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Abusive Texting from Scout to Scoutmaster

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  • Abusive Texting from Scout to Scoutmaster

    Since I have become Scoutmaster of our Troop, one particular Scout has taken to texting me about Scouting-related topics and sometimes about life in general. Normally, he would speak with his Patrol Leader or Senior Patrol Leader about these things. However, the texting has become abusive with 4-5 part messages coming through on my phone at all hours of the day. Some texts are veiled threats that I can't be completely sure aren't directed a me personally.

    I have brought this up to the Troop Committee in the past and we came to the decision that all replies should be something along the lines of "We can discuss this at the Troop meeting next week" with one other adult copied in for youth protection guidelines. Also, I have repeatedly mentioned to this Scout that his texts are inappropriate and that we should speak with me face-to-face at the meetings or direct his questions to the PL or SPL.

    Has anyone else encountered this type of behavior? I find that he is quite a different person when he is physically in front of me. I'm at a loss here...

  • #2
    Parents.

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    • #3
      If your wireless device has a method of archiving those texts, I'd be sure to save them. I share your discomfort on where this might be going. Printouts of text messages could make for interesting reading at his next BOR.

      Online social interaction doesn't have the same level of decorum that face-to-face has. People can be downright rude online and suffer no consequences. Kids have grown up with this level of incivility, and may think that it's just fine to be an arse electronically.

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      • #4
        There's not a lot of specific details here, but what you have posted certainly sounds problematic.

        At the very least, the boy's parents need to be informed, immediately. Keeping the committee in the loop is never a bad idea, but in this case you need to talk directly to the parents. Hopefully that will solve the issue, but if not...

        Set clear boundaries regarding communication between youth and adults. It sounds like you've already told this Scout that his texts are inappropriate, but maybe you need to go a bit further. Something like, "I don't feel comfortable discussing these topics by text. You are always welcome to talk to me at any troop meeting, and you can feel free to call me at home at appropriate times. But from now on, I won't be checking text messages anymore." And then follow through - don't respond to, or even acknowledge, any further text messages from this Scout.

        The "veiled threats" part is concerning, but pretty vague. What is your feel for the seriousness of this situation? Is this just a case of needing to learn to communicate appropriately? Or is there some more serious background going on - trouble at home, danger to himself or others?

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        • #5
          Notify his parents, then block his number. One-on-one communications between a youth and adult is a gray area anyway, except for innocuous questions by e-mail...then be sure to cc his parents and the CC on each one. I'm still a dinosaur...I don't do texting. If I need to say something, I'll call and leave a voice mail, if necessary.

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          • #6
            Ya know... I'd put this on a higher priority level. Call him on it. Ask him to explain himself. Ask him not to text you. Depending on the level/type of threats, (passive/aggressive versus physical versus slanderous versus intimidation versus ...), I'd take action. I think it's similar to teaching our scouts to confront a bully.

            I'd also #1 document it and #2 coordinate with the parents. If the parents are not helpful, you won't get far. If he's not willing to change, suggest to the scout to take a break from scouting until his behavior is compatible with the boundaries of scouting (if that's the case).

            Similar to having a scout that swears all the time. At some point you just have to identify the behavior, indicate it's wrong, ask him to stop. If he won't, suggest that he finds somewhere else compatible with his values. But that he'll be welcome back when and if he can function within the boundaries of scouting.(This message has been edited by fred8033)

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            • #7
              Are you sure they're directed at you and not misdirected texts?

              Talk to his parents.

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              • #8
                This should have been taken up with his parents long ago, not the Troop Committee.

                Talk to his parents immediately.

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                • #9
                  You phone company should have records of these incoming texts. (Or at least be able to archive them for you in the future.)

                  Are you sure this isn't part of the scouts signature line? I had one youth who's messages to me end with "~ wierdo". Turns out he had chosen a default emoticon for which my phone did not have an image. So, instead of some goofy looking face, it spelled out the text!

                  It is imperative that you confront the boy and his parents immediately. They need to understand that you welcome these meaningful "on record" conversations with boys, but sometimes a boy doesn't understand that texts are *not* private in that they don't disappear, sometimes a boy is trying to say something important but winds up being hurtful because he doesn't know exactly how to say it, sometimes a boy is in serious trouble and needs help. You, the boy, and the parents need to figure out which it is.

                  You can make it clear that texts are fine, and you'll keep a record of them to help sort out problems in the future, but you also expect a certain level of decorum. Explain to the boy that you are responding to him the same way as if an adult friend would start behaving this way. But just like you'd demand an adult friend to straighten up immediately or get help in this situation, your demanding from him some respect and a full-out attempt to get at whats wrong promptly and peaceably.

                  [If I'm a little sensitive to this, it's cause one of oldest son's former classmates committed suicide last week. There's no indication that anyone "missed" any signs, but we're all just a little on alert.]

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                  • #10
                    Texting with a scout is a huge no no in my book. It is my belief that texting and one on one emails violate two deep leadership....

                    When ever I call a scout it is to the Home phone or mom or dads phone and speak to the parent first about my discussion with their scout.

                    Wireless phone companies do not keep records of texts, I know this as fact from a friends very ugly divorce and attempts to get text records, this is verizon.


                    I would print the Texts out as soon as possible and put them away for safe keeping and to present to the Committee to let them know what is going on. Do this by forwarding them to your email address and then printing the email.

                    If I was threatened by a scout I would call a Board of Review and have it addressed by the committee.


                    I would block his number ASAP, The more I think about it the more concerned I become.(This message has been edited by Basementdweller)

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                    • #11
                      My own personal policy is that I don't text, email or Facebook scouts. I email scout's parents weekly with a newsletter that I ask them to share with their son. Any other communications can be done with a phone call or in person. I think texting would be a fine way of communication with scouts but I think the SPL or PL should be the one sending the texts to scouts, not adults.

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                      • #12
                        The thread is about to go off track. The OP is about threats via text. Save them. You can't control what someone sends to you but you can control how you respond. Don't respond to a threatening text. Next time you see him explain why you didn't respond and ask if he'd like to have a conference.

                        As far as the media go, even neo-Luddites like me have to face the facts of modern life. I think that as long as you can do it safely, it is good to communicate with other people, scouts included. Just archive the conversations and choose words carefully. The good thing about Facebook, email, and texting is that you DO have a record. Over the phone it's he said/he said.

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                        • #13
                          Abusive?
                          Maybe I'm old school but I just am unable to see myself ever in a million years, being abused by a Scout. -It just would never happen.
                          Think we need a few more details.
                          Ea

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                          • #14
                            TwoCubDad had a one word reply. "Parents". I wish he had elaborated.

                            Did he mean contact the parents? Or did he mean, the parents may be the one text messaging..

                            If the scout is not at all like that in person. Then it may be as some say, just he feels safer and bolder when not in person. But, I have known parents to email and sign the scouts name. Seems a little odder to textmessage, as the scout/parents could have the same email address (especially when the scout is younger).. But to text message, the parent would have to steal the kids phone.

                            But, many at time it is not the scout that is abusive if things are not perfectly aligned for them. It is their parents who take it as an insult, or your fault, and be the ones to spout off.. Maybe the parent thinks the kid is not assertive enough at meetings, and wants to give them a backbone..

                            But again, as stated, I would be more suspicious if it was email. This would be odd for textmessaging.

                            You said in person quite a different person when he is physically in front of me Does he admit to the text messages. Does he explain them where they are seen in a better light when face to face? Or, does he just seem like whatever the texting was about is not a hot topic at the next scout meeting?

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                            • #15
                              I mean run, don't walk, do not pass go and engage the parents in this. This is their problem to handle. They need to make it stop and they need to deal with their child.

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