- 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
Short-Term Programs for Troubled Teens: What Works?
Many parents who are frustrated with their teens search for short-term "boot camps;" however, teen "boot camps" are usually court-ordered public programs for juvenile delinquents who are often first-time offenders. The idea is to use military-style tactics like "in-your-face" confrontations as a form of "shock incarceration." The experience becomes so bad, so humiliating and so degrading that the teen will avoid crime just to avoid going back to boot camp.
However, private and public boot camps are increasingly closing their doors because of allegations of extreme physical and emotional abuse. In addition, new research is proving that the camps do not reduce recidivism by young offenders or save taxpayers' money, and that programs that address a child's emotional needs have better long-term outcomes.
This year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigated thousands of allegations of abuse at these court-ordered programs. Paramilitary "boot camps" were among the top offenders. Parents and teens have told investigators, courts, and newspapers that at boot camps:
- Teens slept outdoors on concrete slabs, even in the rain and snow;
- Diet was limited to one apple and one bowl of soup per day;
- Guards used physical restraints, handcuffs, and "basket holds";
- Staff members "roughed up" anyone who did not obey.
What's even more troubling is that boot camps do not have a record of successfully turning around the lives of out-of-control teenagers. The vast majority of students who attend state-run programs return to criminal behavior within approximately three years. States like Missouri and Florida are replacing boot camps with programs modeled after therapeutic boarding schools.
Reputable short-term programs do exist to help troubled youth. Teens spend a summer hiking and camping with caring, well-trained, and well-educated adults who listen to their concerns and treat them with respect and compassion. Short-term wilderness programs that remove teens from their negative world of drugs, drinking, and video games, and into the beauty and majesty of nature, can provide a great "jump start" toward long-term recovery. Teens often return from these camps feeling empowered and full of stories about fun and adventure.
However, before you consider any short-term alternative program that involves living outdoors, you must investigate the program's safety record. Is it set up for instant rescue in a wilderness area? Are there medical facilities nearby? What credentials and training do the wilderness counselors have? Are they trained in Wilderness CPR? Will your child be talking with therapists licensed in psychological counseling? Where do the teens sleep and under what conditions? Get answers before you trust your child to any short-term alternative program.
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 .
Wilderness Programs Info
Wilderness Programs, also known as Outdoor Therapy Programs, emphasize therapy and positive behavioral change over discipline. Troubled teens are particularly impacted by the realization that the wilderness cannot be manipulated by them. Through the development of wilderness skills, teens develop healthy self-esteem and learn to respond in positive ways to their peers and to authority. Visit WildernessProgramsInfo.com to learn more.