How Effective Are Youth Boot Camps?
The answer depends on a number of factors. There are many troubled teens that have been through a boot camp and come out the other end a changed person. And their new attitude to life continues when they return home. But then too there are examples of how a boot camp not only didn’t help a young troubled teen but also hardened them in their anti-social behavior.
So are boot camps effective and what are the factors which help parents choose a boot camp for their son or daughter?
The first is the problem or problems confronting their child. Some teens are desperately in trouble having perhaps broken the law, failed badly at school, confronted their parents and teachers or may have been involved in drug taking or other crime. They could even be seriously depressed and have attempted self-harm.
Or the teen may have dropped their guard a little, been slacking off at school, running with the wrong crowd but not be in serious trouble. There is a big difference in the trouble different teens can find themselves in and it is this degree of difficulty which will guide parents in making a boot camp decision.
Then one needs to consider the different types of boot camps which are available. Some boot camps are largely physical which means they have military style accommodation and routines. The staff has military titles and tough love is the order of the day. Participants get little time to talk back because at the end of the day they are too exhausted. The program in this type of boot camp is designed more towards punishment than therapy. And this last point is most important.
If your teen requires a tender and therapeutic program, punishing them in a tough boot camp will not only fail, it may actually damage your child. If humiliation is part of the program, this can backfire with some kids and make them retreat into their shell. You don’t send your child to a boot camp to have them return worse than when they went in.
So the two things to consider are the mental and physical health of your troubled teen and the content of the course at a particular boot camp. When you know what’s wrong with your son or daughter, you can examine the offerings of a particular boot camp and hopefully choose the right one.
Now if all the above sounds as if boot camps are harsh and unforgiving institutions then that would be wrong. There are camps with a seriously tough approach but then there are others where the routine is not seen so much as a punishment but as a tool to give the teen some structure in their life. Kids may rail against rules but they also need to know what they can and can’t do. They want their parents and teachers to be open and honest and give them guidelines.
A boot camp which operates in that manner may be ideal for your sensitive but troubled teen.
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