Monday, January 11, 2010

Small Dog, Big Yap


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I issued this apology after posting Jesus Land. After reading the profusion of comments on this post, I don't feel quite so apologetic anymore. I'll leave the post up only because the responses are so interesting and deserve to be heard. And it does remain true that I have no first hand knowledge of the school or its staff. The blog entry, "Jesus Land" (which I've since reposted), was only my reaction to the book by that name; I'll leave it up to the reader to decide for himself if the book is a reliable source of information.
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It appears that if you talk long enough, you'll eventually say something stupid. (Proverbs 10:19, Where there are many words, transgression is unavoidable; But he who restrains his lips is wise.)
While it boggles my mind that anyone finds and reads my blog, apparently it does find its way onto a computer screen or two. As a result, I have been reminded today of my responsibility to be careful with the truthfulness of what I post.
I have taken down the post "Jesus Land," which I published last week sometime. In this post I presented conclusions and personal insights drawn from a book by that name. This book is the memoir of one Julia Scheeres. She grew up in a strongly Christian environment and for a time attended a school in the Dominican Republic called Escuela Caribe.
I was contacted today by the man who runs Escuela Caribe; he was also #2-man during the months Julia Scheeres was there. He read that post and kindly informed me that I needed to be careful not to believe everything I read.
After apologizing, I told Mr. Seabrook I would change the post to remove any disparaging reference to his school. But honestly, now that the possibility has entered my thick head that I could have been reading untruths, I don't think I had any business posting about that book at all. I have no idea what parts of this book are true and what parts aren't regarding her family or the school. In addition, truths can be shaded, and human interactions are always complicated, multi-faceted and nuanced. I should have realized right off that this account, while sensational and definitely interesting, was not a reliable source of information as it presented only one side of a story fraught with human drama and told from the perspective of an angry teenager. No reasonable conclusions or lessons can be drawn from this book at all.
I am sorry for casting Escuela Caribe in a negative light, and for unwittingly providing advertisement for a book that does the same.

48 comments:

  1. Scheeres is one of many former students who witnessed/ were abused at this so-called "Christian" school. Please don't be cowed by the administrators, who are under fire for their tactics and desperate to get more money from parents who are having problems with their children.
    Read more here:
    http://nhym-alumni.org/

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  2. I agree with what you did with this post. The writer of that book is very bitter and she as well as a number of other former students have spent alot of time trying to bring down the school and very nearly succeeded. For every one bad apple the school has produced, there have been many people they have helped. Like anything else in this world, you only hear the negative and the only ones to "protest" are they unhappy ones. You will most likely get alot of attention on your blog from the negative group and people who post on the site listed above, but know you did a good thing. I was both a student and a staff there and have seen alot of this. I just wish that all the students that are doing great and improved their lives would take as active an interest as the negative ones. The biggest difference between them are the ones who really allowed the Lord to heal them and give them a purpose in life have gone on to lead very fulfilling lives and know that the school and all the good staff members were about love and the saving of souls, not power and abuse.

    Trust in the Lord, and He will show you the truths.

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  3. I was a student of E.C. over 10 years ago. I am married with 2 children and I consider myself a success. The school was abusive in many different ways but I am ok despite that. I am friends with many students and some well meaning staff but I would NEVER send another student their way. They aren't simply running a ministry, they are running a business. That is where things get cloudy.
    Don't beat yourself up over your post and don't let ANYONE bully you.
    Beth

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  4. I was a student at Escuela Caribe as well 10 plus years ago and i can tell you that I experienced a world that I would NEVER put my children into NO MATTER what they had done.I will say that most of the staff was not evil,however the leadership of the school was a whole other monster.I do not believe that they had any right to do many of the things that they did to many of us...while others skated through with no problems and made fith level before I made first.Did I have an authority problem?oh yeah....but did I deserve to sit in a small room with a bucket that had a hole in it to use the bathroom in?I dont think so....for days by the way...and lets not talk about the mental consequences of spanking a teenager with a leather strap.....So your Seabrook guy...is a liar as far as Im concerned...i am behind Julia 100 percent and every other BAD APPLE that thinks that school is crap.

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  5. Jeff Seabrook is a coward for confronting you. He knows the truth...that truth being abuse. He, like many staff have broken MANY laws regarding child abuse. I should know ! I'm a former student of Missanabie Wood, the Academy, Group Home, and finally Escuela Caribe. These are ALL guided by one entity...New Horizons. At the age of 15, I was punched in the face...knocked out...and harshly punished...all over using surgar in my cereal and coffee one morning. They don't even fight fair...they all gang up and take turns bouncing you off walls etc. If we tried to tell our parents, they would censor our every conversation and the truth would be concealed. Tim Blossom would even go to the degree of "snowing" our parents to keep the money flowing. This school, and many like it should be shut down. If the staff don't like the truth they read, then they should stop abusing children. Please feel free to continue to blog about this book...school...etc. as we, former students, need more support to get the truth out there. Just think of it this way, if they were doing no wrong, why would many of us, 10 to 30 years later still be fighting to shut them down. I know Jeff personally, and again I say he's a coward...and he isn't much of a Christian if he has to resort to abusing children. May he burn in HELL w/ all of the other abusive staff at NHYM.

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  6. We are all bad apples, rotted by New Horizon's dirty tricks. I'm behind Scheeres' account as well. I was there at the same time, saw the abuse she saw. Any student who becomes staff must be suffering from Stockholm syndrome. The place is sickening and needs to expose. I'm sorry Seabrooke contacted you and made you uncomfortable. YOu were right in your initial reaction.

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  7. Scheeres is bitter for good reason. As am I after having been thrown around and punched by staff. I still have nightmares about that place. Please don't let yourself be bullied.

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  8. I was a student there in the 80's and Julia's account of OUR situation is all true.Please don't let Jeff Seabrook bully you the way that he bullied us children when our parents were in the US and not looking. Don't you think it's kinda fishy that THE SCHOOL was in the Dominican Republic and not the United States?
    Best Regards, Jackie

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  9. as a former student OF both the school on the DR and of the group home in Marion, let me tell you that abuse occured while I was there. to have students fight against each other in a "boxing match" that was supervised by the staff members. the match would end when the choosen student was beaten and bloody.

    don't allow yourself to be bullied by this Seabrook guy. the school is a money making cash cow for the owners and the staff are pigs for abusing kids

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  10. I am also a former student at New Horizons from 1979-1983, and I happen to know of Mr. Seabrook. His reputation with the students was horrible for being abusive. It's interesting that after all of these years he feels it necessary to defend himself and his acts. I think he may have a guilty conscience over the things that he did there.

    Like many others, I overcame the abuse, but not without my scars. I hold a J.D., and have a successful practice in Florida. However, I did not accomplish these things until I was able to come to some type of peace about the things that happened at New Horizons.

    Mr. Seabrook fails to mention that we are no longer kids, but grown adults with careers and families of our own. His "bad apple" argument may hold true if we were all teens, but that is not the case. We have chosen to participate against New Horizons because we now have the ability to defend ourselves and speak out in forum that was not available to us before, as well as without fear of retribution by people like Mr. Seabrook.

    The book Julia wrote was just a taste of things that happened. There were many things that happened that she either didn't experience, didn't observe or chose not to write about. Many can tell stories much worse than what she wrote about, such as boxing matches where students literally beat another student until he could not stand; or attitude sessions where students are thrown about, punched and slammed into walls for hours by two or more screaming staff members. These tactics are just not defendable and any parent who chose to do these things to their own children would be charged with abuse.

    Although I am sure that none of these posts will convince you, please ask yourself, why would Mr. Seabrook take the time out of his day to respond to a post on some obscure internet site with a phone call? If what Julia wrote was a lie or inaccurate, then why has New Horizons not taken legal action against her?

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  11. I'M POSTING THIS IN SEGMENTS.....IT"S TOO LONG FOR JUST ONE POSTING....:)

    Part One:

    I was in NH from 1987 to almost 1993. I was first sent to Missanabie Woods Academy, then Escuela Caribe followed by Marion; then back to Canada and back to Marion. I was 13 when I arrived and 19 when I graduated. I would have left at 18, but many of the credits from New Horizons wouldn't transfer to a public school. My Dad also begged my to stay and finish school. I've always told him that was the hardest choice of my life. He asked why and I simply said "You just don't know how that place really was" and left it at that. That's how it stayed for more than 15 years.

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  12. Part Two:

    I know Jeff Seabrooke from my time in New Horizons. I've found him to be hard to read and at times stand offish, but gererally nice to me. As far as staff goes, at least in dealing with me, he seemed genuine. He married one of my favorite staff, Annie Barlow Seabrooke. I've come to terms with my time in the DR and even though Annie and I don't agree about many things in regards to NH, I still care for her and her for me. During my stay in NH there were many cases of daily abuse.
    I'm reposting an old post of mine from a private group. I hope that you will have a better understanding after you've read it. It's posted in Part Three.

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  13. Part Three:
    "Ben and all~
    It's ironic. I went to NH a child that had never drank, smoked, done drugs, skipped school or had sex. I went to NH with a love for my family that could be measured by my crying every moment of my first 8 weeks at EC and the punishment I endured because I would not stop crying. I could not.
    I left NH with a pack of smokes, a bottle of Vodka, and my virginity lost in the field by Herrick House. I also packed out of there with a hatred for my family that was so strong I didn't talk to them for the better part of a decade.
    I was 25 and fresh out of the Army when I moved back into town and helped my Dad run his business. I decided that having a relationship with my family would include me never speaking about NH and loving them in spite of that place. After I found this group in 2003, I went through denial first. Saying I needed that place they saved my life...... Some of the staff were mean and abusive, but it was because they loved me. NH saved me from my family. As I began to question and listen to others; Painfully remembering things I had tucked away in the back of my mind. Wrestling with the thoughts and feelings of love I had for some staff and hatred for others..what a mess. This process isn't over, but has evolved into a open dialogue between many exstaff and myself about my time there. Some of the staff I will never speak to again. There was no way to misunderstand the intentions of some lecherous and aggressive male staff.
    This process has also allowed me to speak on behalf of the small frightened girl sent over seas so many years ago. No longer do I have nightmares about being sent back there, my life on hold and lost to my kids whilst I'm imprisoned with no real contact with the outside world. Not anymore! My dreams now are of my ability to speak out on the wrongs that were perpetrated in the Name of God in that far away country. Gone are the sleepless nights wrestling over the things that I had done that day, wondering if I made any mistakes(this was a result of 6 years of being on points and wondering is anything I had done or said that day would be misunderstood for bad behavior).
    CONTINUED ON POST FOUR:

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  14. Post Four:

    But...the day I came to peace with my life in NH was the day my father and I spoke about why he kept me there. I finally asked him....'Dad, why didn't you take me home?' He said" Tim Blossom, the then president, told us you would die without NH, that you needed to stay until I was old enough to live on my own." My father went on to tell me Tim denied access to me stating that I was going through a lot and it wouldn't be healthy for me to see them. All the while I was coming to Tim asking him why my family didn't want me. I can't tell you how many times I cried in Tim's office asking him to tell my Dad I was ready to come home...please tell him I want to be a good girl. Tim said "Your Dad has a new family now and he doesn't want you. I'm sorry Mia, your father is a difficult person. We love you." In that moment I suddenly saw the whole thing for what it was. Click. Clarity. It came together and showed itself for it was. My parents read the NH Alumni site and stopped sending money shortly after. That was the moment the little girl inside me was healed and the rest of me moved past the anger for the wrongs I endured there.
    No one is perfect. No one is without guilt. I know some staff there loved me, but still they stood by as children were abused. I choose to cling the many good memories I have from Marion and Canada. By choosing to focus on the blessings, I am not condoning the actions of NH. I am just letting go. It's so simple, but so hard for many to do....hard for me for so many years, not because I didn't want to, but because I wasn't admitting that I had been wronged. The abused often blame themselves for the actions of the abuser. If you had asked me about NH 10 years ago, I would have defended them.....even lied to make them look better. I know this is how I would have responded because it IS how I responded to that exact scenerio. I may have suffered on for years in silence. Until the victim realizes they are a victim, healing is impossible.
    Love,

    Mia"

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  15. Part Five:

    To be honest, I can't say how NH is run now, but after hearing so many students from the recent history at NH, I can't imagine much has changed.
    During my stay of 5 years there was so many abuses.
    Dan K:
    He insisted on calling Maria instead of Mia...which I hate, but isn't abusive by itself. No one has ever called me Maria...not even my parents. He was my cabin leader in 1987. He was in Starr House Father in 1988, then in Marion. What a nighmare. I had to pretend to love love love him or else he was very unfair with me by yelling, pushing, shoving and at times hitting on the side of my head to drive his point in. As a 13 year old little girl I always found it disgusting that he would remember what underware was missing from our drawers...and hence be able to tell us what underware we had on that day. Also he would ask questions like "What is a four letter word that means intercourse?"...Then he'd smile and say "Talk". Eww! He always wanted to wrestle with us and never let us win...it was like he was asserting his dominace over us. I hating wrestling with him, but if I didn't my points would suffer. He would wake us up in the middle of the night. He would throw our beds down the stairs at Starr House if there was a tiny piece of sheet sticking through the slats. Every day..my bed was taken off the top bunk and thrown down the stairs! He was a nightmare! He put me on bucket support. I had the blues and had to poop in a bucket! He was so bad I begged to be transferred to TKB to Eric Ofstedal. We all know how bad Eric was....he was better than Dan though. What a nightmare!!!!

    Rob George:
    Molested and had inappropriate contact with 2 girls. But wasn't arrested until he kissed and fondaled a girl in Marion while working for NH.

    Kerwin:
    Molested and physically harmed 3 students in the DR. One of which is my oldest and dearest friend. When she came forward to Phil Redwine she was on the highest level allowed for studetns. Kerwin had touched her and she confided in Phil. Pil did not react in kindness, but rather scolded her by saying "You better not be lying about this. This staff memeber has been with me for 3 years". Imagine how she felt about being confronted when she was telling the truth!

    Cont. Part Six:

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  16. Leroy:
    Molested a boy in Canada and was dismissed shorlty after, but as far as I know no charges wer brough on him.

    Eric O:
    Our house was going on house trip. We have a long drive that day. I
    was on my period and until then had only used pads. My house father
    said that he wanted all girls having their period to use a tampons so
    the car wouldn't stink. He said it smelled bad. I was afraid to use
    the tampon, as I had never had anything in my private parts. My
    house father saw this as an authority problem. I was yelled at made
    to do push-ups before my housefather made me go into thte bathroom
    and put a tampon in. Finally after this humiliation, my housemom
    came in and talked me through the application process. The whole
    process was painful and damaging to me self esteem. All this for a fear of putting in a tampon?

    These were favorites of Dan K. and Eric O almost like they were displaying thier dominace like an animal:

    When you are on low levels in the program you must ask to do
    everything including entering all rooms, sitting down, getting up,
    begining to eat, using bano and many other things. Which is fine, as a teacher I understand the need for order and rules. However, on many occasions, our
    housefather would deny bathroom usage for days and some girls would be forced
    to urinate on themselves as they could no longer hold in thier
    urine. The urination on oneself was then veiwed as an authority
    problem. These poor girls were then punished for urinating on
    themselves.

    Everything was micro-controlled. For example: My first day there I
    had a headache. I asked my housemom, "Excuse me housemom, I have a headache.
    Could I have some aspirin please?". I was SUPPOSED to say "Excuse me
    housemom, I have a headache. What should I do?". I was told I was
    being disrespectful to the housemom and given excersices and yelled
    at my housefather so loudly that spit was coming out of his mouth and
    landed on my face. I wiped it off, which was seen as not giving him
    my full attention. To which I was pushed down and cut my back severly. I have the scar to this day. All that for not asking properly.

    If you had the blues, or loose stools and the house father was Dan or Eric you got Bucket support. I carried a bucket that I had to relieve myself in and then show to a high ranker who would then verify to the house father that I had actually had a bowel movement. This punishment was to make sure that the student didn't just pretend to have loose stools in order to find refuge in the bathroom. I was 13 and carried a bucket with me around campus for days! I was really sick. Honestly at times if it weren't for the bucket I may not have made it to the bathroom. Eww.
    Alas....Cont. Part Eight:)

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  17. Part Eight:

    I know this is a long post and there are a million typos:) I'm a K-6 Special Education teacher, have a wonderful husband and two young kiddos. I consider myself a success in adult life. I am happy and active. I dislike to see people name calling and being petty. NH damaged me a great deal, but I have love in my heart for some staff. I always believe it's better to error on the side of kindness. Practice random acts of kindness and your life becomes a blessing to live! With that attitude in mind, I forgive NH but don't support thier actions in the past or now. Like always the one swho have spoken out get harrassed by current staff, called liars and made to look foolish. I am not foolish and I am telling the truth. There are several hundreds of us that have found comfort in private yahoo group. Many members don't post publically because they trauma that insues by current staff in the ofrm of letters to parents(yes, my parents got a letter from NH calling the us small group of decenders, liars and mentally unstabe people and not to be worried about what was being said." I haven't been a student there in 20 years....why would my parents make the mailing list?...ahh money. Yes they did ask for support in the form of money at the end of the letter.

    Well this has turned into a novel:)......LOL.

    Kindly,
    Mia McCorvey

    These are three of many sites:
    www.nhym-alumni.org
    http://isaccorp.org/watchlist.asp
    www.nhymalumni.org

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  18. I was a student at NYHM in all three locations from 1996-98. All I can tell you is I feel your post titled "Small Dog, Big Yap" is disgusting to me and would be very offensive to most students that attended the school. I can tell you that Jeff Seabrooke personally abused me mentally, emotionally, and what I'd call psycho-sexually, as did the majority of staff members and "teachers" at this school. Mr. Seabrooke never personally physically abused me, but many other staff members who were under his instruction and supervision did as per his direct guidance. I don't know you, but in your first blog entry on this site you write "Completely anonymous, I'm sure, but out for the world to see nevertheless." Nothing online is completely anonymous, you see, as you were quickly contacted by both Mr. Seabrooke and by former students leaving comments. The second comment in response to this post says "For every one bad apple the school has produced, there have been many people they have helped". It also states that the writer was a student and former staff member. Any student who would return to become staff at this school is, sadly, mentally ill and still living in a brainwashed state of "stockholm syndrome". The things that person wrote are simply meant to manipulate you into a false sense of trust/guilt/and security. Please don't fall for it, if Jesus actually walked into NHYM, he would start flipping tables and their bank accounts.

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  19. All I can say is...wow. Thank you for your posts. You are all very convincing.

    As the last poster said, I too am now tempted to be disgusted with the groveling nature of my retraction.

    I'm thinking I need to modify some of the sentiments on this post to be a little less apologetic.

    And I want to say, I am so sorry for what you've all been through. I can only imagine how many have experienced what you have but are not posting. I have been shocked that these posts have gotten the attention they have.

    For what it's worth, I'm so happy to provide a place for your comments to be published.

    And I think I will re-post my original blog entry on Jesus Land.

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  20. All Bark, you must feel overwhelmed by the attention your blog has received in the last 24 hours! Sorry if some of it is angry, but we as former students are angry at the treatment we received there....the Internet has allowed us to finally speak up and voice our concerns about the school without fear of retribution. In the school we could not speak out - all our communications home - phone calls, letters - were monitored by staff to make sure nothing "negative" leaked out about the place and the terror in which we were held. Now we are free to organize and speak out for the first time on the Internet! And we feel empowered.

    Thank you for keeping this blog up....so others will know the truth. as the former staffer said "Trust in the Lord, and He will show you the truths." You are doing the right thing....the evidence of abuse is overwhelming. We aren't scared children any longer - we will speak out against the school so others don't have to experience what we did.

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  21. I am a former student from the late 90s. I was in the Dominican, Canada and Marion camps. They were many abuses I witnessed and had to endure. The physcological abuse was terrifying, too. I am a sucessful adult (personally and professioanlly) only because I was able to work through the abuses I encountered there at the tender ages of 14-17. Jeff Seabrook is one of the ego-maniacs and control freaks that run that place. Please don't believe him.

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  22. All Bark,

    There are always two sides of the every coin. Without having experience with NH directly, it is hard to know what is truth and what has been biased by life experience. I can tell you some exstudents are very angry, but that is because they are just coming to terms with what happened to them so many years ago. First comes the anger...and so on. Most of us have worked past the anger and are just hoping to hold NH accountable for their actions. It would please me most to see them change their tactics for making children conform using a kinder and more understanding method. Teens as well as younger kids don't usually make life changes out of fear or negative cohersion. In my work I find that setting a good example and listening to the 'drama' of being a teen always reaps more results that bashing then into submission. Only then can any real change take place. Showing Christ's love is the best way to engage a child in getting to know and having a relationship with Him.
    Don't feel like you need to be in the middle of this. If the posting on your blog becomes overwhelming as more staff write you and former students respond....I for one, completely understand if you feel overwhelmed. Pray about it and let the Lord guide you. Only in trusting in the Lord can His will be revealed.
    Kindly,
    Mia McCorvey

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  23. Also..please pray for all the people affected by the huge earthquake in Haiti, which shares its island with the Dominican Republic. It thought that over 100,000 lives have been lost. What a tragic day for so many.

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  24. I have studied under Julia Scheeres and I can tell you she's not pushing any agenda, just living her life as a normal person. This school and others like it are a scourge on our society, hoodwinking the parents to make a profit while cruelly acting out their sociopathologies on the children. Sad but true, people.

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  25. Thanks again for your comments, everyone.

    And thank you, Mia, for your detailed accounts and your encouragement. I will pray for the people in Haiti.

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  26. Man-oh man-oh man! If just "a few " of these inscriptions were convincing, I could stay here for hours and tell you about everything that happened to me when I went there. Thing is, I've already imparted "some" of what I encountered there at www.isaccorp.org amongst other sites and would just be rehashing. To make it easier, should you be interested to know more, just Yahoo or Google my name and you'll see things posted pertaining to this outfit.
    And just when I was starting to enjoy the New Year's without having to be more explicit about New Horizons Youth Ministries - Escuela Caribe -Missanabie Woods Academy, well here yah go. And, as you can see, for all practical reasons wasn't afraid to mention my name either.
    I think you could imagine my thoughts about Jeff Seabrook's handling Escuela Caribe if this is how he's operating the place right now, as to what was written.

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  27. On a different note, All bark....what kind of dog do you have? I am an avid dog lover! We have a 3 yr. old therapy dog named Gail. She helps my son in so many ways. I've taken Ceasar Milan's teaching tactics of calm assertive energy, to train her. Dogs are so smart! I often wish my kids caught on as quickly as Gail:) She is so eagar to please. Sometimes I joke with my husband, that if I'd have had Gail before I started dating.....I may not have dated!:) Dogs are so comforting and loving. They want little more than your praise and affection. Maybe I could teach that trick to my husband!...hehe.
    Thank you so much for allowing yourself to be the center of attention, as it were for debate central.
    More and more news keeps coming in about Haiti...so sad. So many people died today. It seems it's just one major natural disaster after another. It sure does keep one global minded. Years after the sunami I've finally been able to watch all the documentaries on it with out turning them off from grief. They envoke such sorrow in my heart. The children crying, the elderly man unable to hold onto his life's love. The mother having to watch as her child was ripped from her arms...just typing this I'm teary eyed. It sure makes me feel greatful that my life is filled with the sounds of my little ones. It makes one greatful for all the little things. After all, there is so much to be thankful for in my life. It could have happened here just as easily. So many suffered today, and will wake tomorrow to the same all consuming sadness of their reality, if they sleep at all. I'm sending my love though the miles to that little island. Thank you for your prayers too! There is no such thing as too many prayers!
    Take Care.
    Kindly,
    Mia

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  28. Because I couldn't write just my name without using an URL this again is Darryl Lare. Having read over what was written, I wouldn't be surprised if the former student/staff is who I think it is. He has been deceitful( using different names so he would have us believe he was a student( even using a woman's name) who had troubles in www.nhym-alumni.org)so that he could then try and protect its image, only to get busted for us finding out who it really was. This person also happened to be there the same as I was and I have still to find out what made them have a change of heart in comparison to the times when he and I were students there. I also commented on what Julia said on Facebook yesterday saying that if you get enough bad apples, you can make some pretty good cider ( coming from an area where they did that sort of thing). Again, I'm only surmising as to who it was that wrote what they did, but I get a picture of who it may have been. If I'm wrong , then I would ask that they would come forward and say their name, as I will come back here periodically and check.

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  29. I read Scheeres book "Jesus Land" and although I've never been to NH I have no doubt that the account is true because no-one could make up some of the things she wrote about. No-one. As someone who knows what religious people can be like, the subtleties of what she wrote could not be written by someone who had not experienced those things.

    The only thing which didn't quite match up for me were some of the photos both in the book and also on Scheere's website because some of the photos seemed to tell a different story to the one she painted. But photos can be deceiving - on the other hand they can paint a thousand words.

    Of course some of it is all about perception - and to Scheere's I have no doubt it was hell. But in some of the photos I saw flashes of loving parents (initially that is - it seemed family life deteriorated as the kids grew older somewhat).

    For example: the lovely clothes when David and Julia were little spoke of love to me (cute little shirt for David and lovely top for Julia with different coloured buttons, and a lovely check skirt in one I think - certainly not K-mart then); the birthday cake - looked home-made to me, but even if bought, it was an expression of love; the sandpit; the truck; the happy smiles and smiling eyes too.

    I have seen pictures of unhappy children and you can see abuse in their eyes, and I can't see it in theirs always (apart from little David confused and sad initially after his adoption which is natural) - though there were some later photos which did show it a little. But even the photo of David age 17 at EC during a soccer match: I can't see that haunted look which abuse produces. But maybe they were just posing. Even the person in the background is smiling - so that puzzles me, but maybe they were a member of staff having a laugh.

    But despite that, I believe Scheere's account, though some of the photos just make me allow for some aspects of teenage perception.

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  30. as far as photos are concerned,there are "loving"familys that have smiling family photos...albums of them.....but its what you dont see in the photos...take for instance any of the news stories latley were a mother has murdered her children such as the Casey Anthony case in florida,every picture you see of her and her child depicts a loving mother with her child.How about the family were the father is molesting the young girl in the family,do those family pictures look any different then those of a "normal Loving" family,I can tell you in most cases no they do not.Pictures are a false representation of reality,even one of the columbine shooters got all dressed up and smiled pretty for the camera in family pictures before he went and killed innocent children...pictures,mean nothing.just a thought...if you do not know abuse you cannot speak of it,there is no steriotype of abuse victims.There just may be people you yourself know that you have no clue are suffering from abuse right now.Wives,Children,teenagers maybe even a husband(hey it happens).Never judge a book by its cover.Kara former student 1999-2000...escuela caribe

    ReplyDelete
  31. p.s. my parents never abused me......but strangers did.Kara

    ReplyDelete
  32. Daryl, this Jeff Kalom...no I did not post those comments.

    ReplyDelete
  33. This blog is a pain in the butt to post on, geesh.

    Meanwhile, all of Mia's comments et al. are valid. NHYM is a cult.

    ReplyDelete
  34. We don't have a dog, Mia! We used to and she was great, but she died. I chose the name of the blog just because it made me laugh and it sort of offered an apology for my short-sightedness right off the bat. :)

    ReplyDelete
  35. Jeff -- others have mentioned that the blog is hard to comment on. I'm signed into the blog when I comment, so it's easy for me. I don't know how to make it easier for other people, but if anyone else does, please let me in on the secret!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Hello Bark/All:

    I don't think there's a secret!, it's just different software I'm not accustomed to. However, it looks like you may not have some of your features enabled here. For some reason, I am unable to copy/paste either hyper-links or even text. As Darryl mentioned earlier here I believe, there are a number of other sites with further testimonials. All one has to do is google New Horizons Youth Ministries or Escuela Caribe. Some of the testimonials on the internet are from recent former students with the same type of abuse claims that occurred 30 years ago. I can see why Darryl would think I posted as anonymous #2 on this blog. Up until 2007, I was an advocate for New Horizons. I used to post in a very similar fashion as anonymous #2 on other sites up until about 3 years ago.

    Julia asked me last month why/what caused my views to change. Some here that have posted may already know the answer to this. In abuse cases, many victims repress the memory as a defense mechanism for months or in some cases many years. In my case, it took almost 25 years to fully remember what took place. Unfortunately, remembering isn't always a good thing. Memories that are repressed can become what the Mayo Clinic would describe as intrusive. This is why some former students have recurring nightmares or even re-live the traumatic experiences years later while fully awake. These are actually symptoms of post-dramatic stress disorder(very treatable), although not as severe as what combat veterans experience. In 2007 I woke up and realized that the very organization I was defending was never going to change. It didn't matter what policies were enacted by the CEO in Marion to prevent abuse after they were exposed because the abuse always occurs behind closed doors and students are afraid to say anything. Apparently staff in the DR/Canada were not even following policies etc. Considering the same staff have been in place for 20 years in the DR and Canada, it's no surprise that nothing changed.

    So now everyone knows why I used to defend them, that's the real reason I left Julias privatized yahoo group. It wasn't anything said to me, but rather I felt it was best for the group due to my former views.

    Bark, my apologies for being so long-winded on your blog here. It wasn't my intention to turn a book review into something entirely different.

    Since the economy/negative publicity has NHYM enrollment down to the point there are no students in Marion/Canada for this summer, they need to be accountable and bring all of those students back from the Dominican Republic and house them in Marion where staff can be monitored more closely.

    Have a good weekend everyone!

    J


    Julias book is a very mild version of what went on then in the DR. Discipline(the NHYM term for abuse)was never given in a Biblically correct manner. It was administered out of anger, sometimes by the very person who occupied the pulpit on Sunday morning.

    ReplyDelete
  37. PART 1

    hi. i apologize in advance for the extremely lengthy (multi-segmented) reply. however, i feel most of the content is very applicable and necessary.
    i am a former staff member of NHYM who is now speaking out against the organization. i was there from 2002-2003. these horrid experiences that you've heard are not isolated to the 70s and 80s, but continue on in recent years. i have included excepts below of my various experiences and perspectives within the realm of NHYM.
    i urge you to take the time and read it all.
    if you wish to continue a discussion with me about my experiences
    within NHYM, i can contact you in the near future.
    thanks.
    ____________

    from 2002-2003 i worked at New Horizons Academy in Marion, IN (sister campus to Escuela Caribe) it was my first
    job out of college. i was desperate at the time, so i took the first place that
    said yes.
    it wasn't until i started working there that i realized something wasn't quite
    right.
    over the course of the next year i tried my hardest to justify their
    "therapeutic" model, but even then knew something was seriously not right...
    despite the few good (yet, misguided) intentions that may have being lingering
    with a select number of people.
    i eventually resigned. my main motivating factor was that the job paid so badly,
    i couldn't keep up with my bills.
    i moved out of state, went on to work much more reputable social work jobs, and
    in the process learned what therapy was. and how NHYM had it all wrong...
    blinded largely by their faith.

    as the years went on, i grew up more. i learned more about myself: who i was,
    where i wanted to go in life, etc...
    and the more i grew up and objectively thought for myself, the more i realized
    how i was part of that "system of hurt". i may not have directly been the cause
    of most kids' grief there, but i was still a cog in that system. i always liked
    to think of myself being the "cool" staff member. the one that everyone liked
    and who occasionally got reprimanded by his supervisors for being so
    silly/creative/fun/etc...
    still it doesn't excuse the fact that i stood by and let kids get hurt
    (physically, emotionally, mentally...etc...).
    i unfortunately have lost touch with most kids i would like to apologize to. i
    know some kids claim to have had positive experiences with NHYM, but it doesn't
    change the fact that their "therapy" model would be laughed out of the room by
    any remotely progressive organization.
    too many kids have been hurt for me to just let this fade away.
    i still have bad dreams about this place.
    __________________________

    ReplyDelete
  38. PART 2

    i think a lot of people forget what "abuse" can really entail.
    oftentimes people limit the definition (at least in their minds) to physical
    abuse... as in hitting someone over the head.
    however, i think many of us here can agree that the emotional/mental abuse at
    NHYM was mindboggling. it certainly happened more frequently than physical
    abuse.

    for example: issuing a kid 25 units of exercise for whatever. and since it's
    late at night, he/she is only able to complete a certain number of them. then
    they are told to go to bed and finish the rest after waking up. and then
    tacking on additional exercises when they forget to say "yes" or step over some
    imaginary line between rooms without asking first. and all the while they are
    referred to as a "zero".

    kids were shamed, humiliated, violently yelled at, isolated, and
    yes even "swatted" as recently as 2003. how about jogging laps in the
    gym while being yelled at and having water constantly dumped on their head?
    yep. i saw it happen.
    i take great offense in anyone that still defends this place.
    this all happen on the marion campus... which was always referred to as the "easy" and less-abusive campus.
    even the stories that staff told me about EC painted that place as MUCH worse.

    side note: and when you're determined to pursue a relatively conservative
    evangelical christian faith, it's oh so easy to just chalk things up to bible
    verses / old testament law / etc...
    after all "it's god's will"... "our tiny brains can't understand him."
    so when an organization like NHYM presents itself as a loving christ-centered
    place to help children, people often take their word for it.
    because once people start justifying things with bible verses, how can you (and
    your god-fearing self) argue with that?
    well you can... and you should. especially when you've seen first hand (like i have) how kids are scarred for life.

    anyways, to disregard the feelings of hundreds of ex-students who have suffered
    the emotional/mental abuse is absurd.
    i can list off dozens of students during my 1 year of employment that had an infinitesimal scars inflicted upon them at NHYM.

    it would be nice to find out that it has decreased since 2003, but i highly
    doubt it has ceased. i'll just have to wait on more testimonies from recent
    times.
    _______________________

    ReplyDelete
  39. PART 3

    here's an excerpt about my first days working at NHYM:
    after arriving in IN, the reality of living on campus sunk in (ridiculous). and
    so did the pay (beyond ridiculous). i know i would easily put in a 50 hour
    week...when others would put in 60-80 (all on salary of course). it always
    averaged out to be less than 5 bucks an hour.
    the realm of social work has always been plagued with the notion of plucking on
    peoples' heart strings. convincing them to sacrifice in order to help others.
    whether that being working way too many hours, working for pennies, doing things
    not in their job description, not taking days off, etc...

    one of the most depressing things (off the clock) was how that one guy in human
    resources (i forgot his name) would load up a truck of
    discounted/expired/damaged groceries and dry goods and bring them back to his
    garage. he would pay for this stuff by the pound (super cheap), and then
    sell/give it away to NHYM staff for donations.
    i remember going there a couple of times. it was essentially like a really
    lo-fi DIY food bank. it was popular among the staff.... mainly because NHYM
    paid us so poorly.
    i was selling things on ebay (usually old band shirts and stuff) over the course
    of the year i was employed there just to cover my bills.
    i can't imagine how hard it must have been (budget-wise) on those with families.

    my point with that story is NOT to invoke any sort of sympathy for staff. but
    rather to drive home the point that your parents paid tens of thousands of
    dollars to NHYM, and that organization certainly wasn't kicking any back down to
    us. staff turn-over was always high there. the only ones they could convince
    to stick around were probably folks that had convinced themselves that they were
    "called" to "love people back to christ."

    i honestly feel like i worked with a couple of well-meaning folks. but that
    doesn't really mean much within a flawed system.
    the supervision/direction/foundation of NHYM is oppressive.
    the most well meaning staff member can't change that. unfortunately, they can
    only be influenced by it..... orrrr leave.
    i barely squeaked through that first year. i increasingly felt uncomfortable
    with that place. especially when i was directed to deal with kids in ways that
    i normally would not have. it wasn't me. it wasn't what i felt was helpful.
    it was just following orders to get a paycheck. i knew i had to leave.

    i heard that NHYM was trying to implement a more "group-run" model of therapy
    around the time of my departure. i'm not sure if that ever really materialized.
    i always wondered if it was because they were getting increased criticism from
    outside sources. but from the sound of things, there hasn't been many drastic
    changes.

    ReplyDelete
  40. PART 4

    i went on to work in much more reputable social
    work arenas in michigan during '03-'05, took some grad school classes, got a lot
    of training, grew up quite a bit, changed, and realized that i should have
    high-tailed it out of NHYM a lot sooner than i had.

    though i had some serious core-value changes over those years, i've found some
    peace. i really am proud of my life now and i'm looking forward to the future.
    however, i'm still plagued by the notion of participating in a system that
    punished kids for things that were age-appropriate "rebellion".
    maybe if the parents were able to get some professional help early on they would
    have realized that shipping their kid off to boarding school wouldn't be the
    cure-all that they were hoping for.
    fearful parents looking for hope in a fearful system that utilizes fear to
    achieve it's goals.

    if you happen to be thankful for your experience at NHYM, i'm not here to argue
    with you. however, if you're still angry/hurt/scarred about your time there,
    i'm here to stand with you. i'm here to say i'm sorry and i'm glad you
    survived. i'm here to validate your feelings... because there's legitimate
    reasons for you to feel that way. a "therapy" model like that of NHYM would be
    the laughing stock of mainstream social work. thats why no one has heard of
    NHYM, it's on the fringe... disowned by anyone who really understands modern day
    therapy.
    ________________

    ReplyDelete
  41. PART 5

    -knowledge, education, and a logical, non-biased grasp on what is healthy for
    children is extremely important.
    i believe that some NHYM staff members actually did mean well. they actually
    thought they were doing the right thing and were just dishing out "tough love".
    they believed that it would somehow pay off down the road (for the kids) if they
    could just tow the line for them a little bit more.

    however, their model of therapy relies on ONE main source of standards: you got
    it, the bible.
    granted, the contents of the bible have been disputed for years and have been
    interpreted in a BILLION different ways.
    so to randomly pick one interpretation and insist that it is the verbatim word
    of god is silly. nevermind forcing kids to live by that code of conduct, while
    trying to convince them that it's the ONLY way to live and that they either
    embrace it or burn in hell.

    side note: i've always thought it was funny that people liked to paint god as
    this character that would actually want to spend eternity with followers that
    were bullied into believing in him.
    i don't know about you guys, but when i look for a roommate, i try to find one
    that actually WANTS to live with me. but i digress....

    i've said it before, and i'll say it again. in mainstream social work, NHYM's
    policies would be laughed out of the room.
    what works for one kids, might not work for another.
    and i think remembering that is what can set us apart from NHYM.
    though they like to think they operated on a case by case basis, it all still
    came under the same umbrella.
    they say they only take in certain kids after they've been screened to see if
    NHYM program can help them.
    i can attest that when financial times are tough, those guidelines get much more
    loose.
    i'll never forget various supervisors taking me
    to witness/assist in my first "transport" or whatever they were called.
    seeing kids that were in restraints, being delivered to NHYM by parents or folks
    hired to do the job. then having to sit with the kids in that seclusion pod
    while they totally lost their mind.
    one kid in particular was being sent to the D.R. and was supposed to be held at
    a mental hospital overnight before his plane left.
    NHA decided to keep him in marion instead. i can't remember if he ran or
    flipped out in some fashion, either way he didn't even last until the morning.
    last i heard he was being housed in a mental hospital in marion (probably until his plane for the DR left).

    but back on the topic of unprofessional policies:
    i remember being given a huge "christian counseling" binder to read through on
    my own. no real training. just a binder.

    ReplyDelete
  42. PART 6

    anyways, had some NHYM staffers been FULLY educated in sources outside of "jesus
    is the answer" and "my flying fist of old testament fury will stop you from
    listening to phil collins"... well, then i think some of them would have had a
    change of heart when it came to their chosen method of impacting youth.
    they would realize they wouldn't need to resort to NHYM tactics of pain and
    humiliation.
    thankfully many of us realize that as we get older and think for ourselves. as
    more of us do, we can hopefully shift the world toward a less
    dysfunctional and painful place.
    which is a main motivating factor for many of us to speak out on NHYM.

    i just finished watching the documentary: "Guerrilla: The Taking of Parry
    Hearst". and i think the concept of "stockholm syndrome" is relevant here.
    whether we're referring to students or staff, the idea of being meshing with
    your captors applies in both scenarios.
    as a former staff, i know that when you're surrounded by dozens of other people
    insisting you do things one way, encouraging/praising you when you comply
    (reprimanding you when you don't), helping you justify and explain all
    questionable scenarios, etc... you can't help but be more susceptible to "going
    with the flow".
    however, if you can separate yourself far enough away (physically and mentally),
    then you've got a shot at gaining a clear and non-biased perspective.
    hindsight is 20/20 right?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome

    in conclusion:
    if any of us are able to use our painful experiences to fuel some sort of
    "righting the wrong" in someone's life, i tip my hat to you.
    from my years in social work, i know that what we have is priceless:
    our personal pain can oftentimes make our listening ear, our advice, our words,
    our relationship much more reputable and trustworthy to a child that has
    experienced similar pain.
    no one wants to hear someone from a picture-esque "leave it to beaver" family
    tell them that they "understand". honestly, they don't. we all know that.
    we are the ones that do.
    and that, my dear friends, is priceless.
    ___________

    thanks again for taking the time to hear our voices.
    there are so many others not yet heard.

    ReplyDelete
  43. To the former staff member of NHYM, thank you for taking the time to write all your comments. It's good to hear from "the other side of the fence," especially that the story is the same. There doesn't seem to much dispute as to what has gone on in these schools. So, so sad...

    ReplyDelete
  44. This is Jeff and I'm happy about what happened to you people. Leave me out of your delusions. You are trying to bring down a good organization and likely get money when you don't deserve it.

    Jeff Kalom

    ReplyDelete
  45. The program is mentioned in the Kidnapped for Christ documentary. Secondary it is rumored that the organization who owned the programs has sold their operations to another Christian organization.

    For now there is no webpage up promoting Escuela Caribe or any of the other programs they ran. It doesn't change the fact that the very existence of such program have shocked people in many countries. If there is anything positive to say about Escuela Caribe it is that has brought awareness of a problem which should be solved by the closure of such programs worldwide regardless of what kind of belief the program promote. I have to bring to your attention that there are similar school in other countries where part of the curriculum is attacks of our culture and hate against our soldiers stationed abroad.

    ReplyDelete
  46. The daughter of Pastor Gordon C Blossom who is the founder of New Horizons Youth Ministry recently verified that her father sexually abused her. There are unconfirmed accounts that he abused other children as well. The abuse was accounted in the book The Whisper by Shirley Jo Petersen.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Another book was written that accounts Pastor Gordon C Blossom, the director of the ministry Julia was placed in. The book is called The Whisper by Shirley Jo Petersen, the daughter of Pastor Gordon C Blossom. Shirley's book is an important account of Pastor Gordon C Blossom and the failed leadership of New Horizons Ministries headquartered in Marion, Indiana (aka New Horizon Youth Ministries, New Horizon Youth Foundation, Escuela Caribe, Caribe Vista, Caribe Vista Youth Safari, Missanabie Woods Academy, New Horizons Academy, Caribbean Mountain Academy). To think that a pedophile was entrusted with the guardianship and lives of thousands of teens is a parent's worst nightmare. And to think he was protected from legal charges until his death while children he abused never received justice. Though the book does not identify Pastor Gordon by name, his photo as well as Timothy Blossom's photo is clearly identifiable in the book.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete