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What are Military Schools for Troubled Youth? Military Schools are treatment programs for struggling youth in a military-style environment. These programs typically emphasize discipline and physical conditioning and were developed as a rigorous alternative to longer terms of confinement in juvenile correctional facilities. Military Schools are generally restricted to teens with little or mild behavioral issues. Military Schools are not an appropriate setting for teens experiencing emotional, behavioral, substance abuse, or learning problems.
The idea of “shock incarceration” as a tough alternative to more intensive programming brought about the establishment of military-style boarding schools for troubled youth.
Are Military Schools for Troubled Youth Effective?
Experts agree that a confrontational approach is not appropriate. Most treatment care and military experts agree that a confrontational model, employing tactics of intimidation and humiliation, is counterproductive for most youth. For youth with emotional, behavioral, substance abuse, or learning problems-degrading tactics may be particularly inappropriate and potentially damaging. The bullying style and aggressive interactions that characterize the Military Schools environment fail to model the pro-social behavior and development of empathy that these teens really need to learn.
Positive changes demonstrated while in Military Schools usually do not last when a troubled teen returns to his community. Many teens report that the program is helpful to them and they feel more positive about their futures. It is unclear, however, whether these attitudinal changes persist after teens leave the Military School, or whether they are related to actual changes in behavior once a youth returns to his community. Without significant therapeutic intervention while in the program, as well as specialized aftercare following release, Military Schools have been consistently unsuccessful in “changing” troubled youth.
What are the alternatives?
Troubled youth who need some form of treatment care require an individualized approach that takes their strengths and needs into account. Programs and policies should be family-centered – including the family in all decision making about a child – as well as culturally and developmentally appropriate. Research has shown that small, family-centered programs are more effective than Military Schools in the long term.
Give us a call and together we can discuss the best course of action for your child. We can be reached any time at 1-866-490-3666.