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MacLaren Hall & L.A. County's Child Abuse

by kirsten anderberg Friday, Jan. 13, 2006 at 5:12 AM Seattle, Wa

MacLaren Hall was a child abuse institution, run by L.A. County, that was closed in 2003. At this point, thousands of us live with adult trauma from severe child abuse in MacLaren Hall, at the hands of L.A. County as children and we want an apology, a public hearing and restitution.

MacLaren Hall & Los Angeles County’s Child Abuse
By Kirsten Anderberg (

MacLaren Hall was a child abuse institution, run by Los Angeles County, that was closed in 2003. At this point, thousands of us live with adult trauma from severe child abuse in MacLaren Hall, at the hands of L.A. County. Although closing this Dickens-like institution in 2003 was a step in the right direction, there are still those of us that were tortured in there in the 1960’s, and we still need restitution and apologies from L.A. County. At this point, I am making 3 demands of L.A. County based on their child abuse in the past at Mac Hall: 1) a public apology to those they tortured in Mac Hall in front of TV cameras, 2) a legislative hearing for the survivors of Mac Hall to testify on record, in first person, and to be able to face those who abused us, so that this never ever happens to children again, and 3) restitution (and I do not care how many years passed, this is about making people whole, not about statutes of limitations).

There is no denying that Mac Hall was a gross institution of child abuse. This is an established fact. It is well-known as a notoriously abusive place, and it is not held up anywhere as an example of what to do right with children. It is held up as an example of what was done WRONG to THOUSANDS of children in Los Angeles County and we want to be paid back for this. It is not fair that we, those abused in Mac Hall, were already dealing with criminal abuse from our parents, so what does the state do? Throw these traumatized, black and blue kids into cages together and then they told us to battle it out like cock fights and the guards stood there loving it like very sick Nazis. I have never experienced something like Mac Hall before or since 1969, when I was held against my will in Mac Hall.

I want to know why thousands of innocent children paid this high price for the state and L.A. County. I want to know why the state and county knew full well that this institution was dangerous and unsafe for humans, yet they allowed thousands of us to be “experimented” on, as children, basically. I am angry that I was warehoused in a concentration camp of abused children in L.A. County as an 8 year old and no one has taken any responsibility for that concentration camp. I find it disgusting as an adult that the children, who were innocent victims of child abuse, were the ones locked up, not our criminal parents. Someone needs to face up to what they did to us kids and someone needs to make us, as survivors of Mac Hall whole again.

I still have horrific nightmares of children screaming bloody murder all night, with the screams echoing on linoleum floors, at age 45, after being in Mac Hall in 1969. I still feel very alienated from humans and society due to my isolation as a child at Mac Hall. I do not trust family, police, the state, social workers, authority, or humans, after Mac Hall. I have not felt safe for even one minute since Mac Hall. Mac Hall taught me that I was an unwanted child, and that that was very very dangerous in America. I learned from Los Angeles County that I was not only unwanted by my own parents, but that if I continued to persist in this insistence on living, that the state, also, hated me and wished me dead. I learned at age 8 that I was on my own in America and if I did not find some way to survive, I would spend my life locked in a cage like a dog and I would be eaten alive by the other caged dogs and the state guards would only stand by and smirk devilishly.

At this point, I have now found more than 12 adult survivors of Mac Hall and all of us have had horrifically hard lives and most of us have never had any opportunity to talk about our stay at Mac Hall with anyone. Not our family, not proper mental health counselors, with no one. Most people who wrote me as survivors of Mac Hall had never gotten to talk to ANYONE about that hell until they wrote me! This must stop. The first hand accounts of survivors of Mac Hall must be put on public record so this atrocity never repeats itself. We are sick of paid professionals speaking FOR us about what went on in Mac Hall. We can speak for ourselves and a hearing in Los Angeles County to facilitate the TESTIMONY of Mac Hall survivors must be organized to get this all on public documents so it does not repeat. L.A. County needs to understand that the trauma from Mac Hall did not end when they shipped us out of that hellhole to foster homes and the streets. Thus I am demanding L.A. County make a hearing for us to testify first hand about the lasting effects Mac Hall had on human beings.

I also believe it is past time for a public apology. Los Angeles County SEVERELY ABUSED THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN WHO ARE NOW ADULTS AND WE WANT A PUBLIC APOLOGY. I will not settle for some letter written in a back office as the apology either. I want L.A. County to go in front of TV cameras and admit they committed “CHILD ABUSE” on THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT CHILDREN between the 1960’s and 2003. They need to ADMIT the ABUSE publicly and they need to APOLOGIZE publicly. I will not rest until the County of Los Angeles publicly admits it CRIMINALLY ABUSED US. I will not continue to hold this torch alone. The state itself is going to have to ADMIT what it has done here SO IT NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN. I will fight to get that public apology to my death if I am forced to.

In addition to the demands for a public apology and a hearing to document the lasting effects of Mac Hall child abuse on adults, I also demand that L.A. County pay for ALL mental health care costs for ANY therapy dealing with issues around Mac Hall. That is the VERY LEAST L.A. County can do for those they victimized with severe child abuse. Really, I feel that the County of L.A. needs to PAY MONEY to the survivors of Mac Hall. I understand that the statute of limitations has passed on many of our cases. But this is about doing what is right. L.A. County SEVERELY ABUSED children in Mac Hall and they need to FEEL what the reprecussions of such actions are. To abuse the hell out of kids, then kick them to the curb is not acceptable. Los Angeles County is as guilty of criminal child abuse as our own parents and someone needs to be brought into accountability here. Someone needs to make us whole.

The problem with Mac Hall is it taught severely abused kids that NO ONE was safe. Once we were seriously abused by our parents, many of us thought once police showed up, we would be safe. But it turns out we were even less safe than at home with our abusers in state hands! The police and social workers and L.A. County abused me WORSE than the parents I was taken from! They took me from an abusive environment and put me in a more dangerous place! They cemented in me the idea that I was not safe ON EARTH and I feel that way still, at age 45. There is no way for me to trust humans after Mac Hall and I am not alone. Many a Mac Hall survivor walks around daily disenfranchised, alienated and not really connecting with people or our surroundings as we had to turn off those senses back at age 8.

I seriously feel I left MY SOUL in Mac Hall in 1969 and I want my soul back. I have not been able to trust anyone since Mac Hall and I want an apology. I am sick of not being able to afford therapy for the nightmares from Mac Hall, I am sick of not being able to make sense of Mac Hall. I am sick of paying for every abusive jerk out there. And I am sick of high-0paid professionals studying me, and others from Mac Hall, as if we are caged lab animals. The County of Los Angeles EXPERIMENTED ON US AS KIDS and we want to be paid back. I want my soul back and I will not get it back until 1) L.A. County admits PUBLICLY its CHILD ABUSE on thousands of us in Mac Hall, 2) L.A. County publicly apologizes for CHILD ABUSE AND EXPERIMENTING ON ME AND OTHER CHILDREN in Mac Hall and 3) we get restitution to pay for therapy and other costs incurred due to the fallout of Mac Hall as our childhood. At this point, there are THOUSANDS of kids who were used as lab animals for the county and state and we survived to tell about it and we need to be heard, in FIRST PERSON, not via people being PAID by the same agencies who abused us.

If you or anyone you know is a survivor of Mac Hall, please contact as we are gathering a list of people who would like restitution, as well as a list of those who want to be included in the hearing testimonies and the public apology ceremony. You are not alone, and you have brothers and sisters out here in your same situation. Contact us today.

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