TORCH lights way for troubled teens
“We have a lot of repeat offenders, whether it be truancy or lack of obedience, they don’t seem to get it,” said Detective Victor Hernandez, TORCH coordinator. “This program is primarily for parents who are not able to control their kids’ behaviors and to provide structure for the teens.” Hernandez said TORCH was copied from a program previously used by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “We went through their training and we made it our own and created it to meet our needs,” Hernandez said. “One of the things we did was implement a parenting class component so the parents are learning as the kids are going through the boot camp.” Eugene Partida, Matthew’s father, said he learned a lot from the program. “I am a big advocate of the program and I always talk to people about it who aren’t aware of it,” Eugene Partida, 43, said. “It was very positive but people need to understand it still takes work after the program ends, your kids won’t go on cruise control.” The program costs $45, which covers a uniform fee for the student participant and a book for the parents. It’s open to anyone able to attend the camp, which is held Saturdays at Mountain View High School in El Monte. Hernandez said while most kids who participate in the program are referred by counselors, school administration and the juvenile court systems, some chose to join the program on their own. “It’s a good way to get the kids to realize their mistakes and help them turn their lives around and it seems like the ones finishing the program move on and do well,” Hernandez said. At the camp, students are taught how to talk in a respectful way, how to follow instructions without questioning the reason and are given group counseling, first-aid training and martial arts instructions in addition to boot camp drills. “Kids don’t like the first two or three weeks. They are very apprehensive and rebellious,” Hernandez said. “But after the fifth or sixth week they start to come around and understand they are repeating the same things and have a choice to change their life.” [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2109160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! EL MONTE – Matthew Partida didn’t want to go to boot camp, but after getting expelled from school and being arrested twice, he said he really didn’t have a choice. “Before the program I got into a lot of trouble,” Matthew, 15, said. “I was arrested twice, I got kicked out of the \ and I almost got into fistfights with my dad. But after I finished I started doing things the right way.” Matthew is a graduate of the El Monte Police Department’s TORCH – or Teaching Obedience, Respect, Courage and Honor – Program created by the department’s community services division to help parents deal with their misbehaving kids. Established in 2000, the TORCH Program offers 12-week boot-camp sessions beginning in January, May and September, and is open to boys and girls ages 12-17.