Teen Boot Camps

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The Military Style Environment and Discipline at Teen Boot Camp

  Because of the shift in the United States with respect to how struggling teens, should be handled, that is from a standpoint of punishment to rehabilitation, one of which is an idea that calls for incapacitation. This is a means to eliminate any distractions for the developing and rehabilitating teen by keeping the teen from all forms of outside intervention. This process, In a short term intense process such as boot camps or teen wilderness programs while keeping the teen away from his or her peers or any other societal interventions, does little more than keep the teen away from a life of they choose to live for a short period of time.

  In 1994, because the Department of Justice reported an array of problems with correctional facilities, the idea of developing the boot camp was borne, where juveniles were sent to specific facilities that attempt to incorporate the ideals of military training boot camps and use them as a basis from which the current more abundant privately run boot camps now operate. Such ideas as a "get tough" philosophy are used as a foundation upon which other boot camps and variations of boot camp are developed.

  However, not all struggling teens are prepared to deal with such a rigorous and intensive Boot Camps
program (boot camp) that literally changes the ways in which the troubled teens live, eat and are permitted bathroom breaks. According to some statistics, boot camps for teens may actually increase recidivism because the struggling teens have a certain degree of difficulty adjusting to the harsh, well-controlled environment of teen boot camps. In fact, it is now well known that many of the strict military schools are moving away from the military model, which was first implemented by the states of Georgia and Oklahoma in 1983. Some more recent research indicates that while the boot camps might be effective during the first few days and weeks, they have not been shown to have an effective means of curbing teens that have been released from some of the most prominent, strict boot camps.

  For example, Tom Castellano, who was spearheading research concerning the effectiveness on the trends among camps receiving funds from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, "We basically know the military component by itself doesn't do much. Without the treatment and aftercare elements, we should not expect much." What does work, however, is the development of aftercare programs with effective community-based follow-ups once the teens are released from the programs. And even though the teens might think that the boot camp experience might be an opportunity for a new beginning, this has often just not been the case.

  As a summary with regard to how well the boot camps work or doesn't work for teens, boot camp becomes an issue that is dependent upon the individual teen's character, and personality traits and the underlying emotional issues that they are dealing with. While it might be a suitable environment for some teens that have had little opportunity to prove themselves worthy, it is certainly not the glove that fits all hands. In fact, since the onslaught of opposition from society, many of the privately owned and funded programs and boarding schools have web sites that educate the adults and the teens about the camps. The more suitable camps are those that have answers to specific questions for parents as well as a bank of questions that, when answered, will provide the parents with an answer to the most important of all questions: will my teen be ready to handle the rigorous environment of a teen boot camp and will the boot camp be an effective means of dealing with my teen's problems?

  Realizing, however, when it would be most appropriate to send a teen to a boot camp is a completely different situation. According to an article in the Fresno Bee, Dr. Scott P. Sells, a psychologist and author of the book, Treating the Tough Adolescent: A Family-based, Step by Step Guide, Sells reports that one should not permit a teen to push a parent's buttons. According to the author, if the teen cannot follow simple directions or does not respect any sort of authority, it is time for intervention. However, that does not indicate that the troubled teen needs the authority-based environment found in a regimented boot camp. And when, according to the article, a teen uses the all too common guilt grabber, "you don't love me anymore," one should step back and consider all of the options, as boot camp very well could be the roadway to more problems in the future.

  Accordingly, with respect to the long-term basis of what can or what will happen, there are some authorities that are convinced that the boot camp is not an answer to many of the teen's problems, and, for most, it is certainly not a treatment program that will over time. Therefore, while teen boot camps might be the answer for a very small and select portion of the population, the general consensus within the professional realm is that if a parent is going to expect a long-term cure to a long-term problem, more treatment beyond the boot camp is often necessary. Some alternatives could be a high quality specialty boarding school or residential treatment center.

  The idea that the boot camp might not be for anyone and everyone cannot be further exemplified by the fact that many sites that offering these situations have warning signs on their site, reflecting the importance as an idea that every parent should consider before placing a child in such schools. The same idea is extremely well defined in countless articles that explain the differences between teen boot camps and other programs and inform parents that the environment might not be the best choice for a child who may have more substantial problems or a troubled teen with underlying emotional problems needing help. Some, therefore, feel that nothing short of treating a troubled teenager as if he or she were an adult and use the prison or whatever society will reward or consequence him or her for their life decisions is the last resort.

  The question, therefore, becomes whether a teen is appropriate for teen boot camps and not whether a teen boot camp is appropriate for the teen. For example, military schools are not designed or effective for dealing with teens that are not motivated or have extreme behavioral or academic problems. This is the very reason why some teen boot camps have been given a less than positive image with respect to the public. Military schools typically lack the internal infrastructure that is needed to work with youths with these types of problems and, given the "yelling and screaming" that is all too common in the boot camp environment, it is a well-known concept that teens that have behavioral or motivational problems will simply not be able to handle the harsh environment that some have seen on the talk shows on television. Parents who are seeking help for their teens that exhibit motivational, behavioral or academic problems (beyond normal adolescence) should seek help in one of the many other longer term and more effective Specialty Boarding Schools or residential Treatment Centers that are typically located throughout the United States and Mexico.


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