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Trails Carolina Investigation Calls For Transparency and Accountability in Wilderness Therapy

After allegations of abuse at Trails Carolina, it’s time to conduct a closer review of the troubled teen industry and create regulations which balance legal requirements with ethical considerations.

Trails Carolina “Investigation” boasts that their staff receives extensive training in first aid, wilderness survival and crisis de-escalation; however, former employees have provided troubling details. One individual noted they received minimal instruction prior to being placed into the field unprepared.

Transparency and Accountability

As allegations of abuse surface, families need a clear picture of what they are getting into with wilderness therapy programs, including knowing who they’re working with and the integrity of staff. Regulators and investigative journalists should assess these operations and reach out to former participants in order to verify claims made about these programs.

Troubled Teen Industries should prioritize mental health and well-being of adolescents. That means transparency and accountability should be at the core of every program; those failing to uphold such principles should be exposed and their families need to consider other solutions for their children.

Trails Carolina emphasizes their holistic approach to treating adolescents through therapy and outdoor experiential education, including an eight-year independent study that demonstrated positive changes in challenging behaviors and family functioning for participating adolescents and their families. They pride themselves on having experienced staff that understands participant safety such as experienced therapists and wilderness survivalists who ensure participant wellbeing.

Transparency in Decision-Making

The Trails Carolina investigation highlights the need for greater transparency and accountability among wilderness therapy services, so families must carefully weigh all options before enrolling their child(ren) in such programs.

Trails Carolina boasts of its staff’s extensive training in first aid, nutrition, suicide prevention and crisis de-escalation; however, former employees have expressed discontent at its classes’ inadequacy; some even alleging they received only minimal instruction prior to being sent into the wild with troubled adolescents.

Former participants and their families have told harrowing accounts, prompting serious and impartial inquiry into Trails Carolina wilderness therapy services. Wilderness therapy can offer life-altering opportunities to adolescents experiencing emotional and behavioral challenges; however, its implementation must follow rigorous protocols overseen by those possessing adequate experience – something Trails Carolina failed to do; this explains why many parents hesitate to send their children there again.

Transparency in Operations

Trails Carolina has provided positive experiences to many families; however, allegations of emotional and physical abuse have caused its reputation to tarnish significantly. To regain trust from parents again, Trails Carolina must demonstrate commitment to transparency and accountability within its operations.

New Leaf Trails Carolina issued a statement in response to allegations made against it that their program is designed with participants’ best interests in mind, emphasizing safety protocols, trained therapists and field instructors, an effective treatment process designed for lifelong personal growth, as well as safe practices that promote personal wellbeing.

However, previous state inspection reports have detailed multiple violations at Trails Carolina that include inadequate staff-to-participant ratios and minimal training provided prior to sending employees out into the wilderness to work with troubled adolescents – actions which are unacceptable and warrant further investigation.

Transparency in Employment

As the wilderness therapy industry expands, parents and adolescents deserve a clear understanding of the programs. At Trails Carolina, unlike ‘Scared Straight” or troubled teen boot camps that use harmful punitive discipline tactics to foster personal development in its participants, licensed therapists and field instructors with expertise in wilderness survival training as well as crisis intervention are employed to foster personal growth for each teen enrolled in our program.

Yet, allegations of mistreatment against Trails Carolina range from physical abuse to emotional manipulation and neglect, prompting families to demand greater transparency and accountability in the industry. Furthermore, this should serve as a warning to parents – they should thoroughly research all options available before enrolling their teens into wilderness therapy programs.

Whoever suspects they may be suffering from inappropriate treatment should reach out to DHHS immediately for support, who will provide valuable context while working alongside the agency to develop the industry and set new standards.

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