Are Military Schools in Utah Good for Troubled Teens?
Parents searching for military schools for troubled youth are usually at their wit’s end when it comes to dealing with their teenagers. Some want answers for dealing with angry, belligerent, and defiant teens who are putting themselves and others at risk. Others have teens who seem completely unmotivated and lazy. A military school, Utah parents think, is the answer. Many admirable people serve in our military. Our soldiers are known for their courage, professionalism, and incredible work ethic. But not every teen is cut out for a military-style environment. In some cases, military schools might even be dangerous.
The Truth About Military Schools
A real military academy isn’t designed as an alternative school for troubled youth. It’s a rigorous educational environment with enriched military history studies and military-like physical training. Not every student who joins a military school goes on to serve in the Armed Forces, but many go onto some of the country’s top service academies. A legitimate military school is, first and foremost, a college preparatory school.Not every school that labels itself a military school in Utah is a legitimate military academy. Often, so-called military schools for troubled youth claim they will help troubled teens by using harsh discipline and strict rules. Unfortunately, these schools often lack the tools to address the reasons behind negative behaviors. Students don’t become more mature; they grow more resentful and defiant.The biggest danger of sending a child to so-called military schools is that the child could have a serious underlying condition. These may include:
- Learning disabilities and neurological disorders. Problems like ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome, dyslexia, or autism spectrum disorders can make schoolwork very difficult for teens. Because they’re afraid of failing in front of their peers or disappointing their parents, they stop doing their work or they behave poorly in class.
- Psychological disorders. Some teens stop trying at school and at home because they’re suffering from clinical depression. Depressed teens feel no motivation to do much of anything, not because they’re lazy but because they’re clinically unable to find the will. Teens with PTSD might be tortured by intrusive memories as well as limiting beliefs stemming from the experience.
- Social anxiety. Because of bullying or even just intense introversion, some teens feel incredibly vulnerable in a school environment. Adding normal teen concerns about appearance with a strong aversion to social contact is a recipe for a withdrawn, bristly teen.
Parents looking for military schools for troubled youth are, almost 100 percent of the time, loving and committed parents. Either because they’ve been poorly served by public schools or because they’re exhausted by constant fighting and frustration, these parents feel unable to cope with a troubled teen. In some cases, the negativity becomes so intense that their teens act out, making the home unsafe. Military school, Utah parents assume, is a quick and effective solution. Unfortunately, it may only lead to more problems.
What Can Desperate Parents Do?
Therapeutic boarding schools are good alternatives to military schools for troubled youth when teens are in crisis. Schools like Diamond Ranch Academy in Hurricane, Utah, are staffed by licensed therapists, caring teachers, and trained youth supervisors.
Schools like Diamond Ranch are highly structured, and students are expected to earn every privilege. Students will do chores in the dorm, and they will complete tasks around the campus. At the same time, therapeutic boarding school staff avoid yelling at kids or humiliating them into obedience. They use effective techniques, such as Positive Control Systems, to de-escalate conflict and help teens solve problems.
Before parents enroll their troubled teens in a military school, it’s a good idea to do the following:
- Talk to a professional. Therapists, social workers, and school psychologists can offer useful insights about whether a therapeutic boarding school is right for a troubled teen. They can catch diagnoses parents might have missed, and they can evaluate whether taking the teen away from the home environment is the best solution.
- Visit some therapeutic boarding schools. Any school considered by a parent of troubled teens should have a staff with trained and licensed therapists. For students who are resistant to traditional therapy, Diamond Ranch offers an equine therapy program in which students learn to work with and care for horses.
- Accredited academics. The school’s academic classes should be accredited, which not only ensures their quality but also makes classes transferable to another high school.
- Extracurricular activities. Structured extracurricular activities, especially team activities or clubs, can be great positive outlets for teens. They give teens who’ve struggled academically other ways to excel, and they promote teamwork and relationship building.
Before You Call a Military School for Troubled Youth
So-called military schools for troubled youth are often staffed by people who lack license or training. To avoid spending tens of thousands of dollars and getting no results — or even worse, having your child return home worse than when he or she left — try a therapeutic boarding school like Diamond Ranch Academy instead.
Contact us or schedule a visit to learn more about Diamond Ranch Academy and how we are well-suited to help your family.