By Kaylee Wilson For USMilitary.com
Parents who have struggled with troubled teens have often tried many options to help get their children back on the right track. If a corrective program must address the use of drugs, alcohol and other addictive substances, a short- or long-term residential rehab program may be a good solution rather than military school. Such programs direct attention to the abusive behaviors that cause a teen to engage in self-destructive behavior, though they do not always get to the cause of the abuse. Wilderness programs that focus on detoxing, scared straight programs and therapeutic boarding schools offer similar therapies, all aiming to squash erosive behavior.
Military school tries to address the problems of troubled teens from a very different angle. It is a good option for a teen who does not have a personal struggle with drugs or alcohol and who is open to some positive guided discipline. The ideal candidates for this environment are a teen who realizes a little bit of structure and accountability could change his life for the better. Military school enrollees are willingly present and still have the capacity to respect rules and behavior policies.
Because a military school education gives certain weekend recreational freedoms not allowed in other programs, not every teen will succeed in this setting. There is a strict behavior code in place at many academies, and students are expected to honor this code on weekends in the absence of adult supervision. They are expected to have a strong desire to honor a sense of right and wrong. Troubled teens who have not been placed in a military setting of their own free will may see this as an opportunity to break the rules. They risk getting expelled from school and returning to the same friends and habits that were a negative influence.
For teens whose primary struggle is a lack of focus or underachieving, a military school may be a suitable alternative education. The discipline required to succeed in the classroom is reinforced by both other students and faculty, and students in these schools become self-motivated to do well.
The physical activity that is required as a part of the core curriculum at most military academies is also a strong motivation for discipline. Fitness becomes an achievement that is closely connected with academics and keeps students focused on good health habits and maintaining health goals. This is a component that is missing from many school programs, though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least an hour or physical activity per day for students age 6 to 17. It reduces stress and anxiety, improves endurance and builds self-esteem.
It is not always a foregone conclusion that a teen who is considered troubled must encounter the legal system or head to a facility designed to counter addiction or emotional breakdowns. Sometimes, teens who may have some minor behavior challenges simply need a solid, structured environment to keep them on the right path. A military school is not designed for every kind of problem a troubled teen is facing. For teens who need only a good plan and some consistent encouragement to excel, it may be the break they’ve needed all along.
Kaylee Wilson is a proud single mom and a professional writer. She currently contributes at Help Your Teen Now. Help Your Teen Now brings together a vast collection of resources that will help families find their bearings and learn more about military school.