I've noticed two distinct reactions to my accounts of teens who are taken from their beds at three in the morning, shouted at, beaten, deprived of food and sleep, kept in stress positions for weeks, sexually humiliated (girls made to dress as prostitutes; boys dressed in drag) and completely isolated from media and other contact with the outside world -- all in an attempt to end their drug and/or behavior problems.
The first group of people immediately starts comparing the programs to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. The others say that such comparisons are overblown and hurt the cause of those trying to change the situation because while what happens to teens in tough love programs is abusive, it does not rise to the level of torture.
Well, I don't think the latter group will argue in this particular case -- according to the U.K's Independent on Sunday, more than 60 of the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay *were* actually teenagers, some as young as 14 when they were first brought in.
And, I believe, the same callousness that allows us to send teens to boot camps in which "pain compliance' tactics are expressly permitted, the same callousness that allows us to try juvenile offenders as adults (you're not old enough to drink or vote, but once you commit murder, you're suddenly mature enough to be held accountable for it) and until recently, to put them to death, is responsible. America likes to see itself as humane and compassionate -- but if we look at the way we treat children, the picture is far from flattering.