The House of Representatives approved national standards on juvenile boot camps and other public and private programs intended to help troubled youth, the Associated Press reports. The legislation, which passed 318-103, would bar excessive “tough love” practices such as denying essential water, food, clothing, shelter or medical care. Physical restraint would be allowed only when the safety of the child or others is at issue. The White House expressed opposition.
The bill results from widespread accounts of youngsters suffering harmed or neglected at therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness camps, and boot camps attended by an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 teens. The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said 28 states in 2006 reported at least one youth fatality in a residential facility from accidents, suicide, or neglect. The White House oppses the bill because it expands federal oversight and could make states less inclined to meet their responsibilities in preventing and investigating abuse.