Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Lucedale, Mississippi - The young cadets at Eagle Point Christian Academy, formerly known as the Bethel Boys Academy, erupted in full blown rebellion over the weekend. The 122 boys aged 12-17 smashed windows, ripped urinals off the walls, destroyed security cameras and whatever else they could get their hands on. One of the barracks had to be condemned after the riot. Seven of the boys were hospitalized, nine arrested, and four escaped, three of whom were recaptured and returned.

The self styled boot camp has a troubled history of torture and abuse, which forced it to change its name more than once. In 1988 State welfare officials raided the Bethel Home for Children and removed 72 children prompting the first name change. In 2003 a multi-agency investigation culminated with the removal of 13 children and years of litigation. Students have been beaten, denied proper medical treatment, forced to work without compensation, and shocked with cattle prods. The Eagle Point Christian Academy is one of many institutions that offer a quick fix for parents dealing with children who may be acting out, involved with crime, experimenting with drugs, depressed or homosexual. Many programs like Eagle Point are structured around military discipline and Christian fundamentalist values.