Monday, May 31, 2010

Who Was on Teen Mania's Honor Academy Review Committee?

"I can assure you that a committee was established and several experts were asked to weigh into the items listed above as well as the items identified in the letters." -Statement from Teen Mania Ministries on May 28, 2010 via the website.

It wasn't long ago that alumni of Teen Mania's programs began to form a community online, and realize that they weren't alone in the fact that they had been hurt or abused by this organization. As discussions ensued, members of this community decided they really wanted to see Teen Mania make real changes to their programs, and many Teen Mania alumni submitted very personal stories of their hurts to the Teen Mania Board of Directors. A member of the board told the community that a panel of experts was going to be assembled to really investigate the Honor Academy, and the alumni community was genuinely excited and thought this might be the first step to really changing things at Teen Mania.

Exactly four weeks after making this promise to the community, Teen Mania launched their response website, which unfortunately just leaves many more questions than actual answers. The letter from the Teen Mania Ministries Board of Directors alludes to a "committee" of "experts" being formed, but they fail to mention who was on this investigative committee, or even how many people were on the committee. Were the "experts" completely unbiased? Do they get a paycheck from Teen Mania Ministries? Were any current or former teenage interns on the review committee? We just don't know...because Teen Mania doesn't tell us. We're just asked to rely on their "assurance," as demonstrated by the quote at the top of this blog post. We can't even tell who said "I can assure you..." since the letter is simply signed by "Teen Mania Board of Directors." That's not very assuring if you ask me.

The only two possible "experts" who were willing to put their name on anything written on Teen Mania's response website were Jack Hayford and a psychologist named Douglas N. Neal. Jack Hayford sat on the board of directors of Teen Mania for many years and is personal friends with C.E.O. Ron Luce, and Douglas N. Neal had two kids who went to the Honor Academy--neither of these experts are unbiased, and neither person is qualified to make a neutral and honest assessment of Teen Mania's programs.

Without knowing who was on the Honor Academy review committee, or how their investigation was conducted, it is difficult to just take Teen Mania's word that things are fine and that any problems that existed have been fixed. The U.S. government relied on BP's assessments that their offshore oil rig was safe and that any accidents would be minor....and that's not exactly the way things have turned out. If Teen Mania expects people to believe that the Honor Academy isn't a dangerous place for kids, they need to be a lot more transparent about things than they have been on their website so far.

1 comment:

  1. I am so sorry to hear about the abuses occurring at Teen Mania. As people share their stories, more people will realize they are not alone and hopefully the recovery can begin for them. In the mean time folks DO NOT SEND YOUR CHILDREN TO THIS PLACE. IF THEY WANT TO GO TO THE US ARMY, THEN THIS IS DIFFERENT, LET THEM GO. BUT NOT TO THIS RIDICULOUS PLACE. PLEASE, FOR CHRIST NAME SAKE, DO NOT SEND THEM THERE.