Casa by the Sea

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Casa by the Sea was a behavior modification facility located in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. (Satellite photo from Google Maps)

It was associated with World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASP). In 2004, it was shut down by Mexican authorities due to claims of child abuse.

Program description[redigér]

Some detainees arrived tricked by their families but parents were advised to use a teen escort company. Description of such an event was published by Legal Affairs <Ref>WANT YOUR KID TO DISAPPEAR?, by Nadya Labi (July 2004, Legal Affairs)</Ref>.

Level system[redigér]

Both programs consisted of six levels. New detainees started at level 1, which had no privileges of any kind. They were followed round the clock by a junior staff member (A detainee on level 4 to 6). They had to show good behavior and attend a number of seminars in order to be voted up to the next level by their fellow detainees and therapists.

They were given a full physical examination, school assessment and an individual educational program, which they began working on immediately. At first, no phone calls were allowed, but parents and detainees were allowed to write letters to each other. Children were put into small groups, and each parent had an assigned time to speak with the group leader once a week for a half hour to discuss their child's progress.

Once Level 3 was achieved, a detainee was given phone privileges home as well as more privileges at the school, on and off the grounds. Levels 4 through 6 built on the foundations of the first three levels, adding new responsibilities and role reversal situations, with detainees working closely with kids coming in new to the program. Their training as a staff member was based solely on their own experiences in the program.

Outside of seminars, no contact with the opposite sex were allowed. Whenever people of the opposite sex were about to pass each other, they were required to stare at the ground rather than look at each other. Low level detainees were not allowed to look at the surroundings outside the campus. In early 2003 there was a co-ed activity where all detainees level 4 to 6 could mingle and eat pizza. Coincidentally there was a photographer during the entire event.


Negative behavior was addressed at once. Because there were only Spanish-speaking staff employed, any talk in English outside group therapy was regarded as negative behavior. Detainees who did not know Spanish before they arrived were punished until they learned the language.

Punishment consisted of being restrained and guided to a room where they could be forced to sit on the floor and look at a wall for hours. Detainees who continued to resist the program, could be transferred to a more harsh facility like High Impact (where detainees were kept in dog cages <Ref>How To Save A Troubled Kid, by Maia Szalavitz November 2004</Ref> , if they had problems with food) or Tranquility Bay.

In the news[redigér]

Claims of lack of respect for their sexual orientation were made by former detainees. They even claim that the facility was used to impose a different sexual orientation upon them <Ref>The Battle Over Gay Teens, Time Magazine, october 2005</Ref>. Parents have complained about the lack of therapy at the facility. There were complains about overcrowding (Children slept in hallways). They describe it a lock-down facility with low-paid and uneducated staff <Ref>Parents Shopping for Discipline Turn to Harsh Programs Abroad, New York Times, Marts 2003</Ref>.

Former detainees complained of emotional scars due to their stay there <Ref>The Worse Experience of My Life, by Melanie L.</Ref> <Ref>The lessons I learned at Casa by the Sea, by Sarah Barlow</Ref> <Ref>Casa by the Sea: A memory that will haunt me forever, by Jennifer Ilona Chambard</Ref>. An inmate on death row in Texas considers the surroundings on death row to be better than at the facility <Ref name="mp">Casa by the sea, Save Michael Perry</Ref>.

The facility was also occupied by European detainees. Those detainees, who came from societies with a more broad-minded and developed youth culture, were exposed to treatment that were so far from their daily life, that it was very close to torture <Ref>Banished to boot camp, BBC, January 2003</Ref>.

When the facility did shut down, a lot of parents - who themselves had attended seminars where they have been exposed to brainwashing techniques <Ref>Breaking the Vow of Secrecy</Ref> - were outraged when the news about the closure reached them. Some of the detainees had another opinion about the situation <Ref>Parents, youths shocked by sudden closure of school for troubled teens, SignonSanDiago 2004</Ref>

Seaside academy[redigér]

The facility was believed to have reopened in 2006 as Seaside academy but it later turned out that it was a new facility now known as Oceanside Teen Center.

Notable alumni[redigér]

Notable alumni from Casa by the Sea include:

  • Christina Parkins - daughter of former actor Barbara Parkins <Ref name=anti-wwasp1/>
  • Michael Perry - Executed by the State of Texas based on alleged crimes <ref name=mp/>
  • Redmond O'Neal - son of the actors Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal was detained at this facility <Ref name="anti-wwasp1">Farrah Fawcett's kid..., Anti-wwasp Casa by the sea forum</Ref>

In the media[redigér]

External links[redigér]

Info pages[redigér]

Community groups[redigér]

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