This is crazy.
I’m not gonna lie that I’ve spent the better part of this evening sorting through this thread on Reddit, and I think it’s one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever read. It tells the story of a kid who, after admitting to his parents that he was an atheist, was kidnapped by strangers in the middle of the night under direction of his parents and driven 200 miles away to a facility designed to isolate children from the outside world while workers attempt to correct their behavior and alternative views.
WTF?! times infinity
What’s frightening and what took up so much of my time tonight is that this isn’t just one story – as the thread evolved, dozens of other kids came out of the woodwork, too, citing that this same thing happened to them, whether it was because they were atheist or gay or maybe just outspoken or misbehaved. Entire communities exist of survivors who made it through this horrible experience, trying to form a support system wherever they can because their most basic supporters – their own families – can’t be trusted because they were the ones who had them committed to these kinds of places in the first place.
In the recent years, several of these “schools” around the US have been shuttered, but some still remain. There are also a lot of talks about programs that would fly kids out of the country to places like Jamaica, where US law no longer applied and parents basically signed over custody of their own children to these programs because they felt that something was wrong with them and this was what it would take to help them get better.
I know that in reality, my childhood was probably pretty tame in comparison. I never really acted out – I may have fought with my parents from time to time, but never constantly and it never came to the point of physical violence. They also never saw fit to force their own beliefs upon me … maybe not really being religious themselves had something to do with that … I don’t know if I really would’ve identified myself as an atheist back then – I just didn’t really care about religion one way or the other, and the only point that even stands out in my mind was having to do some fast-talking about “my religious beliefs” at my review before I got Eagle in scouts. But it was never really a big deal, and I couldn’t in my wildest dreams imagine it being anything like this if it had been more in the forefront…
I don’t know how any parent could fool themselves into thinking that their kids would ever trust them again after doing something like this. The ones “taken willingly” weren’t much better, but to actually sign on a dotted line stating that strangers can come to your house in the middle of the night and throw your child in an unmarked van is simply unconscionable. How this is even legal, I have no idea, but if I made the rules, those children would immediately go into custody of the state because they don’t even have parents anymore. And granted, I also probably can’t imagine how to deal with truly out of control kids to the point where you can’t trust them or even feel in danger around them, but that whole debate can also be considered a product of their environment … to simply cast your children off into the unknown because they don’t have the same religious beliefs as you – I wouldn’t blame these kids if they never talked to their parents again after they got out.
Some talk of escaping, while others just endured and learned how to play the game to survive … either way, it’s reprehensible.
I don’t know what else to say. More here.