- What Is a Military School?
- History of Military Schools
- Daily Life at Military School
- Military School Discipline
- Why Military Schools?
- Who Are They For?
- Who Are They Not For?
- Alternatives to Military Schools
- Is Your Teen in Trouble?
- Military School Lingo
- Military Prep Schools
- Helpful Resources
- Articles on Teen Issues
Military School Discipline
There is a common cultural belief that sending a child away to military school will instill self-discipline and respect for authority. However, those schools that accept troubled teenagers who need help in turning their lives around are not top-notch schools. The best military schools, which are college-prep institutions, carefully screen out those candidates who are applying for the wrong reasons. College-prep military schools accept only students who are high achieving to begin with, and who are enthusiastic about pursuing a military career. They employ teachers with advanced degrees and stress academic excellence. Academic achievement is as highly prized as military bearing.
This leaves only schools designed to impose military discipline upon students who do not want discipline for themselves. The people who run these programs may have military backgrounds, but not the necessary training to help and guide teens with psychological problems. They may know how to impose discipline from the outside through rules and punishments. They may know how to make young people salute and act like soldiers. But they do not know how to help young people achieve the necessary internal changes to develop into healthy, mature adults with the self-discipline to lead productive lives.
Such schools are usually very successful in achieving the appearance of discipline among their students. Every student is wearing a uniform, saluting, lining up, and marching in formation. The corps appears to be unified, obedient and conforming to those in authority.
Each student follows a strict regimen every day. There will be little free time. Some of these schools involve marching in inclement weather, harsh physical training, and deprivation of food, water, and necessary warm clothing. Students have to "earn" every privilege, even the privilege of watching a movie or writing home. Breaking a simple rule like littering or wearing a uniform that does not pass inspection or missing a homework assignment can mean a sentence of hours of manual labor or detention. Students obey because they are punished if they don't. This may look attractive to a parent who is dealing with an out-of-control teenager. However, the discipline imposed by many of these schools is overly harsh and does not address the real problems, including the reasons why a teen is acting out.
Currently, there is very little governmental regulation or inspections of military boarding school programs, although that is gradually changing because of an increasing number of complaints against them. Some students return with horror stories of molestation and beatings by other students, occurring when they were left unsupervised at night. Some teens in "boot camp" programs have died of dehydration, heart attacks and exposure. One notorious case in Florida involved the death of a 14-year-old boy in a state-run juvenile boot camp. Martin Lee Anderson died after doing push-ups, sit-ups and other exercises, and 80-minutes of his ordeal is on videotape. The tape shows Martin having breathing problems and falling limp, as nine guards strike him on his arms and torso, wrestling him to the ground and otherwise restraining him. After a nurse checks him with a stethoscope, the beating resumes.
A defiant teen who is not attending school, causing family conflicts at home, and having problems with the police or others in authority is not a good candidate for military school. He may conform to the rules while he is there because the punishments and methods are harsh if he does not. However, once he leaves the strict atmosphere and daily structure of the school, he becomes lost. Like the stereotypical sailor with a weekend pass, he will not know how to handle his freedom. He is the one most likely to throw off all self-control and to become even harder to handle. He has not really gained any inner control over his self-destructive impulses.
Discipline that is imposed upon a teenager comes from the outside. It does not become internalized into his personality or belief systems. Many teens come home even angrier and more defiant than before they went, and many have become victims of abuse in these programs.
Fast Facts About Adolescents
Almost 30 percent of teens in the United States (over 5.7 million people) are estimated to be involved in school bullying. In a recent national survey of students in grades 6 to 10, 13 percent reported bullying others, 11 percent reported being the target of school bullies, and another 6 percent said they bullied others and were bullied themselves.
Turn-About Ranch is a working cattle ranch with programs for troubled teens that differs from typical residential treatment centers for troubled teens because it values action not just talk. The Ranch takes defiant teens out of their comfort zone and gets them excited about the natural environment, learning, and their physical and mental capabilities. They learn that, in the real world, rewards come through dedication and hard work. Turn-About Ranch has been featured in several European television series, including Brat Camp. To learn if Turn-About Ranch can help your teen, call 866.858.4883 .