History of WWASP
WWASP(S) – World Wide Association of Specialty Programs (and Schools) or as it is known as today, Teen Revitalization, is an umbrella corporation of associated teen behavior modification programs, boot camps and therapeutic boarding schools. Created by Robert Lichfield, in partnership with Resource Realizations aka Premier Education Seminars, in the early 90’s WWASP quickly became one of the largest troubled teen industry corporations with dozens of facilities located in both the US and in countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Samoa. Because of investigations into many allegations of child abuse and unhealthy conditions at WWASP’s various facilities since 2002, 21 WWASP affiliated programs have been shut down.
“The Program” consisted of a leveled incarceration system in which the teenager would be committed by their parents without their expressed consent to graduate, and remain on 24 hour lock down, until they had earned the right to go home. On Level 1, you are striped of all your basic rights and expected to remain silent and ask permission to do everything like looking out of line, speaking and going to the bathroom. Lower Levels (Levels 1-3) are monitored 24 hours a day, even in the showers and when going to the bathroom and you are expected to follow a strict set of rules that include everything from forgetting the tiniest strand of hair in your brush durring daily inspection or forgetting something, to more serious infractions like run away plans which could include bringing any kind of writing utensil into a bathroom, even on accident. When any of these many rules are broken, a “consequence” is given out and the student it required to fill out a piece of paper as evidence of their misdeed, and depending on the severity of the infraction, their respective points are then deducted at the end of the day. Levels are gained by earning points, randomly given throughout the day for things like completing their chores, writing “reflections” and generally behaving. Once a student receives a certain amount of points they can “Level Up” by asking for “support” from their peers, staff and administrator which is necessary to advance in levels. Often times the points are much easier to come by than support, which can pretty much be attributed to a popularity game or an obscure reason to hold a kid back in their program.
WWASP Seminars were the backbone of the WWASP program, essentially it was both their marketing scheme and their premise for their own perverted brand of therapy. These seminars were run by a company called Resource Realizations (or Premiere Educational Seminars) a spin off of the Lifespring Seminars started by former Lifespring facilitator David Gilcrease. Seminars were required to be participated in by both the parents and the students including seminars that both the parents and children would attend together. Seminars were broken down into 4 initial stages, Discovery (level 1), Focus (level 2), Accountability (level 3) and Keys to Success (level 4+) As the child and parent both progressed through these seminars they would then be given the responsibility to staff these seminars.
WWASP boasts a significantly high “satisfaction” rate, but what does that really mean? Most of us would assume that means that most teenagers found success within these programs and that after the child had completed the program, parents remained satisfied with the money they spent on the services WWASP provided. However upon further examining these claims, and noting who they used as sources and how long a child had been graduated before their “glowing testimonials” were given, it became clear that this satisfaction rate only reflected short term results from families who were still involved with the program, or had only been graduated for less than a year. Well, what about the long term satisfaction? What about after a period of time in which the influence of the program was removed, and the effects of brainwashing and mind control wore off? How many people today could honestly say that the program “saved their life”?
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