North Carolina Schools for Troubled Teens

By Erica Loop
When your child needs help, a therapy-based school can ease family conflict.
When your child needs help, a therapy-based school can ease family conflict.

Whether your child is constantly cutting school, has had trouble with the law or is out of control in some other way, schools for troubled teens provide a way to get him back in line. When you’ve tried everything else, these schools often offer military-style discipline, confidence-building and psychological services, according to the Federal Trade Commission. If you live in North Carolina, there are a variety of residential and daytime schools for troubled teens.

Therapeutic Schools

Therapeutic schools offer troubled students the chance to learn and develop, while providing the structure and supervision that teens with behavioral or psychological problems need. Serving troubled teens with a variety of needs, these schools use different approaches based on the types of students who attend. These include counseling, behavioral therapy, addiction counseling and other similar services, along with a full high school-level academic program. Wolf Creek Academy is a therapeutic Christian boarding school, located in the mountains of Western North Carolina. This co-ed school helps troubled teens who have anger issues, oppositional defiance disorder, substance abuse problems, eating disorders, anti-social behaviors, learning disabilities, depression and family conflict.

Siler City’s Auldern Academy also offers both academic and counseling services for students with behavior, emotional and learning issues. Auldern’s student life department also teaches troubled teens everyday life skills and how to navigate peer relationships.

Military School

Military schools are highly structured learning environments that challenge troubled teens to overcome their issues and become leader. While military schools provide the structure that teens with behavioral problems need, these schools typically don’t accept teens who have engaged in criminal activity, drug abuse and other serious problems. Unlike therapeutic schools, military schools don’t provide counseling or therapy services. North Carolina’s Oak Ridge Military Academy uses adult and peer mentors to positively influence the students. The school focuses on developing personal responsibility, leadership, discipline and honor. Even though the name "military" implies training students to serve in the armed forces, military schools such as Oak Ridge actual prep teens for college. The school does not accept students with serious developmental delays that require special education classes. Oak Ridge does accept teens with attention deficit disorder and similar conditions as long as they are able to learn in traditional classrooms.

State-Operated Facilities

Teens in North Carolina who have serious problems, are runaways or who have committed crimes may be sent to state-operated juvenile facilities. The court sends teens to these strictly structured centers. Teens who are runaways or who have committed delinquent acts may go to juvenile detention centers while awaiting a hearing. North Carolina teens who have a history of delinquency or have committed violent or serious acts may be sent to youth development centers. Youth in the live-in development centers get both educational and therapeutic services. The state operates both types of centers.

Overseeing the Schools

Just as there isn’t only one type of school for troubled teens in North Carolina, there isn’t just one agency that governs these programs. Private schools, such as Wolf Creek Academy, are often recognized by the North Carolina state division of non-public education. These schools must follow the state’s requirements for all private schools, including safety and health standards as well as operational regulations, attendance policies and standardized testing requirements.

Some schools, such as Auldern, are also accredited by the National Independent Private Schools Association. NIPSA reviews the school’s curriculum, educational philosophy, goals, residential facilities, staff, services and activities to ensure quality.

Juvenile detention and development center schools are state-run and subject to the NC Department of Public Safety’s guidelines and regulations.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.