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ba-dad

Appropriate discipline for Cub Scouts

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My eight-year-old has been an enthusiastic Scout for the last year. He is one of eight boys from the two third grade classes at his school who comprise the troop. I have attended numerous meetings and other activities.

 

I was initially a little surprised by the martial character of the meetings. For example, the slightest whisper out of turn, putting hands in pockets, etc., is punished immediately by twenty or so push-ups. The leader also frequently (and seemingly unnecessarily) shouts to get attention. The reason I say this should not be needed is that these kids all go to a fairly strict private school and are generally well-behaved.

 

This seemed like no big deal, but I am more concerned lately. My son has become defenisve and prone to yelling over the last few months. Another parent mentioned the same thing about her son to me out of the blue (I had not mentioned it to her). I also have witnessed the leader poking kids with his finger while reprimanding them in a loud voice. Personally, I do not yell at my son, but that is a parent's choice. I do not, however, feel it is appropriate for a Scout leader. I have seen one particular child (the son of the other leader) reduced to tears by this sort of thing on at least three occasions; why the boy's father did not intervene is beyond me.

 

I think these guys have the impression that they should be "toughening up" the boys. I think they are way out of line, and are doing things in a manner more suited to boot camp for eighteen-year-olds than eight-year-old Cubs. Thoughts, please?

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I personally think a leader making a child do pushups is corporeal punishment and has no place in scouting. My second reaction is that you would make a great scout leader - volunteer and sit in on the committee meetings and let your voice be heard - not in front of the boys though as undermining a leaders position in front of the boys is detrimental to unit discipline and the life of the troop.

 

Is the leader properly trained for the position?

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Contact the Cubmaster and Committe Chair immediately. This leader needs to STOP this abuse right now. The kids should not be yelled at, poked at or made to do push ups. This person needs to go to Leader training before any more meetings. If they can't handle noisy kids then they need to find something else to do in their spare time.

 

These are little kids, they WILL be noisey. They have spent the day in school, sitting down, working, being quiet. There are many ways to get them to behave and be quiet (quieter, I should say) in den meetings. Yelling is NOT one of them.

 

In my opinion, NO scout (Cubs, Boys or Girls) should ever be punished with push ups or other physical exercise.

 

Please call someone right now about this leader. If you can't get anyone to listen locally, start calling the district.

 

Let us know what happens.

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ba-dad,

If your description of the situation is accurate, you need to contact your committee chair and ask for the Den Leader to be removed immediately or move your son to a new den or pack. To change this behavior is not a simple task and takes far to much time for you to leave your son in such an environment. This is abusive behavior and has nothing to do with scouting.

 

Thank you for understanding that this is not proper behavior in scouts and for being concerned about this kind of "leadership".

 

Please consider becoming your son's den leader. You will find, after attending a half day of training, that there are great printed resources that outline your meetings and lots of positive people around to help you do the job right.

 

Bob

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Wow, doesn't this leader realize that they're 8 year old boys, NOT in the military? I agree about contacting higher-ups. I have a wolf den also. I mostly get their attention with the signs ups. (Cub Scout sign held high) Also, I have a little chat that goes something like this "Now, listen..you may not really want to be here. You need to let your parents know if you don't. For those of you not participating, talking, or being disruptive, you are not being fair to the boys who really want to be here, who want to learn and have fun, and want to move up in rank". They usually start looking around at the other boys, (guilt, i assume) and then they're pretty quiet from then on. for some reason it works. and then I'm a happy camper. Good luck to you and your son. Hopefully you can find another den, pack, or volunteer time to be a leader. OR co-leading with other parents is an option.

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Thanks for the reality check. I completely concur about changing this behavior being well-nigh impossible. Given the personalities involved and other nuances of the situation, it would require more social finesse than I might be able to muster to affect substantial changes without permanently alienating one or both leaders. It is also for this reason that I am reluctant to contact any other authorities.

 

I am in a bind, though, because even though my son has discussed his negative feelings about these attitudes and events, he is eight: I would hate to pull him out of a peer group, since it is tough to be the "odd boy out," even if you know it is best. I think the best thing may be to come up with an exit startegy (e.g., "too many other activities, is it okay to drop scouts for now?"). There is a pack in our town, and I am sure it is much more relaxed; the whole point of doing the other group, though, was that it was made up of classmates (they wear their uniforms to school, for instance).

 

More opinions are most welcome.

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If you pull your kid out, how does that help the other seven boys? Now go do the right thing.

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Forget about alienating the other leaders. This is about the boys. ALL of the boys. As FSCOUTER says "go do the right thing."

 

If you don't stop this, who will? As I tell my son, we don't have to be best friends with everybody in scouting, but we can be polite to each other. The other thing is this is against all BSA policy. How they discipline their children at home is their business, but in scouting activities it is EVERYBODY's business.

 

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After an incident over the weekend which put me over the edge, I have spoken to two other parents, one of whom agreed with me; the other did not think what they had seen was that bad (although they were not present this weekend). I plan to speak to each parent regarding this; everyone has seen at least the yelling and pushup punishments. Ideally, we could reach a concensus and speak to the leaders as a group, or at least with one voice; short of that, I will discuss this with them speaking for myself.

 

Given the situation, I fear it would be potentially awful for my son were I to go to scouting authorities; that would be an absolute last resort. The best I can do in the very short term is alert each boy's parents to my concerns, talk to the leaders gently but firmly about what I feel is excessive and should be changed, and let each set of parents decide what is right for their boy. I do not want my son ostracized in any way because I have alienated two of his classmates' fathers.

 

I will begin attending all meetings; previously, I had attended occasionally, and had attended all outings.

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You can make it clear to whoever you contact that you want to remain anonymous. I'm sure they would understand and do not want to put your son in a bad situation. They can deal with this without naming who called.

 

What these men are doing is called "bullying". It is not acceptable. They are teaching the kids that it is okay. I would not want my son around these men or their sons.

 

 

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Talk to your committee chair and the commissioner assigned to your pack by your district. Your commissioner is charged with assisting your unit with issues such as this. The commissioner is more your friend and a fellow Scouter than a Scouting authority.

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Have you talked to the leader yourself and let him know how you feel? I agree that the CM and CC are your friends and a great resource guarenteed to have those boys' best interest in mind. They may be able to give some good ideas to the leader to help the boys behave without being in boot camp. I am a den leader myself of 3 boys and believe me it is hard to keep their attention on what your doing all of the time. I will be using a conduct candle in my meetings from now on. Maybe it will work maybe not but yelling and push-ups? No.

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I see a bit of danger in trying to mask the problem with "too busy with other things" and such. It needs to be confronted head-on, in an appropriate manner. Even your son could understand doing the right thing if put in age appropriate terms.

 

It may not be comfortable, but you are not the one making an inappropriate environment. I know my sons, if they were that age, would be out in a heartbeat, and I am a much firmer disciplinarian than most.

 

Brad

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From your description, things are out of hand. In my son's den (12 first year Webelos - big den - 3 boys with ADHD) his leaders (there are 3) Turn the lights off and quickly back on again to get their attention. It works pretty well all of the time. Yelling, well sometimes you have to yell to be heard, but yelling at a one kid about a wrong behavior, that is not acceptable. And push-ups! This guy is supposed to be a den leader not a drill seargeant. Go immediately to your Cubmaster and/or Committee CHair. This is not something you can let go by. You can not be afraid of hurting someones feelings because in the meantime, what is happening to the self esteem of those CUb Scouts in that den? Scouting is supposed to be FUN, not a punishment, and that's what this sounds like. Perhaps this man needa an Assistant Den Leader (hint, hint, that might be you) to take ofer the discipline ascpect of meetings. Use a conduct candle, reward with beads for good behavior and when they fill a jar with the beads they get a treat. Please don't let this go by any longer. The longer it goes on, the more boys will become discouraged and leave Scouting. And worse yet, more damage could be done to their self-esteem.

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My son is 9 and getting ready to start Webelos this June and I have been a Den Leader since he started Bobcat.This leader needs to understand he is dealing with young boys and his way will drive good boys away from the scouting program. I have had to learn how deal with the boys of my den and how to keep their attention.I use a ticket or token with numbers on them like ones used at a fair to encourage good behavior,one ticket for proper uniform,another for remembering to bring his cub manual,etc..At the end of the meeting I draw from the halfs of the tickets two stubs and let the two winners pick from a container of treats(candy bars mostly).We keep track of how many stubs each boy earns per month and the boy with the highest number for that month is allowed to pick one prize bag from several sealed bags each one containing a prize either scout related(flashlight,knot tying kit,book etc.) or a small toy,lego's for example.KEEP THE PROGRAM MOVING EACH WEEK FOR THE DEN OR YOU WILL LOSE THEIR ATTENTION.These methods have helped me.

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