Have you been struggling with your teen’s behavior? If your teen has been exhibiting delinquent behavior or is on the path to delinquent behavior, you may find yourself feeling like you are out of options. You may have tried various punishments and restrictions; you could have tried therapy and yet still found your teen refusing to adjust his attitude and behavior.
Some may refer to scared straight programs as a last resort to get your teen to turn his life around. What is a scared straight program? Is it the right option for your teenager? Or is there another solution that could help address the needs of your struggling teen?
What is a Scared Straight Program?
Established several decades ago, these programs were designed to scare delinquent youth into adjusting their poor behavior. Just what takes place in these types of programs? Not much has changed with them over the years. They are often still found available in many states around the country.
Children and teenagers who were at risk of, or already showing signs of, delinquent behavior are taken to spend time in a jail or prison. In this setting, while supervised by adults, youth are exposed to the reality of life behind bars. From how they will be required to dress to the cell size, the isolation, the scary inmates, and the complete loss of freedom, teens are forced to face the realities of life behind bars.
The idea behind these programs is to reinforce the consequences of delinquent behavior. Teens will often spend supervised time with prisoners, many of whom will tell them just how they wound up behind bars. They will share facts and fears about being behind bars.
Do Scared Straight Programs Work?
As much as you want to get help for your teen, you may have some fears and concerns about getting your teen into a scared straight program. Do they work? They may work for some teens. Studies conducted over the years have indicated that these programs do more harm than good for teens.
No one is truly sure why these programs are not as successful as people hoped. There is some idea that teens already involved in gang activity may see that life behind bars quite often involves gang activity, violence, and other familiar things. For them, prison wouldn’t feel much different from the gang life they already live. Some teens may also be more inclined to increase their poor behavior after perceiving prisoners as tough role models.
With that, it’s essential to keep in mind that scared straight programs simply aren’t the right choice for every troubled teen. These programs don’t do anything to address the reasons behind your teen acting out and engaging in delinquent behavior.
Other Options to Help Troubled Teens
It’s understandable to feel that you’re all out of options to help your struggling teen. You don’t want them to wind up behind bars, even for a night. So just what might be a better option to pursue?
Most of us, teens included, don’t just start acting out and misbehaving and engaging in criminal behavior without reason behind it. What could some of these reasons be for your teen?
- Recent changes at home. Often including trouble between parents, divorce, blended families with new step-siblings, and even the loss of a family member.
- Peer pressure could include drinking, taking drugs, staying out past curfew, breaking into cars and homes, and engaging in risky sexual activity.
- Trauma that hasn’t been addressed, whether from something that happened a few years ago or more recently, can lead a teen to overreact in negative ways due to not knowing how to react healthily.
- Struggles at school, including troubles with teachers, difficulty keeping up with assignments, and bullies. A teen who is being bullied may react in many ways, including the pursuit of delinquent behavior.
Keeping this all in mind, it’s essential that you and your teen work to uncover what might be behind his behavior and his poor attitude. Getting your teen into therapy or another type of program, such as those found at therapeutic boarding schools, can offer the solution that you are looking for.
Teens who are reluctant to attend regular individual and family therapy sessions can be challenging. This is where the therapeutic boarding school option comes into play as a good option. In this environment, your troubled teen will be able to get the correct type of help for the concerns he is struggling with.
Some of the benefits of a therapeutic boarding school could include the following.
- Your teen will be in a safe, structured, and nurturing environment that offers a fresh start. Often, teens find it difficult to recover in the same environment that saw them take the wrong turn into spiraling behavior.
- A thorough evaluation of your teen’s behavior and mental health history will be conducted. This will help the caring staff mental health professionals better understand your teen and better understand the right treatment path forward.
- The proper treatment plan for your teen will address each of the issues and concerns that he is struggling with. This could include mental wellness concerns such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more.
- Your teen will learn how to be better independent and accountable for himself. He will be assigned chores that will need to be done. From making his bed to doing his laundry, your teen will understand what it means to take care of himself in healthy ways.
- Therapy with a counselor and other therapeutic programs will help get your teen out of his comfort zone and force him to evaluate the path he has been on.
- Your teen will learn the healthy coping mechanisms that will stand him in good stead as he reenters society and faces the challenges that life will send his way.
If you consider sending your teen to a scared straight program, it might be a good idea to consider other options. At Help Your Teen Now, we can help connect you with the resources that will offer your teen the right type of help for the issues he is struggling with. There is no room for making a decision that could set your teen further back at this crucial junction. He needs the correct type of program, the right kind of positive influences, and the correct type of motivation.