Behavioral problems in children can be observed as early as age two. Opposition to parents and aggressive behavior towards other children is normal during early developmental stages. This behavior is normally decreases between the ages of 3 and 6 as children learn to speak and begin to understand acceptable social skills. This ability facilitates the child's need for expression of needs and desires, as well as the resolution of conflict. Failure to develop these skills may lead to more problematic behavior, such as conflicts with authority, truancy, running away from home, or more serious acts, such as vandalism, petty theft or violence. There may also be other hidden problems contributing to this behavior. Mental illness, attention-deficit-disorder (ADD), learning disabilities all may cause intense frustration in children who do not yet have the ability to understand what is happening to them. This frustration may manifest itself in delinquent behavior which is really a cry for help.
Poor academic performance is a good indicator that delinquency problems may be starting to take hold. The inability to complete assignments and getting bad grades may create self-esteem problems, feelings of alienation or worthlessness. Your child may begin to feel that there are no other options available for success. Joining other delinquents or gangs offers your child an opportunity of "fitting in" somewhere, even though it is an unhealthy environment to be in. Without intervention, this could lead to more serious problems and deteriorating behavior.
Prevention is truly the best way to avoid seeking treatment options. But sometimes our best efforts may not be enough. There are a wide variety of treatment options available for parents seeking help for their children. The type of treatment that is best suited for your child will take into consideration the degree of delinquency along with the past history of the juvenile. Results of a controlled study involving children and adolescents with behavior disorders or delinquency suggest that family intervention and parenting skills can significantly reduce the amount of time juvenile delinquents spend in institutions and detention centers. This evidence indicates that strong family and parenting interventions have beneficial effects on reducing criminal activity in juveniles.
Group Home Treatment Programs
A 1993 study by the Juvenile Justice System evaluated the effectiveness of Group Home Treatment Programs. In it they found that 62.5% of the juveniles were rated as successful. The rest either failed, were sent to another facility, or committed another delinquent act after their release. Juveniles with prior treatment, such as probation, were more successful than those with no prior treatment or time spent in a detention center. These results indicate that Group Home Treatment is most effective in the early stages of delinquency.
Therapeutic Boarding Schools
Therapeutic Boarding Schools are designed for youth that are failing academically, have poor self-esteem, are rebellious, or have exhibited other self-defeating behaviors. If they have been allowed to continue down this destructive path, full-time intervention may be the answer. Therapeutic Boarding Schools provide an environment for youth to change course by helping them improve their academic and social skills. As the name implies, therapy is a key ingredient in these type of schools and juveniles are placed in groups according to their needs. In cases with more severe problems, individualized treatment may be given. A curriculum is designed to meet the child's academic needs and recreational activities are assigned to teach responsibility and improve self-esteem. The success rate for treatments of this type is a direct result of personalized attention to students with particular emphasis on "emotional growth." Therapeutic Boarding Schools differ in philosophy and purpose so it is important to research them thoroughly before making a decision.
Wilderness Therapy Treatment Programs
Wilderness Therapy Treatment Programs are short term outdoor programs for children exhibiting problem behaviors. It provides an opportunity for counselors to evaluate juveniles in a controlled environment, away from every day distractions, and determine if further treatment is warranted. The wilderness setting tends to take the edge off their more aggressive tendencies. They are taken off balance and are more honest about their outrageous behaviors. If longer term treatment is needed, counselors will make an evaluation for the parents along with recommendations for treatment. In some cases, wilderness treatment is sufficient to steer a child onto the right path. The experience of living and working in the wilderness has tremendous impact on self-esteem and worth. Since Wilderness Therapy Treatment Programs are a relatively new form of therapy for troubled youth it is difficult to quantify the success rate of these programs. However, there have been a number of studies done that indicate juveniles that participate in treatment programs tend not revert to their previous delinquent behavior.
Residential Treatment Schools
Residential Treatment Schools offer an excellent alternative for educating children outside of the home. They provide a community atmosphere where each student is given the opportunity to improve their interaction with other students and faculty. These programs offer students the tools to succeed with their vocational, social and spiritual goals. Class sizes are smaller allowing each student to receive the attention they need to excel. Faculty members provide positive role models for residents. The goal of these schools is to provide a structured environment where students can learn positive traits for success and personal growth.