The Circle of Hope Girls Ranch in Cedar County, Missouri states their goal is to, “help young ladies who were destroying their lives through poor choices and behaviors, change their future”. Unfortunately, they are not living up to this promise. The reality is that these women leave with more life-long problems than they come in with.
The Ranch has recently undergone a state investigation, removing approximately 25 girls from their care. The investigation was prompted by allegations of horrific physical, sexual, and mental abuse.
The Circle of Hope’s owner’s daughter, Amanda, has been a vocal advocate against the abuse at her parent’s ranch for years. She explains, “They have been working in the troubled teen industry for 30 years, so it’s been 30 years of abusing kids. I just wish people would understand that even though they’re troubled teens, they’re not teens anymore. They’re adult women.”
An Ongoing Problem
The Circle of Hope Girls Ranch is not the first, and unfortunately will not be the last, “Troubled Teen Home” that commits cruel abuse against children. Similar stories can be heard from many different facilities, over many years. But how are they allowed to continue?
One reason is that survivors of sexual abuse have to overcome many hurdles in reporting their abuse. The first being overcoming emotional barriers. Fear, confusion, and even repression of the event all-together can prevent someone from being able to speak up about what happened to them.
In addition, these facilities limit, control, and distort any relationships the child has outside of the Ranch. Survivors may not feel as though they are able to open up if all their phone calls are monitored. Even if they are able to tell their parents, a friend, or law enforcement about the abuse, there may be no further action. Having already been labeled as a “troubled teen”, their credibility is diminished, and will be used in defense of the institution perpetrating the abuse.
New State, New Name, Same Abuse
Even if the child is able to properly report the abuse, a true investigation is done, and the facility is closed, it may only be a temporary solution. Many will just move to a new state, change the name, and start again. Particularly in Missouri, faith-based organizations do not need a license to operate, as they are considered a non-profit that receives no state funding.
These reformatory schools give promises of returning their child back properly disciplined and respectful. They are a beacon of hope for parents who feel powerless and hopeless with their own “troubled” teen. Unfortunately, these parents are unknowingly sending their child off to what could be months of abuse, all while willingly signing waivers that absolve the school of any responsibility.
To stop the abuse from continuing, real change will need to be made. Criminal action, policy changes, and true recovery for the survivors is key to ending the cycle. If you have questions, talk to one of our attorneys today.