Experts: Boot camps don't stop violence

Panel recommends counseling for teens, parents

Associated Press/October 15, 2004

Washington -- Boot camps and other "get tough" program for adolescents do not prevent criminal behavior, as intended, and may make the problem even worse, an expert panel concluded Friday.

Furthermore, laws transferring juveniles into the adult court system lead these teens to commit more violence and do not deter others from committing crime, the panel said.

More promising, it said, are programs that offer intensive counseling for families and young people at risk.

The 13-member panel of experts, convened by the National Institutes of Health, reviewed the available scientific evidence to look for consensus on causes of youth violence and ways to prevent it.

"'Scare tactics' don't work," the panel concluded in its report, which was released Friday. "Programs that seek to prevent violence through fear and tough treatment do not work."

Youth violence has declined from its peak a decade ago, but violent crime rates are still high, the panel said.

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