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Reason for Denying Eagle

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If he is not allowed to discuss it, then he waits till the court case makes the determination of guilt or innocence to go any further.

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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This topic has brought to mind an event that happen when I was in highschool and in Girl Scouts.

My dad also helped with a Boy Scout troop. THere was a young man in the troop that got himself into some very serious trouble. Was on the road to Eagle. But there was talk about not only not allowing him to earn Eagle but to also kick him out of the troop. And to be honest it probably was justified.

My dad was a big believer that we are the stewards of our youth. He took this boy in hand. Worked through the trouble. Managed to convince the other leaders to keep him in the troop then worked with him to earn Eagle. This young man did a massive amount of community service as part of his agreement on the trouble.

Now remember this was in the late 50's, before we tossed kids on the junk heap as quickly.

When my dad passed away in 84 this man ask if he could speak at the funeral. He stood up in front of over 300 people and stated that my father is the one person who is responsible for him being where he is today. That he was the only adult that was willing to give him another chance and make his take responsibility for what he had done. Today this young man is the District Attorney in my home town. He is also very involved with youth. Especially kids in trouble.

So before we throw the baby out with the bath water what about looking at how we can help kids that make mistakes get back on the right path and hopefully turn them into honest, hard working, and fair thinking adults.

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Lynda J - what a wonderful post! We can all be reminded from time to time that everyone deserves a second chance. Had a young man in our troop who was arrested (misdemeanor) several months before he was to finish his Eagle Project. The story was in the local paper so news spread quickly. Was told by some scouters that I should tell him to give it up - he would never make Eagle. Then, there were others who said give him a chance to overcome his mistake.

 

Overcome it he did. He came in front of all the Scouts in the troop and told them what he had done (on his own, no one told him he had to do that). Told them the consequences he was facing and answered their questions.

 

Then, he went on to finish his project, complete his merit badges, finish his paperwork and have SM conf and BOR. Very impressive young man - well-spoken, well-intentioned, etc. - who made a stupid mistake.

 

Passed his BOR and we are waiting for him to complete plans for his Court of Honor.

 

I think we are all guilty of doing stupid things when we are young, some probably illegal (I'm sure some of you are exceptions). Hopefully, those youthful indiscretions did not define us as the adult we became, anymore than the Scouts being discussed here will be known forever by their misdeeds.

 

 

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GWD. Believe me there are some things in my past that I an not so proud of. And I was blessed to have someone along the way that was willing to reach out a hand and lift me up and not push me down.

 

I think sometimes as adults we want kids to be so perfect that we forget to forgive.

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I'm wit evmori on this one.

 

As scout leaders, our responsibility is to the program and all of the kids in it, not just this boy. Our advancement program and the Eagle award in particular lose their value if the example we hold out to other boys and to the community at large is a poor one. As with all of Scout Spirit, our decision should be based not on what is best for us, or best for one, but what is best for the group and the program as a whole.

 

I've seen "temporarily remorseful" bullies passed as Eagles who lost us some great kids, some great leaders, and some great donors. And that doesn't come close to criminal offenses.

 

Yes, if a boy is truly sorry, and he confesses in public and does his time in a way that helps other boys to realize that it is far from cool, and if then he shows he has a truly "changed heart & mind," I'm all for the boy. But that's not possible in two months.

 

Criminal trials can deprive a boy of liberty. They should be subject to strict standards of evidence, and presumed innocence. But choosing not to confer a special public recognition like Eagle is a far cry from depriving a boy of liberty. Let's not confuse the two. It's hard to build character by conferring your highest honor on a known felon.

 

 

 

 

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There are circumstances under which I agree that this young man probably shouldn't earn his eagle and Beavah has a good point that it would be difficult (impossible?) to demonstrate a true change of character in as short a time as 2 months. Depending on what happens legally (ie, is he actually found guilty? or just accused? big difference), this boy may well not achieve the eagle rank.

 

My point was simply that, until the legal issues are settled, and whether the boy makes Eagle or not, the committee would be doing this boy a serious dis-service by asking him to comment on the legal matter. The committee has a responsibility to the boy in question not to put him in that sort of jeopardy, especially because he may not realize or understand that that is what is happening. This responsibility doesn't change depending on whether or not he is conferred eagle status.

 

Lisa'bob

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Interesting...I'm glad I'm not in charge of determining how many months must go by before someone can truly show remorse or a change in character.

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As I read this thread, I am tempted to suggest that we look at the forest and not at the individual trees.

 

The forest is, in my opinion, that Scouting exists to improve the citizenship, character and fitness of youth. There are eight methods of Scouting. Advancement is only one of those methods and the Eagle Scout award is only a part of advancement.

 

Yet many of us act as if we exist only to give out, or deny, Eagle Scout awards.

 

To me, the question is what will best contribute to the citizenship, character and fitness of the youth in question and of the Troop. That doesn't call for an easy answer, particularly on message boards like this.

 

It is possible that having the boy not become an Eagle Scout is the best thing, particularly if he decides that he is not worthy. There is no shame in not being an Eagle Scout and it is no life-long blot on one's personal or Scouting career. I know many wonderful men and wonderful Scouters who did not earn the Eagle.

 

I would also comment that if there is some problem with a boy's candidacy, it should be addressed at the Scoutmaster's Conference and not left for the Board of Review. If the SM does not approve the Scout at the SM conference, he can still request a BOR.

 

As far as the rumors about the one Scout, would it be appropriate to ask the Scout "There are rumors in the Troop about this incident. (At that point, show the Scout a copy of the newspaper article.) I am not going to ask you if you were involved or anything about it and I would suggest that you not discuss it. However, do you believe that you have met the Scout Spirit requirement for Eagle Scout or do you believe that it might be appropriate for you to defer consideration of your Eagle Scout award." (If the boy is a couple of days from 18, which of course they always are, then one would word the question slightly different.)

 

Earning the Eagle sets one kind of example. Deciding that one has not earned it and going through life as a Life Scout sets another example, which is not necessarily bad, and gives the boy the rest of his life to address the situation.

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Others have talked about setting an example to other Scouts when this boy is denied the Rank of Eagle. What about the example that if you make a mistake you will never make Eagle, that there is no second chance. What about setting an examply that as adults we are not so rigid that we can not understand making a mistake. I hear kids talk all the time about adults expecting them to be perfect all the time. That so many adults don't understand what it is like to be a kid. My dad always said try not to do anything that you can't look yourself in the eye over. And if you do then take responsibility for your actions. Make it right and stand tall.

I refuse to kick someone when they are down.

If we are going to demand perfection of kids then we had darn sure be ready to live under a magnifing glass 24/7. Never break any law, including speeding even 5 miles an hour over the posted speed limit.

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As has been stated a few times and keeps getting lost in the discussion - Tread Carefully here. Everything you know about this case - Everything - even the newspaper article - is Hearsay. The "general knowledge" that this lad is one of the alleged (repeat - ALLEGED) culprits is assumption, speculation and rumor based solely on his friendship with the 18 year old whose name made the paper. Until it is adjucated in court, there is no proof whatsoever that this lad (or any of the other folks involved) actually did what they are being accused of (if, in fact, this lad is one of the alleged culprits - something you do not know for a fact).

 

Going to council, the Scout Executive or their attorney, and even mentioning this boy by name with reference to this incident leaves you wide open to a slander suit for defamation of character if there has been no adjucation of this case in court or if he is found not guilty. The fact that the minor youth's names were not mentioned in the article should be your first big red flag that its not information that can be divulged - not even in open court - it will be adjudicated in closed juvenile court (unless they are charged as adults instead).

 

You cannot ask this boy about this incident directly or indirectly - don't even try it - not only could there be legal ramifications for the boy (if he is, in fact (and again I stress this is something you do not know as a fact) involved), it could have legal ramifications for you - it could potentially be seen as obstruction of justice and interfering with an investigation (that is considered ongoing until it goes to court for adjudication).

 

Bigger picture - what happens if you deny him his Eagle because of what "everyone" thinks happened and you pick up the newspaper 6 months after he turns 18 to read an article that says all charges were dropped against all of the alleged culprits because there was no proof or they charged the wrong guys and caught the real culprits. How will you be able to take back that kind of mistake?

 

If he has completed the work and passes the BOR, he gets the Eagle. Forget trustworthy and scout spirit arguments - those are all subjective arguments - and should weigh far less in a BOR than objective measurements. Judging from some of the other posters comments on subjective measurements, I'm of the opinion that they wouldn't award the Eagle to some kid who got a parking or speeding ticket.

 

If he's met the requirements, pass him onto the Board of Review.

 

As for community reaction to an Eagle being awarded to an alleged culprit of a crime before the case has been adjudicated - the answer is simple - Scouts believe in the standard that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

 

Finally, understand that the rank of Eagle does not mean that one is a citizen of the highest standard - it means that one has completed all of the work required to earn the rank. There have been some high-achievers who have earned the rank of Eagle - we've all heard the tales of astronauts, presidents, senators, baseball players, etc. who were Eagles. The vast majority of Eagles are just your average, everyday folks that no one really hears about outside their circle of friends, workmates and family. And some are despicable criminals like Russell Henderson who beat and left for dead a young man on a fencepost in Wyoming.

 

I would take comfort in knowing that this lad, no matter what happens in the near future with this case, will most likely end up as one of the vast average, everyday folk.

 

CalicoPenn

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And if he is involved you have just conferred the highest award a youth can earn in the BSA to a criminal. Nope. If the lad is asked & won't or can't answer if he was involved, he waits till the case is resolved in court. From what I have read, this Scout was present during the incident & that in itself was a choice he made. And he must now live with the consequences of that choice. And if I am this Scouts SM, Scout Spirit would not be signed.

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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A scout is trustworthy. I wouldn't even ask about the criminal proceedings and simply ask him if he feels he has met the scout spirit requirement, and then have him explain to me why. Taking him at his word, I'd sign the requirements off and then see about a waiver from National to postpone the board until his case has been heard before a court of law. After he has been convicted/exonerated, let the board convene and take this into account as they see fit.

 

If he's guilty, and has not made sufficient effort to make amends for it, the board will be able to justly deny him.

 

If he's innocent, it gives him a fair chance. It would truly be a shame to deny someone something they've truly earned on the basis that we didn't want to create a bad image for ourselves.

 

Just because he was at the scene of a crime doesn't automatically make him guilty. A good friend of my little brother's that I knew from my church's youth group when I was in high school was convicted on "possession of a bomb." What was the real story? He and a group of friends were in possession of some black powder (one member of the group was legally allowed to have it, and thus nobody was breaking the law). One person saw the police and worried, which caused the rest of the group to run, abandoning said powder. Thus a 16-year-old was caught alone with the substance, and they tried him on that basis. What was he guilty of? Following a police officer's orders, and nothing more. Had the rest of the group stayed, nobody would have gotten in trouble at all.

 

As I said, a conditional approval with a postponement of the board would be the best way to go.

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Gotta disagree with Calico on this strongly.

 

When teaching children, whether our own kids as parents or other kids as scouters, the standards for responding to behavior have to be something much less, and much more personal, than adjudication by a court of competent jurisdiction.

 

We don't want to teach kids about legalism. We want to teach them about character. I worry, too, about what we do to a boy in trouble by telling him he can't talk to trusted men & women like scouters; the goal is not to avoid punishment, but to help heal.

 

Besides, all of da requirements for Eagle are subjective, especially the most important ones. There ain't no "standardized test" from National for merit badges or ranks, and let's hope there never will be.

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