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  • Poor Example from an Eagle

    At a recent troop meeting a 14 year-old Eagle said to a 13 year-old Tenderfoot: "You've never advanced, and you're never going to advance for the rest of your life."
    Not very Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, or Kind.

    As SM, how would you respond?

    The 14yo has a history of putting others down to pump himself up. He made Eagle because he barely squeaked by meeting the legal definitions of the requirements. He is self-centered and only notices other people when they get in his way. SM conversations suggesting areas and methods for improvement have yielded no observable long-term improvements.
    How do I reach him?

    His statements were cruel mental bullying. I expect a better example from the Eagles in my troop.

    Other than the obvious re-start on scout spirit for his first palm, what actions can you suggest that I and the troop take to modify his behavior?

  • #2
    IMHO, the whole purpose of scouting is to teach character, responsibility, citizenship, etc. It's not just limited to advancement, SM conferences or BORs. If a scout treats another poorly, deal with it and immediately. In our troop, it's handled through either casual or more structured conversations. And it's often handled with questions. What did you say? How do you think that made him feel? How would you feel if someone said it to you? What purpose was there to saying that? What was the result?

    Our job is to make sure these things get dealt with in a timely way either by ourselves, our fellow leaders or by the youth leaders.

    for this situation, I'd look to strike up a casual conversation and let him know you heard what he said and ask him why he doesn't think the other scout will advance. And then lead into the other questions and ultimately about how we treat other people.

    And ... hopefully I do it with a smile on my face and in such a way that he's thinking more about what he did and said than about what I said and whether I'm upset with him.

    Last edited by fred johnson; 03-19-2014, 01:00 PM.


    • #3
      SM Conferences can be called at any time. I would make sure this happens sooner rather than later. And this behavior should not be tolerated in any Scout- Eagle or otherwise. The fact that his attitude, which isn't a new issue, didn't keep him from advancing to Eagle in the first place makes we wonder about the earlier SM Conferences and BOR processes in your Troop.


      • JoeBob
        JoeBob commented
        Editing a comment
        Torchwood: He manipulates boys and adults well. And to the letter of the law, he met the requirements. We slowed him down with Scout spirit, but we could not say no.


    • #4
      It would amuse me to no end if the Tenderfoot advances, and at his ECoH gives this kid a mentor pin.

      That is the "quick to judge" age. I've heard similar things from same-aged mouths. It sounds like you think this Eagle doesn't care if his buddy doesn't advance. If so, a negative, but unelaborate, unemotional evaluation is in order. Then explain that his palm SMC is pushed back a month in hopes that you'll have seen more affirmative leadership behavior between now and then.

      If your not entirely sure about that, ask point-blank "Do you care if your buddy doesn't advance?" If no, then apply the above, maybe with a warning that not caring could lead to grounds for suspension. Otherwise, ask him if he thinks there are other boys in the troop whom you two should be worrying about. Ask him for some better ways to convey "our" pessimism and concern. In other words, force him to act like a JASM on what he said. Tell him you'll follow-up in a few weeks if he still thinks his buddy's not engaging the advancement program like he should. He may watch what he says more closely if each of his clever remarks gets him suckered into a 15 minute strategy session.


      • JoeBob
        JoeBob commented
        Editing a comment
        This boy does not care about others. "If Tenderfoot doesn't care enough to work on his advancement, why should I care?" And in truth, Tenderfoot has not put forward a lot of effort. But that does not give Eagle the right to be condescending and cruel.

    • #5
      I think you're getting to the heart of motivation. He won't change until he wants to change. And he won't want to change until he sees that he's made a mistake and that someone would like to help him. Just guessing but he's 14 and Eagle so either mom and dad are doing all the work or he's a very bright but self centered kid. Anyway, I'd start with a SMC. Ask him what an Eagle scout is and does. Write it down. Ask for details. He may need some coaching to get it out but write down his words. Next, review the incident. Ask for details. Compare what he said in general to what he did in this specific case. The goal is to find out if he see's whether he made a mistake. If so, you're most of the way there. Ask him how he can atone for his mistakes. If he's willing to try then you'll end up with a great kid. If he doesn't see the mistake, well, before you reach him you have to get his attention. That usually involves something like a 2x4 with a nail in the end of it. I'd withhold any palms until he can prove he can walk the walk. I wouldn't go into details of what that means because he obviously knows how to do the minimum amount of work. Tell him when he gets frustrated he can ask for a SMC and you're more than willing to talk. And if he wants to talk bring out what you wrote and just go over it again. If it takes a year that's ok. It will give him some time to mature.


      • JoeBob
        JoeBob commented
        Editing a comment
        MattR: I'm pretty close to the 2x4 stage with this boy. In conversation, he'll say the right things. He'll write down the correct goals. But he does not live up to his words.
        About half the troop can't stand to be around him; and the other half continue to fall for his manipulations. Most of the adults will negotiate with him and give in to the bare minimums just to get him to go away. I'm not going to list details online for privacy concerns. He is a very smart kid.
        But you've given me a framework that I think I can work within. "If I hear anything else bad, we'll start 3 months of Scout Spirit over again."

    • #6
      I think it would be time to harshly reprimand him (in private) about the situation. I also think it should be time for his parents to be involved. I would remind him of the Eagle Charge and Challenge, both of which he clearly failed. I would probably tell him that if I heard anything else remotely unkind, uncourteous, unfriendly or uncheerful like that, I would kick him out of the troop. I would suggest that he work with that Tenderfoot, but I wouldn't curse the Tenderfoot with that.


      • Sentinel947
        Sentinel947 commented
        Editing a comment
        I don't believe in fighting fire with fire.

    • #7
      Thank you all for your input. This is a touchy one.

      I'll check back in a few days.

      Thank you.


      • #8
        one of the best scouts I've had privilege to work with ended his scouting as a tenderfoot. He had no interest in rank. Had he, he would've at least been a star scout as I know he had enough mb's for it but not sure his total count. He just did what he liked to do. He helped all the scouts. He still comes and helps out now when it fits into his college/work life. So I'd be having a serious talk about what a patch really means - to me it just means boy did a,b,c and got it signed. What it doesn't say is the true character of a person. And I'd explain how people see a patch and expect certain behavior and if they don't live up to that then maybe they need to take the patch off.


        • #9
          JoeBob, you reminded me of something else. Namely, get someone else to swing the 2x4, preferably the PLC. I'm guessing that having your peers tell you to straighten up is a much stronger message than having an adult tell you.


          • #10
            MattR, using the PLC to administer penalties would be our first choice. But the victim wants it to go away. If we share with any of the boys what we're doing to correct the behavior and why, the whole troop will know in about 10 minutes. I'm concerned that that would make it more difficult for the victim. (We have verified the event from 3 sources.)
            My SM minute last week was about rough-housing turning into physical bullying. This week I'll talk about verbal/mental abuse. But I think that we need to respect the victim's desire to not be fingered as a 'rat'.
            Verbal abuse leaves no visible marks. It's going to be hard to monitor.
            Any suggestions on how to teach a 'change of heart'?


            • #11
              To bad you can't revoke rank. Because that is probably the only solution that will work.

              My guess is that this kid can't be turned around without a serious butt-kicking from another scout, I would start recruiting the biggest kids you can find to offset this bully.

              The Eagle rank appears to have validated his superiority he's gonna pummel every kid he can with it.

              Probably could be a troop killer, given enough time and exposure.


              • #12
                Mr. Eagle Scout is due for a one-way conversation...

                Point blank: observed behavior...the effect...why it is wrong...what I except from you in the future...consequences if you cross the line again.

                Anything less will not be effective.

                Given he is an eagle, I'd recommend skipping the PLC or more oblique alternatives. He'll laugh those off. The fact he's played most everyone previously, he'll only understand one thing: a direct call out, I'm hip to your game, and it won't fly in this troop.

                He'll get the point. It may be a life changing event for him. Guys like this are rarely confronted, and they continue their negative behavior in college, marriage, career. Too late then. He has the opportunity to change now, while he is young.
                Last edited by desertrat77; 03-20-2014, 07:26 PM.


                • #13
                  Change of heart? How about oak?

                  There are several actors here. There's you, Bad Eagle, Tenderfoot, and the Troop. The troop can be broken into those that see Bad Eagle's behavior as a problem and those that don't care. Bad Eagle has no incentive to change. He's worked the system. Tenderfoot has the most incentive to change after being embarrassed by Bad Eagle. A little effort from an adult, or especially some scouts, would turn his scouting career around. The scouts that see Bad Eagle's behavior for what it is probably want something to change, they just aren't sure what. They listen to your SM minutes and see an Eagle scout that's an ass. That's conflict.

                  Start with the Troop. How about at your SM minute you also say that knowing right from wrong isn't good enough, that standing up for it is also important, and BTW come talk to me if you see it in the troop. You may need to pull aside a couple of scouts and ask them if they saw it. If you get a few scouts that saw something and explicitly said it was wrong then you have something. Pick the 3 most mature. Talk to them. Ask them why they didn't stand up for Tenderfoot. Tell them your concerns that Tenderfoot doesn't want to be a rat. Ask what should be done to both Bad Eagle and Tenderfoot. Likely they will bring forth a much bigger 2x4 than you. Ignore the temptation. Your asking them how to deal with this will give them confidence, It will also reinforce that the Scout Law means something.

                  Then talk to Tenderfoot. Assuming there are scouts that didn't like what they saw, let him know. Ask him if he'd like to advance but is struggling with something you can help him with. If he just doesn't want to advance, that's fine too. Maybe you can encourage the Three to work with Tenderfoot. If you could get that to happen then it doesn't much matter what happens with Bad Eagle, you'll have made a big improvement with those 4 scouts.

                  That leaves Bad Eagle. There are 2 parts to the 2x4. First, in no uncertain terms, he's done wrong, there are consequences, getting thrown out of the troop is one of them. It's his choice. Second, it will take a lot of time and praise to change his behavior. Ask him what he's going to do to make up for what he's done. He could start by apologizing to Tenderfoot. If it's honest then praise him. Then ask him to work with Tenderfoot so he can get First Class by August. If he bites then great, everyone wins. If not, you're teaching the rest of the troop to stand up to his behavior.


                  • #14
                    JoeBob, this is indeed a tough one. Without being 'in your shoes' I can't offer much more than a suggestion as to how I would try to identify the details of the problem. One thing I've considered is that I might think of a scouting (camping, pioneering) problem to address and ask the Tenderfoot if he'd like to help me to work on it. Once I had a good idea of how motivated the Tenderfoot was I might then ask the Eagle to assist as well. There are few better ways to get to know each other than to work together to solve problems and the three of us might see each other in a very different 'light' as a result. At the very least, I think this would give me the opportunity to understand the interaction in maximum detail. At most, it might even solve the problem.


                    • #15
                      I don't think I read a single reply the mentions Scout Oath and Law. I would not call this bullying, but it is certianly very rude and un scout like behavior. My conferences in similar situations pointed out that Eagles are held to a higher standard because they are viewed by the community as role models. Then I ask him what model he just represented? How does his behavior fit with the Oath and Law? Then I dismiss him giving him time to think out it so we can talk again. Part of the problem is that while this kid appears to be smart, he is also inmature. He is physically still on the child side of his life. He may see the harm of his behavior, but not the wrong and is not going to change anytime soon. But get him to acknowledge the wrong of his behavior and he will at least he know that he will be left accountibile for both knowing the scouting values and for being an Eagle. Barry