What began as a student project about a Christian boarding school in the Dominican Republic turned into a horror story when the young filmmaker Kate Logan uncovered the real story happening inside.
Ms. Logan who herself in an evangelical, wanted to create a positive documentary about Escuela Caribe, a now defunct school that US parents happily send their troubled children off to in hopes that God and discipline will straighten them out.
Logan thought her film would be a feel good story about a path for troubled youths to a new and brighter future.
What Logan found after talking to students and alumni was something all together different, uncovering questionable rehabilitation practices that left many of the students feeling in need of therapy and help upon leaving the school.
Swatting, the practice of striking students with a wooden paddle, or forcing students into quiet rooms, a form of solitary confinement are just two of the disciplinary methods that the school used.
One former student, Deirdre Sugiuchi, told Newsweek:
“When I was there, at 17, I was a high ranker, and it was my job to make sure [low rankers] were properly washing their private parts in the shower. I had to make sure they soaped. That was how I spent my senior year,” she says. Phone calls to parents were recorded, and written letters were monitored. “They would do anything to keep you there.”
The documentary Kidnapped for Christ premiered on Showtime to mixed reviews. Yet even if the film is just a student-made film, it uncovers the questions we are left with about shipping children off to foreign school programs that are not governed by normal US laws and basic human rights.
Stories like that of Deirdre Sugiuchi and others featured in the film should make parents more aware of the kinds of schools they are sending their children to, if for the best possible intentions, what happens behind unregulated closed doors could change your child forever, and not for the better.
(h/t New York Times)