I am writing this letter to express my shock, astonishment, concern and deep dismay regarding allegations of abuse being brought against the VisionQuest Juvenile delinquency program component located in Silver City, N.M.
I am a very strong supporter of the methods of treatment employed by VisionQuest in addressing my daughter's delinquent problems: alcohol and drug abuse, stealing, aggressive behavior and habitual running away.
Janet had been placed, under the direction of the Probation Department, in various programs, all of which were dismal failures. In November, 1982, the courts ordered Janet to VisionQuest, and she remained there for 20 months of intensive care.
VisionQuest provided constructive parent group counseling. We were kept up-to-date about Janet's progress in school and in facing her problems. These reports came to us on a weekly basis for 20 months. All "incidents"--physical confrontations--also were reported whenever the occasion arose.
I asked Janet whether at any time she was abused in VisionQuest. She said, "No. When I blew my top, I always felt safe because there were staff there who cared enough about me to stop me. I wanted to stay in VisionQuest lots longer."
My husband and I visited the Silver City camp twice. We had intensive family sessions. We had free access to visit all the facilities of the camp and had open communication with VisionQuest staff members at all levels. We were free at all times to talk with Janet and observe the daily routine of the camp. Our special moment was when we were there to see our daughter when she returned from her "Quest" (a 21-day survival hike).
In December, 1982, I had the privilege of being able to ride with Janet on her Wagon Train. Those five days gave me an on-site picture of the daily routine of the train. Again, this was a special experience for me to remember.
I have only the greatest respect for all those strong VisionQuest staff members who worked so hard to bring Janet and her family back together again.
I am hoping that the differences between the San Diego County Probation Department and VisionQuest can be resolved. I strongly feel that parents and troubled kids need an innovative program as a choice to help them overcome their history of repeated failures.
HELEN M. GAULT