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An award-winning journalist’s breathtaking mosaic of the tough-love industry and the young adults it inevitably fails.
In the middle of the night, they are vanished.
Each year thousands of young adults deemed out of control—suffering from depression, addiction, anxiety, and rage—are carted off against their will to remote wilderness programs and treatment facilities across the country. Desperate parents of these “troubled teens” fear it’s their only option. The private, largely unregulated behavioral boot camps break their children down, a damnation the children suffer forever.
Acclaimed journalist Kenneth R. Rosen knows firsthand the brutal emotional, physical, and sexual abuse carried out at these programs. He lived it. In Troubled, Rosen unspools the stories of four graduates on their own scarred journeys through the programs into adulthood. Based on three years of reporting and more than one hundred interviews with other clients, their parents, psychologists, and health-care professionals, Troubled combines harrowing storytelling with investigative journalism to expose the disturbing truth about the massively profitable, sometimes fatal, grossly unchecked redirection industry.
Not without hope, Troubled ultimately delivers an emotional, crucial tapestry of coming of age, neglect, exploitation, trauma, and fraught redemption.
A Note From the Publisher
“The stories are enlightening and engaging even as they reveal the shady, often abusive tactics used to snap these troubled children into behaving in a way that society deems acceptable. This book is a necessary exposé for any parent who has considered sending their child to one of these camps. Rosen also gives voice to the thousands who have gone through these programs, and the text should be helpful in encouraging them to speak out about their experiences…Highly charged personal stories coalesce into a frank disclosure about the ‘forced redirection of wayward teenagers.’” —Kirkus Reviews
“In Troubled, Kenneth R. Rosen is the exact right Conrad to take us into the heart of this immense darkness. Rosen’s insight, rigor, and sympathy ensure this book will stand as the definitive treatment of this troubled, troubling industry. An experience you won’t forget.” —Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life and The Queen of Tuesday
“Troubled is a searing chronicle of the unfortunate era of ‘tough love’ programs for wayward American youth, told with detail and compassion, as well as an eloquent kind of well-merited rage.” —Luke Mogelson, contributing writer at the New Yorker
“Troubled by Kenneth R. Rosen is the first book written by a survivor to investigate the longer-term outcomes of adolescents who were subjected to this ‘treatment’…If you are a parent considering seeking help for your teenager or a program survivor, I urge you to read this book and heed its lessons.” —Maia Szalavitz, author of Help at Any Cost
“Profoundly unsettling, Troubled reveals a tough-love industry in disarray. Kenneth R. Rosen combines brilliant reporting skills and brutal firsthand experience in this captivating read.” —Michael Harris, author of Solitude and The End of Absence
“Kenneth R. Rosen is a relentless reporter, and he provides a piercing view inside the disturbing, largely unregulated teen-rehabilitation industry. Rosen ensures you ask the question of what we’re doing to our nation’s children and who, and what, is in fact ‘troubled.’” —Sylvia A. Harvey, author of The Shadow System
“A vivid and eye-opening plea for reform. Rosen writes as a journalist, but also from personal experience, about getting ‘kidnapped’ to live in the strange world of teenage behavioral boot camps—which is an industry in America with its own unsavory logic.” —Michael Scott Moore, author of The Desert and the Sea
“Troubled investigates the unregulated Wild West of programs that claim to treat delinquent teenagers but actually further traumatize and harm them. From wilderness programs to residential treatment centers, these institutions prey on desperate parents who believe their children can be scared straight. Kenneth Rosen’s heartbreaking, deeply reported book should be required reading for parents, therapists, educators, school consultants, and anyone concerned about the most vulnerable in our society: our children. Troubled follows four teens through four different programs, keenly documenting the resultant physical and mental abuse from those entrusted with their care. With a journalist’s eye and a former troubled teen’s heart, Rosen makes a powerful case for eliminating this cruel part of the school-to-prison pipeline. A powerful, revealing expose.” —Katherine Reynolds Lewis, author of The Good News About Bad Behavior