WASHINGTON — The House approved national standards Wednesday for juvenile boot camps and other public and private programs intended to help troubled youths.
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. Also, children would have to have reasonable access to a telephone.
"Today we are taking an important step toward finally ending the horrific abuses that have gone on far too long in the residential programs for teens," said the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif.
The White House expressed opposition, and the Senate has yet to consider the measure.
The bill is a result of widespread accounts of youngsters harmed or neglected at therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness camps and boot camps. About 20,000 to 30,000 teenagers attend such camps. In Florida, a 14-year-old died at a Bay County camp in 2006.