14 year old boy dies at "tough love" boot camp
July 9, 2001 3:33 PM   Subscribe

14 year old boy dies at "tough love" boot camp for troubled teens, after becoming so delirious that he believed indians were chasing him. he passed out from dehydration in above 40 heat and died of suspected heart failure. earlier, when he screamed that he wanted to go home "they put some mud in his mouth and kicked him". are these increasingly popular boot camps justified?
posted by will (20 comments total)
Just saw a special on these things on A&E or Discovery (possibly TLC... whatever). Seems like these things REALLY need to be watched closer. This isn't the first death like this by a long shot.

I can't remember if there is an actual licensing program for it required in ANY state, but I think it would definitely be a start to keep this from happening again
posted by tj at 3:39 PM on July 9, 2001

"Police records show Mr. Long was arrested in 1989 after using a sledgehammer to break down the door to his former girlfriend's home. In 1991, he was fined and put on probation after punching the same woman in a dispute over their young son."-
Sounds like my ex Probation officer- who I heard probably beating his wife/girlfriend (screams) and then getting into his car and driving away while drinking a beer.
Trauma feedback loops
posted by metasak at 3:40 PM on July 9, 2001

40 degrees celcius?!

that's like... (double it and add thirty...)

110 degrees farenheit!

this PSA brought to you by o2b
posted by o2b at 3:45 PM on July 9, 2001

for us americans, of course)
posted by o2b at 3:45 PM on July 9, 2001

What's with this sudden resurgence in the Montel-style military mentality? A camp run by a abusive Marine whose staff is barely 18, 18 year olds who I picture as the sadistic types the military is fond of recruiting. Beatings, forcing others to eat mud, etc. Don't minors have any rights in this country?

Its pretty easy to blame the mindless idiocy of the military method and their paramilitary abuse camps, but the real problem lies in the belief that a quick fix of 'scaring straight' makes up for 15 years of bad or non-parenting. Any parent who sends their child to one of these camps isn't at the end of their rope, they're just following the pattern of bad parenting.
posted by skallas at 3:51 PM on July 9, 2001

Um... 110? That's not so bad... It's Arizona, after all. Try 117-120. Now that's hell.

As for the actual subject at hand, it's a sad testimony to _many_ things gone wrong in society that a parent would feel compelled to send their children to one of these places.
posted by silusGROK at 4:07 PM on July 9, 2001

What kind of misguided twit thinks that torturing children "to make them tough" will cause them to become rational, considerate, competent? The goal is simply to reduce their "wrong" self-esteem by what amounts to brainwashing, "returning them to the pecking order" by pecking them until they submit.

We used to do that to adults in America in what were termed "mental hospitals". That we now force the cure on our "intractible" children (won't knuckle under) shows how low we've sunk.
posted by Twang at 4:33 PM on July 9, 2001

Many children are delivered there by professional "minders" who arrive at their homes at parents' request and take them away without warning.

Nothing like good old fashion vigilantism to shape up your kids!

Justin Hurff, 12, said he had seen instructors handcuff Tony before pulling down his black sweat pants to "beat his butt with a boot." The teenager was screaming: "I want to go home!" Justin added. "But they put some mud in his mouth and kicked him some more."

I've never been a fan of these boot camps and find that tough love is ridiculous. It supposes that there is just one solution to everybody's problem. Don't want teen-age pregnancy? Your kid is incorrigible? I know! Beat his or her brains out and tell him "it's my way or the high way" and he or she will be magically cured! Problems, often even seemly simple ones, are often, if not, always, complex. They may involve a combination of a number of underlying problems. Sometimes they are even on the socioeconomic level. These boot camps and tough love don't address any of these underlying problems; they don’t even acknowledge that they exist. They just attack what's on the surface. To me that is irresponsible and possible harmful, which this case literally illustrates. I guess people like them because they are quick fixes, but like many quick fixes they are just “band-aid” solutions.
posted by Bag Man at 4:48 PM on July 9, 2001

"You can't just go around doing whatever you 'feel'! You got to have order."
posted by Hackworth at 4:59 PM on July 9, 2001

Here's a thought. Your kid dies after you send him to one of these camps, you go to jail for manslaughter.
posted by jpoulos at 5:18 PM on July 9, 2001

Times nine fifths, add 32.

temp = 40*(9/5) + 32 = 104;

Just because.
posted by alan at 5:25 PM on July 9, 2001

I HIGHLY suggest a read of the various articles at IntrepidNet Reporter (which I did some research and even wrote one a while back) about a group of companies that exploit children through "overseas behaviour modification schools for defiant teens" and organize themselves like the Co$. Very scary.
posted by bkdelong at 5:53 PM on July 9, 2001

These things have always seemed to me like the ultimate derelection of parental duty. I'm with jpoulos: drop the dead kid's parents in the slammer. And for God's sake, place their other kids with relatives...
posted by m.polo at 6:05 PM on July 9, 2001

My girlfriends brother went to something kind of like that, except it was out in the middle of nowhere, and he and 6 other guys had to camp outside, travelling from point to point, start fires without matches or lighters, cook their own food, sleep outside, etc etc....

THAT kind of program seems like it WOULD speed up maturation, as well as build confidence in your personal skills. I personally would have LOVED to do something like that as a teen.

But the military style shit is just sadistic and bizarre, almost like the parents getting back at their kids.... trying to make up for years of no discipline with a couple of months of extreme discipline. Ick.
posted by Espoo2 at 9:40 PM on July 9, 2001

Programs like Outward Bound are meant to teach children self-reliance, concentration, endurance, teamwork, survival skills, and a little humility in the face of Nature, but are conducted by certified instructors who place the child's safety first.
These boot camps are child abuse by proxy.
posted by twitch at 10:49 PM on July 9, 2001

I don't understand how they were able to run the camp the way it was anyway. The day the boy died, the high in Phoenix was 112¡. In the area where the camp was located it was probably more like 115¡. The local news footage showed the boys wearing black long sleeve sweatshirts and pants. They had also been living outside in tents the entire week. Even Sheriff Joe Arpaio treats his prisioners at "tent city" better than this.

Whatever happened to parents being responsible and taking an active part in the upbringing of their children. Rather than to ship them off to some boot camp when they become unruly and impossible to manage?
posted by 120degrees at 10:51 PM on July 9, 2001

When the facts come out about what happened, it's not the components of this program that's the problem.

Rubbish. These oxymoronic tough love camps are seemingly staffed by morons (no, I'm not laughing or trying to derive a laugh about this story).

I cannot see that beating and humiliating a child in need of help is assisting them in developing into anything like a well rounded human being in anyway whatsoever.

Until recently I used to help run a summer camp for kids in the UK. Being run by Quakers, it was a place that was the antithesis of the school of thought being applied at these bootcamps. There were often many teenagers regarded as on the brink of serious trouble in attendance and I will not claim that there was a 100% success rate in helping all of them, but many of them, myself included, were helped to address serious problems in their lives through attending a camp whose basis was loving, sharing and communicating with others.

Is there anything that can be done to stop these camps before there is another senseless death?
posted by davehat at 11:02 PM on July 9, 2001

You know, don't take this the wrong way or anything, but when I read this story and the previous one about the glowsticks, the thought just occurs to me: has America finally gone stark staring bonkers?
posted by salmacis at 12:29 AM on July 10, 2001

"has America finally gone stark staring bonkers?"

You're a little late...
posted by CrayDrygu at 6:23 AM on July 10, 2001

What I haven't heard anyone mention yet is the enormous popularity of these "boot camps" on daytime TV talk shows - specifically Maury Povich and Sally Jesse Raphael. Almost every time I've seen those shows in the last year, at least one of those two is doing one about "send my teenage girl to boot camp for dressing in sexy clothes." The audience gets all riled up yelling insults at the kids, with nary a thought to what sort of rotten excuse for parenting got them that way in the first place.

Y'know, when I learned about the popularity of bear baiting rings in Elizabethan England I thought it sounded barbaric and hideous - but look at us: we do it with children.
posted by dnash at 7:28 AM on July 10, 2001

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