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Season 4 Episode 5

full episode

Utah's Youth Treatment Industry

Utah is home to around 100 Youth Treatment programs that are meant to help troubled youth from all over the country, but do these programs help? With a rise in reports about trauma and abuse from the children they’re meant to be helping, advocates say new rules and regulations are needed. Join the experts in taking a closer look at the problems, reform, and overall effectiveness of this industry.

Editorial Note: In this episode, a panelist asserts that Alpine Academy utilizes a punitive "level system", uses "physical punishment", and engages in "removal of privileges such as reading" as an intervention method. The Utah Insight team reached out to Alpine Academy about these claims and received the following response:

Alpine Academy uses the evidence-based Teaching-Family Model (hyperlink: as its foundational treatment approach.

Alpine Academy's students operate within a system that demonstrates to themselves and our staff how well they are progressing, the level of freedom vs. restriction they can safely self-manage, and the kinds of opportunities that are appropriate based on their demonstration of safe and healthy choices. Most treatment settings use a similar approach to monitor a student's readiness to move to a less restrictive environment, which is always the goal.

Alpine Academy has never taught, trained, promoted or practiced any form of physical punishment, as it is completely counter to our philosophy and approach of treating youth humanely and with dignity and respect.

Alpine Academy practices individualization in treatment methods. As an example, placing healthy limits on, but certainly not removing completely, the amount of time one student spends reading in order to reduce social isolation and promote healthy social engagement might be just the intervention that particular student needs in order to be better prepared to engage in healthy social interactions when they return home.

Episode Clip 

Alpine Academy

There are many options when it comes to treatment facilities for struggling youth. Alpine Academy in Tooele County uses a unique approach by replicating a family setting. In this clip, hear from a past resident at the facility as well as current employees about how this program works.