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January 15, 2021

ABA to host webinar series on the “troubled teen industry”

CHICAGO, Jan. 15, 2021 – Legal experts, survivors and advocates will explore the legal issues surrounding the “troubled teen industry” in a webinar series from the American Bar Association.  

The troubled teen industry is a network of private youth programs, therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, religious academies, wilderness programs and drug rehabilitation centers that have thrived for decades despite allegations of child abuse, neglect, dangerous treatment practices and negligence resulting in death.

The first program in the series:

Youth in Congregate Care: Far from Home, Far from Safe

Thursday, Jan. 21, 1-3 p.m. ET


Speakers include Paris Hilton, Misha Osherovich, Caroline Lorson and Jen Robison, vocal institutional abuse survivors; Oregon State Sen. Sara Gelser, champion of troubled teen industry reform; Dr. Janet Parker, director of the Medical Whistleblower’s Advocacy Network; and attorney Phil Elberg. The discussion will be moderated by ABA President Patricia Lee Refo.

Due to a lack of government oversight, troubled teen private youth programs operate with near impunity. Children between the ages of 5-18 years old can be held against their will, with no due process or criminal charges for an undetermined amount of time, sometimes years.

Several practices are hallmarks of these programs, including:

  • Inhumane, degrading discipline
  • Inappropriate use of seclusion and restraints
  • Conversion and aversion therapy
  • Restricted contact with family
  • No access to authorities, advocates or legal representation
  • Deceptive marketing

The series, co-sponsored by the ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, Commission on Youth at Risk, Section of Family Law, Section of Litigation, Commission on Disability Rights, Breaking Code Silence and National Center for Lesbian Rights, will shed light on the regulatory failures, current initiatives and survivor stories.

This event is free and open to members of the press. For media credentialing and registration, please contact Priscilla Totten at 202-662-1094 or [email protected].


The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.