Better Alternatives to Involuntary Boot Camp for Teenage Girls

Deciding on a treatment for a troubled teenage daughter is the hardest choice any parent will make. Not only parents will have to look past their desperation, worry and anger and be able to decide the kind of intervention their daughter truly needs, they also need to wade through hundreds of choices that sound the same and choose the best one that can help their daughter and the family.

First, parents must know which programs are proven effective in providing intervention and treatment to a troubled teenage girl. They must understand that not all programs are alike, and some programs, despite their popularity have been proven not effective and may cause irreparable damage to their teen and should not be used as intervention. Right now, involuntary boot camps have been proven ineffective, with no evidence of long term treatment of its participants. Also, voluntary and involuntary boot camps are high risk facilities that put its participants in danger, with high potential for abuse. It is recommended that teen boot camps should be abandoned in favor of better intervention alternatives that have been proven effective in providing intervention and treatment for troubled teenagers.

Here are your alternatives:

 

Therapeutic boarding schools

A therapeutic boarding school is type of residential facility that offers an educational program in junction with an intense therapy intervention program for the purpose of helping a troubled youth. Generally, therapeutic boarding school programs run for one year, and aside from regular classes, there are activities, recreation, study period, meals and rest that follow a predetermined schedule. As part of the therapy process, therapeutic boarding schools are highly structured and students are closely monitored, with some personal items regarded as contraband and will be taken away for the duration of the program, such as cell phones.

Therapeutic boarding school is noted for their usage of “experiential therapy”. Methods that are widely accepted as effective are also used by prominent therapeutic boarding schools, such as cognitive behavior therapy–which, according to research, has the highest positive outcome for teen intervention. Therapy sessions and counseling are held regularly, occurring several times in a week. Depending on the program, there are also other lessons aimed to give a positive learning to the teenagers, such as leadership and confidence classes, life skill classes, self confidence building activities involving other students, and also outdoor activities such fishing, swimming, hiking, camping and so forth.

Pros:
Since, therapeutic boarding schools generally offer long term residential treatment, there will be no “low dosage effect”. According to most researchers, recidivism rates of its participants are very promising, due to long term residential treatment plus the benefit of the educational program that ensures teens are made ready to be inserted back into their society.

Cons:
Private schools are expensive, but those that offer additional services are even more so. A typical therapeutic boarding school will cost around $6,000 to $15,000 a year. Because it is a long term treatment, some kids do not complete the program.

Notable Example: Turning Winds Academy in Troy, Montana

 

Military boarding schools

There are two types of military boarding schools in the United States: those that are residential treatment in nature and those that aren’t and whose intended purpose is to prepare students for service in the armed forces.

Military boarding schools are offshoots to teen boot camps and offers a longer term treatment compared to their 6 months counterpart. Among the many criticisms of teen boot camps has been the short term treatment phase which is regarded as highly insufficient to change a lifetime of bad behavior. By offering a longer term with an educational component, military boarding schools can offer a better prospect to troubled teenagers in terms of meeting recidivism demands.

Pros:
Above standard physical fitness and a highly disciplined environment can elicit short term positive change to its participants.

Cons:
Military boarding schools are still tough love discipline programs that operate on a confrontational model that is not the most appropriate intervention approach to most kinds of troubled teenagers’ problems—much less for girls. While the above standard physical fitness and a highly disciplined environment can provide strong benefits to teens, rehabilitation programs that are not designed to scare, deter or control troubled youth are still better alternatives.

Notable Example: Southeastern Military Academy in Port St. Lucie, Florida, About Face Boot Camp in North Carolina