They relate the story about how his father spent $80,000 to fix Billy's behavior problems.
DESPERATE MEASURES - Parents of Troubled Youths Are Seeking Help at Any Cost
By Sara Rimer
The New York Times, September 10, 2001
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...Parents say that it is painful to turn their children over to strangers, but that they feel they have no choice. "All of a sudden I was rationing out his care to different service agencies," said William Cottrell, 52, an anesthesiologist in North Carolina, who hired escorts to fly his 14-year-old son, Billy, from a wilderness therapy program in Idaho, where he had run away, to the Provo Canyon School, a hospital-like school in Utah.
Dr. Cottrell was relying on the guidance of Ms. Price, the consultant. "It just boiled down to the point where I didn't have too many options," he said. "It was a brave new world. I was trusting Ann Carol Price."
Dr. Cottrell and his wife divorced when their son was 9. The boy moved to Florida to live with his mother and soon began to have behavioral problems. Though he was an exceptionally bright boy, he was eventually kicked out of two public high schools and a military academy, where he burned a dollar bill in front of a captain.
"I was getting mentally exhausted," said Dr. Cottrell, who said his son's problems probably stemmed in part from the family's instability. And while he was an involved father, he said, he was also distracted by his medical practice.
"I taught all my kids how to read when they were 4," he said. "At the same time I was working long, hard hours. I was probably alienated from them."
Billy Cottrell, now 21 and in his final year at the University of Chicago, blames the public schools, where he says he was bored in the classroom and beaten up by his peers, for his problems. Acting out was his way of fighting back. "I found that getting in trouble, and rebelling, all of a sudden instead of getting beat up, you're admired by people," he said. "You're also fighting the school system, which you despise."
As proud as he is of his son's success in college, Dr. Cottrell recalls the embarrassment he felt about sending him to the Utah school. "I heard other parents saying, my kid's going to this private school, or that big- shot school, and my kid was going to some place no one ever heard of in Provo."
During the program, however, his son's behavior began to improve. He is to graduate from the University of Chicago next year with degrees in math and physics. He hopes to attend graduate school in physics.
Dr. Cottrell said he had no doubt the program was worth it. "Spending $80,000 was a no-brainer," he said.