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How to avoid being sent to teen boot camp or military school

If you see or hear the words "boot camp", "troubled teen", "behavior modification", "residential treatment", or "oppositional defiant disorder" anywhere near your parents, you should start getting concerned. Don't panic though, but be concerned, and don't let your guard down for a minute. Why? Because many of these camps and programs/schools are designed to mentally and physically break you down, and many kids and teens have died in these places. Many of the ones that survived have been scarred for life.

If your parents are thinking of sending you to a boot camp (or a military school, I will just call them "boot camps" from now on, since they're pretty much the same thing), it doesn't mean they want to kill or torture you, it probably means they don't know how these places operate. Most people don't know, either. If your parents are reasonable people, you might consider informing them of some of the links on this page, or getting them to read this book: An American GULAG - Secret P.O.W. Camps for Teens. If you don't think they'll listen to you, you can try informing them anyway, but you should first come up with an escape plan for in case they don't. Either way, read on first before you do anything.

So, how do boot camps work?

The theory behind most boot camps is that if you scream enough at "troubled teens" and discipline them, they will "get in line" and do as you say. Basically, they operate on fear. But that's not the scary part. The worst part is how they try to manipulate you into doing as they say. Here are some examples from teens who have actually been in these places:

  • The session consisted of staff getting you to talk about your biggest issues. If something bad had happened in your life they wanted you to say it. Then once you did they would use it against you, whether it was to make you feel guilty, to use that issue to make you turn against other kids, or whatever set of circumstances they could manipulate it into there favor.
  • Writes one 14-year-old about his stay in a mental rehab facility: "If you do what they want, you are manipulating. If you don't, then you are defiant. If you walk around the ward, then you are pacing, if you sit down, then you are withdrawn. If you say you're sick, then you're trying to get attention. If you say you're not sick, then you are in denial. If you do your schoolwork right then you are a perfectionist who is obsessive about details. If you make mistakes, then you are sloppy and obviously don't care about education. And you know what? My doctor says this hospital is good for me because it's consistent."
  • I had to stand facing a wall for three days, except for going to the bathroom, because I had dust on my chair. My muscles killed me for three weeks. But if you fall down, you'll be shot up with Thorazine or put in seclusion for being defiant. So you stand there, and you have nothing to do but think. I'd pretend I was riding through LA on a bus, and reciting streets in my head, or play chess in my head, or count backwards from 2,000 by sevens. Otherwise you'd go berserk.
  • Every time a staff person told me to do something, I wouldn't do it. I was so mad about being there that I just said 'no way' to every order. When you don't do as they say, then you get a time out. And then you get put in SR (Seclusion Room) in restraints. Restraints are like a belt that goes around your waist and then there are these leather and plastic loops and they attach the handcuffs to the belt. So your arms are behind your back the whole time and you get sore! That's during the day. At night it's worse. They put you in five point, which is the loop and leather belt around your hands to attach them to the bed. And the same with your legs and they are spread apart. Then there is a leather belt from around the waist too.

If you really think your parents will send you to a boot camp or military school:

Try to find out the name(s) of the camps they are considering sending you to, and do your own research on each of them. Search Google with the place's name, and search these sites for any testimonials people have written about them. And read this: Warning Signs of Potentially Abusive Facilities.

If it turns out the camp sounds like an abusive place, and your parents are reasonable people, you can tell them your findings. If they are not... start preparing for the worst.

How they take you to the facility

It's like being abducted. One or more large guys comes to get you when you least expect it (this could be at home OR at school), they literally carry or drag you to their van, and either drive you to the camp or take you to the airport (some of these places operate in other countries). Parents are often advised by the staff there to let things calm down first before they send you off... to catch you off guard. Stay alert.

You might be able to run before they grab you, so make sure you have a small bag packed with anything you will need to keep you going for a while. You can go to the police, or get a lawyer. Preferably beforehand, though.

If they do manage to grab you, scream "RAPE!" as loud as you can. Hopefully someone will hear you and try to help. Police are supposed to help you first and ask questions later.

How to Avoid Abduction - You really need to read this.

If all else fails...

If you do actually end up in one of these boot camps, don't let them break you. However, to reduce the chances of them physically harming you, you may have to play their game. Do as they say, and follow their rules. They can make you say and do stupid things, but they can't take your mind unless you let them. Don't. They can only legally keep you in there until you either "graduate", or until you turn 18. If you're 18, then suddenly the law takes you seriously, and you can leave if you want to. If 18 is a long way off, "graduating" is probably the safest option. Unless you can find some way to escape... but if you get caught trying to escape, I don't want to think about what they'll do to you as punishment.

Here are some Behavior Modification sites with more info you should probably read.

If you have any suggestions for what I should add to this page, please contact me.

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