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Petra Milam
Letter to the Editor

After reading several of the letters about Cross Creek, I decided I would share my own story:

My parents had me "kidnapped" and escorted to CCM from Washington State by a transportation service just weeks after my 16th birthday. When I got there, I found out that I was different from all the other girls because I didn't self mutilate, I didn't have an eating disorder, I didn't drink or do drugs. I was an excellent manipulator and I was involved in "technology" type crimes. In other words, I computer hacked.

I won't lie, I hated it there. However, as the staff and "older" students would often say to us, CCM isn't Club Med. It wasn't designed for us to enjoy and we weren't being rewarded for our outstanding behavior. Bottom line, our choices lead each of our parents to send us there because they didn't want to lose us. I do believe that if my parents hadn't sent a wake up call, I probably wouldn't have made it either.

Now, remember, my experiences come from almost 11 years ago. As the child care industry changes, CCM will have changed too. Yes, they had isolation rooms. Bare walled rooms with sometimes a desk in it (if the girl wasn't doing self harm) and some carpet. Yes, I'll still stand that the food was horrid. What institutional food isn't? And after working in the child care industry myself, one has to remember that kids (especially girls) who come off the streets eating hardly anything good for them and on drugs WILL GAIN WEIGHT.

I remember the school well. Since my mind wasn't fogged by drugs or alcohol I was able to take the books, get through one in a few weeks and take the test. I in fact managed enough credits to skip my entire sophomore year. I was going so fast my mother told them to slow me down somehow. Suddenly I had to do lots more work per "class" though I didn't know why then.

I do remember the doors being chained shut. Laws in Utah were a little different then. I also remember telling my mother about this and asking, "What if there's a fire and we can't get out of the building?" My mother's reply was, "At least I'll know where you were." (referring to an attempt of mine to run away from home) That still is such a sobering thought.

After 6 months I graduated from CCM at level 6, the highest one can go. I went on to finish high school and enroll in college. I ended up in criminal justice and while my classmates were planning on law enforcement careers, at age 22 I went on to work in a girls program much like CCM, only it catered to the judicial system. We received delinquent girls from the court system instead of parents paying to keep them there.

Honestly, some of the stuff I saw broke my heart. Especially when I compared it to my own time at CCM. At least each and every parent that sends their child to CCM loves their child and wants the best for them. In the end, however, it is their child who must make the choice to change their lives. Ultimately, we are each responsible for our own choices, actions, and accountability. Our parents can't do this for us, our therapists can't do this for us, nor our teachers, preachers, or a program.

CCM isn't there to fix your kid, it's there to give them tools for life. Don't blame CCM for failures your child makes because the only person that can own those failures is the person that makes them.

Petra Milam

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