Boot Camps for Teens

While TV boot camps are mainly for entertainment and you’ve one in a thousand chance of entering, the other ones are “obey the rules or I’ll kick you in line” sort of thing.

Privately owned boot camps and troubled teen schools will typically range in price from $2,500 to $8,000 per month. Some offer different types of financial aid such as a student loan. Monthly payments can be as low as $200 per month.

Do Boot Camps Help?

A lot say boot camps help and a lot more say they don’t. Boot camps for teens does not only believe there are advantages in boot camps but feels they can help a child with the following problems.

  1. Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
  2. Attention Deficit Disorder.
  3. Negative group of friends.
  4. Uncontrollable anger.
  5. Sneaking out at night.
  6. Feelings of despair.
  7. Emotional problems.
  8. Lack of respect.
  9. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
  10. Expelled from school.
  11. No friends “a loner”.
  12. Lack of discipline.
  13. Lack of self control.
  14. Lack of motivation.
  15. Defiance.
  16. Out of control behavior.
  17. Suicidal tendencies.
  18. Substance abuse.
  19. Issues failing in school.
  20. Aggression.
  21. Refusing to follow rules.
  22. Minor legal problems.
  23. Running away.
  24. Teens in crisis.
  25. Pregnant teen.
  26. Sudden outburst.

But the owners of (alternatives to boot camp site) disagree.

“Some are privately run “get tough” camps where the “guards” enforce strict rules, some of them simply there for no other reason than to challenge the student to follow the rules or break them, force physical exertion (forced long runs and obstacle courses), and generally shake up the child’s perception of reality. Of course, this isn’t reality. Most of us do not live in a boot camp or military atmosphere in the real world. These boot camps were created as a short-term alternative to military boarding schools. The idea is that you break the child’s will (spirit?) and teach them that they are not the center of the universe”.

The following lines are some negative views about boot camps for teens;

“Military-style boot camps have been haunted by abusive staff members, even as they were being touted as cheap, effective prison space-savers and politically tasty.” David J. Krajicek, MSNBC, December 23, 1999

“Seven guards from Maryland’s boot camps for juvenile offenders have been fired for assaulting delinquents in their care, officials said yesterday as criminal investigations continued into a pattern of abuse spanning more than three years.” Baltimore Sun, January 11, 2000

“Boot camps use military discipline to try to turn rebellious youngsters’ lives around. But over the past decade, as the popularity of such camps has grown, so have abuse allegations, lawsuits and deaths.” Nando Times, July 6,2001

But boot camps seem to be working for some parents. Below is one of the testimonials from a parent who had enrolled her child in Thayer Learning Center (TLC):

“I was having trouble with my sons 15 and 13 years old, as they were out of control and manipulating the system. They were stealing things from stores. They were running away, being extremely disrespectful, and staying with people we didn’t allow them to be with. We had too much intervention with people that believed what my sons told them. I wanted to find a Boot Camp for them.

After checking on different programs, I chose TLC. I made up my mind and had them picked up and escorted to TLC. the program is well maintained by the policies and regulations. TLC is truly learning program! It gives the children a wake up call, that life will be harder for them if they make it that way. The Children are away from home and outside interferences (sic)so they have to make up their minds how to make it through the strict rules, to reach the level to go home and act respectful and appreciate their families, and home life more. I’m so thankful to have had the help and support from you. Thank you all so very much and I am so glad you are there to help parents with their situations!

Sincerely, Mrs. Hibb”

Another heavy weight against boot camps is the National Institutes of Health. Recently the National Institutes of Health hosted a conference in Maryland about juvenile violence and the best ways to treat it. Experts agreed that state and private boot camps with military-style discipline do not work and can even make problems worse.

Alternatives to Boot Camps

  1. Therapeutic Wilderness Program In this type of program, respect of authority is taught instead of fear of authority. Self discipline instead of doing as told, cooperation instead of obedience, responsibility instead of repression and self esteem instead of resentment.
  2. Oversea Programs In this particular program, more typical of a boarding school, the teens are sent to an entirely new environment to live, learn and gain self-control and respect. The idea is that by placing the teen in new surroundings, they have no alternative but to comply. The teens are cut-off from all enablers and must rely on the caregivers for support and guidance.

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