Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Public safety

Some FACCCA-accredited homes take a gentler approach: no corporal punishment

PUNTA GORDA

Young boys wind up at the Gator Wilderness Camp School because they lash out in anger or run away from home.

They must survive outdoors on this private property off a dirt road in Punta Gorda, building their own huts, cooking their own food. Every Sunday, they are required to go to chapel.

But, unlike more than a dozen other Christian children's homes examined by the Tampa Bay Times, children here do not complain of abuse or neglect.

Director Gregg Kanagy does things differently.

No corporal punishment. No threats or name-calling. No confinement or shackling.

Boys who live here tour the facility first and stay only if they agree to it.

Kanagy's program and other religious children's homes like it are fundamentally different from the troubled homes uncovered by the Times in a yearlong investigation:

While all of the programs fall outside of state standards because of a religious exemption, many still ban the use of corporal punishment and extreme punishment techniques.

Kanagy, who has a master's degree in education and is certified to teach emotionally and mentally handicapped students, said paddling kids does not work.

"Corporal punishment is about external controls," he said. "We're about internal controls."

Kanagy said he avoided a state license so he could require his campers to attend a chapel on Sundays; he doesn't want them to be able to opt out. "We always stick together as a group."

He does not use the reduced oversight to punish boys for every little mistake. "It's not about performance," he said. "It's about them being able to get to the point where they can talk about the hurts in their lives."

New boys are treated the same as the others.

If one boy punches another, the group talks it out, and if that takes time out of their fishing trip, they deal with it.

A boy once ran away and climbed a tree. He wasn't shackled or secluded for days. The boy decided he wanted to cut down the tree, so he wouldn't have to look at it and remember. So they did.

The camp did not always work this way. Under other leaders in 2008, a 15-year-old who had mouthed off was laid on by a 220-pound counselor for three hours. Other boys witnessed and participated in the restraint.

State investigators verified the incident and found such treatment was not unusual at the camp. The director at the time was charged with neglect, but died before trial. The counselor pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, contributing to the delinquency of a minor; he got probation. The school closed.

"My guess," Kanagy said, "is there was some pretty unhealthy group culture."

Kanagy reopened the home in 2009 after pledging a change its rough tactics. Since then, the state has not had to respond to a claim of mistreatment.

Comments
Pasco corporal who took down student on video now cleared (w/video)

Pasco corporal who took down student on video now cleared (w/video)

LAND O’LAKES — Kayla Peña filled up her water bottle then returned to her lunch table at Sunlake High School when she heard a commotion in the cafeteria on Tuesday afternoon.A female student was riled up, walking back and forth, Peña said, screaming ...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
For senior week, Lakewood High School must mourn a senior

For senior week, Lakewood High School must mourn a senior

ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood High School principal Erin Savage has never planned a candlelight vigil. But this week, Savage must learn how to do so as her school mourns the tragic death of one of its graduating seniors.Bryson Welton-Williams, 18, died T...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Man on Clearwater Beach pulled from water, hospitalized

CLEARWATER — A 33-year-old man pulled from the water north of Pier 60 was hospitalized Wednesday afternoon.Clearwater Fire & Rescue spokesman Rob Shaw said a bystander noticed the Dunedin man, who has not been identified, was in trouble and brought h...
Updated: 4 hours ago
State Road 54 closed after state trooper injured in crash

State Road 54 closed after state trooper injured in crash

WESLEY CHAPEL — A motorist suffered a medical emergency and crashed into six cars at a Wesley Chapel traffic light Wednesday, injuring a trooper, the Florida Highway Patrol said.The trooper, whose injuries were not life threatening, was airlifted to ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Orlando armed carjacking suspect on the run in Hillsborough, authorities say

Orlando armed carjacking suspect on the run in Hillsborough, authorities say

PLANT CITY — Multiple law enforcement agencies are searching for an armed man responsible for a string of Wednesday morning carjackings, including one that involved gunfire, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Authorities described ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Trinity teen killed in crash remembered as ‘positive’ and ‘smiling’

Trinity teen killed in crash remembered as ‘positive’ and ‘smiling’

TRINITY — Friends said they will remember Lillia Morris, who was killed Tuesday in a car crash, as always smiling.Morris, 17, was killed after a 2008 Chevrolet SUV ran a red light and slammed into her car at State Road 54 and Duck Slough Boulevard.Ka...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Man, teen face murder charges in Clearwater shooting

Man, teen face murder charges in Clearwater shooting

CLEARWATER — A man and teen face first-degree murder charges in connection with an apparent drug-related fatal shooting last week.Police say Daniel Curtis Battle, 28, and Malique Devon Gary, 17, shot Ricardo Guzman four times on Friday at Melrose on ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
UCF student from Hillsborough, one other accused of rape; fraternity suspended

UCF student from Hillsborough, one other accused of rape; fraternity suspended

ORLANDO — A University of Central Florida student from Hillsborough County and a fellow fraternity member face charges after they were accused of raping a woman at a party.That fraternity has since been placed on interim suspension.Orange County Sher...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Two hospitalized after crash on Bayside Bridge

Two hospitalized after crash on Bayside Bridge

CLEARWATER — Two Brandon men were hospitalized Tuesday night after they lost control of their car and crashed into trees on the south end of the Bayside Bridge, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.At 8:15 p.m., 19-year-old Coi Jenkins was driving...
Updated: 10 hours ago
He spent 17 years in prison. Now he’s a free man.

He spent 17 years in prison. Now he’s a free man.

TAMPA — Dwight DuBose walked out of the Orient Road Jail on Tuesday night after trading an orange jumpsuit for a brand new polo shirt and slacks. It was about 9 p.m. He flashed a broad smile and hugged staff members of the Innocence Project of...
Published: 04/25/18