Teens with behavioral issues sometimes need more help than parents can give. When your teen is disobedient, belligerent and defies you on issues large and small, you may be wondering if a behavior boot camp is the answer. When you’ve done all you can think of, it’s a good idea to turn to professionals who specialize in helping troubled teens.
Most people have seen news reports of teen boot camps with cruel and abusive staff members. While it’s true that there are many less reputable boot camps in operation, there are also other kinds of programs with excellent reputations and a long history of success.
Finding A “Good” Boot Camp Is Almost Impossible
Unless you have access to inside information about a particular boot camp, it’s nearly impossible to know whether the camp is a good one or not. In fact, these camps have gained such a horrible reputation that they are nearly extinct.
Beyond just the reputation, there is an additional problem: there is no proof boot camps work. Research has been done multiple times into the effectiveness of boot camp regimens on troubled teens. From what has been shown in these studies, there is no significant decrease in recidivism rates for these program when stacked against traditional treatment facilities.
There are other cons present in a boot camp environment. For example, the overall tone of such programs is directly confrontational. Drill sergeant style teaching methods are employed, which include verbal – and in some cases, physical – confrontation. In extreme situations it may constitute abuse. The very edges of limitations, emotionally and physically, are pushed in an attempt to break down the teen’s resistance to authority and force their cooperation.
Critics of boot camps regularly state the potential for backlash against this style of “treatment”. It can cause a further disconnect and lack of respect by the teen for authority figures. It may harvest intense distrust, and even hate, for those same figures. It also endorses extreme negative reinforcement, which many experts state is an ineffective, dangerous means of working with teens already suffering from intense self esteem problems.
Some other important statistics to consider when looking at boot camps:
- Teenage girls who are enrolled in these programs are as much as five times more likely than the average teenager to have been sexually and physically abused in the past.
- Teens who have gone through a boot camp versus a more traditional facility program are at least 8% more likely to relapse into the same behaviors that sent them there.
- An audit done in 2005 claims to have confirmed 1,619 cases of child abuse within these boot camps.
Though you can find some benefits within the boot camp system (teens report that though they are more frightened of staff and consider them dangerous, they do believe they care about them), it doesn’t outweigh the negatives, which are significant. Would you trust an abused teenager acting out due to trauma in the care of someone who has been essentially hired to scream and force them into submission through intense physical labor and fear?
Seeing the bigger picture involving the above statistics and facts, it is no surprise that the boot camp format is dying. Before long there may be none left, and those remaining in the meantime are using controversial methods of treatment that are making them an increasingly unpopular option for troubled teens.
In their place have arisen therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, and inpatient and outpatient programs designed to help troubled teens at every level.
Check References and Referrals Before Deciding
Chances are you are nervous about sending your child to any style of program, given the news articles and horror stories you have heard. A program website can make miraculous claims about turning teenagers around, and they could very well be telling the truth. You just don’t want to take their word for it…never sign up for a program without checking in with the parents and teenagers who have personally completed the program. This will give you an idea of the treatment teens face in that program, how effective it may be, and how it helped others in the same situation.
Consider a Therapeutic Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center Instead of a Boot Camp
More and more, parents are turning to therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers to help their teens overcome a myriad of issues. While they both have a similar approach to therapy, they do differ in several distinct ways.
Therapeutic Boarding Schools – These are academically focused programs that work to help your child improve their grades and learn. They offer teachers, tutors, administrators, and elective coaches for extra curricular activities. They also have therapists, psychiatrists, and other medical professionals who are specially trained in dealing with issues like depression, aggression, criminal behaviors, peer troubles and other issues face by teens.
Residential Treatment Centers – While these centers also provide therapy in individual and group settings for teens, they are much more intensive in their approach. They are best for teens who are struggling with mental illness, substance abuse, and more severe problems that make placing them in a school setting ill advised. In a residential treatment center teens will be watched 24/7, and provided with care to get to the core of their problems.
These programs have been found in many cases to significantly improve the outcome of treatment in youthful patients. But it is still important that you research each center to find the one most qualified to help your teen.
A Program Can Help Your Teen For Good
Dealing with the stresses of a troubled teen can feel completely overwhelming. You may be wondering if the problems will ever stop. Fortunately, there are professionals who can help you. A therapeutic boarding school or residential treatment center can provide a safe, nurturing environment that can help your teen begin to heal. So if you have worried that a boot camp was your only option, you can rest easy knowing that these programs are in your corner.
Direction From The Help Your Teen Now
- Teens with behavioral issues need more help than parents can give.When your teen is disobedient, belligerent and defies you on issues large and small, you may be wondering if a behavior boot camp is the answer. When you’ve done all you can think of, it’s a good idea to turn to professionals who specialize in helping troubled teens. At Help Your Teen Now, we have resources that we’ll put to work for you to find the right kind of help for your unique family issues.
- Not all boot camps are the same.Most people have seen news reports of teen boot camps with cruel and abusive staff members. While it’s true that there are many less reputable boot camps in operation, we know there are others with excellent reputations and a long history of success. At Help Your Teen Now, we can guide you to the behavior boot camps that operate well within the laws run by qualified professionals who are eager to help teens thrive.
- It’s difficult to separate the good boot camps from the bad.Unless you have access to inside information about a particular boot camp, it’s nearly impossible to know whether the camp is a good one or not. Instead of dedicating hours of time and effort of your own researching teen boot camps, let us help. Help Your Teen Now only recommends behavior boot camps that we’ve personally checked out and researched, so you have peace of mind that the ones we list are quality programs.
- Don’t decide until you’ve checked out references and referrals.A boot camp program’s website can make miraculous claims about turning teenagers around, but never sign up for a program without checking in with the parents and teenagers who have personally completed the program. We provide independent references from veterans of each program. At Help Your Teen Now, we specialize in connecting parents and teens with programs that our contributors personally recommend.
- Why trust Help Your Teen Now?Help Your Teen Now is a parent advocate group dedicated to helping other parents get the professional help their teenagers need. We are not affiliated with any school, therapist or program. Instead, we simply want to share our accumulated wisdom with others. Help Your Teen Now understands how difficult it is to intervene in a teen’s destructive behavior patterns, but with our help, you can really make a difference in your child’s life.