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New Missouri law enables state officials to shut down abusive boarding schools

Posted at 4:52 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 17:52:45-04

MISSOURI — Missouri state agencies have gained more oversight authority over private facilities for troubled teens under a new law written in response to former students’ complaints of abuse.

The law, signed Wednesday by Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, was drafted after women who had been placed at Circle of Hope Girls’ Ranch in rural Missouri as teens came forward with allegations that they’d been hit, restrained, starved and sexually abused at the unregulated facility.

Amanda Householder, whose parents ran Circle of Hope, began discussing abuse she said she witnessed at the ranch in a series of TikTok videos in May 2020. She became an advocate for stricter state regulations for religious boarding schools like Circle of Hope.

“I truly didn’t think we’d have laws changed, especially not in a year's time,” Householder, 29, said shortly before the bill was signed. “I can’t describe the feelings I’m having in my heart right now — I am just crying.”

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