Tough Love Camps for Troubled Kids

Does Your Troubled Teen
Need Tough Love or Help?

Searches for tough love camps have grown in popularity as parents look for ways to control their misbehaving teenagers.  Tough love camps for troubled kids are a dangerous option for troubled children.  These “tough love camps” are nothing more than boot camps for troubled teenagers.  Experts warn that boot camps are hazardous to teens with emotional and mental health issues. 

Why Boot Camps or Tough Love Camps Hurt Your Child?

Boot Camps and tough-love camps for troubled teens rely on harsh discipline and stern treatment to teach discipline. This outdated methodology has proven harmful and was abandoned in the late 1990s. It is even more dangerous for teenagers who get in a lot of trouble, act our or do not listen to their parents since now we know that these behaviors are often symptoms of a more serious psychological issue.

Boot camps are ineffective and dangerous.

There are many misconceptions about boot camps. In the 1990s, the government began to shut down so-called tough love camps as more children were abused and mistreated.  The troubled teen industry evolved and many of these camps were remarketed as behavioral camps. 

How to Help an Out of Control Teenager?

First, you need to determine whether your teenager is acting up or has a medical, neurological, or emotional condition. It is hard for parents to know if the issues are everyday teenage rebellion or if there’s more going on.

Every parent in this situation should consider the following:

  1. How long has this been going on?
  2. What have you done already to help your teen?
  3. What have you not explored yet?

If you are still struggling with the question:  Is he or she acting out or do they need professional help?   We recommend you review this article about recognizing bad teen behavior. 

10 Differences Between Teen Boot Camps, Residential Treatment Centers (RTC) for Troubled Teens

  1. Residential treatment centers for troubled teens blend intensive therapy, discipline, and academics to help teens who struggle to overcome their emotional and behavioral challenges. 
  2. Therapeutic programs for troubled teens are long-term, usually lasting nine months and up to a year.   These long term programs focus on healing, not just behavior modification. 
  3. RTC and therapeutic school programs offer therapeutic activities and treatment — in-depth psychological therapy to get to the root cause.  Reducing relapses and proving to be more effective than any boot camp. 
  4. Residential treatment is designed as an immersive experience.  A good residential treatment facility works with teens in a one-on-one environment. 
  5. Unlike a boot camp, therapeutic programs for teens are supervised by medical professionals, state-licensed, and accredited academic programs. 
  6. Therapeutic residential programs offer Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapies, and help these teenagers overcome their challenges.   They teach children coping skills and treat panic attacks, phobias, OCD, PTSC, eating disorders, ADHD, and conduct disorders. 
  7. Therapeutic boarding school programs rely on positive experiences to elicit behavior change.  While troubled teenagers are still subject to discipline, they are also given every opportunity to succeed. 
  8. Most residential treatment facilities for troubled teens offer adventure therapy or outdoor challenges to help these children learn how to overcome adverse situations in a nurturing way. 
  9. Activities are planned to have social, emotional, and educational components from which the child can benefit.   Activities like tree planting, building fences, working at an orphanage, doing community service, caring for livestock, or participating in charitable activities build character and help struggling teens experience a new sense of accomplishment. 
  10. A good therapeutic youth program will NOT employ military-style discipline.  There isn’t any in-your-face yelling! 

Answers to parent's questions about tough love camps

A teen boot camp is a prime example of a tough-love camp.   Many of these camps advertise themselves as wilderness camps or adventure camps for troubled youth and promise to “fix your teen’s behavioral problems.”

These programs are modeled after military recruit training camps and scared straight programs.  Just like the boot camps of the ’80 and ’00’s relay on harsh in your face discipline, military-style structure, and in your face trainers that claim they can rapidly instill control or compliance and turn your teenager into an obedient camper. 

On average, these tough camp programs costs from $200 – $800 for a weekend.  Summer camps costs ranges from $3,000 – $10,000.   Parents that participate in these programs report that their teenagers revert to past behaviors within weeks of arriving home. 

No, many studies have shown time and time again that these boot camps are dangerous.  Children who are abused or mistreated have died in these camps.  Those that survive often have PTSD and develop high resentment towards their parents.  

The recidivism rate for juvenile boot camp participants in Cleveland, OH, was 96%.  

We do not know of any free camps, and we do not recommend boot camps of any kind since they are dangerous and ineffective. 

Learn more about the long term effects of boot camps for troubled teens!

Learn more about the dangers of teen boot camps in this investigative article by Rolling Stones.  Life and Death in a Troubled Teen Boot Camp

Would you like to learn more about a therapeutic residential treatment program for struggling teenagers?