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  • Advice-Talk to Boy or Parents?

    Overheard from one my sons,

    Scout 13, (bit of a troublemaker)was instructing other scouts on how to circumvent online security to surf hardcore porn. Boy is having a hard time at home (serious medical issue in family) and grades tanking as well. I do not think his folks would be fazed by his online viewing habits beyond not doing his homework.

    I think this kinda viewing is not healthy at this age; I mean I understand WHY he would but think it leads to some unhealthy attitudes. My questions are:

    (1) Should I talk to the boy about "A Scout is Clean" even though I only heard it 2nd hand?

    (2) Do I narc on him to his folks? I would want to know...

  • #2
    Problem here is that you don't sound like the parents would support you. My normal advice to parents is to inform the son that getting caught surfing porn or other online trouble will land him in one level of trouble but getting caught messing with the fire wall, using proxies and deleting history will land him in a whole different level of trouble. If the history is empty for the hours I know you were online then I will assume the worst.

    Not sure what you can do if mom/dad don't want to fix it. But I'd approach it more from the trustworthy than clean. A lot easier that way. If you go for clean you have to allow his point of view that he doesn't see any harm in it. Trustworthy only requires that his parents/leaders trusted him not to do it and he knows it or he wouldn't be trying to hide it.


    • #3
      Beyond scouting what is your relationship to the family??????? if the Parent is a Personal friend would be handled differently than just a scout from the troop.

      You are not the SM correct????

      I assume this happened at a scout event??????

      If so I would speak with the SM and get his thoughts.

      I am going to bet it won't be long before you have parents calling about this issue.


      • #4
        TT: Most charter orgs would agree that "unhealthy" is the mildest way to describe it! But the issue is how do you help everyone grow given that this seems to the problem of the day.

        Well there are several topics that should be part of SM minutes or discussions at campfires:
        - Music/Video piracy.
        - Hacking.
        - Parental restrictions.

        And the age old "if you're doing something you know your parent's don't approve of, should you be doing it?" Or more simply, "don't break your Mama's heart!"

        In general, adults need to make clear that being clean and trustworthy doesn't always come easy. That's why they are in The Scout Law, and just because it's hard doesn't mean you're off the hook if you're doing less than your level best.

        But that's just general conversation.

        I think your "specific conversation" needs to be focused on your son. You need to know what *he* thinks. Has he tried to do the same thing? Is material being shared on troop outings? Should he take a stand? Does he feel intimidated by it all?

        Then, if you think the SM could be a positive influence, give him the heads up. Between the two of you, you can decide how to tell the parents.

        If you do wind up in a conversation with the scout (and I honestly don't think you will, unless the parents make him talk to you about it), explain to him that you're just starting him to work on the kind of thing that he'd have to address in Family Life merit badge anyway.


        • #5
          Yes, and Yes.

          All our scouts knew that there are no secrets between scouts and adults hidden from parents. I have countless stories of scouters getting in trouble by holding back from the parents. In fact, one big blow up occurred when the parents learned the SM held from them that their son once brought porn on a campout.

          You are part of the parents team who works together for the good of their son. Even if the parents don't appreciate your standards, they should still respect them. More often than not, I have found that scouts with parents who don't give their son boundaries appreciate the boundaries of the troop because it gives them a small sense of security they dont get at home.



          • #6
            Put yourself in the position of this boy's parents.

            If you had a son doing something he shouldn't, and his Scoutmaster knew about it, and didn't tell you, would you be upset?

            Talk with the boy - hold an impromptu SM conference if needs be - and then talk with his parents. Explain your concerns, and then explain that even if his family allows it or tolerates it, it has no place in Scouting.


            • #7
              Agreed, you need to discuss with parents. Whether they choose to do anything about it at home is beyond your control, but they should know and respect that you will not tolerate this at scout events. It may be worth having a conversation with the boy first, or at the same time, or after, but you definitely need to talk with his parents.

              I'm thinking about this three ways.

              1. What does it tell the kid if he knows you know, and you don't tell his parents? It tells him either you approve, you have no spine, or you want to be his buddy more than you want to be his role model. You'll never succeed at being his buddy (you're an adult...), and this just opens the door for him to manipulate you on that level.

              2. If my kid were doing this and you knew but didn't tell me, and I later found out, I'd be livid. I wouldn't put a lot of trust in your judgment after that. What else aren't you telling me?

              3. And if I learned from my kid that "Jimmy showed me this at scouts..." I'd be going to the SM & CC to let them know about it, and wanting to know how they would be handling it. I'd expect SM & CC to discuss this with the boy and his parents. (I also might be calling the boy's parents, myself, if he's showing it to my child.) If the SM & CC couldn't, we'd be back to questions about judgment. If you won't put your foot down about this, do you really have the interests of all the boys in mind? Yes this boy "needs scouting," but so do others, and this isn't the kind of thing they should be regularly encountering in scouts - so, time to impose some boundaries, and that includes letting a boy's parents know when something of this sort comes up.

              And not to overlook - if the boy is under a lot of stress at home/family life and this is one manifestation of it, you might also suggest to parents that he would benefit from having someone he could talk to (counseling), esp. if the family is overwhelmed with the burden of dealing with whatever the medical issue is.


              • #8
                Hmmm... just a few thoughts:

                Apparently, you overhead second-hand information that a scout was "instructing other scouts on how to circumvent online security to surf hardcore porn".

                First of all, I'm a bit hesitant to take drastic action based on information gleaned second- or third-hand. I'm not saying that you should ignore the allegation, but definitely keep in mind the relative credibility and accuracy of the information you know.

                Secondly, there doesn't seem to be any allegation that any porn (hardcore or otherwise) was present at a troop event, was in the possession of this Scout, or was shared or distributed at all. Keep that in mind as well.

                Third, what exactly does "circumvent online security" mean? Is this a program installed at school to limit internet access? Or by parents at home? Realistically, most of these programs are embarrassingly trivial to "circumvent," and it's not uncommon for kids to do so. It's also pretty common for kids to exaggerate their accomplishments. So, sure, the kid might have said "Ha, I got around that silly security program. I could look at hard core porn if I wanted!" when in reality, he was only updating his Facebook page.

                So it generally sounds like you need some more solid facts to go on before you engage in any confrontations.

                I think you should also weigh the actual "offense" (whatever that ends up being) with the home situation. If the offense turns out to be minor, I'm not sure you'd be doing any good by calling his parents.

                Just a thought. Not trying to ignore bad behavior, but just pointing out it's important to get a look at the whole picture before you engage a 13 year old in a conversation on porn...


                • #9
                  Boy--talk about a range of responses! I guess I was right to ask.

                  I am an ASM not a SM; but I have know the boy for 5 years. I really like him and see great potential but he is a problem child.

                  I had something similar when I was a den leader when I overheard 1/2 my Bear den boys claimed to be surfing porn and erasing history. I ratted them out since (1) They were younger and (2) I knew first hand.

                  I will need to think and pray about it...


                  • #10
                    I posted this at the time.
                    My wives best friend has two boys. They are very close in age, I think that there's only 11 months between them.
                    A couple of years back we visited them over the Christmas holiday.
                    Both boys had been given a lap-top for Christmas.
                    The older Las was complaining about how slow his was running.
                    When I looked at it I found that he had downloaded a lot of very nasty porn.
                    Dad was at that time a ASM in the District, I was District Chair.
                    I didn't see this as anything to do with Scouts and Scouting even though both Lads were Scouts.
                    You can imagine my predicament, I'm a guest in someones home, the woman is the best friend of my wife and it's the holiday.
                    I weighed my options.
                    Doing nothing is always an option. -But I didn't like that one.
                    So I waited till I got the Dad alone and explained what I'd found and was happy to leave him deal with it as he thought best.
                    To echo something that Eagledad touched on.
                    Don't ever allow yourself to be drawn into keeping secrets, especially when it comes with anything that might be considered sexual in nature.
                    It can come back and haunt you.
                    In the jail I've seen really good corrections officers ruin their career by not reporting something only to find that at a later date the inmate will use this against him.
                    This case is a little different as you really don't know exactly what went on, what was said and all the details.
                    I think, I'd have a word with the Scout and a word with his parents. What they decide to do or not do? Is entirely up to them.


                    • #11
                      Talking about how to circumvent online security could be nothing more than bragging. On the other hand, I've watched the devastation that can occur when a young teen develops a porn addiction. I think having a quiet word with the scout and the parents is appropriate, and I like the trustworthy angle. I also think that I would try to make sure the scout has extra attention and support at scouting activities and in attending scouts if that becomes a problem for the family.


                      • #12
                        ok I'm going to take this beyond "boy's will be boy's" or any of the "should I do general talk with troop or talk with parents"

                        this can actually be viewed as a youth protection issue. while many of you may be saying this is just a young teen bragging about what he has been able to find online, it can also be seen as an older boy getting younger boys to view porn. And often getting a boy to do something "secret" or introducing them into beginning stages of sexual understanding is part of the grooming process. (and if you don't know what grooming is - look it up with reference to abuse) And while some of you may think that would be the case if it were some adult doing this, but there really is no difference. A child can be abused by anyone at any age, and by a person of any age.

                        Now I'm not saying that this IS what is going on! I'm not even 100% sure that it is something that needs reported to the police! But it is something that I would want to chat with person from the council about before I did anything.


                        • #13
                          Uhhh yeah, I don't think I would involve ANYONE in council or district for that matter until you know exactly what you are dealing with! All you are inviting is a witch hunt that will at BEST result in the "offending" scout being kicked out of the unit, at worst it will kill and dismantle your entire unit. I'm not saying you don't address it, but to suggest a paid scouter needs to be informed (or that the police be called!) is a HUGE leap on very little, second-hand information.

                          First, from the OP - this was an overheard conversation from one of their sons. This was NOT a son coming to a parent and saying, "Hey, so and so was discussing at scouts how to x,y,z... he told me that you can do a,b,c to look at d,e,f...". There is a HUGE difference in this type of reporting and an eavesdropped conversation not intended for the parent's ears. It could be a bad situation or it could be a misunderstanding, or it could be a kid bragging and talking out his hind-parts and scout13 bought the story...

                          Second, what do you hope to accomplish? Before talking to the offending scout or their parents, I would want to talk to my OWN scout and clarify exactly WHAT was discussed. You can probably get a better idea of what you're dealing with once you have a serious discussion with one's OWN son before ratting out someone else's son on hearsay.

                          Finally, it is NOT a YPG issue, unless the scout was looking at or bringing porn into the scout meeting, group, etc... Even if this scout was giving detailed instructions on how to circumvent safeguards and access hard core materials, you would have to show he has intent of using such material to influence / abuse his fellow scouts for it to be considered any type of "grooming". Painting this kid as a potential pedophile will do nothing to resolve the issue and will likely inflame a sensitive issue without adding anything constructive to the situation.

                          If it was me and my child running into these murky waters....

                          1) Talk to your boy, find out what REALLY went on. If he is not sure, then YOU cannot be sure. Action would be limited to trying to get an ad hoc SM conference to discuss the following with ALL scouts...
                          a) what is and is NOT acceptable topics for discussions at scouting events
                          b) What actions will be taken in the future if unacceptable topics are brought up in the future (i.e. call and discuss with scouts parents)
                          c) Leave it be and readdress only if need be in the future

                          2) If after talking with your son, you feel the scout WAS giving instructions, then I would be in favor of a, b, & c above, and add a private SM with the offending scout and let him know in no uncertain terms that ANY other issue in the future will be grounds for dismissal from the troop.

                          Weigh the reaction of the scout and then determine if a private chat with the boy's parent(s) would help or hinder the situation.

                          I'm not in favor of keeping secrets from a boys parents, but unless you know for sure what he was actually doing was training fellow scouts vs. bragging or lying to impress other boys, then I say you give the benefit of the doubt and provide a chance for the kid to correct his behavior and save face.

                          Long term, it will keep communication between you and your own son and yourself and other scouts open and respectable in the future. You go running to the council or cops and no one (scouts or adults) are EVER going to trust you in confidence with a sensitive issue. You go running to the parents with unsubstantiated claims about their son, I see it blowing up in your face.

                          A defiant parent who doesn't care about their son's porn viewing will likely turn it around on you and could even accuse you or your son as being the one who was bringing up the topic at the scout meeting.

                          Best course in my book is address the issue without being accusatory. Make it a learning experience about "trustworthy" to oneself. After all, eventually these boys will be able to look at porn online if they want to (at home, at college, as adults). A better lesson might be a discussion about what is harmful about it, WHY people view it, what are the dangers, and being accountable to oneself and one's own god about it.


                          • #14
                            This all really good advice. I talked to both my sons (who rarely agree) and I think they triangulated the truth pretty well.

                            I think I will:
                            (1) Pull the boy aside and discuss "clean" and "trustworthy".

                            I am not sure about the parents.

                            On the one hand I usually want to know what my boys are up to. (fortunately the one with Tourettes tells you everything to his detriment and his brother is a tattletale) So I lean toward telling the parents. On the other hand the lad's dad, I suspect, is a hitter.


                            • #15
                              Well TT, we are not there, so of course you are going to have to feel that one out.

                              I am one of those who likes to have solutions ready to propose when I present problems. In the case of scouts, I like to start conversations with parents something like ""Oh by the way, this is not issue here because we are taking care of it, but I wanted to just keep you in the loop of the situation."".

                              You are not really asking for their help or even getting them involved, you are just having a discussion of how Bobby is doing in the Troop. And he is doing fine.

                              You have a tough situation, I'm sure you will do fine because your heart seems to be your guide.