Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program for teens and adolescents struggling with behavioral or emotional difficulties. The program is located in North Carolina and offers a variety of therapeutic interventions, including individual and group therapy, experiential education, and wilderness adventure.
However, in recent years, Trails Carolina has been accused of abuse and neglect by former students and their families. These allegations include physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse.
One of the most common allegations against Trails Carolina is physical abuse. Former students have reported being punched, kicked, and tackled by staff members. They have also reported being forced to perform strenuous physical activity, even when they were injured or exhausted.
In one case, a former student alleged that he was punched in the face by a staff member for not wanting to talk about his trauma. Another former student alleged that she was tackled to the ground and pinned down by a staff member for trying to run away.
Former students have also accused Trails Carolina staff of emotional abuse. They have reported being verbally abused, humiliated, and intimidated. They have also reported being forced to participate in group therapy sessions where they were forced to share their personal trauma in front of their peers.
In one case, a former student alleged that she was called a “slut” and a ” whore” by a staff member. Another former student alleged that he was told that he was “worthless” and that “no one would ever love him.”
The most serious allegations against Trails Carolina are of sexual abuse. Former students have reported being sexually assaulted by staff members. They have also reported being forced to watch pornography and to engage in sexual acts with other students.
In one case, a former student alleged that she was raped by a staff member. Another former student alleged that he was forced to watch pornography with other students and that he was pressured to engage in sexual acts with them.
Response from Trails Carolina
Trails Carolina has denied all of the allegations of abuse and neglect. The program has stated that it is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for its students. However, the program has not provided any specific information about how it is investigating the allegations or what steps it is taking to prevent abuse from happening in the future.
Investigation by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
In 2022, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) launched an investigation into Trails Carolina following the allegations of abuse and neglect. The investigation is still ongoing, but the NC DHHS has stated that it is “taking the allegations very seriously.”
Impact on Students
The allegations of abuse and neglect at Trails Carolina have had a devastating impact on former students and their families. Many former students have reported suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. They have also reported having difficulty trusting adults and forming relationships.
What Parents Can Do
If you are considering sending your child to a wilderness therapy program, it is important to do your research and choose a program that is accredited and has a good reputation. You should also ask the program about its policies and procedures for preventing and responding to abuse.
If you have any concerns about the safety or well-being of your child while they are attending a wilderness therapy program, you should contact the program’s director or the state agency that oversees wilderness therapy programs in your state.
Case Study 1
In 2022, a father filed a lawsuit against Trails Carolina alleging that the program’s negligent business model fosters abuse upon students and that it negligently permitted his 14-year-old daughter’s sexual abuse.
The lawsuit alleges that the program’s staff members are overworked and underpaid, and that the program’s management is more focused on profits than on safety. The lawsuit also alleges that the program has a history of covering up abuse allegations.
Case Study 2
In 2021, a former student of Trails Carolina filed a lawsuit against the program alleging that she was physically and emotionally abused by staff members.
The lawsuit alleges that the staff members punched, kicked, and tackled her. They also forced her to perform strenuous physical activity, even when she was injured or exhausted. The lawsuit also alleges that the staff members verbally abused her and humiliated her.
The allegations of abuse and neglect at Trails Carolina are deeply disturbing. It is important to note that these allegations have not been proven in court. However, the fact that so many former students have come forward with similar stories suggests that there is a serious problem at the program.
Parents who are considering sending their child to a wilderness therapy program should carefully research the program and choose a program that is accredited and has a good reputation.