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The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping exposes the dark side of boarding schools

Updated: Mar 7

In the documentary "The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping," filmmaker Katherine Kubler attempts to confront her past. This thought-provoking work, available on Netflix, delves into the complex and often disturbing world of cons, cults, and kidnappings. Through her exploration, Kubler seeks to gain a deeper understanding of these phenomena and their impact on those involved. With a skilled hand, Kubler guides the viewer through a nuanced and reflective examination of these issues. This documentary is a must-see for anyone seeking insight into these complex and often misunderstood topics.

No talking. No smiling. No going outside. The Academy at Ivy Ridge claimed to use therapy and recreational activities to help troubled teens. Instead, teens suffered mental and physical abuse in a program that operated like a cult. Joining Kubler in this gripping investigative docuseries, a filmmaker and other former students recall their horrific experiences attending a disciplinary school and expose the horrors of the troubled teen industry.

Growing up, when I had my wildest phase, the incident that turned me on was spending a day on Scared Straight at a local prison, and let's just say that I quickly changed my tune. As a father myself now, I've often flirted with boarding or military school for my own son, but after seeing the documentary, my tune has changed.

"The Program: Cons, Cults, and Kidnapping" purports to investigate a boarding school designed to reform troubled teenagers, yet its accounts reveal a deep-seated culture of unethical behavior and abuse. The film exposes a world in which the purported disciplinary measures are used as a cover for cruelty and oppression. It highlights the extent of depravity and mistreatment that takes place behind the institution's closed doors. The documentary's narrative underscores the urgent need to scrutinize the school's practices and ensure that vulnerable teenagers are not subjected to further harm.

The documentary reveals the lives of troubled teens sent to a school for rehabilitation. However, the staff and educators subject them to psychological manipulation, physical violence, and emotional torment. The scenes of humiliation, isolation, and degradation are shocking, and the disregard for their wellbeing and dignity is appalling.

"The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping" serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of unchecked authority and the consequences of institutionalized abuse. It challenges the audience to question the ethics of such facilities and demands accountability for the atrocities committed in the name of discipline.

Although challenging to watch at times, the documentary in question unflinchingly portrays the dark underbelly of troubled teen boarding schools. The production, entitled "The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping," provides an impetus for confronting uncomfortable truths and raising essential questions about society's treatment of at-risk youth.


The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping" is a powerful documentary that highlights the importance of reevaluating how society addresses the needs of troubled teens. It demands that we confront the difficult realities of troubled teen boarding schools and consider the welfare of at-risk youth. This thought-provoking production provides an eye-opening experience for viewers.

Final Grade : B

"The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping" is available to stream today on Netflix.

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