How a week at youth camp saved my son

MATT had lost it. Again. His violent outbursts were escalating - punching holes in the walls, punching his dad, and verbally abusing his sisters and mum.

Trish didn't know what to do so she called the police.

"You're supposed to protect your children, not get them in trouble," she said.

"They told me I had to be prepared he might be arrested. It was horrible having to make that choice."

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Trish, who we have chosen not to identify to protect her family, said while the visit did shake her son up, it didn't change his behaviour.

For 12 months Matt was uncontrollable.

He tried to run away from home four or five times, the family was a mess, and the best option was threatening Matt with being removed by Department of Communities.

Trish became desperate.

"He was hanging out with a group of kids that were doing the same things - being violent at home, swearing and abusing their parents, playing violent video games and running away," she said.

"We spoke to his teachers (but) they said he was actually the good one in the group."

"I thought we had the worst kid in the world and they were telling me the other boys' parents were dealing with more."

This year they sent Matt to a youth camp in Brisbane.

It was only a week-long but the boy that was tearing the family apart came back as the son they loved and remembered.

"Dad and I were fighting a lot," Matt, 14, told the Observer yesterday. "But when I got back, that changed."

Being away and having fun gave him a chance to think about what was happening at home.

"I still get angry (now), but I've learnt how to deal with it," he said.

"I know I have to listen to some music, lie down and come back when I've calmed down."

"I can't tell you how grateful I am that we got our son back," Trish said.



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