Friday, August 24, 2012
Why NHYM Alumni Are Concerned about Crosswinds
In 2011, Escuela Caribe and its parent company New Horizons Youth Ministries shut down. The property was donated to Crosswinds, a subsidiary of Lifeline Youth Ministries. At first we celebrated. However, now we alumni are concerned.
Caribbean Mountain Academy, a division of Crosswinds, is predominantly staffed by former New Horizons Youth Ministries/ Escuela Caribe employees. These are employees that were employed by an organization that professed that children must be broken in order to be fixed. They worked during a time when students, teenagers, were given swats and being sent to the Quiet Room (often for days) for minor violations, when students were being "slammed" against the wall for minor infractions, even when the story of waterboarding recounted by "Emily" occurred sometime around 2009. (For further reference, read this student's account of abuse in 2008, when many of these staff were employed).
Another troubling aspect is that this summer Crosswinds uploaded a parents' guidebook (since removed from their website). The students are on a level system similar to the one utilized by Escuela Caribe. It does not say how their placement on levels is determined. (In the past it was via a point sheet).Zero Level, which we all considered an abomination, is no longer mentioned in the guidebook. However, it seems to have been replaced with Level One.
This summer, Jesus Land author Julia Scheeres created a petition to protect students at Caribbean Mountain Academy. A series of requests to protect basic human rights was outlined. Nearly 600 individuals have signed, including Caribbean Mountain Academy/ Crosswinds CEO Mark Terrell.
Terrell added comments. Many are problematic. The two things that worry us most is that he carefully qualified his answers on employing former staff and on uncensored communication between students and families.
In order for students to be protected, they need uncensored communication with their families. They need a hotline to report abuse, and an outside agency that monitors the facility to ensure that abuse is not occurring. For students to be safe, they shouldn't be in the Dominican Republic at all, cut off from their families.
We believe all former staff should be dismissed. Two of the current staff members have written a post for the Crosswinds facebook page defending why they should still be employed. Even if they did not commit abuse, they still were there while it was occurring. In the United States, teachers or counselors who do not report abuse happening to children lose their jobs. Why should the rules be different in a therapeutic program?