"I was taken from my house in the middle of the night by two men," recalls Chris Noroski, who says he was legally abducted from his home in Minnesota at age 15.
His parents, he says, paid the Family Foundation School in Hancock, N.Y., a boarding school for troubled teenagers, to take him into custody for three years. While there, he claims he was mentally and physically abused.
"For seven months of the time, I carried buckets of rocks back and forth," Noroski said Thursday. "I was a problem child ... my mom thought it would help."
Noroski spoke as part of a rally for teen rights that was held by Trilogy School at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza. Trilogy is a K-12 school that says it focuses on compassion and understanding for young people.
Sarah Garrigues-Jones is the registrar at Trilogy and an organizer of the rally. There are many instances in which teenagers have no voice, Garrigues said. Parents can decide this without the consent of mental health professionals.
Garrigues was inspired to help, she said, because she is the mother of a teenage boy. She said she sees her son's behavior as a normal part of growing up. She said she seeks to "let him emerge as a young adult."
Paul Richards says he was sent away by his parents in 1997 and that he spent 733 days at a facility in western Samoa.
"I spent two years in a Third World country in an abusive program," Richards said.
He said he experienced "malnutrition, [was] stabbed, abused mentally and physically."
Richards said he is still estranged from his parents. He was adopted by family friends when he returned to the U.S. He said he doesn't know if his parents are aware of what happened to him in Samoa, since he hasn't spoken to them since.
He was 16 when he was sent there. He is now 28.
"I haven't had a bad day in 10 years," Richards said. He said that the experience in Western Samoa made him appreciate the things he has even more.
Noroski said he has "seen a lot that needs change in the mental health-care system for children."
Primarily, he said he would like to see more government oversight. "They're loosely regulated ... not really responsible to anyone," he said of residential programs that isolate youths.
Noroski, now 23, is vice president of The Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth, a volunteer organization that works to protect teens from abuse in residential programs. He has spoken at a congressional press conference about his experience.
Noroski said he's about to graduate from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., with a bachelor's degree in science and math for elementary education. Noroski wants to be a middle school teacher.
His experience has inspired him to be open and understanding toward young people, he said.
"Adolescence is such a tough time for kids ... someone has to be there to understand."News by SoulRiser on October 26, 2009 @ 2:06 AM