KIDS of El Paso Incorporated was a highly controversial long-term adolescent treatment facility located in far west Texas during the mid to late 1980's. Over two-hundred teens twelve to twenty-three years of age were admitted to the KIDS of El Paso program from the United States, Canada and Mexico. KIDS adopted Synanon's therapeutic community milieu as a model for treatment which included an extended daily regimen of peer guided ultraconfrontational group therapy, attack therapy, administered in a highly structured clinical setting.
The local community first learned of controversial practices at KIDS of El Paso from teens who escaped the program and cited details of abuse, kidnapping, floor restraints, sexual humiliation, sleep and nutritional deprivation. Local media reports soon declared KIDS of El Paso a cult and said they used mind control techniques on teens and families to enforce program compliance. The controversy led to an investigation by the State of Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (TCADA), a state regulatory agency, who conducted interviews with twenty-seven KIDS of El Paso teens. State investigation findings included coercion, abuse, neglect and over fifty different state regulatory violations. Despite diligent efforts to force the program to close, KIDS of El Paso continued to remain in operation throughout probationary periods, appeals and temporary injunctions. The fight to stay open was a battle waged in a very public arena and became part of El Paso history. KIDS of El Paso officially closed after the program filed for chapter seven bankruptcy in 1989.
Additional information regarding the rise and fall of the KIDS of El Paso program can be found here.
If you were in the KIDS of El Paso program and/or would like to learn more please send an email to the link below.