Her parents, whose lives revolved around their church, admonished her for being aggressive toward them and for expressing her sexuality too freely. She had to stay six feet away from people, including staff. She had to wear an ankle monitor for two weeks.
Emma, who was fifteen, tried to remember every exit she passed, so that she could find her way home, but she was crying too hard to remember the names. When Emma was seven months pregnant, she told Essie, the co-director, that she had found a program that would allow her to keep her baby. Then the other girls piled around them, and everyone hugged.
He and a colleague instructed Emma to put on her clothes and follow them to their car. At meals, the students were disciplined for leaving food on their plates. About thirty yards behind the house was a much larger one, with white shutters and a brick fence. Autocratic in structure, these therapeutic communities—the most famous one was Synanon, in California—emphasized rituals of spiritual cleansing, minimal contact with the outside world, and the exchange of personal stories, which tended to follow a similar arc: they began in sin and ended in redemption.
That night, twenty-eight girls gathered on couches in the living room.
She was not allowed to speak, except to her two Big Sisters—students who had been in the program for at least six months—and she could not enter a room unless her Big Sisters accompanied her. Some have never even tried them. At church, she had to sit between them.
If she saw a boy at church, she had to look away. To keep the ending upbeat, she found herself straying from the facts of her life. Emma worried that her parents, who had three biological children, considered her a burden.
Someone had turned on the lights in her room. Quade Pike, a former student at the Teen Challenge in Disney, told me that nearly a quarter of the students in his program had been adopted from foreign countries. In the nineteen-seventies, Teen Challenge was one of many treatment programs that eschewed a medical approach Test sisters naked addiction, a model that had produced disappointing.
He also made a hundred million dollars available for faith-based drug-treatment programs. They must write over and over a paragraph summarizing the attribute, citing Scripture, up to a hundred and fifty times. Some Teen Challenge youth centers advertise themselves as places for students struggling with depression, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts, among other ailments, but students told me they seldom had access to trained mental-health counsellors.
When Emma saw that there was no way for her to get an abortion, she began whispering to the other girls that she wanted to keep her baby. She began tallying the of times students tried to cut or harm themselves. The school was all girls, and contact with boys was prohibited. It was clear to Brittany that Emma had a long way to go.
For her first six weeks, she would be a Little Sister. At Teen Challenge, adult residents often have to work at least forty hours a week, unpaid, which the organization says is training, to prepare them for the job market. Bush, then the governor, sided with Teen Challenge, creating an exemption for faith-based programs.
He followed the command and drove east.
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She noticed a streak of mascara on her pillow, which she took as a that the occupant had been crying. Online, Emma found a residential Christian program in Fort Lauderdale for single mothers who wanted to go to school or to work while raising a baby.
Wilkerson took a broad, undifferentiated view of addiction —any vice, or even sorrow, constituted grounds for admission.
In the spring of her freshman year of high school, inEmma Burris was woken at three in the morning. She asked her Big Sisters for permission to speak, and, when they agreed, she said she was worried that she was pregnant. She watched lesbian pornography and had lost her virginity to an older boy.
Emma made arrangements for the program to pick her up. But Emma had lost this privilege, for talking too many times when she was supposed to be silent. For a week, Emma felt sluggish and sick in the mornings. The school followed a Bible-based curriculum emphasizing character development, and a counsellor gave Emma a thick handbook.
On a night shift, Walls brought Emma into a private conference room and pulled out a laptop that was connected to the Internet, which the girls were normally forbidden to access. Touching was forbidden, she learned.
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Parents have wide legal latitude to raise their children as they please, and students at Teen Challenge have the same rights as they would have in their homes. A white pastor in rural Pennsylvania, Wilkerson read an article in Lifeinabout a murder committed by adolescent gang members in Brooklyn. Some work at thrift stores operated by the organization. George W. Many people are sent there by courts, as an alternative to juvenile detention or jail. Inthe U. But the law never passed the Senate. They must stay several feet apart, and eye contact Test sisters naked forbidden.
She was informed that this would be her new school. Like the women who had lived in the maternity home, Emma could carry her pregnancy to term and then give the baby up for adoption. Some students told me that they were sent to Teen Challenge because their parents worried that they were gay.
Others do landscaping, wash cars, or work at warehouses or call centers.
He could not get the story out of his mind. As punishment, she was put on Talking Fast for a week, during which time she tried to kill herself. But they are deprived of the kind of routine interactions with teachers, neighbors, doctors, and relatives who, when encountering s of abuse, might intervene. When Emma complained that certain foods were making her nauseous, a staff member named Izella Walls surreptitiously intervened. Part Scottish and part Puerto Rican, Emma was slight, with long, wavy blond hair. If anyone opened a window, alarms sounded.
Her period was two weeks late. Each year, some fifty thousand adolescents in the U. There are no federal laws or agencies regulating these centers. But most of these communities were short-lived. Her parents, who had adopted her when she was seven, stood by the doorway, watching silently.
After the school day, the same counsellor pulled Emma aside: the test was positive.
The book, published insold millions of copies in its first decade in print and was turned into a Hollywood movie, starring Pat Boone as Wilkerson. They wanted her to get the full benefits of Teen Challenge. Emma was informed that when girls ran away, or even spoke about the idea, their program was re-started, with two extra months added. Shane Thompson had rare access to these closed worlds, and he told me that, during the ten years he spent transporting teens to programs throughout the country, he became increasingly concerned about where he was taking his clients.
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The room had no doors, and floodlights in the hallways remained on all night. When Bush became President, he appointed Henry Lozano, who had been the director of Teen Challenge in California for about a decade, to be one of his deputy assistants.
In frustration, she threw a water bottle across the room. Students given the discipline at some centers told me they had to wear ankle monitors or a yellow reflective vest.
At one Teen Challenge, in Oklahoma, students told me, boys and men were called the Others. It was called Teen Challenge, and she would remain there for at least fifteen months.
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The directors instructed Emma to share her news. She often read romance novels late at night, when she was supposed to be asleep. Teen Challenge, a network of nonprofits that has received tens of millions of dollars in state and federal grants, has more than a thousand centers in the United States and abroad.
Inhe established the first Teen Challenge center a few blocks from Fort Greene Park, in Brooklyn, opening the home to gang members, prostitutes, addicts, and other young outcasts. Others were sent for forms of rebellion or distress that arose from childhood traumas. She was taken to her bedroom, which she would share with four other girls.
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Emma had been born when her biological mother, who used drugs, was in jail. They told Emma that they would not the form. Teen Challenge survived, possibly because it was working within an established spiritual tradition. Students at Teen Challenge are permitted to talk on the phone with their parents once a week, for fifteen minutes.
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After a three-hour drive, Thompson pulled up to a ranch house in Lakeland, a small city in central Florida. Many of the students at Teen Challenge adolescent centers are not addicted to drugs. Brittany, who was sixteen years old, quickly saw that the only way to move through the program was to conform.