Opinion & Essays
- Oct, 2000 Issue #74
A Response to a Tragic Death
Sue Crowell, Sr. Vice-President
Outdoor Therapy Programs
Aspen Youth Services
(208) 886-2565 or (208) 731-0255
On Monday, September 18, 2000, Obsidian Trails experienced the tragic death
of a 15-year old, reportedly due to the restraint tactics employed by an Obsidian instructor. Aspen staff across the country were
deeply saddened. According to published releases, the instructor was misidentified as a former employee of Aspen Youth Services (AYS),
which operates three wilderness programs throughout the country. Our records show that this individual never served as an employee
for any of our AYS programs.
Many individuals and programs, as well as representatives from the media,
have inquired about the AYS philosophies regarding the use of physical restraints. AYS wilderness programs seek to encourage students
through the use of respect, rather than the fear of retribution. It is our job as professionals in working with troubled students
to keep each child safe. Therefore, we have intensive policies surrounding the use of physical restraints. AYS wilderness programs
mandate all new employees that interact personally with students be trained in the use of either non- violent crisis intervention
(NVCI), a nationally recognized training offered by Crisis Prevention Institute, or Positive Control Systems, recognized by the State
of Utah as the training of choice for de-escalation issues. Our strategy is to de- escalate and redirect a studentís anger, rather
than challenge and intimidate, and to control the situation without the use of physical restraint.
To further ensure student safety, our wilderness programs have an emergency
response team. They work closely with local law enforcement to ensure that the safety and rights of the students (and staff) are protected.
AYS wilderness programs seek to honor each individual while maintaining a
safe environment. This is accomplished through intensive, ongoing therapeutic training, and the aforementioned NVCI and Positive Control
Systems training. Additionally, AYS continually seeks to offer our employees additional resources through external training efforts.
Copyright © 2000, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without
prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)