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Justin M. Stoddard

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April 5, 2007 — 8:15 pm

I have a picture of Angellika Arndt taped to the side of my computer at work, right alongside pictures of my own girls.

I don’t know “Angie”. I’ve never met her. Nor have I talked with her or her parents.

Angie Arndt was murdered by staff members of the Rice Lake Day Treatment Center in Wisconsin. She was seven years old.

In the ensuing investigation, it was found that a day before her death she…:

…arrived at Rice Lake around 11:30 a.m. She was sitting having lunch with the other children when she got the giggles and blew bubbles in her milk. She was reprimanded and told to stop laughing and to stop blowing bubbles. When she laughed again, she was taken to “time out” where she was told to sit still on a hard chair. This is a seven-year old child with attention deficit disorder, so sitting still in a chair was a very difficult thing to do. This was done as a “cool down” period.

During this “cool down”, Angie crossed her legs and rested her head on her knees. Because she did not do exactly what she was told to do she was taken to the “cool down” room, a closet-sized room with nothing but a chair, a mat on the middle of a cement floor, and blank walls. “I don’t want to go,” she cried.

But she was forced to go. She was told once again to sit in a chair and not move. She covered her ears and began to cry. She was tired and curled up on the chair. She fell asleep, was woken up, and told to sit appropriately and complete the cool-down. She was asleep, how much cooler did she need to be?

Head up, feet down, don’t move, and be quiet.

Again she fell asleep and again they woke her up. She became agitated and began to swing her legs. As this continued and staff surrounded her, she became more agitated and was restrained in her chair.

She was told if she struggled it would be considered “unsafe behavior”. She knew that meant she would be taken down and put into a face-down prone restraint. She was told by staff not to cry and to control her emotions. But she was not able to control her emotions and she couldn’t stop crying. During the course of the chair restraint she fell out of her chair. Knowing what would come next, she pleaded with them, saying she would complete the “cool down.” But it was too late.

It appears that in the minds of the staff, and after a staff discussion, this called for an all-out face-down floor restraint. She was taken down by two adults. One grabbed her ankles while the other grabbed her shoulders and held her down for 98 minutes. During this time she struggled, cried, screamed for help. But no one responded to her pleas for help.

It was reported that during some of the prone restraints she vomited, lost control of her bodily functions, complained of headaches, complained of eye pain, and fell asleep – or possibly passed out.

The very next day, Angie “misbehaved” again.

Angie was taken to the “cool down” room and placed in a face-down prone restraint. Again two staff participated in the restraint. One held her ankles while the other held her upper body. Bradley Ridout was summoned to assist another employee in the restraint. At the time, Angie was laying in a prone position, face-down on a thinly-carpeted cement floor. The other employee restrained Angie’s legs while Ridout covered her upper torso with his body, initially supporting his weight with his elbows. But as time went on his body weight of about 250 pounds shifted on her small upper torso, suffocating her.

During the course of this restraint she cried, screamed, thrashed, begged for help, said she couldn’t breathe, complained of a headache, and said her eyes hurt. Rather than stop to listen to her complaints, Ridout grabbed her head and held her down. He continued holding her down for about 30 minutes, putting pressure on her small upper body.

No one seemed to listened to her, no one seemed to believed her. Instead, regardless of the fact that she vomited, urinated and defecated on herself, and was crying out for help, they continued to hold her down. Finally, she became quiet and still. Finally she gave up. When they released her, Ridout rolled her small listless body over and noticed her face was blue.

I keep Angie’s picture taped to my computer to remind me every day why I’m studying psychology. There is an underlying perversion in this country manifesting itself in various “tough love” programs and “treatment” facilities for “troubled kids”. If you study the pattern long enough, it’s not hard to discover that the only thing these programs demand is unquestioned obedience and conformity.

It’s been proven over and over again that if these programs do not get what they want, they will kill you to save you.

I intend to end this.

One only need read Help at Any Cost by Maia Szalavitz to understand the severity of the problem. Programs that throw troubled teens out into the wilderness or kidnap them away from their friends and families only to go through brainwashing sessions that would make the Dear Leader blush are not helping kids. They are abusing them, with sanction. It must stop.

That is why I have a picture of Angie on my desk. It’s time we start trying to understand kids instead of beating them into submission.

For more information, visit The Center Against Institutionalized Child Abuse. They have dozens, if not hundreds of stories just like Angie’s. Each more horrific than the previous.

— Justin M. StoddardComments (0)

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