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When should an adult step in?

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  • When should an adult step in?

    My Webelos den visited a Boy Scout troop meeting the other evening. This troop has a good mix of younger and older boys in it. One of the older boys (16 or 17 maybe?) consistently talked back to the 17-year old SPL. The SPL did a great job of keeping his cool while trying to coerce the boy to behave more appropriately and follow directions without the constant attitude. I don't know what the history is between these two boys, but there appeared to be some animosity. I think the one boy should have been sat down and given a serious talking to about his disrespectful behavior. Should the SM have stepped in and had a talk with the boy who was being rude, or was it OK to just let it go because the boys need to learn how to get along on their own and it didn't result in a fight?

  • #2
    Looks like that Troop has an excellent SPL. Adults not needed. However, if witnessed by the SM he may want to remember the incident at the next SM conference and review it with the boy in private. No blood, no foul.

    Stosh

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    • #3
      If you're seriously considering this troop, you may want to eventually talk to the SM about what you saw.

      But, yes, older boys get a longer leash. We don't want an SPL to feel defeated by an adult who constantly intervenes. And the impertinent scouts tend to be "long term projects"! After some meetings, I'll remind an SPL near the end of his rope that next time he can feel free to ask an impertinent scout attend an impromptu conference with the SM or me.

      Under the category of "could be worse" ... I have had to intervene on SPL and scout who were coming to blows. Came out of nowhere because most days those two were friends. Fortunately the rest of the troop had just rushed off to do another activity. (Maybe that's why the younger one thought he could keep pushing it.)

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      • #4
        "by the book" the SM would have spoken to the SPL privately about the matter, after the meeting, via "what coulda been done better?" conference. If necessary discuss with the other boy.

        Personally I wouldn't have become involved, unless yelling, cursing, physical altercation, or "yo mamas" came about.

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        • #5
          My Last Troop it happened between SM during Scoutmaster's minute and Older Boys...Even asked to be quite for a Few minutes..Nor would they put away the Cell Phones..Kinda Glad I was Removed..No Respect

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          • #6
            Respect is contagious.

            As SM I never refer to a scout by his first name. If I expect them to address me as Mr. B__, then I start the process by addressing them by Mr. X___. I also never use "sign's up" when I'm with the boys. I just stand there and wait patiently for their conversations to subside and then begin. Why should I interrupt them because they are interrupting me? It is very clear that it is THEIR troop. I am there to support them. If they ask me to address the troop, with training or some other issue. I am invited to speak and when I go to the front, by the time I get there, it is totally quiet.

            I never "tell" the boys anything. I ask a lot of questions and offer opportunities for them to consider. I gave the flyers I get at Roundtable to the SPL and then my work is done. Eventually it got to the point where the SPL attended RT to get the flyer AND the rundown on the activity.

            If one treats the boys as developing adults, it doesn't take long for them to learn the advantages of respect. It's kinda the philosophy I use where if one were to treat others like adults, they tend to act like adults and vice versa, and it always confuses kids when adults treat them like adults, it's not something they are used to and generally don't know how to react.

            Stosh
            Last edited by jblake47; 10-11-2013, 08:13 AM.

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            • #7
              I want the scouts to have an experience that motivates them to learn. I would not interrupt, but I might ask him later about the situation to hear what he learned. There are many answers depending on the history of the two scouts. I would also ask the SM his opinion. Barry

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              • #8
                My situation swings the other way. The older boys, who really didn't respect the SPL (with some good cause), were close to sinking the troop. As adults, we quietly enforced courtesy at the back of the room so that a meeting could happen.

                The SPL eventually resigned his POR.

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                • #9
                  Based on the scant data here, as the SM I would have had a very serious talk with that older scout, There may very well be issues we dont know about (is the spl dating his little sister? stranger things have happened ) If so try to get them resolved. But you never argue with another officer in front of the troops. never. It's not about the spl as a person it's about the office he holds. If he loses the respect of the troop as a whole, you are going to soon have a much bigger problem

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                  • qwazse
                    qwazse commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I just remembered, Son #1 did take his SPL's little sister to homecoming!




                    I agree that the issue is respect. But, in general the time for an adult to handle it is after the meeting. I would pull the boy aside and say "Next week, I'm expecting better from you." No lecture, no rehashing details, no waiting for an explanation from the boy. Then I would ask the SPL if he understood what that was all about. Then follow-up if there was anything serious. But, from a visitor's perspective none of hat behind-the-scenes work would be noticed. That's why I suggested that OP talk to the SM. It's the only way to get a feel for how far things like this are allowed to go.

                • #10
                  So I spoke with the troop's CC today to see if they saw the problem and to ask how they handle this type of situation. He said they are well aware of it. They have talked with the boy individually and also with him and his parents. Apparently, this is an on-going problem they've had with the boy. So it doesn't sound like it has anything to do with animosity between the SPL and this boy, but rather it's a boy with some behavior issues instead. "Difficult childhood" was what I was told. I am still amazed the SPL was able to keep his cool.

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                  • qwazse
                    qwazse commented
                    Editing a comment
                    There are two ways to think about this:
                    - Do I want my boy to be in a troop who lets things play out with the SPL when they have a boy who acts out like that?
                    - Do I want my boy to be in a troop who brings up a caliber of SPL (and presumably PL's) who will handle my boy that way when he acts out like that?

                • #11
                  We train our Scouts to deal with distractions. Rule #1: don't let handling the distraction to become a greater distraction than the distraction. We teach a number of passive approaches like "the eye" or walking over and standing next to the guy causing the problem. Other leaders (PLs, ASPLs) who notice the problem can take a more active role like whispering for the guy to knock it off. But the last step is adult involvement. My personal favorite is asking the offending Scout to please step outside, then escorting him to the door and closing it behind him.

                  This sounds like more is going on here than will can be handled with simple tricks. Sounds like this kid is being intentionally disruptive and disrespectful. I'd send him home if it continues to be a problem. Yeah, getting suspended for talking out of turn is like going to jail for jaywalking. But do it enough and you will go to jail for jaywalking.

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