What Is Boot Camp for Troubled Teens?


Quick Answer

A boot camp for teens is an alternative to jail for a teen caught in illegal activity. Boot camps address issues including behavioral problems and substance abuse. They often focus on physical challenges and discipline. Some boot camps use approaches that are more effective and safer for the teen than others do.

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Full Answer

Early boot camps used a military approach to troubled teens. The leaders took on the role of a drill sergeant, yelling at the child and forcing him to undergo physical punishment. Such programs led to temporary behavioral improvement in order to get out of boot camp. However, when the teen returned home without the threats, his behavior often deteriorated to the same as before the camp.

As of 2014, parents have other options for residential therapy programs for their child. The best programs offer positive discipline where the teen discovers logical consequences of his behavior and the rewards of behavioral changes. Instead of sending the child hundreds of miles away to the camp, programs keep children close to home and encourage parental involvement. The camps teach coping skills and problem solving so the teen is better prepared to meet challenges after the therapy ends. Programs are available with trained staff that help youth to make positive changes without putting their life at risk.

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