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Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  119 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
The troubled-teen industry, with its scaremongering and claims of miraculous changes in behavior through harsh discipline, has existed in one form or another for decades, despite a dearth of evidence supporting its methods. And the growing number of programs that make up this industry are today finding more customers than ever.

Maia Szalavitz's Help at Any Cost is the firs
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 16th 2006 by Riverhead Books
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Feb 20, 2009 Susan rated it liked it
This was an eye opener for me. This book illustrates first off how little is known about these programs. I work in the field (adolescent residential) and still held a lot of misconceptions about these programs. While these types of programs represent the exact opposite of my theoretical framework, I have known people who have gone through them, with mixed results. I admit, I have at times questioned my own practices in comparison with the claims of efficacy of such programs. After reading this, ...more
Beth Peninger
Feb 16, 2012 Beth Peninger rated it liked it
A friend at work, who is apparently VERY passionate about this topic, plopped in front of my desk one day and asked if I would read this book. I took on the challenge. It's not a book I would ever pick up on my own and read but he is passionate about the subject matter and I am curious enough to read about it so I didn't mind. I'll admit I was dreading reading it, wondering how many weeks it would take me to get through it but Szalavitz did a good job of making all the stats and all the stories ...more
Jul 25, 2015 BG45 rated it really liked it
War crimes are a specific set of crimes which if done to uniformed prisoners of war, are against the Geneva Conventions. However, some acts of torture which would be described as such if it happened to a uniform soldier of a nation, are not considered such when done by a facility to "help" teens. This is not a book for the faint of heart.

Beatings, sleep deprivation, psychological and sexual abuse. Nothing is beyond the scope of possibility in the Troubled Teen Industry. The worst part is, parent
Mar 09, 2009 Faith rated it really liked it
This was the book group pick for my local library. Though I wasn't necessarily interested in the subject, after starting it, I was really pulled in by the stories of youths and the blatant abuses they suffered, all for the sake of profit. The book details three different types of programs that all stem from the same unproven 'tough love' idea. These programs, for the most part, are run by inexperienced young adult counselors who have no supervising psychologist or therapist to guide them. There ...more
Jan 24, 2014 Andrew rated it it was amazing
"It was amazing" is not anyway I would ever describe this book to someone. This was an awful, awful read. I had trouble reading more than half a chapter without being urged to set the book down, conduct a prison raid at the nearest facility, and then burn the place down to cinders. I knew even before picking up this book that there were places like this; I had no idea it was torture bad (acts that would constitute war crimes.) Kidnapping, falsifying records, abuse, negligent homicide... all to a ...more
Jan 27, 2009 Jean rated it really liked it
The subtitle pretty accurately describes the content: "How the Troubled Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids." If you ever had the slightest urge to use the big tough love strategy on your kid, i.e. ship him/her off to a boot camp type place, this book is a must read. Ultimately it seems tough love at least of this sort does nothing but hurt the children and enrich the camp operators. Horrifying worst case examples that demonstrate how few rights children have.
May 05, 2016 Kathleen rated it really liked it
A clearly biased account, but what a story it tells! I could have done with a little more objectivity, especially towards the end (the trial is uncomfortably anger-fueled), but otherwise this was a chilling look at what is essentially a scam industry. This book is worth picking up.
Samantha Salisbury
Aug 03, 2014 Samantha Salisbury rated it really liked it
I thought this was a well written and interesting read. I would recommend this book to any parent or educator dealing with difficult teens. However, be prepared to find yourself massively pissed off as you read.
The American Conservative
'Help at Any Cost is a sad and angry book, but it’s a book which is, ultimately, written in defense of love.'

Read our full review here:
Andrew Vachss
Nov 15, 2009 Andrew Vachss rated it it was amazing
Any parent considering a "tough love" program must read this first; any judge considering a "boot camp" sentence must read this first, and any politician voting to fund one of these programs should be carefully scrutinized.
Aug 20, 2008 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
A disturbingly true account of the teen help industry, and the morally repugnant "therapies" they use. You owe it to the children who have died in these sorts of camps read this book now!
Jun 30, 2015 Caitlin rated it really liked it
Horrifying reveal of the Tough-Love industry, and the pain they put children through. Anyone thinking of sending their children to residential care needs to read this book first.
May 14, 2008 Stephanie rated it really liked it
An expose that needed to be done, without a doubt. Everyone should read this to know what's being done to your kids.
Elisabeth rated it really liked it
Dec 10, 2015
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Sep 08, 2016
Apr 05, 2014 Jesse rated it really liked it
First book I have heard of or read on this topic. Well done.
Shannon rated it really liked it
Jan 05, 2014
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Sep 27, 2011
Art Levine
Art Levine rated it it was amazing
Dec 24, 2013
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Irene Moyer rated it it was ok
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Dec 20, 2014
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Sep 18, 2009
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Jesse Bass rated it it was amazing
May 24, 2016
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Maia Szalavitz is an award-winning author and journalist who covers addiction and neuroscience. Her next book, Unbroken Brain (St. Martins, April, 2016), uses her own story of recovery from heroin and cocaine addiction to explore how reframing addiction as a developmental disorder could revolutionize prevention, treatment and policy.

She's the author or co-author of six previous books, including th
More about Maia Szalavitz...

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