It’s painful to watch as David and the other teens slowly have their spirits broken at the camp. Even more heartbreaking are the follow-up interviews with the teens later on in the film. One insists that the camp “saved her life,” even as she struggles to push away the negative memories. Another is haunted by her ordeal, confessing that she still has nightmares about the abuse and beatings she suffered there. As for David, one thing is clear: the experience has significantly changed him: he appears to have aged dramatically, he speaks more softly and haltingly, and does not make eye contact easily. The post-camp David seems diminished and less vibrant than the David we see at the beginning of the film, as he continues to try and make peace with what happened to him.
It never ceases to amaze me, the horrifying things people will do in the name of God. This eye-opening documentary is a frightening look at a “behavior modification” camp for teens in the Dominican Republic managed by an Evangelical Christian group. The filmmaker, Kate Logan, originally set out to make a film highlighting the good works that were being done at the Escuela Caribe camp. Once she started interacting with the young people there, however, she quickly began to see the abuse and mistreatment that was occuring. This is a riveting, disturbing film. It sheds a light on the big business of “Teen Behavior Modification” and the fact that these camps–which number into the thousands–are largely unregulated and ripe for abuse.
Kidnapped for Christ shares the story of troubled teens from the United States who are sent to Escuela Caribe by their parents for “attitude adjustments.” Some are suicidal or dabbled in drugs, one reveals she is a rape survivor, and then there’s David, a new arrival to the camp whose sole “problem” seems to be that he is gay. His sexual orientation caused friction with his parents, so they decide to send him away. He is taken quite suddenly in the middle of the night by two men from the camp, dragged from his home without being given a chance to say goodbye to his friends or communicate with anyone. Kate immediately forges a bond with David, and as the weeks wear on and she witnesses first-hand the treatment he endures, she is compelled to help him escape.
You can learn more about the film, and how you can help lobby for better regulation and oversight of these types of camps, on the official website: KidnappedforChrist.com