Child Welfare & Juvenile Justice

Protecting Our Youth: Conversion Therapy & Institutional Abuse

Samantha Gerson

Penny Lane Centers

Workshop Session #1

9AM - 10AM -

Session Overview

Institutional Abuse is a national epidemic that our country has chosen to ignore. Many parents send their children to Residential Treatment Facilities when the child's behavior becomes too much for the parent to handle. Other parents send their children to these facilities when the child comes out to them and they want a quick fix to what they view as a problem. While treatment facilities and educational reparative environments can be a great resource and beneficial to those they offer treatment to, many abuse their power and physically, emotionally, and sexually abuse the children they are there to care for. This epidemic is ongoing, and many lawsuits have been filed, but the abuse has not stopped. Advocates have worked with legislation to change laws, but this work has not been enough. This is true of Conversion therapy as well, as it has not been outlawed federally. In fact, it is a common practice in many of these facilities. The truth about conversion therapy is frightening and this workshop will touch on the facts, details and all other information to what occurs behind Residential Facility’s closed doors. Television and other forms of media often make these types of environments look fun, friendly, and safe; but the truth is they often result in youth leaving with PTSD, physical disorders, and sometimes, death (by suicide). This workshop will help attendees become familiar with institutional abuse and how they can advocate against it. This workshop will be from a Social Work lens, and very interactive.


Samantha Gerson is an ACSW/LMSW with a Masters in Clinical Social Work. She is currently located in Los Angeles, CA, where she uses her degree to work with survivors of trauma. She is the found(h)er of a Non Profit called UnBroken, which works with Survivors of Institutional Abuse and Conversion Therapy. UnBroken provides therapeutical and legal services to survivors at no cost to them. As a survivor herself, she knows the importance of this work, and is actively involved with the Survivor Community, nationwide. Her passion is traveling the US to speak and educate others about this epidemic. In addition, Samantha currently works with Penny Lane as an Intensive Outpatient therapist, and as a volunteer researcher with the Criminal Justice Department at John Jay in New York.