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Alleged drug use; how would you handle? Page Title Module
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- May 2011
Alleged pot use is alleged. Unless you have two or more witnesses, or the boy admits it, you have to take his word as a scout. You aren't a jury, you can't convict based on rumors or the "everyone knows he's a doper" myth. Acting like a hippy/stoner is not proof.
This is the unreliable thing about hypotheticals: until we actually confront a real situation and know the specifics, we don't REALLY know what we'd do in response.
The thing is, despite the tiny amount of information we have about this situation and the fact that we KNOW almost nothing about it, some of us HAVE been quick to provide their reactions AS IF the worst scenario was true. And it's ok for them to have those kinds of thought excercises. But I think it is equally easy, IF they want to play with those scenarios, to respond FIRST with how to HELP those hypothetical boys in that hypothetical situation.
Krampus, the boy is in trouble on several levels. It seems to me that the fate of scout advancement is less important than to trying to help him turn things around somehow. Yes, if efforts to HELP the boy fail, then I would support closing some advancement options. Big deal! If that's the case the real damage is already done.
I happen to know many cases in which teenagers who make really stupid decisions turn their lives around and serve as great examples for others. Would you slam the door on all those? Is there no room at all for redemption?
Let me put it in different terms. If a boy tried to cross a stream at high water and was swept away, I would gladly risk my life to try to save him. Here, the boy may have tried something that could be just as life-changing down the road. The risk is that he will eventually lose his life. The last thing I'm going to worry about is some stupid advancement question. To me there is a much more pressing threat that I am willing to sacrifice greatly to avoid if I think I can help this boy avoid that 'cliff' that he's running headlong toward. (this mixed metaphor was brought to you by Packsaddle)
Whether he makes Eagle or not, to me, is just not as important a question and certainly is one that can be answered after the real problem is addressed.
Speaking hypothetically, of course.
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I think the best approach is to interview the two other kids. Let them know they do not have the option of not being involved. They may choose not to remember much, but at least as adult leaders, you have done your due dilligence.
As to whether this should disqualify the lad from receiving his Eagle award, Hmmm... thats a tough one. Would it be hypocritical for a pot-smoker to get Eagle? Probably. Would it be hypocritical to not allow a lad a second chance if he made a genuine appology for his actions? Definately.
We as scouters sometimes are very quick to forget that we are dealing with YOUTH. For the most part, good youth, but young men just the same. Young men change, they expiriment, they test limits. Johnny goodie toe shoes one day, the next cussing like a sailor on shore leave. One day not interested in girls, the next trying to get to second base with the first girlfriend they have.
I'm inclined to say that Eagle being off the table has a lot more to do with HOW the scout conducts himself AFTER being confronted for his alleged actions. Is he defiant? Is he contrite in the face of multiple whitnesses? Does he cop to doing the deed and say he's sorry, It won't happen again? Does he self refer to a treatment porgram? All of those outcomes bear greatly on whether a group of adults should stand in the way of an achievement this lad has worked towards for the last 3 to 5 years (maybe more).
I agree we need to have standards and drug use has no place in scouting or on a campout. However, one of our standards should also be forgiveness and the ability of someone to have a chance to LEARN from their mistakes.
You drop the Eagle and kick him out of the troop. All you've taught the boy is, "You can only trust these folks as long as you behave by their standards... if you slip, they'll cut you off at the knees..... don't trust anyone in life.... just don't get caught." Are those the life lessons we really want this boy to leave scouting with?
On top of all this - we are assuming the kid really did these things. I know its hard to wrap our heads around, but there is a chance (albeit very slim) that a couple boys don't like this guy and could come up with a collaborated story to get him in trouble / kicked out. Kids can be very devious that way too.
The local leaders know the kids involved best and they know the reputation of those involved.
When making their decission, the adult needs to be less concerned about what others think of HIM and more concerned about what is in the best interest of the boy affected and the rest of the boys in the troop.
Broken the oath and broken the law = no Eagle.... Hmmm, yeah...
How many adult leaders have ever driven 5 mph over the speed limit on a scout outing? BROKEN THE LAW
How many adult leaders have ever padded their charitiable contribution on their tax return? BROKEN THE LAW
How many adult leaders have gone out in a non-scouting funciton and had a little too much to drink, or used bad language, or smoked, or had sex with someone prior to marriage? BROKEN YOUR OATH
Before we as adults begin to throw the hypothetical stones at a scout, we better get our own houses in order folks!
Just because you make a mistake in life, it doesn't disqualify you from being a good person. It doesn't disqualify you from grace. It certainly shouldn't disqualify you from being an Eagle scout as a lad.
I've avoided weighing in for a few days. But I feel like I should speak up. This young man is at the gates of earning his Eagle. Did he break the law? Yes. But I personally feel some mercy is in order. We all make mistakes. I think he needs some support and counseling, and I don't feel like his one boneheaded mistake should erase the positive contributions.
"Lost in all of this is the message being sent to the OTHER Scouts in that troop. If it is known this guy smoked pot (and perhaps did it more than once), got caught and nothing other than a stern talking to and a few meetings with some counselor was the result, exactly what message are we sending to THOSE boys?"
Certainly valid. Certianly a valid thought. Very similar to an older thread I remember about a Scout pulling out a knife during an arguement. Obviously the BSA has rules. This is an older Scout, and he should know better. He is supposed to be a role model in his troop, and he broke not just the Troop or the BSA's rules, but the law. However, ultimately I'm an idealist. I'd love for this young man to have the consequences of his actions so he learns a lesson, (assuming he actually was smoking something) and still make his Eagle. But I don't know if those two outcomes are compatable with one another.
- Apr 2012
Baden-Powell wrote that a scout who told a lie would cease to be a scout. Do any of you throw boys out of your troops for lying just once?
- Sep 2008
how I'd handle it if I were SM...
1) get all witnesses to spill
2) sit down with scout and parent(s) and the buddy and parent(s) but indivisually
3) if scouts fess up and admit to problem discuss what consequences should be.... to me the bare minimum would be 3 months out of troop and 3 months of probation with the troop - after all you can't tell if they have improved behavior without seeing them in person. I would also make attending at least 2 NA or AA meetings a week part of their activity during those 3 months away from the troop unless parent(s) sends them to treatment.
4) if scouts lie - they are out - I'd contact council and let them know exactly why so that if they tried to transfer to sneak in that eagle it may be known.
"I don't know if those two outcomes are compatable with one another.
I agree with that statement. However, I disagree that a scout that brought MJ and paraphanelia to a campout and smoked it made a mistake. It was a consious decision, not a mistake. I wouldn't consider it a mistake any more than a scout who repeatedly shop lifted, or bullyed, etc. (I could consider that another scout that tried it under peer pressure (whether overt or not) may be considered a mistake, but certainly not one that brings MJ on a campout.)
Adult leaders DO need to keep foremost in mine the impact on the other scouts. Bringing MJ on a campout is a safety issue. It risks other scouts trying it for the first time. That should trump any soft heart for giving an Eagle award to a scout, anyway. Eagle should be off the table for the forseeable future. So should participation in scouting events.
As adults, we need to be careful not to make a scout getting Eagle our goal. Our goal is character, citizenship, and fitness. A scout that is smoking MJ has demonstrated that Eagle is not important enough to him to stay away from partaking. Why should Eagle be more important to an adult leader than it is to the scout?
Until such time as SM and committee is convinced that a (hypothetical) scout no longer partakes, and that he can be trusted that his actions are not just being better hidden, the scout should not be participating in scouting activities, let alone be signed off for scout spirit on any advancement.
I see that some on this forum consider smoking MJ on par with exceeding the speed limit, and that is their right. Just recognize that you are likely to have families in your troop that would compare bringing MJ on a campout not to exceeding the speedlimit, but rather to driving recklessly at excessive speeds. Parents may be OK with trusting their son to a troop leader that exceeds the speed limit by a few mph; they would rightly refuse to send their son with a leader that drives 20 mph over the speed limit and tailgates slower drivers. They sure as heck aren't likely to trust their son to a scout leader that does not address smoking MJ as a serious matter, let alone one that brings him up in front of the troop, gives him scoutings highest award, and presents him as a role model.
"if scouts lie - they are out"
Teenage males. H'mmmmm. I suspect that on that basis, scouting can just close the doors. "Scouts, who ate more than their share of bacon?" "Did you bring candy into your tent?" "Who stole the other patrol's flag?" "Were you guys playing with matches?" or back when I was a scout, "Boys, do you know who was shooting firecrackers?"
A lie is breaking at least one point of the scout law, that much is clear. But are they also 'out' if they are not thrifty? How about brave? or clean? Or are some laws relatively more important than others? Seems like the better way would be to teach them why lying is wrong and give them an opportunity to repent, or reform, and do better in the future...rather than slamming the door on them.
It continues to be my observation that most of us make mistakes and sometimes really bad decisions. Why would we close scouting to boys who have just demonstrated the greatest need FOR scouting? What was that thing about casting the first stone?
Just a hunch, but I would bet that IM Kathy was referring to the drug use situation of the original poster, not to lieing in general.
- Mar 2008
KEEP SCOUTING LOCAL
Throw a scout or scouter out for telling a lie......
Your funny.....scouting would cease to exsist. I don't know of a scouter I haven't caught telling a lie, whether a little bitty so I don't hurt your feelings to the big giant going to jail whopper.
I find it interesting that not a year ago, this same forum, said, the poor little boy made a mistake and should get his eagle even after getting caught smoking mary jane. I didn't agree then.
the scout needs disiplined.
Suspended for sure.....
- Jun 2005
Yah, I think IM-Kathy is tryin' to say that there's a difference between a scout who admits his mistake, comes clean, and is sorry and a scout who lies and denies and is not sorry.
For the first, the character lesson is how to rebuild your reputation after making such a mistake, eh? By goin' out of your way to demonstrate responsibility, includin' voluntarily withdrawing your Eagle application until you have repaired your relationships with others. That sort of boy yeh get help, and counseling.
For da second, the character lesson is that when yeh don't take responsibility for your actions, yeh don't deserve the respect and time of other people. Yeh don't get awards. Yeh don't get other people giving you their time and energy for free. Yeh aren't trusted to be around younger boys. Yeh are likely not to be welcome in da company of good people.
Our actions as adults have to change accordin' to where the lad is at, eh?
- Aug 2012
Failure is always a valid conclusion to any endeavor.
From my own personal experience, I learned far more about myself by failing at something than I did excelling at it.