4 Reasons Why Youth Boot Camps Don’t Work To Modify Unwanted Behavior

Sending a rebellious teenager to a youth boot camp has a strong allure for frustrated parents everywhere. The military-style discipline promoted by these camps can make these parents believe that firm guidance is all their teens need to make the right choices. However, there are 4 main reasons why youth boot camps don’t work to modify behavior—in fact, boot camps can make undesirable behaviors worse.

Only Short-Term Changes Occur At Boot Camps

While boot camps are a popular type of troubled teen program, these strict camps are only effective at creating short-term changes for their charges. While attending a youth boot camp, teens are provided with a highly-regulated setting, where they are expected to comply with orders and are often required to undertake a lot of physical exertion. These factors combine to create a more compliant teen.

Once removed from the strenuous environment, many troubled teens backslide into their old bad habits. Some teens may hide their delinquency so that their parents do not send them back to a boot camp, but the changes are skin-deep at best.

Behavioral Modification Requires Therapy

Youth boot camps rely almost solely on experiential therapy—a therapeutic practice that uses experiences to affect behavioral changes—to create behavioral modifications in their charges. While there is merit in incorporating experiential therapy into a troubled teen’s rehabilitation, it should not be the primary therapeutic method.

Poor behavior is rooted in internal causes, and to properly address the source, therapy with a qualified therapist is vital to lasting behavioral modification. As most youth boot camps lack licensed therapeutic staff, it is no wonder why teens’ behaviors never truly change.

Military-Like Discipline May Send The Wrong Message

Since youth boot camps are designed to mimic a military boot camp, there are usually authoritarian figures in charge of the teens. The barking, strict discipline offered by these individuals can reinforce the idea in teens that the most effective way to behave is to be aggressive and use power to control others.

So, if you have a teen who struggles with anger management, a youth boot camp is the last place you should consider sending them.

No After-Program Assistance With Behavior Modification

Not only are youth boot camps short programs, but there is usually no after-program transition home assistance offered. As there is little opportunity for permanent transformation over the course of the boot camp, it becomes difficult for parents to provide their teens with the structure they need to maintain the changes they may have started to make.

Here at Liahona Treatment Center, our residential treatment center provides structure, multiple types of therapy, academic support, and family rebuilding assistance for troubled teen boys. Contact us to learn more about our program and how it can help your family.

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