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Teenage Lobotomy: a zine about the institutionalization about youth

January 11, 2005

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This is a project by one of the artists in the Icarus Project art show:
Submit to a new reader about the abusive institutions for youth! The reader will constist of:
— An introduction to the abuses that take plase at theraputic boarding schools, residential treatment facilities, and wilderness programs;
— Personal stories and interviews from students, parents, and ex-teachers;
— Discussionof alternative ways to help “troubled” teens, including art therapy, various forms of counseling (such as utilizing A.A. outpatient programs or talking to mentors for help), and other programs that encourage healing in positive ways;
— Information about mental health, youth emancipation and maneuvering “the system” (such as the prison system and juvenile detention centers)
WE NEED YOUR STORIES! Please submit your experience by late January 2005, and keep it under three pages. This reader is being compiled by two teenage artists and writers — Nick, who was locked up in the Family foundation School in New York, Second Nature Wilderness Program in Utah, and Paint Paul’s Prep School in Arizona, and his close friend Sarah (Ketchup).

What would you do if you were woken up tomorrow at the crack of dawn by two large men, handcuffed, dragged out of your home, and thrown in the back of a van? What would you think as this van takes you hundreds of miles away from your neighborhood and drops you off in an institution of white walls, flourescent lights, and cold linoleum floors? How would you respond to the people in this institution when they force you to stand in a corner for weeks on end, to lift your knees to your waistline when you walk, to be silent when you want to be loud, to be loud when you want to be silent, and to carry buckets of rocks back and forth for twelve hours each day? Would you resist, rebel, run away, kill yourself? What if they locked you in a tiny room that smelled like urine and blasted A.A. tapes until you submit? What if they took your food away? Had someone follow you around all the time, even watching you shit? What if you were completely stuck in a behavior modification program like this for two years without seeing your friends, your home, or anything that might remind you of the real world?
These places exist, and kids are sent to them everyday. Parents have complete legal control over their children until the age of eighteen, and these institutions prey on parents’ frustrations, convincing them to sign away their child’s rights. Behavior modification programs reflect our society’s attitude towards youth, treating us as less than full human beings. There is a vicious cycle where kids are treated with mistrust and thus don’t learn to take responsibility for their actions. Many of us have caught onto the fact that the education system is actually an indoctrination system. School kills our curiousity, by teaching us that learning means sitting in rows for twelve yars, force-fed information by an authority figure. Some of us are even forced into group homes, juvenile detention centers, and spirit-destroying institutions like the one described above.
Why do adults feel the need to exert such rigid control over us? Perhaps it’s because youth tend to be more idealistic and less willing to accept the world as it is. It takes years to teach someone to endure the monotony and superficiality that is so many people’s lives. Behavior modification programs are part of this cycle of stagnation, so this zine was created to educate people about this little-known atrocity occurring in our own country. It’s a first step in the long struggle to shut these types of places down, and to encourage kids everywhere to take control over their own lives.
We need your stories!
These may include :
— Where you (or your child, or your friend) were sent
— Specific disciplinary techniques used
— Reasons for being sent away
— How the experience affected you (or your child, or your friend)
— Approximate relapse rate
— Legal actions taken against the institution (if there ever were any)
These are only guidelines. You may tell your story in words, pictures, or any form of communication that will bring your experience to life.
Contact: Nick’s email: mindweller [at]
Sarah’s email: orangescum [at]
Or write to: 3706 72nd St. Apt.5H
Jackson Heights, NY


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One comment on “Teenage Lobotomy: a zine about the institutionalization about youth”

Now Teenage Lobotomy has a new project to creatively empower youth! Check it out . . .
Those who lock up youth know that they cannot thrive without communication. That’s why the first thing behavior modification programs do is sever kids’ ties to the outside world. (Prisons do the same thing with unaffordable phone calls, psych wards use Plexiglas and isolation chambers.) Not only are youth denied contact with the outside world, they are strongly discouraged from making friends with other locked-up kids. In this situation, communication becomes rebellion. The Hope Confetti project directly counters the only form of communication used by behavior modification programs – brainwashing through repetition. Instead of a single, massed produced message, hundreds of unique, hand written or drawn messages will be scattered on the grounds of a behavior modification program during a direct action. Like a mother fish who knows that only a few of the hundreds of eggs she lays will become adults, we are aware that many of these messages will never reach the hands of youth. However, with direct action we have the element of surprise in a facility that draws its power from monotony. The possibilities are multiplied by the number of messages from caring hearts on the other side. Any sign of hope will spread through the silent halls like wildfire. So grab a pen and take a moment to take a chance.
For more information or for a Hope Confetti kit, write to:
Or send your messages to:
Teenage Lobotomy
37-06 72nd street #5H
Jackson Heights, NY 11372
Teenage Lobotomy: A Zine about the Institutionalization of Youth
Will be available by mid-March 2005

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