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Alleged drug use; how would you handle?

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  • #16
    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.


    • Beavah
      Beavah commented
      Editing a comment
      Yah, Fehler, we're not talkin' about sendin' a lad to jail, eh? For that, yeh need a jury to convict based on evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. We're here as scouters, teachin' life lessons. That means that we respond to kids even when we think something is up, like when they're sneakin' around and giggling too much. Or when we have a suspicion that there's some bullyin' goin' on. Acting as friends and parents and scouters means yeh don't wait for proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It means yeh care enough about 'em to respond when yeh feel the lad needs yeh to.

  • #17
    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
      Krampus commented
      Editing a comment hypothetically...if the kid did smoke dope...he has broken the law, broken his oath and promise and should not make Eagle. How's that?

  • #18
    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.


    • Krampus
      Krampus commented
      Editing a comment
      Packsaddle, these are two very different issues: Assuming there is evidence he did drugs then:

      1) No Eagle. Too many rules broken as well as laws. And as was pointed out previously, likely not his first time smoking the stuff.
      2) Saving the soul. Of course you do this. but at this point the unit works with the CO and parents to get the kid help. But, IMHO, that's where it stops officially for the unit. You want the kid to get straight and to not become another statistic, but the unit has a duty to the other Scouts to make sure the unit is a safe place. If the Scout gets help and comes back, that is up to the CO and the unit if they take him back.

      Not an easy issue. But if it was my troop I would want the kid to get serious help and, sadly, I think the trust would be a long, long time in coming back before I let the kid out of my sight.

    • Basementdweller
      Basementdweller commented
      Editing a comment
      So what makes a lad worth saving???? and does he want saved or will his parents welcome your intervention?????

      Sure Talk with him and his parents, some lads will keep running away from you just so you will continue to chase them.

  • #19
    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.



    • #20
      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.


      • Krampus
        Krampus commented
        Editing a comment
        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?

      • IM_Kathy
        IM_Kathy commented
        Editing a comment
        your little comments... nope I drive speed limit during scout functions.... I don't lie on my taxes... the other done prior to being a scout leader!

        and that's the thing... if this was seen while at a park in town I would possibly address this issue differently. But the fact that it was done while at a scout function makes things a lot different.

      • DeanRx
        DeanRx commented
        Editing a comment
        IM Kathy,

        How exactly does it happening at a scout function make it different? Are scouts to be held to a higher standard ONLY when at a function or ONLY when in uniform? I agree there are certain things that can be done as a scouter outside of a scout function (like going out for beer - as an adult, OK to do... as an adult in a scout uniform, not so much).

        However, is our expectation that a youth check his true self at the door? Do we expect these guys not to get into any trouble at ALL growing up? One of the main points for having my son in scouts is to give him a good environment (free from drug and alcohol use, free from bad language, etc..) - BUT, I also realize that he and his friends are all impulsive male creatures between the ages of 12 and 18. They screw up. They are impulsive, they do stupid crap. That is part of the learning curve.

        The only time I can see a complete ban from the troop for a lad is IF he is a danger to other scouts and to safety. If the kid is smoking on his own, while not a good example and against the law - he is not really a danger to others. Get the kid some help, but be his community he can return to - if you are not, then he will choose another to associate with.

        In my short time as a leader, I have found that most youth (even the older ones) will live up to the brand you give them... label this kid a doper and a looser and that is what he will likely see in himself and will continue to become in life.

    • #21
      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.


      • #22
        "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.


        • #23
          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?


          • #24
            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.


            • #25

              "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.


              • Sentinel947
                Sentinel947 commented
                Editing a comment
                Venividi, I find your argument very persuasive. "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?"


              • Peregrinator
                Peregrinator commented
                Editing a comment
                I agree with Sentinel that the argument is persuasive. Bringing marijuana to camp is very risky, and not just because of the other scouts there. On the subject of partaking in general, however, it would be worthwhile to see if the scout in question has a legitimate reason to do so and isn't doing it simply for recreational purposes. For example, does he have cancer? Did his oncologist recommend he smoke marijuana to improve his appetite while undergoing chemotherapy? I realize that sounds a bit far-fetched but I don't think it's completely out of the question. Still, even if that is the case, he ought to have been more discreet.

              • DeanRx
                DeanRx commented
                Editing a comment
                I haven't seen anyone comment that the leader should not address the smoking of pot as a serious matter, or that it should be overlooked and the scout held up as a role model for his alleged actions. Please show us ONE posted reply where this is the case?

                The issue is HOW would you handle the situation. Is he kicked out? Is he not kicked out, but can't get his Eagle (not sure HOW you enforce this one... might as well kick him out).

                Some posters, with a very valid point, state they would ban him for a certain period of time (2-3 months) from activities. OK, so do you really think after a 3 month break, the kid is going to return? Heck no... if you're going to do that (because you do not want to appear soft on the issue) - then at least have the backbone to just straight up kick the kid out of the troop - because that is what you are in effect doing, but you can skirt the issue by saying he was suspended and chose not to return.

                The issue is: 1) correct the behavior and discourage others from engaging in similar behavior and 2) Get the kid help.

                All those who advocate a suspension, or expulsion, or taking Eagle (or any other rank) off the table address the first issue... they propose nothing to address the second issue and in fact wash their hands of the "troublesome" youth under the guise of either taking a hard-line stand, or having to be harsh to silence potential critical parents.

            • #26
              "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?


              • IM_Kathy
                IM_Kathy commented
                Editing a comment
                I was referring to if all the witnesses say that they did see the boy(s) say they were smoking and then when confronted said they were not.

                Being confronted with truth and admiting and willing to accept some help vs denying it... I'd handle them differently.

            • #27
              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.


              • #28
                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.....


                • #29
                  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?


                  • IM_Kathy
                    IM_Kathy commented
                    Editing a comment
                    thank you Beevah - that is what I was trying to say

                • #30
                  "As adults, we need to be careful not to make a scout getting Eagle our goal."


                  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.