Up until 2019, the agency regulating Utah’s massive youth treatment industry rarely cited facilities for violating rules — even after cases of abuse. After a 2016 incident left a teenager with a concussion, state regulators listened to his mom’s complaint — and then did nothing about it.
Utah has become a national center for youth treatment, and it goes easy on the industry. At one facility, teen girls were forced to sit in a horse trough as punishment, and state regulators chose not to punish the people who did it.
Thousands of children are sent away to Utah for treatment at "troubled-teen" centers and wilderness programs. But it has been hard to identify which places have a good track record and which ones don’t. Until now.