FACT SHEET BEHAVIOR
In almost every
region of the world, there are facilities for the treatment of minor
children with drug/alcohol and/or discipline problems. These private
and state-owned overseas treatment centers can often be
characterized as "Behavior Modification Facilities."
Parents/guardians enroll their minor children in these facilities in
the hope they will improve their problematic behavior.
request parents/guardians to sign a contract for their minor
child''s treatment authorizing its staff to act as their agents.
These contracts purport to give staff very broad authority to take
any actions deemed necessary, in the staff''s judgment, for the
health, welfare and progress in the child''s program. The facilities
can be located in relatively remote areas, restrict the minor
child''s contact with the outside world, and employ a system of
graduated levels of earned privileges and punishments to stimulate
behavior change. The minor child''s communication privileges may
also be limited.
The Department of
State has no authority to regulate these entities, whether they are
private or state-owned, and does not maintain information about
their corporate or legal structures or their relationships to each
other or to organizations in the United States. The host country
where the facility is located is solely responsible for compliance
with any local safety, health, sanitation, and educational laws and
regulations, including all licensing requirements of the staff in
that country. These standards may not be strictly enforced or meet
the standards of similar facilities in the United States. The
Department of State has, at various times, received complaints about
nutrition, housing, education, health issues, and methods of
punishment used at some facilities.
Prior to enrolling
their minor children in such overseas "Behavior Modification
Facilities," the Department of State strongly recommends
parents/guardians visit the facility and thoroughly inform
themselves about both the facility and the host country''s rules
governing it and its employees. The Department of State also
encourages parents/guardians and facility administrators to ensure
that all U.S. citizen enrollees are registered with the nearest U.S.
Embassy/Consulate in case emergency consular services are needed.
officials are not qualified to determine whether the programs
offered by the facilities are of therapeutic benefit to the
enrollees. When aware of such facilities, U.S. consular officials
conduct periodic facility visits, sometimes accompanied by host
country officials, to monitor the general welfare of the U.S.
citizen enrollees. Inquiries into the welfare and whereabouts of
U.S. citizen enrollees may be initiated by contacting the closest
U.S. Embassy/Consulate in the host country or the Department of
State''s Overseas Citizens Services (OCS) office at the below
telephone number. Also, parents may contact the closest U.S.
Embassy/Consulate in the host country to inquire about the facility
or speak to the Department of State''s Bureau of Consular Affairs''
OCS Specialist for that country (Tel.: 202-647-5226 or, for after
hours emergencies, 202-647-5225).
The Federal Privacy
Act protects U.S. citizens, including minor children, from the
unauthorized disclosure of information that the U.S. Government has
collected and maintained about them unless the U.S. citizen has
consented in writing to the release of the information or one of the
Privacy Act''s "conditions of disclosure" permits the U.S.
Government to release the otherwise protected information.
parents/guardians may at times act in loco parentis for their minor
children and obtain information that is otherwise protected by the
Privacy Act, it must also be noted that minor children''s explicit
wishes must be respected. Thus, a U.S. consular officer who has been
advised by a minor child that s/he does not want any information
released to an inquiring parent/guardian should honor those wishes
absent the presence of circumstances affecting the health or safety
of the minor child (i.e., one of the "conditions of disclosure").
Parents/guardians should be aware that U.S. citizens 14 years of age
and older have the right to apply for a passport without their
parents''/guardian''s permission. In extreme emergency situations,
they may also request repatriation assistance from the U.S.
Government without parental consent.