Parents are often tempted by the idea that their acting out adolescent or defiant teenager could really benefit from a military school or a wilderness camp. The idea is attractive for many reasons :-
· parents are removed from the battle scene
· other experts can deal with the issues
· teenagers sometimes respond better to natural consequences of their behaviour
· behavioural therapy, if applied successfully, can and does work wonders.
Some research by the National Institute of Justice shows that cognitive behavioural therapy can actually teach behavior skills and redress the balance of faulty thinking, when applied correctly. But the fact of the matter is that there is no independent research which shows how effective these programs are. That is really the crux of the matter. No doubt each school or camp will have its flagship success stories and these testimonials will be used in the publicity. But how many failures have there been? We will never know the truth on that one !
Precautions to take:-
There are plenty of horror stories to keep us going for many a dinner party. The allegations of abuse, mistreatment, cruelty and downright mismanagement should make us think twice before we embark on any such adventure.
The first thing we should check out is to see that the college or camp is actually accredited to be such an institution. This is not a 100% guarantee at all but it does give you a comeback if anything does go wrong. You are protected by their charter. The two most respected accreditation institutions are the Joint Commission (JACHO) and the Council of Accreditation (COA).
Check the programs offered and see whether they are suitable for your child’s or teenager’s needs. Finding out their needs with the help of a counsellor is often salutary experience and on fact may be half the battle because that is when we realize what parenting mistakes we may have been making all along.
Check out references too and find out as much as from parents who have gained benefits for their troubled teens through the use of such programs.
Ask for support so that when your teen gets back, there is a transition period which you can confidently manage. Without that, the whole experience may turn negative and you may find that you are back to square one. If the school or camp cannot offer that, it probably means that they are not really capable of running a program with parents’ involvement. The fact that the home runs on completely different lines to a camp or college is something which should never be forgotten.