Help at Any Cost

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Penguin Publishing Group, Feb 16, 2006 - Family & Relationships - 336 pages
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The troubled-teen industry, with its scaremongering and claims of miraculous changes in behavior through harsh discipline, has existed in one form or another for decades, despite a dearth of evidence supporting its methods. And the growing number of programs that make up this industry are today finding more customers than ever.

Maia Szalavitz's Help at Any Cost is the first in-depth investigation of this industry and its practices, starting with its roots in the cultlike sixties rehabilitation program Synanon and Large Group Awareness Training organizations likeest in the seventies; continuing with Straight, Inc., which received Nancy Reagan's seal of approval in the eighties; and culminating with a look at the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs-the leading force in the industry today-which has begun setting up shop in foreign countries to avoid regulation. Szalavitz uncovers disturbing findings about these programs' methods, including allegation of physical and verbal abuse, and presents us with moving, often horrifying, first-person accounts of kids who made it through-as well as stories of those who didn't survive. The book also contains a thoughtfully compiled guide for parents, which details effective treatment alternatives.

Weaving careful reporting with astute analysis, Maia Szalavitz has written an important and timely survey that will change the way we look at rebellious teens-and the people to whom we entrust them. Help at Any Cost is a vital resource with an urgent message that will draw attention to a compelling issue long overlooked.

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Help at Any Cost

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Szalavitz (senior fellow,; coauthor,Recovery Options: The Complete Guide ) has conducted the first in-depth investigation of the multibillion-dollar teen rehabilitation industry, and her ... Read full review

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Magnificent, and absolutely nothing less. I know an unimaginable number of people abused in these awful places. If I could manage it, this would be required reading for every parent BEFORE their kid becomes a teenager.
This book speaks the truth: If one sends their child to a residential facility promising silver bullets for a tough situation the results could be deadly; furthermore, cost is not a good measure of quality.
The sick part (to supplement this slightly dated book), WWASP is still operating facilities today although largely under different names, Teen Hope is now Teen Revitalization, for example. Another name that's coming up is Premier Education / Premier Education[al] Systems. Watch out! The same people are still running the show!

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About the author (2006)

Maia Szalavitz is the coauthor, with Joseph Volpicelli, M.D., of Recovery Options: The Complete Guide and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, New York, O: The Oprah Magazine, Salon, New Scientist, and the Village Voice, among other publications. A former producer for Charlie Rose and researcher for Bill Moyers, Szalavitz is a senior fellow at, a media watchdog group that investigates the coverage of science and statistics.

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