Top 5 States Looking for Boot Camps for Troubled Teens


Parents in Georgia, Texas, California, Florida, and New York often search for boot camps or military schools when they are looking for help with their troubled teens.  Parents may believe that when teens are out of control, the stern discipline and strong structure of these kinds of schools will “straighten them out”.  Before you decide to send your teen to a boot camp or military school, you need to know the difference between these programs and other facilities, such as residential treatment centers and therapeutic boarding schools, and you need to know which kind of facility will be the best place to help your child.

Know that you are not alone

Parents all over the country have teens who are hostile, belligerent, rebellious and have issues with authority. These teens cause trouble at home and get into trouble at school. They may be involved with drugs, alcohol, gangs, violent behavior, stealing, or other illegal and risky activities.  Their grades are failing, and they have been suspended or expelled from school. Maybe the teens have been diagnosed with emotional, behavioral, or mental health issues. Parents do everything they can to guide their teens toward better behavior, but nothing seems to work. They may have sought help and advice from school administrators, school counselors, and family therapists, but nothing has seemed to work. What do they do next?

Getting a fresh start

Often the next recommended step is to remove the teens from their present environment, where they seemed to be caught in a cycle of disturbing behavior and bad habits, and where they are strongly influenced by their peers. Sending teens away to a boarding school can give them a chance to start over in a new setting. When choosing where to send their teens, parents want, most of all, for them to be safe and to get help with their problems, as well as to learn new behaviors and social skills, and to succeed in academic classes. Next, parents have to decide what kind of boarding school is best for their child.

Military schools

These are not designed to reform troubled teens, and many will not accept teens with behavioral issues or emotional or psychological problems. This is not the school’s focus. Military schools and boot camps are not required to have psychiatrists or therapists on staff.  They do not offer treatment for emotional, behavioral or mental health issues. Most military schools are designed for teens who have an interest in going into the military upon graduation. These programs offer military-like structure and comprehensive academics, as well as sports and extracurricular activities.  They are meant for students who are motivated to succeed and advance in a military career.

Boot camps

Boot camps boast strict discipline and physical training.  They focus on military-style structure and adherence to rules and regulations. Their goal is to break down resistance to authority and force cooperation. While a defiant teen may conform temporarily to this structure, out of necessity, the program may not really help teens to internalize the discipline and order imposed on them from the outside. They may react with even more defiance when they return home. For a child with emotional or psychological issues, this kind of treatment may push them too hard and add to feelings of resentment and distrust.

Both military schools and boot camps focus on physical training and rigorous exercise, and they require that students be in good physical condition. They also stress compliance with rules and regulations and will punish and then expel students for defiance.  Does this sound right for your teen?

You should also consider the laws for private schools, such as military schools and boot camps, in the state where you are considering sending your teen.  In the top five states where people most often look for boot camps or military schools, Georgia, Texas, California, Florida and New York, non-public schools do not require teachers to be certified.  In California, Texas and New York, private schools do not have to be accredited or licensed. In Florida, private schools are not required to be accredited, licensed, or approved, and the course of academic study is at the discretion of the school owner.  In general, these schools do not offer therapy and may not have licensed or accredited academic programs. Their focus is on structure and discipline. Your teen needs more help than that.

Get the Right Kind of Help for Your Teen

Be clear about what kind of help your child needs.  They need to be removed from their current environment and all of its pressures and temptations.  They need to feel safe and secure in their new environment. They need a facility with a therapeutic focus, where they can get help with emotional, psychological or behavioral issues. Yes, they need structure and discipline, but not harsh treatment.  You don’t want them to see their placement in a facility as a punishment. You want them to understand that this is a decision made with love and concern, and they are there to get help, work through their problems, and get their lives back on track.  

Therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers focus on helping teens, not just disciplining them.  In these environments, teens learn to deal with issues such as depression, substance abuse, peer issues, self-harming behaviors, aggression, and many other problems. They will learn the skills necessary for achieving self-control and self-discipline.  These facilities offer therapy, academic programs, and social activities, all in a safe, structured, and secure environment.

Parents Can Get Help in Making the Best Choice

With all the different facilities and treatment programs available in every state, all across the country, how do you find the one that is right for your teen?  There is help available. HelpYourTeenNow is an advocate group for parents who are looking for the right placement for their teens. The advocates at HelpYourTeenNow understand what parents of troubled teens are experiencing.  They know the state laws for residential facilities, and they can help you decide on the best placement for your teen. HelpYourTeenNow generally recommends therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers rather than military schools or boot camps for teens with emotional, behavioral, or psychological problems.  They can help you to find the best and most reputable programs to meet the specific needs of your teen. They can help you to understand the costs and insurance coverage. They do not charge for their services.

We’ve all seen movies with the intense drill instructor yelling, berating, and cussing at some hapless recruit going through boot camp. Although that makes an amusing scene in a film, it is not the best way to help teens with their emotional, behavioral, or psychological problems.  Military schools and boot camps may focus on obeying the rules, but they ignore the need for therapy. A therapeutic approach in a facility for troubled teens involves a calm and controlled environment, consistency in discipline, and compassion in treatment. With the help of advocates at HelpYourTeenNow, you can find a residential treatment center that specializes in the problems experienced by your teen and feel sure that you have decided on the best place for your teen to get help.

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