Heartland Christian Academy
Posted by: concerned ()
Date: April 08, 2003 09:19PM

Dear all who read and write,

I came across this forum when I was searching for information about Heartland Christian Academy, located in rural Missouri, owned and operated by Charles Sharpe. I am seeking information and support from anyone who might have information pertaining to this institution. I currently have three cousins who were abruptly sent to Heartland in 2002. The things I have found out since they have been there are horrific. I recognize that my hands are tied because the institution is so well protected. My cousins were sent to Heartland after their father, my uncle, began to be investigated for the childhood sexual abuse of many children in my family, myself being one of them. He currently faces criminal charges. Conveniently, his children have been shielded away from the rest of us, and I fear that by now they are surely being brainwashed. I heard recently, through other members of my family, that one of my cousins was claiming that he had been “saved”. I also know that they have been “paddled” repeatedly since they first arrived. I am terrified of the impact and effects that they will suffer in the years to come after living at Heartland. I have even spoken to ex-employees of the establishment, and they had very disturbing things to say about Heartland. I realize that Heartland is a fairly new establishment, and does not have many survivors (graduates). In fact, my cousin (age 15) may be one of few graduates when he is finally released. Overall, I am just seeking information, if anyone has information to offer. Thank you.


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Heartland Christian Academy
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 09, 2003 11:44AM

This school may be OK, but its always good to research any group, especially if its residential.

Go to Google. Then click 'groups' and do an advanced groups search. That will enable you to search the many Google listserves for information others may have posted about Heartland. If you find anything that resembles what you are looking for, you can register to join the listserves.

If you consider contacting the media, be cautious. Rick Ross is quite experienced in these matters and can provide helpful tips. Anything you say or write (including e-mails) to a journalist becomes public property. If you give an interview, tape it. You cannot call the editor and ask to have your interview transcript read back to you. Get info on how to conduct interviews and reduce chances of being misquoted before you get involved with media. And if you're involved (or could become involved) in legal action, please check with an attorney before getting involved with the media. And check the background of any journalist before you get involved. Most are ethical but some are free lancers who will twist your story into sensational terms. You want to avoid the latter.

Good luck--let us know how you're doing.

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Heartland Christian Academy
Posted by: concerned ()
Date: April 09, 2003 09:53PM


Thanks so much for your advice. I am not planning to contact the media. In fact, most of my outrage began when there was a huge three day spread done in our city's newspaper about unregulated religious reform schools, in which Heartland was mentioned. We did speak to the author of the articles briefly, but we didn't have anything to offer that he had not already found out during his investigation. He had actually visited Heartland, and was given an "open" tour. We assume he may have met my cousins because he spoke with many students. The articles made it appear as if Heartland was one of the "better" ones, which just drives me insane. I know that my youngest cousin, a female (12), had to wear the "ugly dress" to school one day. I also recognize that being swatted with a wooden paddle at the age of 15 must be the most degrading experience. I remember hearing that my cousin would ask them for more and tell them to do it harder. I mean, how else is a young boy supposed to feel "tough" in a situation like that. I could go on for hours, really.

The most disturbing information I found out was from a former employee, and even then, they were hesitant to tell me the horror stories. It took me a while, on the phone, to even convince them that I was not a reporter.

I used to think that when they finally get out, that we will get to know everything, and then take action.

But I fear that they will leave there talking about how "good" Heartland is, because it is all they have right now. I know they are being broken down, and I am so scared for them.

Thanks for listening.


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Heartland Christian Academy
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 09, 2003 10:29PM

your cousins and give them a silent message, by your own well lived, happy life that there is indeed a larger world out there, that may plant a seed that can blossom later.

They've done studies of resilient children--people who had hideous childhoods and who came out against all odds as strong, life affirming people. And overwhelmingly, these resilient people had this going for them: they had some kind of connection with an adult (or more than one adult) who was outside their family (or in this case the school) and who provided another vantage point on life--pointed them to something beyond the abuse and the crap.

My therapist grew up in a loving but very Catholic family. He had a 1950s Catholic school experience, complete with regular beatings from nasty nuns.

'I knew my parents loved me. But I also had a sense that I wanted to help people when I grew up and that spirituality was a lot greater than what the nuns and priests were talking about.'

Dont try to argue with your cousins. Give them an example of happiness and contentment from outside the belief system of Heartland.

A seminary professor of mine grew up in very heavy duty Protestant sect called The Church of Christ. (NOT the United Church of Christ.)

'The CHurch of CHrist was so conservative that we looked down on Born Again Christians' our teacher laughed. What happened was that by the time I was a teenager, I began asking myself,

'If only people in the Church of Christ are saved, and the Born Agains are not saved, then why is it that the Born Agains seem so much happier as a group and the Church of Christ people are so damn glum?'

That train of the thought was what began to set him free...(:

Just try to 'be there' for your cousins and provide a peaceful enjoyable presence for them if you can have them visit--or if you visit them. Just realizing that they dont have to feel afraid in your presence will itself be a powerful message.

As they get older you might hint 'When you graduate you can come live with me and I'll show you where to take classes at City College.' And give your address and phone number. You might consider regularly setting aside some funds in a money market account for their education and support when they're finally able to get out of that academy.

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