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WebelosDL

Abusive Language/Tone from Patrol Leaders normal?

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I accompanied my 2nd year Webelos den on a Boy Scout camping trip over the weekend, and have some questions/concerns. Brief Background: I took over as Webelos Den Leader when the previous leader, along with his son and three other boys bridged up to the boy scout troop. This left my son and one other boy behind in Webelos with no leader. These two can bridge up as early as February, so I agreed to assume DL responsibilities until then. I've taken Basic Leader training, and consulted with the previous DL (who seemed to do a very good job with the boys), but still feel somewhat lost at times.

The Boy Scout campout was an eye-opener. My two boys, along with several 1st year webelos, were assigned a Boy Scout for a patrol leader. He was a pretty mature kid. He really did an admirable job, especially considering the immaturity of some of the younger Webelos. I generally observed from a distance, but became very aware of the role of the patrol leader. Some of the patrol leaders for the other patrols really abused their power. Naturally, this was not received well by their patrols, and some fairly ugly power struggles ensued. Some of these boys, in turn, seemed to really enjoy Barking at the younger Webelos, acting in the same inappropriate (I thought) manner that their own patrol leaders did. (ex. GET OVER HERE! I SAID GET OVER HERE! I MEAN NOW!, etc, together with insults and disdain) There was some very limited input from the Scoutmaster about this, but it was generally left unchecked. Is this the Boy Scout way? I understand that "Boy Leadership" is a program cornerstone, but is this how it is achieved? I've had only a weekend to observe, and perhaps what I saw is an awkward stage in an overall effective process. This type of communication and interaction is inappropriate in any workplace or community organization, and inappropriate within a family. The only place I know of where such interactions appear common is in a military boot camp setting.

I do intend to visit at least one other Boy Scout troop with my 2nd year Webelos, and hope to see a different situation. Please advise.

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That is NOT the Boy Scout way and the process is very effective. You saw an "awkward stage" as you charitably called it. I call it scouts in dire need of leadership training and a stern reminder that a scout is courteous and kind. If the Scoutmaster saw this and didn't act positivly he needs the same.

 

Behaviour like that is not tolerated in our troop especially from those in leadership positions.

 

The "get over here" stuff does occur with frustrated scouts unaccustomed to leadership and is corrected as soon as we observe it. The distainful attitude and insults however are another matter that requires more intensive attention.

 

First off I would speak to the Scoutmaster about your concerns wether you choose to join that troop or not. Second I would visit other troops and I am sure that you will find what you seek.

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I concur with Mike. Disdain and lack of mutual respect are not the scout way. The only occasion for a raised, but still respectful, voice is a situation of imminent danger where a scout is about to do something that may harm himself or others.

 

This raises a different but related subject. How does one deal with a situation when the disdain comes from a senior boy whose parent is a prominent troop leader, and that parent is in denial about his son's conduct?

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Eisely you raise a very common issue.

 

If the boy is displaying behaviour unbecoming a scout I'm on him quick. No favorites, no exceptions, no matter who your daddy is.

 

Frankly I'm a little tired of the "but his mom/dad is so involved" stuff. I understand that no one wants to lose a big troop supporter but ask yourself exactly what kind of support does that person provide if they refuse to see any wrong their child commits?

 

The best you can do is talk to the parents and voice your concerns honestly and openly. Hopefully they will come around. If no response then talk to the Committe Charman and the Charter Rep.

 

If you can't reform the child and the parent is actively fighting that reform them someone needs to find a new troop. The it's ok for my child but not anyone else attitude is an incedibly destructive cancer to a troop. The last thing you need is someone in an authority position that doesn't think that the rules apply to them. What kind of role model is that?

 

Most importantly, be sure you are right.

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Having the facts right is critical in any disciplinary situation. One cannot rely on the tesitmony of other scouts, unless one is really comfortable in your understanding of their honesty and loyalties. If the behavior is observed first hand by you, as the adult leader, and does not involve your own kid, then you have to have the courage to act upon what you have observed.

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Very true Eisely.

I do have one advantage though, no one can accuse me of treating my kid differently. I don't have any children.

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When I was in Management, it always seemed I had a malcontent who was always right on the edge. While I would try to work with this person, he/she would never quite be bad enough to terminate, yet their attitude would poison morale. While never content this employee type would never leave, but the good solid employees would get disgusted with the other's behavior and they would leave.

 

In the end, to paraphrase a great man, ... all scoutmasters gets the troop they deserve...

 

If you cant stand up to bullies, you will get bullies, if you establish expected behavior standards, you will get them.(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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I can't disagree with anything posted here. But I would add the following.

 

Mike indicated that he doesn't have kids. I imagine that others do. I do. They're grown and married now, but I still remember going through the various stages of growing up with them.

 

Kids will be kids. You have to expect a little bit of the "I'm important, so listen to me" attitude, especially when giving a child some responsibility. That, however, does not in any way forgive the attitudes and abuse that might be present. That, however, is, indeed, the very place for the Scoutmaster to use his skills in "counselling" the boys. That's what we're there for. Kids will be kids, and they'll do all the things you saw, and more, if they're not taught otherwise.

 

Many kids today, come from homes that might be everything that an observer might want, materialistically, but respect in the family structure may not be given, nor taught. Other kids might come from families where respect is taught and hoped for, but not demanded. Point is, you'll see all kinds is Scouting. And it's up to the Scoutmaster, and his assistants, to show and teach the way. That can start with respect. Show it. Teach it. Demand it. And, set the example.

 

In your situation, I'd say it's probably a normal thing to see in 90% of troops nationwide. The difference is, in a good troop, the SM or his assistants, will not let the matter lie. They'll take action immediately, and afterwards, and on into the future, to reinforce the notion in the kids that althought they have responsibility and position, respect for their fellow Scouts and adult leaders is expected and demanded. I'd be willing to bet that most of the posters here have done just that. As SM or ASM, you see a situation, or it is brought to your attention, and you deal with it immediately. You counsel the Scout. You teach him that abuse of his responsibility and position will get him nowhere, for no one wants to follow a dictator. There's a number of different types of leaders. Woodbadge and Twigbadge (Junior Leader Training) teach the boys about these types, and helps them to understand how best to work with their fellow Scouts, even as their leader. Boys don't normally come to that understanding all on their own. They need to be shown the way.

 

Perhaps in the troop you visited, the way has not been made crystal clear yet. One can only hope that it will soon. If you get involved, and you really want the direction to one that is a good example set by adults, and followed by Scouts, prepare to get involved, and prepare to get more training.

 

Good luck.

 

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Thanks for your input all. Very helpful. A Scout is Kind. Yes, that's the key. I do believe you are correct that that it is normal to see some of this behavior going on in a Troop, and I do have to give the Scoutmaster in this troop some credit. I observed him having a "heart-to-heart" with the most serious offender - the patrol leader who was far off track in how to lead, yelling in the abusive and insulting way at his patrol, and any kid younger/smaller than he. I am afraid that he has been ineffective is curbing the boy's behavior though, as I saw more of the same from him at last nights troop meeting. The behavior is contagious, and appears to have been around for awhile. A number of the younger ones are anxious to follow this bad example, and do so when they have the chance. It is the natural thing for them to do. I'm afraid it will be difficult for them to correct this problem, as it has gotten out of hand. I witnessed a number of other examples of unkind behavior (namecalling and picking on younger or weaker or fatter ones) among the boys too. This is a young troop, and I think it is suffering some growing pains. The SM is spread thin, as the number of boys has recently increased, and new/additional leadership is just forming. I will speak to the SM and the Assistant SM as was suggested.

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Don't be afraid to say something to the scout as well. No SM can be everywhere so if another adult sees something that isn't what it should be then I would hope they would step in and correct the situation. It makes me feel more comfortable if I know I have some adults watching my back. But if you are new and don't feel like you can do this then I can understand your going to the SM or ASM.

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MrScout,

 

AMEN. I agree with the BSA intent of having a boy-run Troop, and I respect the adults in the SM corps. However, we should not forget that we are adults and they are children. While it may be our goal to have the boys "grow" and become men, we are the adults and should accordingly (i.e., step in and say something when its needed, should the SM or ASM not be available).

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