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  • How to handle harrassment

    I am requesting advice regarding how to handle harrassment issues. My son has been the harrassment target of a scout who previously had been a close friend. Once my son started advancing in rank ahead of the other scout (who is extremely competitive but not enough to motivate himself to advance alongside my son), the scout started harrassing my son.

    My son never came to us with these issues, I first became aware because other adults I barely knew were coming to me to alert me. I asked my son about it and he acknowledge that it was continuously happening but didn't know what to do about it. I encouraged him to first have a discussion with the scout, being that they were previously great friends, trying to allow the boys to work it out themselves. Unfortunately, it didn't change anything.

    The scout is a very intelligent young man, knows exactly how to properly and politely conduct himself when adults are around, and how to make extremely rude, snide remarks during times when there won't be witnesses, or only witnesses he has complete control over. He leads a small group of boys who will do anything he says, completely controls the patrol elections having them decided before ever entering the meeting even though two other adults have repeatedly tried to nip it in the bud, etc. Knowing this scout and his family, I have seen him continually talk back rudely to his parents, verbally and physically harrass his younger brother without consequence, and he has repeated harrassed previous friends throughout his life and been defended by his parents. He can do no wrong. He is now the ASPL which has given him a boost to his sense of power.

    After dealing with this scout for quite some time, my son finally asked one of the ASMs he trusts to sit with him during a conversation with the SM about it. My son then requested to be moved to another patrol, leaving his other good friends behind, to try to alleviate it. The SM allowed him to move to another patrol, and left it at that. Even though they haven't been in the same patrol, the harrassment has continued.

    My son started seeking out another troop to move to. He found one outside of our town that has a great set of leaders, scouts, and parents. Within 3 weeks of joining he was elected Patrol Leader and was greatly encouraged by all to advance, take on bigger responsibility, etc. However, he still had lots of friends at the first troop and continued to attend there as well finishing out his Scribe duties. He duel registered in both troops and was living and breathing Scouts. He made the decision to finish up his Eagle rank through the first troop since he'd already gotten his other ranks there. He turned his application and project in before Thanksgiving and is only (still) waiting for his Eagle BOR. His PORs are through the second troop with him serving as ASPL presently.

    This past meeting for the first troop was the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak. As they were playing an outside game after doing an activity with the younger scouts, the scout made disparaging comments to my son, out of earshot of anyone else, but it greatly shook up my son. It was just as they ended the game, and as they all came back to go inside to do the closing, my son walked past me (I was standing outside chatting with another parent), and told me we were immediately leaving. Very unlike my son to not stop to talk to me, especially when asked. I walked to the car where he had gone and he was extremely upset and angrily crying. He told me that he wasn't ever coming back to another meeting there again. I asked what had happend, he told me what the boy said and then replied, "I don't even know what that means!". That last comment was in reference to the last comment the scout said intimating that my son and another scout were having sexual relations. (Yes, my son is almost 14, but the crowd of boys he is friends with are like him, naive, homeschooled, and not yet exposed to the depth of many things that most kids their age are exposed to.) He didn't understand the exact meaning but understood from the tone and other things that were said that it was rude and mean.

    After the meeting I pulled the mother and scout aside and had a discussion (a very calm one, mother is not one to tangle with) to basically let the scout know that words hurt and whatever was going on needed to stop, that it wasn't showing scout spirit. I did not bring up exactly what was said because I wanted to find out more from my son the events that led up to the comments. The mother spent the time deflecting the subject by either stating I shouldn't be talking with the son there, only with her, or that my son was to blame. My son just stood there silently crying with two years of frustration built up. The mother then asked the scout if the SM had ever discussed any of this with him and he said no.

    I should note here that the mother is the CC. The SM is afraid of her because she has made threats of getting him replaced so she can have a person of her choosing in there. He is trying stay SM until his youngest son makes Eagle (which hopefully will be in the coming year). She has already gutted the committee to put in her own choices.

    So,........obviously the idea is to drop the first troop after finally getting the Eagle BOR completed and just sticking with the second troop. Unfortunately my son won't be able to remain with his friends he's had since cubs due to this bully. Should this be reported to the SM? It obviously won't be addressed appropriately so part of me figures why bother? This same CC mother was livid (rightly so) with the SM during summer camp because of he didn't address the issue of another younger scout bullying her younger scout son (they too had been great friends).

    Then again, part of me worries about his next victim. This behavior will not stop unless somone stands up to it and it is dealt with appropriately. The UC is a nice man, but mostly AWOL. I can't see him doing anything about it either.

    Any suggestions?
    Last edited by ScouterCa; 01-25-2014, 12:06 AM.

  • #2
    This happens more often than it should with teenagers. Clearly CC momma has a lack of empathy and her son does too. Coincidence???? Your son is right to move troops. I hope he stays active with this new troop and he seems to be making new friends. His "friends" in his old troop aren't his friends. A friend would stand up for his buddy if his buddy was being bullied. Clearly they don't. The SM shoulda realized that this is a serious issue. It's a hill worth dieing on. Doing right by the scouts matters more than staying SM to a manipulative CC. His son can finish Eagle in another troop. Ultimately it's not your responsibility to fix bully-Scout. As a final course of action talk to the SM but Your son should complete his move to the new troop. If CC tries to interfere with the board, your son should have the board in his new troop. Close the door, don't look back. Sentinel947


    • #3
      Been there and done that. After trying several different approaches with these types of boys, we found what worked the best is require a parent to accompany their son during all the activities. Of course neither the parent or scout will cooperate, but it starts the ball rolling of either the scout changing his behavior (not likely, but sometimes), or quitting the troop. These scouts are usually two steps a head of troop adults and some enjoy the game. So change the rules, require the parent to attend the activities and the problem will fix itself inside a couple of meetings. I learned through the years that we troop adults tend try and solve these kinds of problems without the parents. And much of the time we do. But there are some boys bent on the darker side of behavior and small problems turn into big problems before we know it. I've watch parents threaten litigation because they were surprised how much they weren't told about there son behavior. Truth is they have most leverage and we should work as a team even on small matters. Still, even though you are bringing in these parents late in the game, stick to your guns, either they attend the meeting with their son, or don't bring him. You have had enough, let them figure it out now. I can think of three scouts like your scout over the hundreds of scouts that passed through our program. One of the three changed his behavior and stayed in the program, even getting his Eagle a few years later. Barry


      • #4
        My mamma gave me the only solution that (from a kid's perspective) seemed to work with bullies over the long haul: "Get big." For some boys (who later became cherished high school friends), that required a level of physicality that would be frowned upon in a scouting setting.

        Within scouting, any committee worth its salt would insist the bully be suspended for a time unless the SM can make a case for his attitude changing.

        Lacking that kind of committee, your son may respectfully request his BOR be relocated to his new troop.

        Yes, I am saying do not wait for his Eagle to be earned to drop the first troop. Uncouth speech has no place in scouting. Sometimes being an agent of change means being willing to postpone one's own advancement for the sake of reforming the bully and improving the quality of the unit.

        You can still work the other remedy everyone is thinking of. It's just this is the one thing your son can do on his own that would show true leadership in the situation.


        • #5
          One thing that caught my eye is that this other boy is polite around adults and a bully around the boys. So, who's solving the problems in this troop? Not the boys. I'm guessing that a lot of boys in this troop are seeing this and none of them are standing up for what's right. That's where the silver lining to this problem lies. Whether or not you can do anything to change this, I don't know. But it's something to look for in another troop. I've been working with the boys in my troop to take ownership of these types of problems and they need constant encouragement. This is not easy for them.

          While that's the crux of the problem, there's another opportunity to work with your son on dealing with bullies. He doesn't want to confront the problem either. Understandably, he's upset and wants it to go away. One kid is keeping your son away from his friends. Going to another troop will not solve that problem. Has your son talked to his friends to see what they think about the bully? Just a guess, but if half the kids in his patrol knew what was going on and stood up for your son the next time this happens, it would end. Just knowing that he had friends that are empathetic to his problems would likely give him enough courage to face this alone.


          • #6
            I've never understood the don't rock the boat mentality that your SM has surrounding letting boys like this continue; the victims leave and most often the bully ends up leaving too, now you've lost both (and I've watched it happen in my troop, too).

            Your SM knows, the CC knows and is 75% of the problem. She's throwing her weight around so you basically have to make a decision: (a) your son makes the clean break and stops trying to do this with one leg in one troop and the other in another, or (b) you find a bigger fish than mama CC and that's the COR and Institutional Head of your chartered org, sit them down and explain what's going on, and ask them to intervene.
            It's basically a choice between whether or not you want a fight. If not, then your son needs to stop fooling himself about being able to keep attending the old troop, and invite his old friends to the house for sleepovers etc if he wants to keep touch.


            • #7
              Cut the cord with the First Troop. Gather all Advancement records and stick with new Troop. There isn't any reason really that I can see to stay. Your son is trying to have the best of both worlds. I understand he wants to honor committments with the first Troop, but they are not honoring him.

              Time to go.

              Finally, reporting this to the SM is one thing. Do that, put it in writing and advise the COR, IH, District Exec and District Commissioner. He also might need to have a conversation with the District Advancement Chair and/or the Eagle Chair. Just so they know what is happening because it's Eagle BOR time.


              • JoeBob
                JoeBob commented
                Editing a comment
                I like Huey's advice. Don't leave quietly. Blow the whistle.

                You've already written it up nicely for this forum; cut and paste.

            • #8
              Harassment of any kind is ugly, but sexual harassment is soul crushing. This scout is violating your child's private sexuality in a very ugly way. No wonder he was so upset.

              I have to ask the OP, if your daughter was being harassed in this manner, would you tolerate it? I think our sons deserve the same dignity and respect as our daughters. Nothing personal. I just find as the mom of a son and a daughter that in our culture generally too often sons are expected to tolerate abuse above and beyond what is expected of our girls, and I don't think that's right.

              In your conversation with the other mom, did you stand up for your son when she accused him of lying? You mentioned that the other mom is "not one to be tangled with". Why? What do you have to lose? Are you physically afraid of her? I say this as a person who was intimidated by abusive people for far too much of my life. I have been in your son's position and worse, and was not defended by my own mother. I have lost a lot of respect for her due to this and other reasons.

              If you are right about your SM, and he is tolerating abuse of your son in order to protect his own position as leader, then I have a low opinion of him. I wouldn't want my son being mentored by such a person. And don't even get me started on the CC enabling her own son to abuse other scouts. Makes you wonder what he sees at home. I doubt that apple fell far from the tree.

              The actions you take now will help form your son's future willingness or unwillingness to tolerate abuse. I say this from personal experience.

              With years of experience, similar harassment in my own past, and 20/20 hindsight, this is what I would do, since you asked:

              1. Find out if your state is a "one party" state as far as audio recording or a "two party" state. "One party" means that one party participating in the conversation (like your son) can legally record the other party or parties to the conversation without their knowledge. If it is legal in your state, I would recommend giving your son a recording device to record his next interaction with this scout.

              2. I would ask your son if he wants to pursue this scout or quietly leave. It should be his choice. It's hard to stand up to someone like this. Having been in situations where I did stand up to an abuser, and others in which I did not, I would say if it's physically safe to confront this abuser then it can be very healing to do so. If your son wants to, and it's legal, have him keep a recording device on him, and confront the other scout about what he said. Have your son tell him to stop the abuse and stay away from him. Then, let the other Scout run his mouth, on the record.

              3. Make a copy of the recording, and bring it to the CC and SM. Also send a copy to the district and council with a written complaint. The bully scout should be run out of the troop on a rail, not your son who has done nothing wrong.

              4. If you get nowhere with the Scouts after giving incontrovertible proof, then give the tape to the police. Sexual harassment of children is against the law, even when done by a minor. The other scout needs a serious wake up call.

              This is not "boys will be boys". It is a big deal. It should be treated as one. I absolutely would not expect or allow my son to remain around this person or the adults who are enabling him. Eagle be damned. Have the BOR moved to another troop.

              Good luck,

              ​Ga Mom


              • packsaddle
                packsaddle commented
                Editing a comment
                I agree with Ga Mom and with Huey earlier. Yes, calling someone 'gay' may not rise to some standard of sexual harassment. But it does accompany a pattern of using 'sex stuff' to harass others and I've seen it too. Shut it down.
                Something like this was happening to one of my children (outside of scouting) and I confronted the parent (mom, in this case) about it. She started to deflect and make excuses and I cut her off. I just informed her that she's been told about the behavior and that if she isn't going to address the problem, there are other means through the school system and I would be very happy to oblige her and take over.
                Never had that problem again. The harasser evidently was doing it to others as well because about 6 months later, someone exercised that 'get big' suggestion and beat him pretty badly. He didn't learn though. Years later, he mouthed off outside a bar and a couple of rednecks really did humble his body with a piece of rebar. He lost the sight in one eye and hearing in one ear. No idea if that made any kind of 'impression' on his behavior. Old painless is probably waiting for him.

              • GeorgiaMom
                GeorgiaMom commented
                Editing a comment
                It is hard to tell if this rises to the level of sexual harassment based on one post, but it might. I speak from the perspective of someone who had no support, and ran away from a bad situation with sexual harrassment by a classmate in school. I have regrets about not standing up for myself back then. That does not feel good years later.

                What did feel good was standing up to a different abuser when I was older. I totally agree that the OP needs to get her son out of this situation, but it may be healing and encouraging for the son to confront the abuse and leave of his own choice than to feel that he has been bullied out of the troop.

                How he handles this will have some effect on how he handles bullies in the future. It might be a good learning experience for him to stand up to the bully's behavior -- and then leave and get on with a happy life in a new troop. I wish the OP and her son the best regardless.

              • Basementdweller
                Basementdweller commented
                Editing a comment
                sexual harassment for calling some one gay really.

                GA you are completely ridiculous. IRS problems and now you were sexually harassed....really????

                have you ever listened to middle school boys???? They call everything gay. It is boys being boys.

                your going to record 12 and 13 year old boys.

                So exactly what is going on in a 14 year olds life that he crys at being called a name.

                There is much more going on than the OP listed.
                Last edited by Basementdweller; 01-27-2014, 09:27 PM.

            • #9
              Thank you all for your replies and suggestions.

              As for my son's friends, many of them know about the issues but are afraid to stand up to the bully scout. They don't want to be an added target. It is easier to just go with the flow than to create a bulls eye on their own head. They don't bully my son, but they don't stand up or stop it either.

              This first troop is obviously not a boy-led troop. Every adult who was attempting to create that atmosphere has been gutted from leadership/committee. It is not even a SM led troop. It is a CC led troop. She is a former Pack CC who refuses to change to Boy Scout leadership ideals. The second troop is wonderfuly boy-led, parents/leaders have their role in the background, the CC rarely comes to actual meetings (although he shows great adult leadership on some outings), just doing his job in the background. Even though it is quite a drive, the change to the second troop will be inevitable. He already registered in the second troop this year as his primary troop; the first troop is his secondary (multiple) registration. Council doesn't care which troop he gets his rank in, he just chose the first because that was where he had gotten his other ranks and wanted to finish to his Eagle there before moving on completely to the other.

              Yes, the parent/CC accompanies already her son to each and every meeting/outing/etc., however due to the fact that she is not by his side the entire time, he is allowed to continue his behavior and is usally skilled enough to not get caught most of the time.

              For the three friends that my son is really close to, he does do things outside of the troop with them. But there are so many kids in the troop who are more than aquaintances but less than close friends. He unfortunately won't be seeing them outside the troop. But really, the decision to move has basically been made by my son. I have been fully supportive of whatever his decision has been, and it's been his to make. It has meant driving to two troop meetings a week, two PLCs a month, numerous outings for one troop or the other. He hasn't had one leg in each troop; he had been fully planted in each troop and doing a surprisingly great job. He started pulling his PORs out of the first troop as a way to spend less time with the scout. Scouting is just his thing, much like other kids fully invest themselves into football or other sports.

              MattR - I'm not sure what you meant about my "son not wanting to confront the problem". He had a few discussions with the scout who said there wasn't a problem and acted innocent. My son went to his SM and an ASM to dicuss it. If you have any other suggestions on what he should do, he'd be more than happy to hear them. (He wasn't about to go to the CC as it would have only invited an adult bullying him. Recently a more senior scout sent an email out to the Troop requesting that the troop start doing more activities/campouts/etc as there hadn't been anything going on that didn't get cancelled for two months. It was a very well worded, repectful request meant to get the attention of the scouts and any adults who would have to volunteer to go with them so that they could discuss it at an upcoming meeting. The CC responded, replied to All, with a scathing email to the senior scout.)

              As for changing troops prior to his BOR, all of his Eagle stuff had been turned in months ago. We didn't know that changing the location of the BOR was even possible. The Eagle BORs are done on the District level. The second troop is in a different district. Is that even a possiblity?

              I guess the biggest question is do we do anything about the harrassment, especially the sexual comment, or does he just move on and let it go?


              • Basementdweller
                Basementdweller commented
                Editing a comment
                My son took care of a bully issue at school as dad instructed him too. He was suspended for 3 days, bully problem solved.

                The school failed to take care of it so he did. when I was called into the office I told the principle we tried it her way and she failed him. so he took care of it and stood up for himself.

            • #10
              Just move to the other troop and don't look back. It doesn't matter how obvious the facts seem to you, you will get "there're two sides to every story" if you complain.

              With any luck some of your son's friends will move too.


              • #11
                Add my vote for cutting bait and leaving the toxic first troop as soon as possible. As long as CC/mommy is sweeping her son's path, and has the SM in her hip pocket, your son will get no justice or peace there. Sounds like troop 2 is the way to go. Best wishes to you and your son.
                Last edited by desertrat77; 01-25-2014, 05:56 PM.


                • #12
                  Yeah, just get out. A letter to the SM, CC and the chartered organization on your way out wouldn't hurt (make sure all three receive it). Don't worry about whether the issue gets solved or not. That is not your problem. Perhaps a copy to the UC for whatever that is worth.

                  Perhaps your son can maintain some contact with his friends in the first troop and tell them how awesome his new troop is and why. If the new troop is better, perhaps some of them will make the switch, too. For my part, when an SM was apathetic (or in this case, perhaps pathetic would be the appropriate word if he is letting the CC run the show), when boys and their families bailed, it got some notice and the issue gets handled. But in the end, move on and don't look back.


                  • Basementdweller
                    Basementdweller commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Letter won't prove anything but make enemies.

                • #13
                  ScouterCA, I agree, it's a cluster fart in a mummy bag. And your son has tried. He tried talking to the adults (who apparently are all missing out on what scouting is about). He talked to the boy and that failed. He found another troop that really likes him. At the same time, while your son has been driven to tears by this boy, he is "still firmly planted in this troop." Why? This might be a good place to start a discussion with your son. Obviously there's something he likes about his first troop. And more obviously there's a bully in it that's ruining it for him and probably others as well. He could just walk away but he hasn't.

                  What I mean by confronting the problem is that your son doesn't know how to deal with a bully. That's the crux of the problem. Most kids don't know how to handle this because they don't have to figure it out. The bully feeds off of your son's misery and probably enjoyed having your son talk to him and tell him how hurtful words are. When your son cries the bully is having a field day. Shy of violence (and that's an important thing to consider), this is an opportunity for your son to gain confidence in dealing with dirt bags. This kid isn't bullying your son because your son is advancing faster than he is, he's bullying your son because he gets a response. Unless your son is home schooled until he graduates, switching troops isn't going to solve the problem if they end up in the same school. This boy is learning from his mom. My guess is she treats him like garbage at home and he's trying to gain confidence the only way he knows how.

                  Getting some scouter to back up your son would be a great way for him to gain confidence, so I'd start talking to those higher up. Maybe there are programs at a local school for learning how to respond to bullies, and when to pull in an adult. I wouldn't teach this, find a teacher in a school that deals with butt heads daily. Honestly, it sounds like it would be better for your son to leave this troop (how wrong can it be?), but if he can leave it on his own terms, and not that of the bully, then he wins. Another option is leave now, but still learn to deal with bullies so this won't happen in the future.


                  • Huzzar
                    Huzzar commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I think your advice would be applicable if the Scouters were neutral and able to act objectively. In this case, the CC is the bully's mom and rides roughshod over everyone else.

                    There are only two options available and one of them isn't realistic. First, move on and don't look back (my choice). Second, work to have the IH via COR remove CC and restore some sanity.

                    Two might be the ideal option, but my experience is that it isn't worth the drama. Scouting is meant to be fun. When it isn't, the Scout should go to a unit where he will be happy and having fun.

                  • Rick_in_CA
                    Rick_in_CA commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I agree with Matt. If your son can figure out a way to stand up to the bully, it will serve him well in the future. One thing to remember, most people are bullies because it's fun. The only way to get them to stop, is to raise the "cost" so it isn't fun anymore.

                    Get out of that troop, but if you can, do it in a way that gives your son a chance to do it with his head held high. I was bullied when I was a child and I still feel the effects. Anything that mitigates the damage for your son will be a plus.
                    Last edited by Rick_in_CA; 01-27-2014, 09:21 PM.

                • #14
                  A bully supported by an adult bully with other adults enabling the behavior.

                  Your son's remaining youth years in your care are short. Cut bait and move on. If son or you want to write letters after the move to folks who might change things, that would be honorable, but not required. Letting your son remain an object of this behavior any longer is not protective parenting.


                  • #15
                    My son never came to us with these issues, I first became aware because other adults I barely knew were coming to me to alert me.

                    The scout is a very intelligent young man, knows exactly how to properly and politely conduct himself when adults are around, and how to make extremely rude, snide remarks during times when there won't be witnesses, or only witnesses he has complete control over.

                    As for my son's friends, many of them know about the issues but are afraid to stand up to the bully scout. They don't want to be an added target.
                    Obviously, this boy is NOT all that intelligent, or good at hiding what he is doing. The other Scouts know about it, and so do other adults.

                    Shame on the those other adults for not helping. Especially shame on the ASM, and SM, your son went to for help, and did nothing to stop the behavior from happening. I will not say shame on the CC/mom because, apparently, she is where the son is learning his behavior.

                    Send a letter to the DE, IH, COR, CC, SM, and all ASMs, detailing the problem, and the fact that you are changing Troops because the Troop adults are ALL enabling bullying to happen. Remind them that all types of bullying are prohibited in Scouting. Encourage them to be part of the solution, and not the problem, before more boys are harmed.

                    Then get the heck out of there permanently. Encourage your son to try to get his friends out too. Once the bully's main target is gone, he will move on to the next.

                    Here are some resources that might help you, and your son, deal with this -






                    Talk to your son about the ways to deal with a bully discussed in the above. Talk about what he did, and what he should do if it ever happens again.

                    To bad your son's Eagle project is finished. A project on bullying would have been great for him, the other Scouts in his Troop, and the youth in his community.

                    Good luck in the new Troop!
                    Last edited by ScoutNut; 01-27-2014, 10:21 AM.