Call with any problem, anytime: Girls and Boys Town National Hotline Phone: 1-888-287-0471 and if a parent looking for a support group, try Al-Anon and Naranon. Even if alcohol and other drugs are not involved, you’ll find support and ideas from other parents coping with hurtful behavior.
What are commonly referred to as juvenile boot camps are limited to youth already within the Juvenile Justice System or on probation or sentenced by a judge.
Other Teen Disciple Programs, Support Groups
There are other kinds of programs run privately that offer tough love or other strict discipline, often related to youth substance abuse.
There are also vital support groups for other parents going through the same problems with youth and they offer not only support but constructive ideas. Focus on the Family is one good resource.
Koch Crime Institute, which publishes a national guide to juvenile justice boot camps, advises:
Identifying local programs in your state is best accomplished by using resources in your community. Contact your local county attorney or juvenile justice office, community mental health center, school counselor, and in some areas, the public health department. All of these organizations know of programs for youth. Financial assistance may be available to you. Many programs are based upon one’s ability to pay depending on income level. Other treatment programs accept health insurance and private payment from parents who can afford such an arrangement.
Other alternatives you might consider come from the Texas Youth Commission and the National Association of Therapeutic Wilderness Camps.
A site with many links about defiant behavior disorders is Conduct Disorders. Be sure and check out the Parent Message Board.
We are currently researching community-based alternatives for low-risk juvenile offenders, but this report will not be available until late 1999.
We suggest that you first carefully and patiently identify the particular problems of your child (substance abuse, trauma, emotional/behavioral disorder, physical ailment i.e. bipolar disorder/manic depressive disease) and to do so, try counseling at school or in the pediatric uynit of your local hospital or city/county mental health department.
If the problem is alcohol or other drug abuse or that is triggering pre-existing behavioral problems, a residential substance abuse treatment program is recommended. Check Streetcats Foundation for Youth/National Childrens Coalition’s own Teen-Anon site’s Resource Center, contact your local branch of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence or call your local city or county United Way Help Line.
You cannot deal with a teen’s other emotional problems, nor can they if they are self-medicating with alcohol, pot, cocaine, inhalants, crystal meth or other drugs until first they get clean and sober. After detox and rehab, it is important they keep in a 12-step recovery program like AA and NA where they learn new behavior and a new, disciplined, spiritual and honest way of dealing with themselves and others.
Depression could also be the problem, caused by a chemical imbalance (physical) which can be treated medically or by repressed feelings of low-self-esteem, trauma and other causes (emotional). Depression can manifest as willfullness, lack of interest in school, rage. Adolescent therapists are best able to recommend and treat in these instances.
Dual Diagnosis (substance abuse and primary or secondary emotional problems) can also exist and both require their own treatment.
Still another possible cause of behavior in a teen is Attention Deficit Disorder or A.D.D. Below, you’ll find information on it as well
Whatever the cause of your child’s ‘acting out,’ it likely did not get to its present stage overnight and it won’t go away overnight.
Careful Assessment and Diagnosis
Careful diagnosis and then equally careful assessment of treatment options or solutions will be required.
It is also vital that you and other family members ‘get healthy’ as a whole family becomes afflicted when one of its members, child or adult, has a serious problem. Often the ‘recovery’ of the rest of the family has much to do with and even serves as the catalyst in the healing of the teen or pre-teen.
Whatever you do for your child, it is equally important then that you get ‘treatment’ and ‘recovery’ and ‘support’ emotionally for dealing with it and its impact on you. So, too, for all other family members. Nar-Anon and Al-Anon Family Groups in your community are highly encouraged as are Tough Love support groups and individual counseling and ‘family therapy’ addressing the emotional needs of your entire family.
These are remedies and solutions if all else has failed. Often, suspending being emotional and judgemental and talking calmly and patiently with your teen or pre-teen and some good counseling can work and make long-term disciplinary programs unnecessary.
Remember that the second part of tough love is love.
Here are additional resources:
- Boys Town Hotline
- American Psychological Association
- Adolescent Psychology Guides
- Indiana Youth Ranch
- Violence Resources @ Child Net
- Vision Quest Program
- AACAP Child/Adolescent Psychiatry
- US Dept. of Health Administration for Children & Families
- National Juvenile Justice Office, US Dept. of Justice
- Parenting Teens
- Juvenile Programs Resources
All of the juvenile boot camps in the U.S. (both private and state) we have identified are for youth in the department of corrections or ordered there by a judge. This means, if your child is not under court order or in custody, placement in a juvenile boot camp is not an option.