LOS ANGELES (CBS)— The operator behind a Pasadena youth boot camp is the focus of a police investigation Friday after videos surfaced that allegedly showed camp instructors involved in questionable practices.

Kelvin “Sgt. Mac” McFarland and other instructors at “Family First Boot Camp” were caught on a video posted to the Pasadena Star News website shouting at a boy with a tire around his neck and forcing kids to drink water until they vomited.

Police told the Pasadena Star News they would launch an investigation into the footage by first questioning McFarland.

boot mac1 Discipline Or Abuse? Teens Caught Vomiting In Pasadena Boot Camp Video

Kelvin "Sgt. Mac" McFarland already faces kidnapping, child abuse, false imprisonment, and other charges stemming from a separate incident. (CBS)

McFarland was charged earlier this year with kidnapping, false imprisonment, and extortion stemming from an separate incident.

Prosecutors allege McFarland handcuffed a truant 14-year-old girl and refused to let her leave until her family paid him an undisclosed amount of cash.

And while criticism of the footage has already echoed from City Hall to Washington, there is some debate over whether the actions actually constitute child abuse.

Dr. David Narang, child psychologist at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, believes children should be treated with compassion regardless of the circumstances.

“If a parent doesn’t know what they’re getting their kid into, the word ‘boot camp’ means nothing,” said Harang. “A boot camp can be terrific, a boot camp can be the worst thing that ever happens to this kid that leaves them scarred and damaged forever.”

McFarland has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Comments (16)
  1. Joe says:

    There are people out there who believes in “Tough Love” as being the best approach towards disciplining children. These boot camp schools can be benefit a child or hurt a child. It all depends on what type of HEART is inside the people who are handling the boot camp program.

    There are drill instructors that are hard as nails but has compassion in their hearts. They know when to roar like a lion and when to softly converse like a compassionate leader of the pride.

    There are drill sergeants who acts like gods and treat children like they are less than humans. These men and women think that physically and mentally breaking children will straighten them out. This belief is totally wrong and is harmful to a child.

    If a child is vomiting, that child needs immediate medical attention. Children needs care, compassion and loving guidance from compassionate adults. They don’t need a mean person just barking out orders to get things done.

    They need to evaluate a child closely if boot camp CLEARLY benefit the child. If it will just traumatize a child then that child needs a different program.

    A boot camp should NOT hire drill instructors just because they can act mean and vicious. These types of drill instructors are not fit to handle children because they can ruin a children’s hearts and minds.

  2. S says:

    Boot camp is defined and can be seen by the military using a similar procedure when new recruits arrive at their facility. These kids that are sent must already been in trouble with the law and do not respect their parents. I do not see anything wrong with this conduct. Some people are too sensitve. No one has money to send kids to a counselor. So, the only way is other alternatives like boot camp. Come on people grow up and stop being so immature.

    1. Israel Aguiar says:

      ummm actually i was in this boot camp and my parents did have to pay.

  3. T. JENSEN says:

    when i was in the US Army boot camp at Fort Jackson South carolina THIS SAME THING WAS DONE TO EVERY RECRUIT EVERY SINGLE DAY AFTER PT the purpose is that after having done rigorious PT one can expect to be fairly DEHYDRATED so they made us chug the canteen of water
    and refill it and chug it again and again. with the stated reason that a dehydrated person WILL NOT VOMIT WATER till their body is filled. did it stink SURE IT DID but not a single soldier in my basic training EVER fell out from being dehydrated and before anyone says that was back in the stone age lol this was in the year 2000 so a mear 11 years ago so all i can say is SUCK IT UP AND DRIVE ON unless they are beating a child or staving them or something that can do damage then let them be.

    1. joe says:

      We are not talking about adult males and females here. We are talking about minors. This is not the army. This is simply a teen boot camp. Don’t measure the ability of children and match it with an adult.

      1. T. JENSEN says:

        joe if you do not push a person reguardless of age past the things that are normal for them or their age then how can you expect them to excel at an older age? pushing a teen to run a little faster or work a little harder then he/she currently is, is not un-reasonable. to make a person reguardless of age to drink lots of water to make sure they are hydrated is not unreasonable. clearly these kids are not yet good at making even teen age decisions for them self. i do not know how old these perticular kids were but im assuming between the ages of 14 and 17 given their appearance in the vid clip yes they are under age still but lets assume they are about 14 in 4 years they are old enough to serve their country like i was when i joined at 18. i guess in short i belive that no matter what a persons age is if someone pushes them to excel a little past what they are currently doing, then that person is doing them a favor if we never push kids to go past their comfort zone then they will be less likely to do so as an adult. neither the yelling in the one kids ear nor the water till you puke is IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM DANGERIOUS to their physical or mental health

      2. Joe Alvarez says:

        Tell ya what joe, maybe if these kids had some “Structure” in their lives, they wouldn’t be in the program anyway.
        When parents hear the word BOOTCAMP, what do they expect? Holding hands and painting pictures?
        The fact that these kids are puking, and crying —shows that they are WEAK MINDED individuals. They wanna act all tough and bad and cause trouble out here. But put em in a demanding enviroment where they are actually punished for acting the way they do, and you see them crumble. Why are they weak minded? Cuz mommy and daddy obviously never reinforced any discipline in the household.
        Accountability is something that we all are required to have when we become adults. These kids have none. This Bootcamp program is meant to (hopefully) give them some.

    2. joe says:

      T. Jensen, I was a soldier before. I know how it is to go through the rigors of military training. One thing I found out is the training and the horrors of warfare that I jumped into is no place for kids.

      Do you really know how it is to be dehydrated? How bad had you been dehydrated in your life? Adults like you and me are able to withstand physical and emotional punishment. Minors are not yet physically equipped for it. Don’t tell them to “suck it up”.

      Have you considered the legal liability that you could get yourself into if you keep on pushing a minor to do something that you think he/she can do? To be accused of child abuse is a serious crime. Children should be handled with care.

      Though I went through a tough and uncomfortable military life, I never lost touch on having compassion towards children of this country whom I pledged to protect.

      How do you get a bunch of 14 year old boys and girls to run 10 miles? Do you bring gallons of water and yell at them to “suck it up & drive on” when they stop and complain that they are tired? You don’t do that to children!!! You encourage them without yelling. You call their names like a caring shepherd and provide them with rest and convince them that they can do it. Care and encouragement is better for kids than shouting at them.

      I have kids of my own and they respect me not because they are afraid of me. They respect me because I guide them with a gentle but unwavering hand.

      T. Jensen, kids are just kids a brief period of time in their lives. Let us treat them with respect and care.

      1. T. JENSEN says:

        JOE i agree with you about NORMAL kids but any kid who is in a BOOT CAMP is not the sweet innocent kid that i assume yours are or like mine were at this age. if they are in a boot camp setting they are into DRUGS BOOZE THEFT maybe more so i say if they want to act like adults then treat them as one and show them the rough side to their actions

      2. rich says:

        and Joe since you invoked the SHEPHEARD comment study what a shepheard does with a lamb that does not stay in the group he HUNTS IT DOWN AND BREAKS ITS LEG so that it learns never to wander off treating a rebellious child with tenderness and not expecting them to do as they are told will mearly get you laughed at as they walk off and get into more crime

  4. rich says:

    i just watched the vid KID ONE with the tire clearly you can not hear what either side is saying but this is my take. he looks a bit heavy so in all likelyhood he WAS NOT ABLE TO RUN OR DO WHAT EVER THE “PHYSICAL” DEMAND WAS ON HIM. lots of people who get into trouble have low esteem for what ever reason and i should know i got in SO MUCH trouble when i was a kid, and it was because i felt i was worthless anyhow and that the only people that accepted me was the “troublemakers” i hung with. i went into the Army after hight school i wanted to change my life and it worked but let me tell you running and doing all the other physical stuff was a royal pain for me i WAS NOT in good shape. i often wanted to stop during the runs or other activities and the drill instructors would get in my face exactly as they seem to be doing to this kid. yelling at me YOU CAN’T QUIT HOW WILL YOU EVER SUCCEED IF YOU QUIT??? DIG DEEP SOLDIER YOU CAN DO IT yesssssssss they sometimes used unkind words but it motivated me in part to just get them off my back lol so i dug deepr and got a little further the next run and so on. when i graduated basic i had lost 45 pounds of PURE FAT was in the best shape of my life and getting into trouble was the last thing on my mind i now KNEW i was better then that, that if i wanted i could accomplish tough things SO MAYYYYYBE thats what they are yellin at this kid about.. if more parents yelled and challanged their kids at home these “BOOT CAMPS” may not be needed.
    as for the kids drinking the water?? i agree with T. JENSEN it looks to me like they just got done with exercise and the instructors are MAKING SURE they don’t pass out for the lack of hydration

  5. Sam Sindaha says:

    This story is incomplete. What do the parents have to say about this?

    1. father of 5 says:

      who cares what the parents say they clearly were not doing a good job with their kids. problem with this world is we are to SOFT a little rough life and pain WILL NOT harm a child letting them grow up to be WIMPS will OH POOR Baby was made to drink to much water OH POOR BABY they yelled at you GIVE ME A BREAK yell at your kids more when they mess up from the begining and they won’t get to this point

  6. Christina39 says:

    When the poor children grow up to have severe personality disorders, and attack YOU, please don’t start complaining to anyone because we are not interested. Making a child vomit is sadistic and inhumane. I hope you people who agree with this are their first victims. I hope I am still around to be on the injury, because they are going to walk.

  7. chris says:

    ive been to this bootcamp its a 3 day stay at camp firestone in california its actually tuff but most of us that we’re in bootcamp really deserve it we’re criminals our parents put us there as a last resort it actually changed my life you arrive there acting tuff and the drill instructors will break you down carrying tires squad up and down overall i hold no grudge on my mom or the bootcamp it helped me overcome temptations that would lead me to prison or the cemetary

  8. Parenting can be the toughest job you\\\’ll ever have. Kids present new challenges continuously because they keep growing and changing, and the issues grow and change with them.

    As parents our most important job is to make sure our kids feel loved and valuable for who they are (not what they do). It\\\’s my biggest struggle, and my biggest joy all at once!

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