Sue Scheff: Do Reform Schools Still Exist?


How many times have we heard a child, usually a troubled teen, will be sent to "reform school?" What exactly is a reform school? Are they still running? Did they ever truly reform a child?

Years ago this expression of "reform school" was used as a threat and in some cases carried out by parents. Today we have learned (or hopefully have learned) that beating a child into submission rarely changes them for the better. This is strictly hypothetically speaking, not literally beating, however making the conditions extremely unbearable.

Programs such as "boot camps" can, in my opinion and what I have discovered, can actually build more anger and resentment within a child. That anger and resentment can be targeted at the person that sent them there: The parent.

If you find you are having difficulties with your teenager, and have discovered it has escalated to a point where you can no longer live with it, consider options that can help your teen, not harm him/her. After exhausting all your local resources such as school counselors, therapists, support groups, even out-patient programs, it may be time to consider residential therapy.

I am not sure reform schools even exist anymore, but I know some people still refer to residential therapy as a reform school. A true residential therapy program, whether it is an Emotional Growth School, Therapeutic Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center should not employ the harsh and punitive treatment we have see in movies such as Sleepers or sadly seen in the news about some boot camps and teen help programs.

Learn more about locating safe alternatives from my own experiences, A Parent's True Story, which is also included in my book, Wit's End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-Of-Control-Teen.

Keep in mind, Military Schools are not equipped to handle teens with behavioral issues. They offer structure, but usually are not able to handle a teen that is escalating out of control.

Remember, don't be a parent in denial, get your teen help if they need it. It is a parent's responsibility. It is not about "shipping" a teen off - it is about giving him/her a second chance at a healthy and bright future.

Learn from my experiences, gain from my knowledge.

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