Teen Boot Camps

Originally teen boot camps or juvenile boot camps were meant for delinquent adolescents with behavioral and substance abuse problems. Here they stay under supervision for a time and are subjected to a military-style discipline.

Several jurisdictions send first-time and non-violent offending teenagers to boot camps as a corrective measure. But today, even parents trying to cope with difficult children send them to teen boot camps. Teen boot camps claim to straighten the child by reinforcing structure and discipline

The basic premise of a teen boot camp is that a defiant teenager subjected to heavy mental and physical subjugation becomes a better person. Inmates at these boot camps face stark, in-your-face disciplinary orders from supervisors, who are just like military sergeants and punishments for the slightest infraction of the rules. There is also an emphasis on physical exercise and mind control. Earlier, supervisors used corporal methods in such camps, but they are now banned by legislation.

Teen boot camps also function by creating uniformity among its members. Teenagers attending such camps have to forgo their contacts with family and friends. They wear uniforms and some teen camps even shave kids’ heads to create more harmony among them. In juvenile boot camps, teenagers are not addressed by their names, so that no one is given particular importance. The period that a teenager spends at a boot-camp is followed by a period of aftercare. This aftercare is usually a mentoring period, where problems of the juvenile are discussed, and solutions are drawn. During this period, some job-training skills may also be taught.

The effects of teen boot camps on the minds of young adolescents are a controversial issue. Experts feel that boot camps do nothing to improve the youth; in fact they are detrimental. According to them, the effects of boot camps are highly temporary and forgotten once the camp is over. Also youth who live under subjugation for a period of time become more defiant later in life.

Experts also argue that boot camps for teenagers do not mitigate tendencies of recidivism in them. Offenders who are placed at teen boot camps may once more revert to their original behavior once they are out.

Even economically speaking, correctional teen boot camps are not feasible to the government. Though the time spent by an offender at a juvenile boot camp may be less than at prison, the costs of running such boot camps which also cater to non-offenders is quite high.

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