Do Boot Camps for Teens Really Work?
That is a leading question. In some cases teen boot camps work and work well. Let's say a teen is new at rebellion, that they haven't had years of unruly and disruptive behavior. If that is the case, the short sharp shock treatment at a boot camp may be just what the doctor ordered.
The trouble though is that many teens who are packed off to boot camp are seasoned rebels. They have been giving their parents and/or teachers a hard time for many a long day. In their situation, the tough and loud disciplinarians may not have the desired effect.
You see sending a teen to a boot camp is of little use if the changes in their behavior are short lived. Many teens go to a boot camp, do as they are told, and appear to have changed their ways but then revert to their former habits once away from the boot camp. As a parent you want to see a monumental change in your teen. You want any changes which occur at boot camp to last, to endure once the young offender returns home.
One of the main characteristics of a boot camp is plenty of physical activity, harsh physical activity. Not many teens will argue or fight back when they face a tough physical task. At night they are likely to be so tired they fall into bed with hardly a whimper. This can appear to be successful because a teen boot camp might at times be called a punishment camp. This is fine if you fancy giving your teen a metaphorical boot up the backside but not good if you want them to change their attitude and their approach to life.
Boot camps have little if any time for therapy or counseling. This may be exactly what your teen requires. But if your teen has been damaged psychologically or has been involved with drugs and alcohol then at a boot camp the teen will have zero opportunity to indulge in these vices. But what if their mind has been damaged by use of illegal and dangerous substances?
If so they need careful and proven therapy both as individuals and as part of a group. This is arguably the only way back for them from a damaged youth. Having them engage in tough physical activities does little if anything to discover their damaged soul and thus plan ways to guide them back to a healthy and happy adolescence and hopefully, the rest of their life.
Tough love has its place. It can open the eyes of some teens to the reality of their situation. But tough love by itself is not the answer. Discipline needs to be supplemented with knowledge and self-belief. The teen in trouble needs to be able to see the error of their ways and to gain life skills which will enable them to recover and take control of their own destiny. Driving a teen and making them work hard through raucous shouting is not necessarily the answer for a happy and healthy adolescent.
Here are additional resources you might be interested in:
Are teen bootcamps useful for problem teenagers?
What are some of the benefits of juvenile boot camps?