Usual definitions of torture include the use of practices such as solitary confinement, non-medical application of psychiatric drugs, unprovoked beatings, starvation, and verbal abuse as means to change a person’s behavior. Many Americans are reluctant to support the use of these techniques even on criminals, much less teenagers with behavioral problems.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what is being done on a large-scale basis as “tough-love” programs have become a booming industry. These programs come in several varieties, including boot camps, “therapeutic” boarding schools or academies, and wilderness programs. At the cost of several thousand dollars per month (up to $40,000/year), these schools supposedly provide a climate where troubled teens can continue their regular education while receiving treatments designed to improve their behavior.
In the philosophy of these schools, reform involves two goals: to break kids down through strict discipline and routine, then to build them back up through self-examination and therapy of various sorts. Usually, only the former is accomplished. So successful is the breaking down process that former inmates of these institutions often suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome, even years after being freed. Ex-students call themselves, with good cause, “survivors”.
The deeper you dig, the more it becomes a profit center at the expense of the young.