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  • scouts & drugs

    So we've veered off into the realm of hypotheticals in a few threads recently; why not one more. (This is a real one, FYI.)

    A scout of late high school age is known to smoke pot. His own mother, a troop committee member, openly acknowledges that the boy is doing this "too much" and is tearing her hair out. Dad is an ASM. Parents both seem to be throwing up their hands in search of what to do to help their boy & hope scouting will continue to offer the boy another path in life. The boy frequently brings pot to camp outs and several boys say he offers to share with (not sell to) other boys, both his own age and younger. Except for this, he's a nice kid who is well liked and seems to enjoy being in the troop. Advancement isn't a big deal for this boy, who is happy to stay at (say) 1st Class rank forever. Leadership positions are similarly not something the boy seems to care about.

    You, the Scoutmaster, find out. Some parents are hearing rumors about this, too, and start asking you about it.

    OK. What do you do with this boy? What do you tell the other boys? Do you feel you have an obligation to disclose this matter to some/all parents? What do you tell parents who question you directly, about why a known drug dealer is being allowed to tent with their sons? Supposing you have a CO that isn't comatose, what (if anything) do you tell the CO?

    Should this boy continue to be welcome in your troop? Why or why not?

  • #2
    I'll bite, hypothetically speaking.

    It's illegal activity, scouting or not. The parents have a responsibility which they are not fulfilling, in my mind. It's not the scoutmaster's job to counsel youth on drug use, but there are many professionals available to help with those matters.
    The only way I can think of to respond is to immediately call the District Executive to find out what I need to do. While I'm waiting for him to call back, I'd talk with the committee chair. Then, while still waiting, a meeting with the scout, his parents, committee chair, and myself to discuss what the family's plan is to stop this behavior when involved in scouting.

    If I got no guidance from the council, I feel a promise to not do it again would not be enough for me. Proof that counseling is underway would probably be enough, otherwise I'd let the family know not to bring the boy to scouting activities. I would not discuss the situation with any other people in the troop. If someone directly asked me, I'd reply along the lines of the matter was dealt with as soon as it was known and the scout is receiving counseling, or the scout is no longer participating in the troop.

    Scout On


    • #3
      I'd talk with the parents first. I'd tell them politely but firmly that henceforth, their scout must choose either pot or scouting. Sharing is admirable, but sharing an illegal substance is, well, illegal. So is possessing it, and using it.

      Gotta admit, not too surprised regarding the scout's lack of interest in leadership positions. Also, if a patrol box is raided and food is missing, I think we know who done it.(This message has been edited by desertrat77)


      • #4
        Once again, it would be time for the SM to do his job. I once gave a boy an ultimatum almost exactly like this. He chose to leave. The good thing was that he showed up clean and sober a few years later with a fiancee. I did not recognize him, but he did me. He told me who he was, then thanked me for doing what I did.

        So, you sometimes think you lose, then find out you didn't.


        • #5
          The SM should sit down with the parents for a real no-bull heart-to-heart. If they're throwing up their hands, unable to deal with their son's problems, then they need professional help to do so. Scouting is not equipped to deal with chronic drug use. In fact, both parents should perhaps consider stepping back from their Scouting positions to focus 100 percent on their son. He needs them more than the troop needs them.

          The three of you then sit down with the Scout for a similar no-bull Scoutmaster's conference. Explain to him this is in confidence. Then tell him he has one final chance to shape up or ship out - no sanctimony, no preaching, just lay it on the line. You want him in Scouting, but the drug use has got to stop. You cannot be clean in word, thought and deed, or keep oneself physically strong or morally straight, and smoke weed. If he needs help or wants to talk, you're always here for him, but he can't keep doing what he's been doing.

          Then let it ride. If the parents don't agree, or if another Scout tells you on the next campout that Johnny is off in the woods puffing away, he's gone.


          • #6
            Mary Jane on a campout?????

            I am thinking mom and dad need a kick in the pants......I caught my son or daughter using there would be heck to pay.......doing it too much?????? I wonder if mom and dads enjoy MJ occasionally?????

            I see the admittance from mom as a cry for help....... I like the suggestion of asking them to seek counseling.....

            What do you do with this boy? Sit down with mom and dad.....Ultimatum to entire family. Zero weed at scouts.

            What do you tell the other boys? Bob is making bad choices currently, MJ is his choice and look at what it is doing to him, and I am proud of you for not partaking and I am disappointed you did not report the incident to troop leadership to be dealt with when it happened..

            Do you feel you have an obligation to disclose this matter to some/all parents? No, if they ask, I would like to tell them it is dealt with if it has been.......Honesty

            What do you tell parents who question you directly, about why a known drug dealer is being allowed to tent with their sons? At the time you didn't know right?????? Honesty again.....I didn't know till after the fact and it has been dealt with, and Bob will be tenting with Dad from now on.

            Supposing you have a CO that isn't comatose, what (if anything) do you tell the CO? I would tell the CO in a letter signed by the CC and SM......That way when they hear rumors they will know the facts of what the troop leadership know.

            Should this boy continue to be welcome in your troop? Why or why not? One more chance, if he brings MJ to scouting events he is out, I am going to guess he will chose MJ, if he is comfortable enough to pack for an outing, his parents are ridiculously weak and clueless.

            I am thinking his tenting partner would be dad for further notice.

            I have no illusion that my scouts smoke on occasion, I have yet to hear or see any at scout events......Heck we have parents that smoke and we struggle with alcohol at family camp.


            • #7
              A view from across the pond....

              I think there are two seperate issues here. What happens at scouts and what happens elsewhere.

              In terms of what happens at scouts I'd say it is laid on the line. He doesn't bring drugs to scouts, he doesn't come to scouts while under the influence, he doesn't posses them while in uniform. On that front he gets one warning and one warning only. After that he goes. If he is selling them to other scouts then I'd call that not worthy of a warning, he goes as soon as it is found out. The sharing side is a bit more grey. If he is sharing with already willing participants then they all get the one warning. If he is being more influential then I would veer more towards asking him to leave. But where the line is will depend on the circumstances in each case. We all know our respective kids.

              What happens outside of scouts.... Now there is a difficult area. What happens if he cleans up his act at scouts but carries on smoking like there's no tomorrow? I'd say he stays at the troop for now but it will depend on the peculiar circumstances. We have a duty to protect the young people in our care. What happens if he upsets someone in the supply chain? These people can be unpleasent. I'd have to keep a very craeful eye on how this progressed.


              • #8
                I realize that we are lucky in this area to have a system that seems to work better than other places. So for that reason, if a crime is committed during a troop activity I would consider having the scout arrested, parents informed, and let this be handled as part of the PTI process in this community (including the CO). I have seen some successful outcomes of this kind of 'shock treatment' and those cases have turned themselves around as a result.

                Again, I understand that the zero-tolerance approach taken so many other areas would merely destroy the boy's future rather than turn it around but, like I have observed in other threads, I seem to be living in Nirvana compared to the rest of the country. Our system really DOES seem to work to try to address the problems, not just to punish. Moreover, it tends to bring the community together when the boy and his family take to heart the fact that their community cares enough to apply tough love AND it reminds the community as well of their responsibilities to each other.

                On the other hand, I may not involve the DE or SE or any other scouting types at all. Given their lack of cognitive ability in lesser matters, it would be a waste of time at best. And I suspect they'd be much happier if they didn't have to deal with it. That local option thing again.


                • #9
                  Out of everything you said on the original post, I only need to focus on one part:

                  "The boy frequently brings pot to camp outs and several boys say he offers to share with (not sell to) other boys, both his own age and younger."

                  I do not have to worry about or even consider or judge what his parents think, how or why he does anything at home or wether he is liked , hated oer anything else.

                  All I have top worry about and handle is the fact that he brought it to scout functions and the fact he tried to share with others.

                  First time I see / discover it, he goes home with a warning and an ultimatum that this is the last time OR ELSE!!!

                  Next time, law enforcement gets called.

                  THen I'd repeat this same conversation to mom and dad. If they are ok with and want Jr to burn his brain out, then it's time they trurn in the neckers and patches and head elsewhere.And they can bet their last dollar that a full report will be given to the COR/Co, DE, SE and a general explanation given to the members of the unit as well as the committee. And I have no problem sharing it seeing as the scout made it an open toic the first time he freely offered it to anybody in the troop.

                  Now, I have no problem giving people a second and sometimes a third chance for doing stupid things. I am not gonna lie and say I am perfect of that I never did anything stupid ( such as smoke weed when I was younger and also drink underage.) But the big thing that I see is that the boy if blatantly bringing it AND offereing it to others.

                  Also, since mom and dad only have a "Oh, what can you do?" attitude, I am willing to bet they might turn a blind eye if another scout does decide to join in.

                  Imagine how things will be at that unit the very first time anybody hears how a few scouts got high while camping and that a couple leaders noit only knew it happened, but knew about the scout and didn't try to stop or prevent it.

                  Personally, I'd make it my job to see that these two parents lose their membership in BSA!

                  Now, if the scout does stop any drug activity at any nad all scouting functiuons, then honestly, my job as a leader is done. It is not my job to police the boy's private life.

                  But I still have issues with the parents as leaders. They don't even take their parenting responcibilities serious as parents when it comes to mind altering illegal drugs at home with thier own kid, I cannot imagine they are strict or serious about the scouting duties with other kids.


                  • #10
                    First, I'll note that I'm responding base on the expectation of my unit, our chartered organization and parents. I won't say we have a zero tolerance, but a very low tolerance for Scouts using drugs or alcohol on an outing. I will allow that other units may have other expectations.

                    Also up front let me say that the "sharing" is the big issue here. Maybe he and a couple of his peers like to smoke together and it was just his turn to bring it. That's one thing. But if there is any hint, any suggestion, any thought that the "sharing" was in the form of encouraging younger kids to give it a try, he's out. Period. Third rail. Letter goes to council.

                    But to work through Lisa's hypothetical, let me make an assumption -- or perhaps just read between the lines: That the boy "frequently" brings pot on campouts says it has happened more than once over a period of time. That "several" boys have reported his offers to share says it has been know for some time by troop leaders. This has been going on for a while and has been tolerated by the troop for one reason or another.

                    If that is the case, and the troop leaders have buried their heads in the sand, THE LEADERS should be replaced. No competent leader knowingly allows a Scout to use and distribute drugs or alcohol on troop outings. Frankly, in that situation I'd be surprised if the council didn't revoke memberships and the unit's charter.

                    On the other hand, let's assume the leaders are the last people on the planet to know this has been going on. Me, personally, the first thing I'm going to do is some research and find out how and where to get the family the professional help they need. I'm not qualified.

                    Next, I'll involve my CC, COR and IH. I'll probably give my DE a call to let him know what up in case it hits the fan.

                    Then I and another leader (probably CC) sit down with the family. We walk through the steps of what has occurred, but in this situation it sounds like most of the facts are known. We offer them our support and help and give them all the information we've learned.

                    Our "counseling plan" for the Scout is this -- bring dope to another troop activity and we call the police. If the Scout is to continue with the troop, there will probably be conditions, such as tenting arrangements, random searches, etc. That, too, would be something we would need to research and discuss to find a workable plan.

                    And all this would apply to any of his smoking buddies too.


                    • #11
                      In this specific situation, the leaders did know/should have known it was occurring because a) the other boys were telling their leaders and their parents, and b) the parents of the boy in question were fairly open about it. While I think there are some leaders who preferred to say they weren't aware ("We had no idea! really!" or: "All we heard were rumors!"), given the above, I don't see how they honestly could say they weren't at least somewhat clued in. The boy himself remained registered with the troop through his 18th birthday, although in the last year he seldom attended.

                      As for the boy's parents, they were actually trying to get their boy help. They didn't have their heads in the sand. My recollection is that he was in some sort of counseling. Parents weren't condoning his behavior but seemed to feel powerless to make him stop (when's the last time you tried to force a willful 15-16-17 year old to NOT do something? How'd that work out for you? You can't watch their every move.) and frustrated and worried for their child.

                      When my son told me (much later) that this boy had offered him pot on several occasions at camp outs when they tented together, my first reaction was to be upset about the fact that the troop had allowed my son to be exposed to this. (I have no reason to think my son accepted the offer to "share" but that shouldn't ever have come up at scouts). But then too, my son pointed out that easy access to drugs is a daily reality for many teens - at school, on the school bus (!), at social events, etc. And so his take was (paraphrasing here), "boy that kid is stupid and of course I didn't take any, but have some faith that we scouts knew how to say 'no' to him because we have lots of practice saying 'no.' If it wasn't at scouts, it would have been somewhere else anyway."

                      Not that this excuses troop leadership turning a blind eye, of course.

                      One thing I do find sort of interesting is that in another thread on scouts with criminal records relating to drugs, opinions were mixed on whether that boy should be in the troop. In this situation, there seems to be a lot of agreement that the boy shouldn't be there. Perhaps the dividing line is that in this case, the boy was fairly openly bringing it with him to scouts, while in the other case, it wasn't clear that the boy was doing that. In my view, that's a pretty thin line though, since in most communities, the boys tend to interact regularly in scouts, at school, in the community and they don't generally compartmentalize their lives into "scouts" and "not scouts." Reputations & actions follow one across such boundaries.


                      • #12
                        "(when's the last time you tried to force a willful 15-16-17 year old to NOT do something? How'd that work out for you?"
                        Covering the period 2003-2006, roughly. It worked out nicely. I do recognize that I have resources available that aren't necessarily available to everyone. Cost: about $50-100K per year overall. I try not to think about that.


                        • #13
                          Based on that extra info from Lisabob then I think there is clearly an issue with the leadership here. If someone brings weed to camp once then frankly the brown stuff happens. The reaction, as soon as it was identified, should have been a firm and blunt warning that it will NOT happen again.

                          Turning a blind eye is, in my opinion, actually even worse than openly condoning it as it means things are totally out of control.Sounds like the leaders here need some serious retraining.


                          • #14
                            Wow the leadership knew and did nothing..

                            I would approach the CC and CO and have the entire leadership removed......

                            There is no excuse for not dealing with it, as the impression I am getting from your post that it has been going on for a while now.

                            Sure it isn't fun, pleasant or even nice......YOU did not create the situation but it seem you have been the sole responsible adult in your troop.

                            Wow Pack....That is a bunch of money, but it is irrelevant when getting help for your kids. I hope at some point in the future he says thank you.


                            • #15
                              Lisa, the difference between the two cases - at kleast for me - is the knowledge of the info.

                              In the case of the Alleged meth dealing gang scout, the info was basically a case of " heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another that you've been dealing around...

                              Soryy, couldn't help myself and full apologies to REO Speedwagon!

                              Anyways, in one situtaion, the info doesn't add up: The boy has a recoird that nobody has a clue about, but the info in the record was because it just happened. Really? It just happened and it's already on record?

                              Then the OP said the boy did not act any different or cause any more trouble that any of the other normal scouts. So basically, somebody is saying : "I know he's up to no good( and it's outside of scouting and in the past), but my proof cannot be proven - just trust me.

                              I the second case, the boy is not being accused of something that was in te past, outside of scouting and heard through the grapevine. He is being accused of bringing an illegal activity into the the unit and at unit functions, his parents know about it as well as some current leadership and boys state that they have been asked to participate in this illegal activity in the scouting environment.

                              Kinda like another member of our pack leadership trying to get me kicked out because I was doing something wrong , they just can't prove it beyond saying it on a good authority.

                              Sounds lie somebody is creating drama and has a personal vendetta.

                              But If I am openly drinking or smoking weed and I do it at pack function, then I need to be kicked out and the law called. Plus any other leaders or committee who were aware of it should be kicked to the curb as well!

                              Again, that's just how I see it.