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Scared Straight No Longer Recommended

The Justice Department no longer recommends Scared Straight and similar styled programs. This has been true for quite some time now. Using fear and intimidation to change teen behavior does not work, but there are still plenty of similar programs operating in communities around the country using similar techniques.

Scared Straight, founded in the 1970’s to deter juvenile delinquents from crime, exposed teens to adult prisoners and the prison environment in a highly confrontational manner in the hopes of scaring them into changing their behavior. The wide adoption of the program lead to a number of studies that came to the conclusion that the program did not work and even increased the likelihood of incarceration.

Today, programs like Scared Straight are still prevalent around the country for juvenile offenders along with similarly styled programs for teens with behavior problems such as anger, lack of discipline, defiance, and drug use. The harsh, military-styled boot camps of today are highly confrontational and use fear and intimidation to motivate teens. If you do a search on the web about teen boot camps not working, you will see many articles about boot camps and their ineffectiveness.

Below we have put together a number of articles on military-style boot camps and boot camps in general that we think you should read before making a decision on what type of program is best your teen.

The Articles

“U.S. Department of Justice does not support Scared Straight-style programs, and instead focuses on programs that research has proven effective, such as mentoring programs, which use positive relationships to modify youth’s behavior.”

The Parenting section of has an interesting article on boot camps. Although not strictly opposed to boot camps, suggests that careful consideration is required with an eye to longer stays at a residential treatment centers.

Psychology Today has an article that points to what does work for teens, even at boot camps.

An article by Dr. Marty Beyer that outlines in a very comprehensive way why boot camps are not a good idea. The main focus is on helping juvenile offenders, but the information applies also to misbehaving teens not yet in the justice system.

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