- Mental Health»
Teen Boot Camps - Why They Don't Work
I have no doubt that dealing with a drug or alcohol abusing, or behaviorally troubled teen, is very tough for parents. My kids aren’t yet teens, and so although I can imagine, I have no experience, and can't yet know just how hard it might be.
I think I can understand how some parents might get desperate, and in the face of enough abuse or defiance, feel that nothing short of an extreme solution meets the severity of the problem.
And the toughness of a boot camp drill squad might seem just what a defiant and disobedient, but still very much loved teen, needs. Parents might hope that a little tough love is all that is needed.
Unfortunately, studies seem to indicate the boot camp style facilities don't tend to work any better than flat out jail time at changing children's behaviors, and that the only kinds of boot camps that work at all are those that incorporate a heavy regimen of therapy into the programming.
It seems as though the therapy kids get when they get sent away can make a lasting difference, but that having a drill sergeant yelling at them, and forcing them into pushups and lap running, does very little to change things once they are once again back at home.
I don't know. I think I can understand why parents send their kids off to boot camps – but when you watch videos, like the one that shows the chain of events that led to the death of 14 year old Martin Anderson in a Florida prison boot camp last year – it's pretty hard to imagine wanting to put your kids in that situation.
This video is tragic, and watching it knowing the outcome, his death from suffocation related to the ammonia capsules they were forcing him to inhale – makes it hard to watch.
But before you send your kids off to a program that needs to "tear them down" and that demands submission, look at what you might be sending them into, and make sure that it's what you want.