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  • What to do with a report of cheating...

    What to do with a report of cheating on a Merit Badge requirement?

    Im a merit badge counselor working on Environmental Science with six scouts who are Star or Life and are 13 to 16 years old. Two of the Star Scouts (Scout #1 and Scout #2) are both 14 and are only one required MB away from completing their MB requirements for Life.
    Scout #1 Star, PL and 14
    Scout #2 Star, ASPL and 14
    Scout #3 Life, SPL and 13
    Scout #4 Life, PL and 13
    Scout #5 Life, ASPL and 13
    Scout #6 Life, PL and 16

    The father of Scout #1 (an active Asst. Scoutmaster) has explicitly stated, in confidence, that he thinks his son is falling behind and needs to find ways motivate him.

    Last Night
    So last night at the end of our Troop meeting, I received homework from four of the Scouts (Scout#1, Scout #2, Scout #3 and Scout #4) for one of the requirements (Requirement #4a/4b) that I had asked the scouts to complete the previous week. Scout #5, did not complete his homework and Scout #6 was absent from the meeting. I immediately packed their papers in my bag of scout stuff and havent read or reviewed the homework yet.

    About an hour after the end of the meeting, I received a text from the mother of Scout #3 (SPL). Apparently, both Scout #3 and Scout #2 (ASPL) related to her that Scout #1 stated that he copied his homework from notes that were completed by his father. The scouts were upset that Scout #1 had cheated.

    My Planned Response
    1) Speak with Scout #2 and #3 to confirm their story, and see if there are any inconsistencies.
    2) Speak with the Father and ask if he prepared notes for the homework assignment?
    3) Speak with the Scout and ask if he personally completed the requirement as written in the MB book and/or did he copy the homework from someone elses notes?
    4) Depending on my perception of the answers:
    a. Accept the homework as is, or
    b. Reject the homework and require all future requirements completed by Scout #1 to conducted with my direct supervision

    Opinions: Good Plan? Bad Plan?

    Constructive comments are welcome.

  • #2
    Well, since one of the requirements for both 4a, and 4b, is to "discuss your report with your counselor" that is what I would do. Discuss THEIR (not another Scout's) "homework" with each Scout separately (and privately).

    You might want to start with Scout #1.

    If Scouts #2-4 comment about Scout #1 "cheating", simply tell them it has been handled, and go on to discuss their work.


    • #3
      Good. Sort of.

      First of all, rank, POR, and age are completely irrelevant. When you are wearing the MBC hat you should none of those things should be a concern of yours.

      You should consider ability. Some scouts can pound out a four page essay in no time. (One day they will add to the BS in the BS of A.) Other scouts don't have writing as a strong suit, so you will have to work a little harder or differently to make sure they've grasped the gist of the requirement. Some really do need a parent's or teacher's assistance.

      Look at the work that's turned in. Meet with each scout individually (as MBC you should do that any way) to make sure they've grasped the material they've submitted so far. Help each boy make an individual plan for completion of the requirements, and leave it up to them to call you for the next (and hopefully but not necessarily final) counseling session.

      I would spare myself the misery of talking to parents. If they are in the room when you discuss things with the scout, you've just killed two birds with one stone!

      You may need to have the SM or CC talk to dad of Scout #1 and tell him it's time to lighten up on the kid. Focus on participation and service, not busy work!


      • #4
        I think that is what I will do instead. Just discuss with Scout #1 and see what he can relate about his observation.

        I need to avoid a confrontation with any of the parents.

        I agree that rank, POR and age have no bearing on the evaluation of work completed for MBs, I was just providing background to set the stage. And I am very aware that each scout will complete the requirements in their own way, advanced or limited by their own skills/abilities and resources. I give more "respect", I guess, for the messy hand written (but showing effort/comprehension) work product verses the printed-from-the-internet glossy 8x10.

        Plus, I guess I am more upset with the father. I just want to say/ask "Really?!".
        I wouldn't characterize the fathers actions as "pushing" his son in an overbearing way. I would characterize it as more "meeting his needs (the father)" to ensure his son advances to Eagle.

        The SM is aware of the situation, and guess I will just review the work with each scout individually and not make a big stink. I guess it wouldn't help anyone anyway if I did.


        • #5
          Maybe it's just me?
          I know that when it comes to advancement and boarding the advancement train I can get a little out of sorts. -Maybe even grumpy??
          Still when Scouting is talked about in terms of falling behindand homeworkI start to think that maybe this isn't the same organization I thought it was?
          As I say it might be just me?

          If you really think and believe that a Lad hasn't acted in a trustworthy manner? Then you need to have a little chat with him about it.
          Not doing so isn't doing him any favors.
          Scouts and Scouting should be about helping Scouts make ethical choices not about collecting merit badges.
          Tackling the matter of not being trustworthy, if done the right way will teach the Lad a life lesson far greater than the Environmental Science badge ever will.
          What he might or maybe might not have done? Offers you a great opportunity to bring up a lot of the good stuff that Scouts spurt out at almost every meeting. The Oath and Law. Talking and discussing it when something has happened gives the words true meaning.
          Of course it needs doing with great care and with only the best interests of the Lad in mind.
          Never miss an opportunity to allow a Scout to learn a life lesson. It's better that he learn stuff like this in a setting where people care about him and want only the best for him than almost any-other place.


          • #6
            The word "homework" in this context makes me cringe, and evidently I am not alone.

            I agree with ScoutNut's approach.

            I am not sure I would necessarily call it "cheating." I agree with qwazse's comment about different Scouts having different abilities. Also, I looked at this requirement and what it requires is that the Scout go to certain locations, observe certain things, prepare a written report about what he observed, and discuss the report with his counselor. (Oversimplifying slightly but not enough to matter.) When you "discuss" it with him, it might be reasonable to find out whether he actually did the "going" and "observing". If he did, and brought his father along, and his father helped him with the report, I would feel better than if... well, you can fill in the other possibility/ies yourself.

            One also must wonder what possessed this young man to tell his "friends" how "his" report was prepared. Not that I want kids to "cheat" and then cover it up, but who really needed to know that?


            • #7
              How about running the merit badge program as intended????


              • #8
                Scoutnut has the right answer -- DISCUSS the material with the Scout as per the language of the requirement. Ask him to put away his notes and talk with you. Evaluate his understanding and preparation based on your conversation and move forward accordingly.

                I don't know that you have a real basis to make an accusation. Those conversations will probably be highly unproductive anyway. You do have enough information to guide your future interaction with the young man. Stay away from situations where the dad may be able to provide more assistance than may be appropriate.


                • #9
                  I agree you have to talk to the boy and gauge his understanding of the material. If he copied notes but still learned the material then so what? If he copied the notes and then had no idea then gently tell him to come back for another pass. We want his to learn the MB material, and call me crazy, have him enjoy the process.