There has been a fair amount of controversy surrounding the popularity of military boot camps on how they used to try to turn troubled teenagers around. The term “boot camp” is one we associate with new recruits who are heading off to war and the training they must go through to be changed from civilians into soldiers. The boot camp images from the movies depict a time in which a recruit is subjected to very hard physical and mental discipline under the direction of a no-nonsense drill sergeant who may have a bit of a sadistic side to him.
The first step in understanding the world of juvenile boot camps is to address whether the military-style boot camps for teens exist and if they use similar tactics as what we associate with basic training for the armed forces. The short answer is, yes, such boot camps do exist. But the military boot camps for teenagers are not the only types of boot camp experiences that are available to families who want a resource to help out a teenager who needs an intervention.
Along with the tough and difficult military boot camps for teenagers, there are juvenile boot camps that alter the military approach to the reorientation of a teenager’s attitudes and habits. There are boot camps that focus on academic difficulties and boot camps dedicated to helping young people realize the greater achievement in their sports or religious lives as well. So to get some understanding about the military juvenile boot camps, let’s start out with some facts.
The Reason Military Boot Camps Became Popular
There are good reasons why military-style boot camps for teenagers handle juveniles using tactics that are tough and uncompromising. These types of boot camps are generally set up to provide a way to rehabilitate teenagers who are in trouble with the law and are facing some serious difficulties with the police or the courts over crimes that have been committed. Often youth who end up in a military-style boot camp are sent there by a judge as an alternative sentence to sending the youth to juvenile detention or to prison for much longer incarceration.
That means that these tough and no-nonsense juvenile boot camps receive young people that are also tough and defiant to authority. While not all teenagers who end up in a boot camp facility are violent, many of them do have a violent history. It is the goal of the boot camp to “break” these teenagers through a rigorous and uncompromising program of discipline, harsh physical and mental discipline and a strict enforcement of compliance to institutional standards dress, conversation and behavior.
Military boot camps for teenagers are not associated with any branch of the military so there is no truth to the idea that sending a teenager to such a camp will result in long term commitment to service in a military unit. However, the boot camp sergeants are often seasoned veterans of boot camp training and they may have become experienced in what they are doing after serving honorably in one of the branches of the armed forces. So they know what they are doing and they are not going to be intimidated by the teenagers who are sent to them for training and reorientation.
Costs, Concerns, and Propaganda about Troubled Teen Boot Camps
If a teenager is ordered to attend a state-funded juvenile boot camp, there is no cost to parents. However, in some cases, a judge may order the term in a boot camp but give parents some leeway in whether to take advantage of state-sponsored teenager boot camps or to find an approved juvenile boot camp that they pay for. The reason for considering the alternative is that boot camps for teenagers that are paid for by the state may be overcrowded and populated with some very tough kids who may be there for some serious and sometimes violent crimes.
It is up to you to choose a private facility or program that is an alternative to a traditional private boot camp for your son or daughter in order to comply with a court-ordered stay in a juvenile boot camp facility.
Boot camps are usually for six weeks to six months and they are ineffective and expensive. If you wish to have some control over where your teenager serves his or her term a residential program can offer similar discipline than a boot camp setting but also offer emotional support and much-needed therapies. It is wise to research all of your options and find out what kinds teen therapeutic programs will comply with the court’s instructions and still provide a setting where your son or daughter will find success.