Military-Style Residential Treatment for Disruptive Adolescents: Effective for Some Girls, All Girls, When, and Why?


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Abstract

The authors evaluated the effectiveness of military-style residential treatment for adolescents with conduct, academic, and substance use problems. They compared 171 boys and 81 girls (ages 16–18 years) referred to a 22-week boot camp administered by the Wisconsin National Guard. At referral, girls showed equal levels of conduct problems as boys, but higher levels of comorbid internalizing symptoms. Completion rates were similar across genders; however, most (84%) girls with histories of abuse withdrew from treatment. At 6-month follow-up, program graduates showed improved social–emotional functioning, greater frequency of school completion and employment, and lower frequency of substance use problems and arrest than controls. Outcomes were independent of gender. Results suggest military-style treatment can be effective for both genders, but treatment effectiveness is reduced considerably for girls with histories of maltreatment.

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