Parentally Authorised Torture

Tranquility is anything but tranquil:

Were you to glance up from the deserted beach below, you might mistake Tranquility Bay for a rather exclusive hotel. The statuesque white property stands all alone on a sandy curve of southern Jamaica, feathered by palm trees, gazing out across the Caribbean Sea. You would have to look closer to see the guards at the wall. Inside, 250 foreign children are locked up. Almost all are American, but though kept prisoner, they were not sent here by a court of law. Their parents paid to have them kidnapped and flown here against their will, to be incarcerated for up to three years, sometimes even longer. They will not be released until they are judged to be respectful, polite and obedient enough to rejoin their families.

And the article goes on to describe the mental and physical degradation the children are exposed to in the name of ‘discipline’

A finely engineered reward-and-punishment system has been designed to effect this change. In order to graduate, students must advance from level 1 to 6, which they do by earning points. Every aspect of their conduct is graded daily and as their score accumulates, they climb through the levels and acquire privileges.

and

Every time a member of staff or upper-level student feels a student has broken a rule, they ‘consequence’ them by deducting points. Rule-breaking is classified into categories of offence. A ‘Cat 1’ offence, ie rolling your eyes, is consequenced by a modest loss of points. A ‘Cat 3’ offence, eg swearing, costs a significant number, and may drop the student’s score beneath their current level’s threshold, thus demoting them and removing privileges.

and

Students who fail to grasp this formula are forcefully encouraged to get the message. One girl currently has to wear a sign around her neck at all times, which reads: ‘I’ve been in this programme for three years, and I am still pulling crap.’

When most children first arrive they find it difficult to believe that they have no alternative but to submit. In shock, frightened and angry, many simply refuse to obey. This is when they discover the alternative. Guards take them (if necessary by force) to a small bare room and make them (again by force if necessary) lie flat on their face, arms by their sides, on the tiled floor. Watched by a guard, they must remain lying face down, forbidden to speak or move a muscle except for 10 minutes every hour, when they may sit up and stretch before resuming the position. Modest meals are brought to them, and at night they sleep on the floor of the corridor outside under electric light and the gaze of a guard. At dawn they resume the position.

This is known officially as being ‘in OP’ – Observation Placement – and more casually as ‘lying on your face’. Any level student can be sent to OP, and it automatically demotes them to level 1 and zero points. Every 24 hours, students in OP are reviewed by staff, and only sincere and unconditional contrition will earn their release. If they are unrepentant? ‘Well, they get another 24 hours.’

One boy told me he’d spent six months in OP.

I didn’t think this could be true, but it transpired this was not even exceptional. ‘Oh no,’ says Kay. ‘The record is actually held by a female.’ On and off, she spent 18 months lying on her face.

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