Document Type


Publication Date

January 2014


Strangers come into a child's room in the middle of the night, drag her kicking and screaming into a van, apply handcuffs, and drive her to a behavior modification facility at a distant location. What sounds like a clear-cut case of kidnapping is complicated by the fact that the child's parents not only authorized this intervention, but also paid for it. This scarcely publicized practice-known as the youth-transportation industry-operates on the fringes of existing law. The law generally presumes that parents have almost unlimited authority over their children, but the youth-transportation industry has never been closely examined regarding exactly what the transportation process entails or whether it is in fact legal. The companies provide a service to parents who want to send their children to behavior-modification facilities, including boot camps and other residential re- form schools, but who are unable or unwilling to deliver the children themselves. A transportation company contracts with the parents to arrange for pickup and conveyance; the parents delegate rights over their children to the company, usually by signing a power of attorney. Due to the circumstances in which these transports typically take place, however, this delegation of rights has far greater implications than simply authorizing the transportation of a child from point A to point B. After suffering the emotional trauma of being taken from their parents, children may suffer physical abuse as well, as the companies often use force in the form of handcuffs and other restraints. This Article examines the details of the transport process and raises legal questions about the disciplinary authority that parents possess, including the extent to which they can grant this authority to a third party.