Considering boot camp for your out-of-control teen? Thousands of parents just like you are searching the Internet this very minute looking for answers to questions they never thought they’d have to ask.
Questions like: Where did I go wrong? Why is my teen acting out? Will boot camps for teens or residential treatment programs be more helpful?
Residential Treatment Programs Get Results
A study conducted by the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs provides reassurance to parents looking at options that may include a teen boot camp or residential treatment program.
The study of more than 1,000 teens ages 13 to 18 found teens with serious emotional and behavioural issues not only improved during treatment at a private residential treatment program, but maintained their healthier outlook and function long after leaving the program.
“In our initial findings announced last year, teens with clinically impaired emotional and behavioural functioning were rated as ‘normal’ after a period of treatment at a private residential facility,” lead researcher Dr. Ellen Behrens is quoted as saying.
“In this final phase of the study we found that those teens who showed ‘normal’ post-treatment results at the time of discharge continued to be ranked in the normal range a year later.”
Boot Camps Come Under Fire
Dr. Ed Latessa, a juvenile justice expert at the University of Cincinnati, says boot camps have failed to live up to the hype given them. Latessa says boot camps promise quick results to frustrated parents but may not deliver on all they promise.
“There’s a common misperception that what these kids need is structure, discipline, and order. But those aren’t big risk factors,” Latessa told Connect for Kids. “They don’t have much to do with criminal behavior.”
Latessa says putting kids who have gotten into trouble with the law together is a flawed idea.
“We don’t really want to bond delinquents together. We want to disrupt criminal networks,” he says.
Gordon Hay, executive director and founder of Venture Academy for Troubled Teens, operates a residential treatment program that prides itself on providing parents with an alternative to boot camps for teens.
“Research demonstrates that clinically-driven, well-run, high-quality programs like Venture Academy’s provide troubled teens and their families with answers and hope,” Hay said.
At Venture Academy, youth stay in private homes where they are supervised by parent counsellors who help them relearn skills and behaviour lost while locked in conflict with their parents.
Hay says parent counsellors provide a safe therapeutic environment where youth can learn to reattach to adults rather than to their peers. He says youth sever bonds with their unsavory friends and work towards sustainable change with the help of Venture Academy staff and counsellors.
Venture Academy provides residential treatment programs for troubled teens in Canada including help for troubled teens who are experiencing family conflict, criminal behaviour, negative peers, school suspensions, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, drug and alcohol abuse, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Conduct Disorder, anxiety, depression, or other clinically diagnosed disorders.