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sctmom

Discipline

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While visiting troops with my Webelos son, I heard something that bothered me. This troop looks great except for this one little comment. Something was said about treating all the boys the same. The scoutmaster and assistant scoutmaster said "we will tell another boy to give us push ups just as quick as we do our own."

 

Is this a good discipline technique? I know a scout should keep himself physically strong, but this seems over the line to me. I expect them to correct any misbehavior, but I'm not signing my son up for boot camp.

 

Am I overreacting?

 

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At our most recent district roundtable this actually came up in discussion. We have been told that this is punishment and is not allowed.

 

In another troop that my son was involved with before we moved -- they used a check off system for "disruptive" behavior during the meetings. Three checks and they did push ups. I found it to be quite arbitrary and didn't like the feel of it. They also had a method of any boy not in uniform had to clean up at the end of the meeting. I didn't mind this one so much since it was clear and explicit and not so much punishment but rather a reinforcement for wearing the uniform (although our roundtable leader disagrees with me on this).

 

Melodee

 

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Push-ups = harm? I fail to see the comparison. I would agree that the arbitrary use of discipline is inconsistent with good management as one can equally misuse time-outs in similar conditions.

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BSA policy clearly prohibits any type of physical (corpal) punishment by Scouters to scouts, for that matter, scout to scout. All discipline is to be in the form of privledge removal up to and including removal from the troop for a serious enough offense.

 

Our goal in Scouting is to help young man in the areas of: 1)Character development, 2) Citizenship Training and 3) Physical fitness.

 

In the real world, an offense to society will cause you to lose some privledge of citzenship: money, time and ultimately your ability to be part of society (prison).

 

The Scouting discipline system within a troop should be modeled somewhat after this system. While it should not have money as part of it, the discipline should fit the offense. The troop's policy on discipline should be laid out in writing, approved by the troop commitee, distrbuted to all the boys and parents, and should be fairly applied all the boys within the troop, not abritary. Misbehavior in common in all troops, but with our goals, we should be training the boys for real life and that there are consequences for our actions.

 

Webster defines discipline as "to train or develop by instruction or exercise especially in self control."

 

Specifically, having a boy do an extra duty because of misbehavior is one option, but may not be the best due the boy's history. Some types of discipline will work with most boys, not at all for some boys. The policy needs to have some flexiability built in, not necessarily the cookie cutter aproach. Above all, it must be fair. While the Scoutmaster and Assistants will be enforcing the policy, they need to keep the enforcement fair and they are answerable to the troop committee on the method that they enforce the policy.

 

Under no circumstances is the punishment to be physical in nature. Push-ups are a military way of accomplishing discipline, but not within our society at large, therefore not consistant with our goals in Scouting. The military has 6-12 weeks to shape young men and women to soldiers; in Scouting we have 1-11 years to train young men in the discipline of being good citizens, with fine moral character and understanding the need of physical fitness.

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Pushups by themselves are essentially harmless. Whether or not pushups constitute corporal punishment that is in conflict with BSA policy, I will leave others to debate. However I share sctmom's concern. The use of pushups as a punishment is not appropriate for scouting. This is not boot camp, and the use of this form of punishment to maintain discipline hints at a mindset in the leadership that I would walk away from.

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It's the mindset that worries me, not having a boy do 10 pushups. It's that attitude of "we are bigger and older so we can make you do something you hate". I expect misbehavior to have a consequence, but just don't feel that physical punishment doesn't have a place in scouting.

 

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While I don't consider push-ups to be corporal punishment, I believe in the punishment fitting the crime. I have used "tent arrest" or "bunk arrest". The Scout who breaks the rules is not allowed to leave his tent/bunk nor is he allowed to interact with the other Scouts. And the other Scouts are not to interact with him. If they do, they receive the same treatment.

 

This has been an effective deterent. Naturally the time spent on "tent/bunk arrest" depends on the nature of the action. I have also given my SPL & ASPL the ability to use this form of punishment when necessary. They must consult me 1st, though.

 

All the Scouts should be treated the same. They are expected to act like Scout during Scouting functions. The only ones who should be treated differently are the SPL, ASPL & PL's. They should be setting the example for the other Scouts so they should be held to a higher standard.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

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In our troop, years ago, pushups were used as a form of discipline, but they were neer meted out by Scouters, only by the SPL. And he never demanded that of any one Scout, it was always a group thing. If one Scout misbehaved and was judged deserving of punishment, depending on circumstances, either his entire patrol , or the entire troop, would have to perform the requisite pushups. The theory was that the "peer pressure" of such an event would be enough to straighten out the misbehavior. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.

 

That theory was judged appropriate upon our first trek to the First Norwich University (Military College) Camporee (Vermont) years ago, when at closing ceremonies, the cadet in charge held up a Scout shirt lost by a Scout from another troop. As the Scout sheepishly went forward to retrieve the shirt, the cadet pointed out that infractions of that type were not allowed at the school, and pushups would be the punishment. The crowd cheered. As the poor Scout started to go down to perform his task, the cadet stopped him, and pointed out that no cadet was allowed to be singled out for this kind of thing, and thus, the same would apply here. He barked one command, and almost the entire Corps of Cadets appeared out of nowhere. And they all, in unison with the single Scout, got down and did 20. The effect upon all of us was amazing. It was a very powerful message to all...TEAM.

 

Needless to say, things have changed, and abuse of corporal punishment has necessitated a change in direction. Corporal punishment is, indeed, no longer allowed in Scouting, and pushups as a form of discipline are NOT ALLOWED...for better or worse. My first reaction to that news was that the PC crowd had struck again. But upon reflection, I realized that that was only part of the situation. The more powerful part of the message was that there are those of us out there who do, indeed, abuse these things. Perhaps without thinking, or intending harm, but still abuse. In that regard, I guess I'd say that we have seen the enemy, and he is us...even though there's thankfully only a few bums out there who can't remember that we're dealing with kids here, and we're supposed to be setting a good example.

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As far as being corporal punishment, I don't think the BSA would view push ups in that category. Isn't part of the requirement for tenderfoot and the Personal Fitness and Atheltics Merit Badges?

 

As for myself (I work out on a regular basis), the concept of physical fitness as punishment blows my mind. Six or seven years ago, while on a campout, three Scouts were making noise well past the lights out time. I've always told the Scouts that I won't make them sleep and if they want to stay up all night and talk, they can do it as long as they are in their tent and not keeping other people awake. By the third time I had to get up and tell them to quiet down, I let them know that if I had to get up again, they would be punished. Knowing me like they did, one said "What are you going to do, make us run?" I would never sully something such as a quality fitness run by making it a punishment.

 

Five minutes later, they were at it again. I told them to get dressed and get out of their tents. When they came out, I had the three of them pick up a picnic table and carry it to the road about seventy yards away (did I mention there was a fully loaded patrol box and two full five gallon water jugs on the table?). They laughed and joked as they carried it toward the road. When they got there, I told them to carry it back. They were still a little cocky when they got back, so I told them to take it there and back again. They did it and instead of cockiness, they were grumbling this time. As they got back, the one said, "we get the point, can we go to bed now?" I made them do it one more time. The third time, they were sweating and breathing pretty hard, but didn't speak a word. When they finished, they didn't let go of the table and just quietly looked at me. At that point, I knew they got the point and we all slept well that night.

 

The kids parents got a good laugh out of the punishment and one even told me they planned to use it when their wouldn't quiet down at night when he was home.

 

That punishment is something those kids didn't want to do under any circumstances (and something I would never have a scout do normally). They got the point and I never held it in their faces again (although one of them joked about it a couple years later when he became our SPL).

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I remember some high school boys being punished by having to move a stack of boards from one side of the parking lot to the other. And then back again. And again..and again.... All day on a Saturday. Whatever they had done, they never did again. This was something everyone was physically capable of doing yet was so tedious that they got the point.

 

I know with my son those "oh you would never make me do that" type of punishments are the best. Something that is so extremely out of the ordinary they can't imagine what else you would come up with. It gets to a point that time out and taking away TV just doesn't do any good.

 

A few days ago I found evidence of my 10 year old WEBELOS scout having played with matches and a candle, including a burnt pencil. His punishment is going to be to do some research on dangers of fire and fire safety, and write Mom a nice 3 page report about it (it can include pictures). Ground him? Take away TV or video games? Big deal -- make him write -- oh the agony.

 

Just seems like there are other things scoutmasters can do than push ups or running laps for most scout misbehavior.

 

An assistant scoutmaster told me about taking some boys camping last spring. The day was nice and warm but would get cold once the sun went down. All of these boys had been in scouting for at least 1 year. Before leaving he asked everyone if they had their coats. Everyone said yes and the parents agreed. Sun goes down, scouts get cold, two don't have coats. Well, then the warm place for you is in your sleeping bag INSIDE your tent, sleep tight, everyone with their coats are enjoying the campfire. Talk about a natural consequence to forgetting something!

 

 

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Sctmom

Make sure that this is not a inside joke, when I joined the troop I heard lots of these horror stories, only to find out later that the leaders where just joking with one another (no scouts where around) ( I was confused for the 1st 7 months on what the troop did and did not do). You must come out and ask the Scoutmaster if this is really done. And decide if this is the troop for your son and you.

Did you all notice how I slipped around not commenting on if I agree with the practice or not?

 

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