In 2005, 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson from was sentenced to probation after taking a joy ride with his stolen grandmothers car. Later that year, he violated his probation after trespassing on school grounds. His parents were given two options, either sending him to a juvenile detention center or boot camp. They chose boot camp as the better rehabilitation program, in hoping to change their son. Anderson lasted three hours at the Florida's Bay County Sheriff's Boot Camp before collapsing and being sent to the hospital, where he was declared dead the next morning. In those three hours, Anderson was required to run sixteen laps, unable to finish the drill instructors shoved ammonia to his face in order for him to regain consciousness and finish his task. Still unresisting, a nurse examined him but allowed the instructors to continue their “treatment” which consisted of punching, kicking, and slamming Anderson until he was unconscious. An autopsy report confirmed his death was a result of a combination of ammonia and the instructors guarding his mouth and nose.
Martin Lee Anderson did not last a day at this boot camp, and he is one of a dozen of troubled teens that have died due to the abuse and violations that occur at rehabilitation programs such as boot camps. These programs are not only hurting and abusing children, but also they are taking advantage, gaining profit from vulnerable parents, and most importantly not treating these troubled teens. In A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, Alex goes through an extreme rehabilitation program to change him from a violent gangster to a productive member of society. Similar to the troubled teens in today’s program, Alex was ignored the actual change and development, in favor of surface change.
The troubled teen industry today consist of wilderness programs, boot camps, behavior modification, and treatment boarding schools that promises desperate parents to cure and change their troubled child from drugs, disobedience, and violence. Both public and private, the troubled teen industry is an unregulated billion-dollar company. These programs believe in the approach that one must be broken both mentally and physically before being fixed. Also known as the “tough love” approach, treatments include corporal punishment, emotional attacks, humiliation, isolation, sleep and food deprivation, strict authoritarian leadership, harsh punishments, physical strenuous activities, and any other measures to turn a troubled teen to a productive member of society by the end of the program.
The first intensive therapy originated nearly five decades ago with Synanon, the first doctor-free drug treatment facility in the United States in California. Founded in 1958 by Charles Dederich, Synanon was aimed to fighting heroin and other drug addictions. Parents believed “that drugs could do far worse things to their children than a little rough treatment could” (Szalavitz). Dederich along with others began to live communally,...