Boot Camp vs. Juvenile Rehabilitation

Bootcamp PicYou have come to a breaking point. You have done everything that you know to do, nothing has helped. He was kicked out school. He keeps running off at all hours and comes home reeking of alcohol. He is not the perfect child you always imagined. Military school will not take him. What else can you do? Send him to juvenile detention or some boot camp for defiant teenagers…

These may be some of the thoughts running through parents’ minds when their troubled youth or teen is out of control, but there are other options that are much better. Juvenile rehabilitation facilities are effective alternatives to boot camps and Missouri is one of the leading examples of how rehabilitation over a state run camp can be advantageous. A blue-ribbon task force in Louisiana reached a conclusion regarding detention facilities in 2005: “Rather than receiving proper rehabilitative care, young people are incarcerated in violent, unsafe facilities that compound pre-existing problems, such as child abuse, mental illness, learning disabilities, and school failure.” This statement leads to the question: what is the real difference between detention or boot camp and a juvenile rehab facility?

Boot camp for troubled teens, according to teenbootcamps.info, are military-style institutions for defiant and disrespectful teens who have a problem with authority. They learn discipline and structure through military exercises, and rigorous physical training. The U.S. Department of Justice found that a boot camps’ confrontational environment is in direct opposition to the type of atmosphere needed. Troubled youth need positive interpersonal relationships and a supportive atmosphere for true growth in character.

In contrast, faith-based juvenile rehabilitation facilities and programs, such as Ozark Teen Challenge have a rooted belief that through God and a loving, structured environment, troubled teens can develop valuable life skills and embody the living spirit of Christ through genuine discipleship. While providing structure, accountability and physical fitness are important, programs like Ozarks Teen Challenge know that they are ineffective for long-term change when they are not coupled with genuine mentoring relationships. When teens understand their personal value in Christ and the genuine care of the staff supporting them, they become personally motivated for lasting change.

A juvenile rehabilitation facility also focuses on treating troubled teens and troubled youth who are struggling with life controlling issues or addictions on an individualized level. During adolescence, individualization, independence, and personal rights are foremost in a teen’s mind. These are normal, stage of life focuses that are necessary for healthy development. Problems develop when teens take these drives and focus them towards negative behaviors or relationships. Military style boot camps, may result in temporary obedience through intimidation and extreme structure, but they also may engender internal resentment and anger because they emphasize the opposite of what most teens are naturally seeking. A juvenile rehabilitation facility will also provide the structure needed for out of control teens, but they don’t stop there. In contrast to bootcamps, rehab programs will then refocus teens towards working through their individual issues, developing their personal strengths, and preparing for a successful return home. Many juvenile rehabilitation centers, like Ozarks Teen Challenge, also provide educational options to keep teens on track towards their future goals.

At Ozark Teen Challenge, they also provide residential programs for teen drug addictions, substance abuse, teen behavior problems, and rehab for other life controlling problems or addictions.


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