‘The Program’: Netflix doc exposes horrors of the ‘troubled teen’ trade – Nationwide

If you happen to had been being attentive to the information within the early 2000s, you’ve seemingly seen footage — determined mother and father, exhausted and frightened by their troubled teen’s behaviour, pay to have their baby kidnapped within the evening and positioned in a program that can scare them straight and reform them again into good behaviour.

Netflix’s newest docuseries providing, The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping, takes a harrowing take a look at what occurred to 1 set of such youngsters, who underwent a private nightmare when the establishment they had been positioned in ended up being, primarily, a corrupt machine for torture, brainwashing and abuse.

The three-part documentary, which started airing Mar. 5, focuses on the story of Katherine Kubler, who additionally serves as director for the sequence.

Within the early 2000s, on the age of 16, Kubler was attending a Christian boarding faculty in Lengthy Island, N.Y., when she was expelled for ingesting arduous lemonade. Employees on the faculty stated her dad would arrive quickly to take her dwelling, however, as an alternative, two unusual males with handcuffs confirmed as much as take her away.

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They forcibly escorted her to the Academy at Ivy Ridge in upstate New York — a facility that was peddled to her mother and father with a shiny brochure and slick video that includes youngsters driving horseback and swimming in a lake — the place she confronted something however the idyllic picture that was offered to her household.

As a substitute, she was enlisted in a program that pressured compliance by manipulation, concern and violence. She was made to observe dozens of pages of guidelines, that included draconian directions like “no looking the window,” “no speaking,” “no making eye contact,” and “all toilet visits are to be monitored, with the door to the stall left open and a staffer current.”

Ivy Ridge billed itself as a boarding faculty providing a structured atmosphere for troubled teenagers, with the aim of serving to them handle their behavioural, emotional and tutorial points.

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However, because the docuseries explores, it was a way more sinister facility that result in the traumatization of tons of of youngsters in its eight years of operation — a lot of it occurring with out the kids’ well-intended mother and father having any thought, and even dealing with a component of brainwashing themselves.

Survivors of Ivy Ridge pose for a photograph contained in the deserted faculty.


The hunt for revenge

There’s little question about it — Kubler is out for revenge with this docuseries, one thing she instantly acknowledges to the digital camera.

“I’ve all the time stated this was like Depend of Monte Cristo as a result of I had this false imprisonment the place I deliberate my massive revenge,” Kubler says to the digital camera, standing within the now-dilapidated library of the deserted facility. “I used to be like, ‘After I get out of right here, I’m going to make a documentary about these locations, and I’ll get again at each one among you!’”

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Kubler and a handful of different Ivy Ridge alumni act as an beginner investigators, got down to expose the reality of the struggling they endured. They communicate to the power’s former employees, lecturers who studied cults and manipulation, and try and observe the paper path of what stays a profitable, billion greenback trade.

An auspicious discovering, within the type of tons of of handwritten notes, information and surveillance movies of grownup employees brutally beating and restraining minors, found within the deserted facility by Kubler and her fellow traumatized survivors, function signed confessions to the extent of abuse that went on behind Ivy Ridge’s locked doorways.

Katherine Kubler explores a trove of information left behind at Ivy Ridge.


Every of the sequence hour-long episodes examines a unique facet of this system’s horrifying historical past of abuse — the primary two episodes observe the group as they work to compile info to show that Ivy Ridge was a for-profit facility that was set on brainwashing and humiliating its “college students” and the involved mother and father who enrolled them.

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Within the third episode, viewers find out how Ivy Ridge was related to a a lot bigger community of comparable amenities that fell beneath the umbrella group of the World Large Affiliation of Specialty Applications and Faculties (WWASP) and the way the unregulated, troubled teen trade continues to thrive in a state of corruption.

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What, precisely, went on at Ivy Ridge?

To the general public, Ivy Ridge was offered as a boarding faculty meant to reform wayward teenagers.

Mother and father had been instructed their teenagers can be anticipated to observe a sequence of steps that mixed tutorial schooling and therapeutic interventions that, if accomplished efficiently, would ultimately result in commencement and launch from this system.

Nonetheless, as soon as the kids arrived on the facility, it turned clear that Ivy Ridge was not an academic facility in any respect. They had been instructed they had been not allowed to step foot outdoors and, as an alternative, needed to transfer from constructing to constructing through makeshift, enclosed walkways.

They had been strip-searched upon consumption and assigned a “Hope Buddy” — a fellow program member who was given the duty of serving to them study the tons of of guidelines they had been anticipated to observe.

The youngsters at Ivy Ridge had been instructed that they needed to acquire factors to maneuver up in ranges, but when they broke any of the foundations they’d be deducted factors. Probably the most critical infractions led to “interventions” — solitary confinement, hunger and bodily assaults from the power’s largely unqualified and untrained employees.

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When it comes to schooling, the kids had been assigned bogus classwork through homeschool laptop packages, typically locked within the facility’s laptop lab for hours at a time. As a result of Ivy Ridge wasn’t a credited schooling facility, any diplomas that had been handed out weren’t acknowledged by the State of New York, as lots of the teenagers tragically discovered later in life once they got down to search employment.

Lots of the amenities used concepts shaped by the drug rehabilitation program, Synanon, which was based within the Nineteen Fifties by Charles Dederich and went on to grow to be a full-blown cult by the late Nineteen Seventies.

Amongst Synanon’s teachings, which had been adopted by WWASP’s founder Richard Lichfield in 1998, had been a bunch assault remedy approach that entails reenacting painful, traumatic moments, like a rape or dying of a member of the family and blaming and shaming the sufferer for what occurred.

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This group assault remedy came about in Ivy Ridge’s “seminar” classes each 4 to 6 weeks, which had been marketed because the “emotional development” aspect of this system however consisted of unrelenting brainwashing and thoughts management techniques for days at a time. The facilitators would try and “break” the kids with humiliation, sleep deprivation, hunger and assault remedy to the purpose that they’d falsely confess to previous sins and admit to issues they hadn’t carried out to keep away from punishment.

Katherine Kubler and different Ivy Ridge survivors discuss their horrific expertise.


There have been two methods to make it out of Ivy Ridge – teenagers might toil for months and months to build up factors, full the seminars and work their manner up and out of this system, or a guardian might come choose them up. Nonetheless, contact between the scholars and oldsters was restricted to 1 letter per week and, for these within the increased ranges, a 15-minute telephone name each month. Employees monitored these communications, and if the kids complained or stated something unfavourable about this system, they had been harshly punished and set again in this system.

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Devastated relationships, destroyed psychological well being

An excellent portion of the docuseries explores the splintered relationships between Ivy Ridge’s alumni and the well-intentioned mother and father who put them there.

The grown-up youths’ testimony reveals lingering emotions of betrayal, however lots of the guardians insist to their kids that this system and guardian seminars, which frequently inspired them to disgrace and humiliate their kids, had been additionally designed to brainwash them and restrict communication to the purpose that they had no thought how dangerous issues had been.

Ivy Ridge has closed its doorways.


It turns into clear by Kubler’s investigation that Ivy Ridge additionally preyed upon determined and anxious moms and dads after which lied and indoctrinated them into this system, all in an effort to persuade mother and father that Ivy Ridge was one of the best place for his or her teenagers and that its program was the reply to their prayers, whereas gathering hundreds of {dollars} monthly in tuition.

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“I want I had figured it out actually fast nevertheless it was horrible mistake and I’m so sorry,” Kubler’s dad apologizes at one level within the docuseries, when she confronts him about why it took 15 months for him to drag her out of Ivy Ridge. “I’m with you on the packages, they manipulate mother and father. I’m so sorry.”

Katherine Kubler and her father, Ken, pose throughout happier instances.


The alumni additionally focus on their issue coping after leaving this system. Many report nervousness assaults, insomnia and complicated post-traumatic stress dysfunction. As they rifle by the deserted paperwork at Ivy Ridge, some study that their consumption information had been falsified or that they had been pressured to admit to issues in this system’s seminars that by no means appeared of their information.

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Shockingly, the troubled teen trade and packages just like the one at Ivy Ridge are nonetheless absolutely operational throughout the U.S. and regarded a profitable operation, regardless of being largely unregulated.

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Whereas all the WWASP packages that opened within the final Nineteen Nineties and early 2000s have been shuttered after a litany of dying and allegations of abuse, residential therapy centres, wilderness packages and “therapeutic” boarding faculties proceed to pop up.

Kubler’s documentary exhibits that the troubled teen trade stays unchecked within the U.S., with some states even signing into agreements with these packages to assist them cope with troubled teenagers.

In 2020, U.S. socialite Paris Hilton spoke out concerning the “steady torture” she confronted on the Provo Canyon boarding faculty, the place she spent 11 months as a teen. She stated she and different teenagers in this system had been bodily abused by employees and claimed that they had been sexually abused by employees members who would forcibly “carry out medical exams.”

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In recent times, alumni from WWASP faculties have filed lawsuits towards Lichfield. Most have been settled out of courtroom, and Lichfield has counter-sued for defamation on a number of events. To at the present time, no official expenses or convictions have come towards him.

In 2013, he offered an emailed assertion to the New York Instances, denying his involvement in something to do with abuse at Ivy Ridge and comparable faculties.

“I wasn’t there, I didn’t abuse or mistreat college students, nor did I encourage or direct another person to take action,” he stated. “I offered enterprise providers that had been non-supervision, care, or therapy providers to colleges that had been independently owned and operated.”

“The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnappings” is streaming on Netflix.

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