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Opinion & Essays - Aug, 1995 Issue 



(In May, WR sent a copy of the April issue with cover material concerning the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children to Idaho officials who might be interested in the Compact. The cover letter objected to this law giving the state the authority to require advance approval of ALL adolescent placements from out-of-state, even if the state has no other involvement. The following are two responses I received.)

I understand your concern about undue state intervention in parental decision-making, particularly when that decision is made without any expectation of state participation or involvement. On the other hand, the state does have an interest in making sure children who are sent to Idaho -- either by their parents or by another state's social services agency -- are not abandoned by their non-Idaho parents or lost in a shuffle of private and public programs. From a parent's point of view, the compact is a form of consumer protection. No state will endorse placing a child in some dangerous or fly-by-night program. I have forwarded your letter to the Idaho administrator of the compact. As we review Idaho's participation in the compact, I will keep your comments in mind. - Philip E. Batt, Governor of Idaho, Boise, Idaho. 

Thank you for the letter, the report, and the booklet. I was not in the legislature in 1961 or 1976, and I've never heard of this law. I have never received any praise or condemnation of the 1976 addition. Before I did anything, I'd need proof of abuse in Idaho and an explanation of the supporters as to its purpose and what value it has been to our children.
 - Jim Stoicheff, State Representative, Legislative District #1, Sandpoint, Idaho.
TO: U.S.News & World Report
2400 N. Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037-1196

sent by FAX, June 28, 1995

Dear Colleague:

The John Dewey Academy is a residential, therapeutic high school for gifted, self-destructive adolescents who require a structured, supportive, safe environment to help them begin to use, rather than continue to abuse, their superior intellectual and creative abilities. All graduates attend colleges of quality. Some students either have attended before coming or have been referred during their stay to a wilderness therapy camp. Carpenter and Utah neglect to stress in their article, "Taking Nature's Cure" (June 26th), choosing to perform dangerous and destructive acts, some adolescents are out of control because they refuse to play by anyone's rules but theirs'. What astonishes me is how few casualties result because these program often have little information regarding applicants. When the family or a school sends this kind of youth to the wilderness, the message communicates disapproval that disruptive behavior no longer will be accepted. Removing an adolescent from daily environment and negative peer contacts provides an opportunity to form realistic intermediate educational and social goals. While noxious attitudes can be modified by this kind of intervention to convince the adolescent to be amendable to traditional educational and therapeutic approaches, internalization of these values takes more time. Wilderness programs are similar to 30 day residential detoxification programs for alcoholically addicted individuals, who in 30 days can purge themselves of the poison, but need prolonged support of a self-help group such as Alcoholics Anonymous and/or therapy to help them remain sober. These wilderness programs can be a first step to recovery, accepting responsibility, and (re)gaining self-respect. 

Thomas Edward Bratter,
The John Dewey Academy
Great Barrington, MA 

Copyright 1995, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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