Frequently Asked Questions


How do I know if Oxbow Academy is appropriate for my son?

Three good indicators are specific behaviors, patterns, and risk. What specific behaviors is your son engaging in? How often or under what circumstances do these behaviors occur? Finally, what risk is the young man willing to take to continue those behaviors?

It is important to recognize that generally speaking, behaviors you may know about are usually just the tip of the iceberg. There are typically many more occurrences parents know nothing about.

You should also keep in mind that some sexual behaviors are common and “normal” among adolescents.

What are considered “normal” teen behavior in regards to sex?

  • Sexually explicit conversations with peers
  • Obscenities and jokes within cultural norm
  • Sexual innuendo, flirting and courtship
  • Interest in erotica
  • Solitary masturbation
  • Hugging, kissing, holding hands
  • Foreplay, (petting, making out, fondling) and mutual masturbation **
  • Stable or Serial Monogamist intercourse: Stable monogamy is defined as a single sexual partner throughout adolescence. Serial monogamy indicates long-term (several months or years) involvement with a single partner which ends and is then followed by another. **

**There may be moral, social, religious or familial rules that discourage this behavior, but these behaviors are not abnormal or illegal when private, consensual, equal, and non-coercive.

What do you mean by risk?

Risk level is determined by the specific efforts the young man makes to avoid any structure or deterrent put in place by parents or authorities to stop the behavior. For example, a young man may be looking at pornography on the family computer. Having caught their teen parents put a block on the computer. The young man “hacks” through the block to continue access. That is considered risk.

Some teens are embarrassed when caught. They value their relationship with their parents and stop the behavior. If the young man continues behavior, his parents may take away the internet service. Some adolescents will go as far as being caught in a friend’s home accessing porn on their computer. Being in a friend’s home has increased the level of risk the teen is willing to take.

The bottom line is that the young man is willing to take a higher risk to continue his behaviors – even after it has caused family and/or social consequences.


Although some of these yellow flag or cautionary behaviors are not necessarily outside the range of normal behavior exhibited in teen peer groups, there should be a serious assessment made in order to rule out any red flag, and/or illegal behaviors. This is especially true when the behaviors are in the context of more than one issue that is listed below:

  • Sexual preoccupation/anxiety (interfering in daily functioning)
  • Pornographic interest (The type of pornography is a major factor here.)
  • Sexual intercourse/promiscuity (indiscriminate sexual contact with more than one partner during the same period of time.)
  • Sexually aggressive themes/obscenities
  • Sexual graffiti (especially chronic and impacting individuals)
  • Embarrassment of others with sexual themes
  • Violation of others’ body space
  • Pulling skirts up/pants down
  • Single occurrence of peeping, exposing with known peers
  • Mooning and obscene gestures
  • Masturbation to underwear (very common)


Red flag behaviors need further specialized evaluation. It would be extremely rare to have a student involved in a single red flag behavior. Usually, there will be additional yellow or red flag behaviors. Often, if more questions are asked, a pattern starts to appear. Red flag behaviors include:

  • Compulsive masturbation (especially chronic or public)
  • Degradation/humiliation of self or others with sexual themes
  • Attempting to expose others’ genitals
  • Chronic preoccupation with sexually aggressive pornography
  • Sexually explicit conversation with significantly younger children
  • Obscene phone calls, voyeurism, frottage, exhibitionism, sexual harassment
  • Touching genitals without permission (i.e. grabbing, goosing)
  • Sexually explicit threats (verbal or written)
  • Sexual contact with a significantly younger person. (Sibling, neighbor, relative)
  • Coerced sexual contact
  • Coerced penetration
  • Sexual contact with animals (bestiality)
  • Sexting (The use of cell phone or another electronic device to send pictures of oneself or others.)
  • Bestiality, child pornography, or violent pornography are examples of serious behavioral warnings.)

Will my son learn more “bad” or inappropriate behavior from the other boys?

Oxbow Academy provides a positive environment where strong boundaries are maintained. Our culture promotes safety and accountability. Students who are more advanced in their clinical work take a leading role in providing positive mentoring for newer students. Oxbow Academy provides an open and honest culture where students can discuss their issues without fear of rejection by their peers or therapists. Because of that, there is less likelihood of negative acting out. Students hold each other accountable for their behaviors and help each other stay focused on treatment progress.

What steps should I take to make my home safe for my other children?

The first step is developing an open and honest dialogue with your children.  Help your children understand what boundaries are expected in the home. It is also very important that parents have as much control as possible over the computers and other electronic devices in the home to ensure that inappropriate information is not being accessed or viewed.

Why does my son need a “sex-specific” program?

We understand sexual issues are generally symptomatic of other non-sexual problems which may include anxiety, depression, stress, poor social skills, and sexual identity confusion.

Because of our highly specialized treatment environment, students are able to fully disclose, some for the first time in years, the extent of their behaviors without fear of shocking their therapists or being ostracized by their peers. They can discuss their problems without shame, guilt, or secrecy. This is not the case in other programs, where students are often ostracized and frequently expelled once they disclose their sexual history.

If a student does not feel safe he will not divulge the extent of his behaviors nor will he participate fully any therapeutic interventions.

Are there other treatment programs that specialize in sexual issues available?

Currently, there are very few programs which specialize in treating adolescent males with sexual behavioral problems.  Many programs will say they address these issues but they do not provide the kind of treatment environment where a student feels completely safe to discuss sexual issues. If this environment is not in place, students simply will not engage.  Oxbow Academy is one of a few programs across the country that has been developed specifically to address adolescent male sexual behavioral problems.

When can my son enroll?

Our open enrollment policy allows students to enter treatment at any time.

What type of academic program do you offer?

Our academic program is accredited through the Northwest Accreditation Commission as well as certified through the state of Utah. All of our teachers are licensed, professional teachers.

Will my son’s current grades and credits transfer?

If your son has earned credits from an accredited school or program those credits will transfer to Oxbow Academy. Students leave Oxbow Academy with an official transcript to facilitate transferring credits earned at Oxbow Academy to other schools.

Where do kids go after treatment?

Students may transition from Oxbow Academy to a variety of placements.  Some return home and enroll in public schools. Some go to boarding schools or therapeutic boarding schools. Some of our former students go on to colleges and others choose independent living programs.  From the moment the student enters Oxbow Academy, therapists will be working with the student and his family to develop a transition plan for a successful life after Oxbow Academy.

What is the average length of the program?

Treatment direction and duration is usually determined after a comprehensive diagnostic assessment period. When all of that information has compiled the therapy team recommends a course of treatment appropriate for each individual student. The length of stay is primarily determined by the student’s willingness to work and complete his specific treatment plan. Depending on the student’s issues and his resistance to therapy, the average treatment stay is eight to thirteen months.

What happens after the Diagnostic Assessment Period?

The most important part of the Diagnostic Assessment Period is determining the appropriate course of treatment.  After the evaluation is complete it may be decided that a young man does not need an intensive residential program and can benefit from an in-home therapeutic intervention. If this is the decided course of treatment we will work with the family to establish services in home.  If, however, the evaluation recommends a specialized residential program we will work with the family to help them understand the treatment and determine the appropriate course.

Can my son come home to visit while he is in treatment?

Students and families are prepared for home visits in Phase 3 of treatment. Visits are arranged with parents and coordinated through the student’s therapist. Parents are also allowed to visit their son in Utah. We do not offer lodging accommodations for those visits. We request parents coordinate these visits with their student’s therapist to make sure they occur at times that are therapeutically optimal.

Is this a boot camp?

Oxbow Academy is not a boot camp.  It is a specialized residential treatment program designed to help students effectively deal with sexual behavioral problems. It is not shame-based or confrontational. It is a strength-based program.

Are religious influences or teachings incorporated into treatment?

Oxbow Academy uses a secular approach based on professional standards in treating students with sexual behavioral problems. Over the years, we have observed that many of our students have a desire for more spirituality as they begin to overcome their sexual issues and see themselves and others differently.  We work closely with our families to provide their student with any religious needs parents’ desire.

My son has been in previous programs. How do I know this one will work?

Many of the families we work with have expressed frustration about previous treatment programs that have been unsuccessful in helping their son.  Some of the programs have helped their son in certain areas of his life but were unable or unwilling to work with his sexual issues.  Oxbow Academy specializes in helping students with sexual behavioral problems. However, we take a holistic approach and also help our students with non-sexual issues as well as: anxiety disorders, drug issues, alcohol issues, depression, self-harm, anger issues, social issues, and other diagnoses.  We have found that once our students gain competency in dealing with their sexual issues the other areas they struggle with begin to subside and they are better able to manage the stressors in their lives.

If you would prefer to discuss your situation with a counselor, we invite you to call our admissions counselor, at 855-676-4272.

Oxbow Academy – New Hope, New Help, No Secrets.™