Lifetime’s new series “Teen Trouble” is under fire for sending kids to youth rehab facilities with histories of abuse allegations, lawsuits and even deaths.
In last Friday’s episode, the show’s host, a teen expert and author named Josh Shipp, arranges for a 16-year-old girl with a drinking problem to attend Axios Youth Community in Colorado.
A few weeks after the episode was shot last year, Axios was shuttered amid allegations a former employee had molested a 13-year-old student.
In another episode, Shipp sent a teen heroin addict named Chelsea — against her will, but with parental consent— to Copper Canyon Academy in central Arizona for a yearlong stay.
Since the show began, dozens of former students from youth facilities across the country have been flocking online to Web sites like ccaSurvivors.com and Reddit’s “Troubled Teens” forum to share their frightening experiences.
An online petition — posted Wednesday — asks Lifetime president Nancy Dubuc to stop sending teens to so-called “therapeutic boarding schools.”
Former students say CCA, which is owned by Aspen Education Group, deprives students of food, water and sleep as disciplinary measures and forces some to re-enact horrific events from their lives — including their own rapes — in front of peers.
“I wan’t allowed to talk for most of the time I was there,” former student Blayke Navon, 18, who was not on the show but is one of the school’s most vocal critics, tells The Post.
Navon, who had no history of substance abuse or illegal behavior, was 15 when she was forcibly removed from her home at 5 a.m.
“Two people came into my room, woke me up and told me I needed to go with them,” she remembers. “I thought I was being kidnapped.”
CCA “is like a Nazi concentration camp,” says Navon’s mother Laurie, who yanked her daughter out after just 6 weeks. “I thought I was sending her to a top notch boarding school. She still has nightmares about it.”
Laurie Navon says the school disciplined her daughter, who was battling anorexia, by placing her on food restriction.
On “Teen Trouble,” Shipp — who has no formal license or training — attempts to set wayward youth straight by locking them in jail or forcing them sleep with the homeless.
After teens appear on the show, they are often offered extended treatment at residential rehab centers.
The tuition for these facilities — $6,000-$8,000 a month — is waived in exchange for Shipp’s on-air mentions, the show’s producer, Bryn Freedman, confirms.
Aspen — which boasts on its Web site of being prominently featured on “The Dr. Phil Show,” Nickelodeon’s “Nick News” and “The Tyra Show” — owns 28 facilities across the US.
Several others have closed in recent years amid allegations of misconduct.
In 2011, CCA employee Randy Young resigned after being reported for sexually abusing a student, but the center remained open.
“There are a lot of people who are reporting that they have experienced significant harm from these types of treatment facilities,” says Mary Waldron, a licensed clinical social worker in Illinois, who dropped Aspen as a sponsor of her Internet radio show last year.
“There are enough allegations that I did not want to be affiliated with that,” she says.
Other parents who have sent their kids to the Aspen facilities swear by the treatment they’re received there — pointing out the kids who are sent there can be expected to complain.
“I just take (the allegations) with a grain of salt,” Chelsea’s mom, Debra Scott, tells The Post. “These girls just didn’t want to be there in the first place.”
Scott says Chelsea has shown great improvement since enrolling at CCA and defends the school’s strict policies.
“It is teaching my daughter there are rules and consequences,” she says. “I see a future now, where before I saw a casket.”
Freedman insists that sending Chelsea to CAA does constitute an overall endorsement of the school.
“We put her there because we felt it was the best place for her,” she says. “If they had ever said anything (was inappropriate), we would have yanked her out.”
In a prepared statement CAA director Paul Taylor denied the allegations of abuse and said the safety of students is “our highest priority.”
“The reality is that our students come to us dealing with a variety of behavioral health and addiction issues, at varying levels of severity,” he said. “We offer them a structured and nurturing treatment environment with professional staff who specialize in working with adolescent girls.”
Lifetime, meanwhile, declined comment.
This story originally appeared in The New York Post
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