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They’re advertised as “boarding schools” or “Christian” children’s homes in Florida, but a yearlong investigation published in the Tampa Bay Times reveals lax oversight on dozens of youth programs, some of which had been shut down for abuse in other states and have continued to operate for decades.
In Florida, such unlicensed religious homes can operate outside state child-protection laws thanks to an exemption that protects religious practices. Some are structured more like military camps, while other boarding-school programs emphasize the “emotional growth” aspect of their mission, claiming to help teens with everything from defiance to depression to drug problems. Hundreds of students register at these schools each year, enrolled by desperate parents eager to pay $20,000 or more in tuition to put their children back on the “right” path — away from drugs, crime and even…
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