What is Reform School: History, Facts, and Secrets

‘What is a reform school’ is a valid question that anyone seeking to know how teenagers who have committed a crime or done something bad asks. 

Just as prisons help rehabilitate individuals who have gone against the laws and statutes that guide human behavior, in the same vein, a reform school serves as a rehabilitation center for teenagers that have gone against the law before sending them to adult prison.

This article contains detailed information about a reform school; the facts, history, and secrets. 

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What is Reform School: History, Facts, and Secrets
What is Reform School: History, Facts, and Secrets

What is A Reform School?

Reform schools were established by social reformers out of the desire to reduce the molestation of younger crime offenders by their older counterparts. For years, these schools have played a huge role.

According to Wikipedia, a reform school is a penal institution for teenagers which mainly operated between 1830 and 1900. In the United Kingdom and its member states, reform schools, as they were commonly called, or reformatories were set up from 1854 onwards for youngsters who were convicted of a crime as an alternative to an adult prison.

What is the History of Reform Schools?

Reform schools were a stronghold in the 1800s going towards the 1900s and the history of these schools can be traced back to the dissatisfaction of social reformers that found it unfit for juvenile offenders to be receiving the same treatment as adult offenders.

The reformers insisted that these juvenile offenders suffered sexual exploitation and molestation from their older inmates. And this caused a lot of them, when released, to be worse than they had been before they entered. This happens because of their experiences.

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The reform that introduced these schools in the early 90s first sought to introduce a juvenile code and then a court. Then, it sought to build institutions where all these teenage offenders could stay. These centers were then called  “reform schools” because of the narrative the reformers sought to change, they 

In the United Kingdom, there were two schools; reformatory schools and industrial schools. The industrial schools prevented resistless children from becoming criminals while the reformatory schools acted as rehabilitation centers for juvenile offenders.

In the 19th century, as more children roamed the streets despite the paid employment opportunities available for young people, crime rates kept increasing. This became a point of concern, and the Parliament started an investigation which changed the laws and made it mandatory for children to attend industrial schools.

Because of the Parliament’s decision, industrial and reform schools received appropriate funding to enable them to address their affairs.

Yet, as time passed, the same behavior that was rampant in correctional centers started growing in the reform schools – older juveniles sexually exploiting and molesting.

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How Do Reform Schools Function?

Reform schools functioned as correctional centers for teenagers who are guilty of performing certain crimes against society.

The difference in these schools is the age range of the people therefore it functions like juvenile centers.

A major difference, however, is the indoctrination of these young people into different areas of productive learning that helps them build up skillsets to solve problems and grant them a means of livelihood.

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Do Reform Schools Still Exist?

Reform schools still exist, but they don’t operate in that juvenile structure anymore because of uncontrolled sexual exploitation and molestation.

Many efforts are ongoing to allow the youths an opportunity to thrive in a well-coordinated home setting by reducing the growing population of these centers to the minimum number.

Additionally, to make the situation less detrimental, several institutions are now coeducational giving these young people an opportunity to keep improving their character while learning.

Alternative strategies such as maximizing less-restrictive settings that allow kids to stay home while attending any of these schools have added a level of structure to the center and a strict curfew is also among the plan that will help achieve this aim.

In so many countries today, these schools have been revamped to be youth detention centers or continuation high schools. And there are currently no statutes that guide the decision of taking a child to a reform school or guidelines checking the severity of a crime, nor are there.

Why Attend Reform Schools?

if you are a parent or a teen who has trouble attending traditional schools, then you may have to consider a reform school. Basically, traditional schools are not adequately equipped to care for teens who have mental, behavioral, or emotional issues.

If you are still confused about what a reform school is or if or not you should attend one, here are a few signs that you or your adolescent teen may need professional help and you should consider enrolling or enrolling your teen in a reform school:

  • Severe mood swings
  • Disinterest in hobbies and friends
  • Increased isolation
  • Defiance
  • Lack of motivation
  • A dramatic drop in grades
  • Resistance to authority
  • Skipping school
  • Intense emotional outbursts
  • Increased aggression
  • Threats or actual violence
  • Stealing
  • Running away
  • Bullying or being the victim of bullies
  • Self-harm
  • Substance abuse
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Reactive attachment disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
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FAQ What is Reform School: History, Facts, and Secrets

What is a Reform School?

A reform school is a correctional institution for teenagers or very young individuals guilty of performing a crime at different levels.

Do Reform Schools Still Exist

Yes, reform schools still exist

What does reform school mean?

Reform school means a place where individuals can get behavioral and mental reformation for them to contribute valuably to society.

Is there a need for educational reform?

Yes, there is a strong need for educational reform.

How do reform schools function?

Reform schools functioned as correctional centers for teenagers who are guilty of performing certain crimes against society.


Reform schools can still be found in numerous countries and they play a vital role in the behavioral restructuring and skill empowerment of young people. Most of these countries are putting down plans to improve them to a standard that is acceptable worldwide.


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