids at EC were being abused in bizarre ways. She kept her suspicions to herself and shot footage for six weeks, interviewing students. She even smuggled a letter out.

When I flew to LA, Kate quizzed me about the time I spent at Escuela Caribe in the early nineties. It’s been fascinating for us both to discover how little the school’s core philosophy, that their charges need to be “broken” through punishment, changed. It’s heartbreaking to realize how many lives have been damaged during the school's four decades.

Hopefully Kidnapped for Christ will help people realize what type of abuse happens in teen treatment facilities, even ones purported to be Christian. Ideally it would spur the government to regulate such facilities, and prompt parents to think twice before sending their kids away.