Maybe it's just me, but I find the concept of "breaking someone down" at a boot camp or any other situation to be deplorable. I see it as deliberately inducing Stockholm Syndrome in someone. We are all human beings, entitled to dignity and a sense of self-respect. Maybe if these kids had MORE self-respect they wouldn't do these things in the first place, to get sent to boot camps. In a social climate where parents can lose custody if they spank their kids, how on earth can anyone justify manhandling kids like this? If people in this situation can't manage the kid without getting physical, they're doing it wrong. They have the resources to begin with, they have safe rooms (or should have) where the kids can be put to calm down from a rage, they should have trained staff who can deal in non-violent ways with aggressive kids. There ARE ways, in this situation. Or there should be. And to treat kids this way - what are we teaching them? What kind of father would this kid have been, if this method had been effective on teaching him to be a better citizen? He would have been thinking, "hey, it turned my life around. It proves that all a difficult kid needs is a good whupping and he'll be good." That's if it worked. And probably even if it didn't - having it used on him from a position of authority and right, teaches that this is the correct way to handle difficult kids. Or anyone who is being difficult, from his perspective. Very unhealthy.
I do feel, though, that a properly run boot camp can be a good thing. difficult child 1 was sent on something like this, run by a church organisation. The only bad thing about it - it formed him and the other boot camp attendees into a close-knit social group, where previously difficult child 1 had been mixing with the 'normal' kids. He came back from camp with a set of such weird friends that the nerds were too scared to go near him. And since difficult child 1 is fairly nerdy himself, it changed his social grouping for the worse, I felt. Not that I dislike his new friends, but they came with a lot of problems that didn't really help difficult child 1 to be around right then.
The end result of difficult child 1's boot camp was that the boys all developed a sense of team effort and also a sense of self-worth. They were encouraged to push themselves, to find reserves within them that they didn't know were there, to value themselves and to feel encouraged and NOT put down. They encouraged the boys, supported them, but did not force them to do something they really couldn't do. One day they were asked to abseil down a cliff. They were shown how but difficult child 1 simply couldn't do it. They talked to him, tried to help him pluck up the courage and he really wanted to do it but was simply too terrified. They let him off and did not belittle him for not doing it. It could have easily been handled negatively, but he came home saying, "I really wanted to do it, mum. Maybe one day I'll be able to, I just wasn't ready this time."
I've not seen an Aussie boot camp for kids that degrades them. Our people wouldn't stand for it, anyone running a camp like this would be out of a job and behind bars faster than you could say, "child abuse!"
We have a program for street kids and young offenders run by a city priest, Father Chris Riley.
He gets the kids involved in working to help other people. He had a group of them in Aceh helping to clean up after the tsunami. He took another lot to East Timor after the riots there. These kids want to be seen as tough, but they saw for themselves that it's much tougher in other parts of the world and there is no glory in it. He rounds these kids up and puts them to work to give them a work ethic and a sense of social conscience.
I wish we could send a dozen Father Chris Rileys around the world.