Child Welfare & Juvenile Justice

Protecting Our Youth: Conversion Therapy & Institutional Abuse

Samantha Gerson

Samantha Gerson

Survivors of Institutional Abuse

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 a social worker in Los Angeles County. She received a Bachelors in Advanced Clinical Social Work from NYU in 2015, with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Mental Health studies related to trauma. She has now gone on to get her Masters at USC in Advanced Clinical Social Work, and will graduate in August of 2018, with a concentration in Children, Youth and Families. She currently works for the Children's Law Center of California with Dual Status youth, and her passion and focus has primarily been on institutionalized vulnerable youth with an emphasis on reparative educational environments. Much of her work has provided her with extensive training in multicultural competency. She is extremely versatile with her work and has held positions ranging from assessments and testimonies for "delinquent" clients, to a researcher on HIV+ youth. Her experience working with some of the most difficult populations, under the most trying conditions has prepared her to excel in any task she is presented with. The crux of her life's work is to make institutional abuses illegal, and abolish conversion therapy.