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Military, authoritarian, discipline-based
What are boot camps?

A boot camp is a setting in which harsh methods are used to elicit temporary, fearful compliance from struggling teens, essentially worsening the issues teens are sent to the camp to fix. Boot camps for teens are founded on outdated values and tactics instead of current and cutting-edge research. They are modeled after military basic training.

Brief History of Boot Camps
The beginning of a controversial and damaging technique for disciplining youth.

Boot camps were first introduced in 1888 in Elmira, New York. This type of training approach was enforced as a way to appeal to disciplinary measures and to keep inmates active to prevent boredom and idleness.

Since its origination, boot camps have evolved to center around four main objectives: improving physical fitness, pushing people beyond their limits, getting people to work together, and achieving a common goal.

Boot Camps Riddled with Issues
Common criticisms about the boot camp industry.
  1. Lack of individualization. Boot camps do not recognize the individual needs and differences among participants. Instead, the same general, aggressive disciplinary treatment is utilized for everyone. The hard, uniform, non-therapeutic treatment does not benefit one seeking long-term improvement of behavioral, emotional, and mental health issues.
  2. No applicable knowledge is gained. Boot camps revolve around discipline. Otherwise, there is no practical skills or knowledge to be gained from the boot camp experience. Taking what one learned from a boot camp and applying it to effectively benefit their everyday life would be very difficult.    
  3. No evidence-based practices. Boot camps follow one traditional concept- rigorous physical activity. There has been no modern evolvement of these practices. Research-based methods are not applied in their programming. They use the concept of instilling fear until compliance. This has a lack of effective results and can also end in creating a more traumatic experience.
Many Positive Alternatives to Boot Camps
Your family has more options than you think.

Over time, it’s become very clear that boot camps do more harm than good. Sending your child to a boot camp will most likely lead to issues worsening in the long-run. There are many alternative methods to boot camps that produce much more positive outcomes.

Some examples of these alternative methods include:

  • Wilderness Therapy
  • Residential Treatment Centers
  • Therapeutic Boarding Schools
  • Assessment Centers
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The Downsides of Boot Camps

Boot camps are not designed to address underlying emotional or behavioral issues. This could be a negative reinforcement for people dealing with depression, anxiety, drug-use, low self-esteem, or other issues. Boot camps could worsen the side-effects.These are programs that are considered “quick fixes”, they offer no promise of long-term change for one’s personal life.  

Most boot camps have high drop-out rates

Increases the chances of a juvenile becoming a re-offender

Percentage of juveniles that returned to criminal behavior

01

LITTLE-TO-NO POSITIVE EFFECTNO IMPACT ON NEGATIVE BEHAVIOR

Backlash to re-programming efforts and a greater interest in increased identification with crime culture, or gangs is a potential outcome for adolescents who attend boot camp.

02

UNTRAINED STAFF & POOR SUPERVISIONABUSE IS COMMON

One runs a high risk of enduring physical harm from daily rigorous workouts, fighting with peers, or having a reaction to outdoor elements.

03

IGNORING THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEMSURFACE LEVEL FIX

Behaviors are the focus of treatment, ignoring the “real problem” at all costs. Boot camps run on the idea that these struggling teens just need to be scared into acting right–when in reality they need serious therapeutic aid. 

04

TACTICS CAN LEAD TO WORSE ISSUESPOSSIBILITY OF FURTHER DAMAGE

Leaving with more issues than one started with is a possibility. At boot camps for teens, adolescents learn that making a mistake is disastrous, they’re the problem, they’re broken–this can result in a level of trauma that did not initially exist.

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