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Sdriddle

Hazing

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I agree with OGE and Bob White.

 

My son's best friend (who is like a second son to me) is very bashful in front of a group. He has been away at his father's for the school year and is now returning to our area. He was in my Cub Scout den for awhile. I thought he was going to pass out when he had to lead the den in a flag ceremony (he stood frozen and not breathing). That was a HUGE deal to him. I wish I had had more time to work with him on that in the small group setting of the den.

 

A few weeks ago he went to a troop meeting with us. Our troop introduces all new boys by calling them up front and asking their name. Making sure the troop knows their name. This is not to embarrass the boys at all. My son pointed out his friend was a visitor and to introduce him. The boy was upset afterwards. Yes, he got over it. But if you told him he had to sing a song or do some other stunt in front of the group to get a lost item, he just would not do it. He would also never return to the troop.

 

While all boys can benefit from Scouting, he is one of those that NEEDS Scouting -- a safe haven, a place to feel welcome. Are you willing to risk losing all the other boys like him over something like this?

 

Do you have to sing the teapot song at work when you lose something? No, you go find it or you get a replacement. Natural consequences work best, singing is NOT a natural consequence. When you misplace your car keys, do you walk down the street singing in front of your neighbors? I doubt it.

 

The whole point of these "rituals" is to embarrass. No kid needs that, especially boys of this age group. For many of them walking out of the house is embarassing enough.

 

As far as having a patrol sing a song or do a skit, that is not done to embarrass anyone. It is to improve the boys ability to stand in front of the group and talk. I told the other boy's mom this the other night when she told me he gets so upset of "being put on the spot". I talked to her about not pushing him into scouting, just let him visit and make up his own mind. Also, I explained how this is one of those great things they can learn in scouting--talking in front of a friendly crowd.

 

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While all boys can benefit from Scouting, he is one of those that NEEDS Scouting -- a safe haven, a place to feel welcome. Are you willing to risk losing all the other boys like him over something like this?

 

You are assuming that such a policy (making boys sing for lost items) would result in the "bashful" boy leaving the troop. I don't think this is a reasonable or fair conclusion.

 

Do you have to sing the teapot song at work when you lose something? No, you go find it or you get a replacement.

 

I don't set up a tent in my office either. Nor do I perform skits for my coworkers. This is not a fair comparison. Scouting is designed to develop a boy's character. Work is what we do to feed our families. While there may be some similarities, lets not treat the two as the same.

 

Natural consequences work best, singing is NOT a natural consequence.

 

Well, it really depends on what your talking about, doesn't it? I'm sure given the right circumstance; singing would be a natural consequence (i.e., your boss gives you a 25% merit increase). :) On a more serious note, singing is not the actual object of the exercise. Many boys tend to be neglectful and leave their belongings laying about. If not for the grace and thoughtfulness of others, many of these belonging would be lost and/or stolen. The "singing" requirement gives the boys a consequence for their neglectfulness (without having to incur the loss of a possession). It also serves another purpose. It forces young boys to go in front of a group. It gives them exposure to being in the spotlight. For most boys, this can be a learning experience that will help them later in life (i.e., give presentations to adults as an adult).

 

When you misplace your car keys, do you walk down the street singing in front of your neighbors? I doubt it.

 

No, I don't walk down the street singing in front of my neighbors. Instead, something more consequential might occurlike I could miss a very important business meeting. Fortunately, my troop taught me not to "lay things about" (i.e., they made me sing whenever I did)? As a result, I never lose those darn car keys. Additionally, as a side benefit, I'm a better presenter when I do reach that business meeting.

 

The whole point of these "rituals" is to embarrass.

 

I disagree. This presumes an awful lot about the leaders involved. It may cause a boy some embarrassment, but this is not the purpose. The purpose is to provide a consequence.

 

No kid needs that, especially boys of this age group.

 

If a troop made a boy do a presentation on safe food handling (because he blatantly disregarded the same), would you consider that hazing or harassment? I would hope not. It's merely a consequence for not doing something right.

 

For many of them walking out of the house is embarrassing enough.

 

So we should cater to every fear that a boy might have? I see our "jobs" in Scouting as helping these kids grow. If we shelter these boys every time someone makes a claim of "hazing", we're doing them a disservice. At one time, the political climate in this country mandated that only the "victim" had a right to claim whether or not a crime was committed. In other words, if someone claimed sexual harassment, then it must be soif someone felt he/she was discriminated against, then it surely happened. What we should be teaching our youth, is how to deal with realitynot false perceptions. Labeling these events as hazing is insane. It's the same political correctness that inspires grade school principals to suspend kindergartners for playing cops and robbers.

 

Are you willing to risk losing all the other boys like him over something like this?

 

Maybe. I don't think the program should be tailored so that its impossible for any boy to be feel inadequate. That's not a realistic objective. Yet, I think this question is moot. Leaders should be able to spot these painfully shy kids. Adults tend to speak to one another just like the boys. We should not be operating within a vacuum. If a boy was just "too bashful" for such an exercise, I see no reason why the leadership (PLC and adults) wouldn't be able to find a way around it (i.e., give him another consequence).

 

Nevertheless, I ask these questions:

 

How many accommodations do we make in order to make the program acceptable everyone?

 

Do we change what we do every time there is an objection?

 

If you believe we should make every accommodation, and change every time someone claims to be a victim, then I believe BSA will grow into an organization that will accomplish little and stand for nothing.

 

It is a cruel world. I hate that I cannot guarantee my sons a safe and successful future. It actually pains me when I think of how little I control in regards to their futures. If I could, my sons would never suffer in any way (embarrassment, disappointments, physical pain, etc.). Yet, this is not reality. If I protect them from every possible trialif I remove all obstacles from their path, so that they will not suffer while under my roof, then I have not done my job. Scouting should be a safe haven, but NOT a glass bubble. This protection, whether inspired by love or ignorance, would hinder their ability to grow and be successful in life. This kind of protection today will only cause them greater trials tomorrow.

 

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Rooster stated

 

"If a troop made a boy do a presentation on safe food handling (because he blatantly disregarded the same), would you consider that hazing or harassment? I would hope not. It's merely a consequence for not doing something right."

I couldn't have said it better.

 

Good Post Rooster

 

Paul

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If my son loses something at a campout there are some very "natural" consequences that will take place. If it is a personal item, he will first of all need to spend some time looking for it, then he will have to do without, then when he returns home he has to explain what happened to that item, and likely replace the item with "his" money. If it is a troop owned item, basically the same thing -- spend time looking, do without (peer pressure may be pretty tough here if he lost the stove or dinner), explain what happened, and replace the item in some form or fashion.

 

What is really learned by embarrassing a child in front of the group? For some, probably many, it will be that people are mean.

 

Yes, boys need the valuable lesson of getting up in front of the crowd and speaking. But isn't it a lot easier to learn that in a "friendly" environment --- giving a demonstration, than in a case where everyone is going to laugh at you.

 

Getting rid of this type of hazing is NOT catering to every boy's fear. It is NOT part of the standards for being a Scout, earning rank or merit badges.

 

If certain boys are always leaving things laying around camp, I think a good consequence is to assign them to clean up the camp every few hours or as often as necessary.

 

Just so many other ways to accomplish the lesson without resorting to embarrassement.

 

 

Oh, back to Bob White's comment about not letting a kid borrow anything if he loses everything. The first troop campout my son went on a few months ago, he wanted to take 5 flashlights! Why? The SM stood up and said a few simple words "Don't forget your flashlight, because you are NOT borrowing MINE! We will be setting up in the dark." Every new scout in that troop had a flashlight in hand with fresh batteries and no telling how many in their packs. :)

Simple AND straightforward --- they understood!

 

 

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Tell you what, getting back to the original quesiton, let me propose this.

 

If it was me, and I was told to get my own property back I had to sing or get on the ground and fry like bacon, I would be calling the local police to tell them someone was unlawfully holding my property. I would like to see "them" explain to the authorities how not returning property without a performance was a "charactor development ploy"

 

Life is cruel as Rooster adroitly points out and I dont think Boy Scouts is charged with proving it to the scout.

If those of you who think bullying, humiliation and embarrasement are all a way of life and are a perfectly acceptable means of teaching value and charactor lessons I would appeal to you to check your Bible, Torah, Koran, or other religious wrtitings and point out to me where it says belittling, insulting, and intimidating children is a good thing.

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But isn't it a lot easier to learn that in a "friendly" environment...

 

Perhaps my perspective is narrow, but...

 

In my troop the boys enjoy the singing. They laugh at themselves as much as anyone might be laughing at them. I have yet to see a single boy become upset because he was required to sing for a "lost" item. It has been a fun experience for all (singers and spectators).

 

If singing is the cause for embarrassment, then I guess we should stop campfire songs.

 

If being in the spotlight is the cause for embarrassment, then we should ban skits.

 

If being singled out is the cause for embarrassment, we should do away with rank advancements and awards.

 

I don't see it. This is truly an over-reaction. If a kid doesn't want to sing, fine...I say give him something else to do. However, labeling this as hazing goes too far, and denies many boys of an innocent pleasure. Anything can be twisted and abused. I understand and agree that it should be monitored (as all things should be)...but if we label this as hazing, then might as well just keep our kids at home. After all, that's usually the safest place for them.

 

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Life is cruel as Rooster adroitly points out and I don't think Boy Scouts is charged with proving it to the scout.

 

The point was NOT that we should go about torturing our children. Of course, abuse...the intentional infliction of harm upon others, should not be tolerated. Yet, I do not see this (singing for lost possessions) as abuse. It's good-natured fun. My contention is that we should be teaching bashful children to overcome their fears not run from them.

 

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Rooster says:

 

On a more serious note, singing is not the actual object of the exercise.

 

That's right. As near as I can figure out from the original post, the "actual object of the exercise" is to punish and to publicly humiliate a boy, or at the very least, embarrass him. When I was a Boy Scout, humiliation of boys through hazing rituals and otherwise was "part of the program" (at least within a unit) and was often encouraged or at least condoned by leaders. Fortunately, there is now a recognition that that is not supposed to be the case, though I am sure it remains the case to some extent and in some places. Just thinking about my own son (one year til crossover), if he ever had to go through some of the things I went through, he would be out the door of Scouting in 5 minutes. Let's not forget that this is a voluntary organization. It is not school and it is not jail. The door goes out as well as in, and there are enough other distractions trying to pull the boys out the door, without us adults giving them an extra push.

 

Admittedly, this particular case is close to the line. When I think of hazing, making someone sing (even as punishment) does not come immediately to mind. But I agree with those who find it unacceptable.

 

If not for the grace and thoughtfulness of others, many of these belonging would be lost and/or stolen.

 

If the others are Boy Scouts or Scouters, that "grace and thoughtfulness" are not optional, they are required by the Scout Law. (Kind, friendly, trustworthy, perhaps loyal as well.)

 

The "singing" requirement gives the boys a consequence for their neglectfulness (without having to incur the loss of a possession).

 

There already is a consequence. If you are careless on more than one occasion, sooner or later one of your items will be irretrievably lost. Then the boy has to face the court of Mom and Dad who bought the item, and maybe he has to replace it out of his own pocket. If he bought it himself, that lesson is learned more directly, now he has to buy it twice. Even if the boy is eventually reunited with the item, I personally have known on occasion the discomfort (ranging to outright terror depending on what the item is) of misplacing something and having to spend five minutes, a few hours or even a few days not knowing if I am going to get it back. That's "consequence" enough for me, and certainly should be enough for a boy.

 

It also serves another purpose. It forces young boys to go in front of a group. It gives them exposure to being in the spotlight. For most boys, this can be a learning experience that will help them later in life (i.e., give presentations to adults as an adult).

 

As someone else said, performing as part of a program and performing because you are being made an example of are two entirely different things. For one thing, when performing as part of a program, the boy is usually part of a group. My son is extremely stage-shy, and yet when there is "no choice," like when his den is doing a blue-and-gold dinner skit or he is in a class play, he does what he has to do, and usually says his lines like a pro and has a good time doing so. If there were even a hint of negativity attached to it, it would be an entirely different story.

 

There are a few times when a boy MUST be "on stage alone," I believe there is one requirement for the Webelos Citizen Activity Badge of a short speech, but most of these are voluntary. The Public Speaking Merit Badge is not required for Eagle; I earned it, and hopefully my son will too someday, but I'm not making any bets.

 

In speaking of losing keys, Rooster says:

 

Instead, something more consequential might occurlike I could miss a very important business meeting.

 

And as I said above, the boy could suffer a financial consequence as well. Or not. And you might not miss the business meeting, you might just be delayed for a half hour in going on a family trip. The point is that the consequences of a careless act are what they are -- there is no benefit in adding an artificial consequence like making a boy perform for the troop.

 

Fortunately, my troop taught me not to "lay things about" (i.e., they made me sing whenever I did)? As a result, I never lose those darn car keys.

 

Fortunately, you are perfect. I wish I was perfect. Perhaps, as an imperfect adult, I can empathize more readily with children who are imperfect.

 

If a troop made a boy do a presentation on safe food handling (because he blatantly disregarded the same), would you consider that hazing or harassment? I would hope not. It's merely a consequence for not doing something right.

 

I think that would be different. You are requiring the boy to learn something. Of course, I think I'd rather have the presentation done by someone who didn't disregard the rules, and have the careless boy be part of the class. Especially if I were going to be a guest of that boy's patrol at dinner time. (Mostly kidding, but not completely.)

 

If we shelter these boys every time someone makes a claim of "hazing", we're doing them a disservice. At one time, the political climate in this country mandated that only the "victim" had a right to claim whether or not a crime was committed. In other words, if someone claimed sexual harassment, then it must be soif someone felt he/she was discriminated against, then it surely happened. What we should be teaching our youth, is how to deal with realitynot false perceptions. Labeling these events as hazing is insane. It's the same political correctness that inspires grade school principals to suspend kindergartners for playing cops and robbers.

 

Is it really necessary to bring politics into it? As far as "claims" of hazing, the issue is not whether there's a claim, the issue is whether there was hazing. As far as "shelter," yes, this is the role of Scouting to some extent. Your other comparisons, such as to overreactions by school principals, are beside the point. The kindergartner who shapes his hand into a gun is, in my humble opinion, not doing anything wrong. The Scoutmaster who has a shy boy dragged in front of the troop to sing a song because he misplaced his flashlight probably is doing something wrong.

 

I don't think the program should be tailored so that its impossible for any boy to be feel inadequate.

 

I think that making a boy feel inadequate is something the program tries to avoid. Sometimes it is impossible to avoid, but we should not go out of our way to make it happen. And as for this and the balance of your comments, I would just say this: This is not the Marines. We are trying to make the boys into better people, but they are not in boot camp, and we should not make them feel like they are.

 

Didn't Baden-Powell say Scouting was supposed to be "fun"? And not just fun for the boys watching the reluctant singer, but for the singer as well.

(This message has been edited by NJCubScouter)

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With some reluctance I have to come down on the side of treating singing to get one's possessions back as a mild form of hazing and probably best done away with. In another thread on a similar vein I raised the questions, as has Rooster7, as to whether or not skits cross a line. Many campfire skits derive their humor at the expense of someone. Should we abolish these skits as well?

 

The one way that I counsel my sons, who seem to greatly enjoy verbally jabbing at one another, is that if it is not funny to the recipient of the jab, then it is not funny at all and should not be done. Everybody has to enjoy the joke for it to be acceptable.

 

In the question of the singing to get things returned, we can't get totally into the mind of every boy and, in this uncertainty, should avoid such humor altogether.

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Fortunately, you are perfect. I wish I was perfect.

 

Finally...Words that ring true. ;)

 

Perhaps, as an imperfect adult, I can empathize more readily with children who are imperfect.

 

Wow.

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Seems like there are two camps on this issue - maybe we could have the local unit option here ;) Sorry, couldn't resist.

 

Sctmom - when your son comes home and you make him pay for that tube of toothpaste he lost, don't complain when he calls child protective services to report you for abuse :)

 

NJ - when i read the first line of your post, i thought you and rooster were going to agree on something (thought the 2nd coming was right around the corner on that one :))

 

 

We're talking about singing here folks, not public flogging. Call the police because YOU lost something? are you serious? Let's all blame someone else for our mistake - great example to give kids.

 

Would i make a kid sing for something? Probably not, but I don't think it's hazing either.

 

Sridle - i would either take the issue up with the SM and CC route. if it means that much, vote with your feet.(This message has been edited by Quixote)

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When we accept the position of SM (or others) we are charged with doing our best for the Scouts in our care, for leading and showing how things should be done / handled, for using our best judgement in doing good. Being human we get things wrong and will never be 100% on the mark but we should also be able to make decisions on individual cases.

 

A Troop policy of singing for lost items is easily over-ridden by older Scouts and leaders. Younger Scouts will not understand immediately and will need things explained to them. "John, is really shy and signing is a really big deal and pretty scary for him - instead of signing he will..." may teach all the Scouts something useful if done properly.

 

The problem with policies at all levels is that people do not automatically, and many never, question whether the policy fits each individual situation. If you have a Troop policy on singing etc for things then I recommend that:

 

a. You keep it in the Troop as outsiders may not understand - my previous post is a case in point - a regional activity run by an SM who implemented a Troop policy.

 

b. You pause before each occassion that you use the policy to see if it fits. Hard to do when the item turns up on parade but that's when gut feelings should be followed and one reason we want humans as SM's.

 

Personally my gut feelings are sometimes obscure and my snap decisions are normally bad ones. I am sceptical of policies for that reason - they don't always work for me. I prefer to agonise over such decisions (my post "Help - I'm giving up on a boy!" being an example)

 

"Praising in public and criticising in private" is a good policy but being who I am let me illustrate my problem.

 

On the same camp I mentioned (three days ago) one Scout was such a pain that he was asked by the P/L's to leave the Patrol and spend some time with myself so that the Patrol could get on with things. (My suggestion to them - he was making the camp miserable and they had tried often to deal with him) He then ran away and hid for an hour and bit with me searching high and low.

 

After I found him I paused for a while, spoke with my assistant and then held a Patrol meeting. I asked them all how the Patrol was working and deliberately asked them not to concentrate on that day only but to think back on the year. They then all put forward what they saw as the best and worst and how that made them feel.

 

The issues raised were well thought out but the negative points seemed to point at the "pain" of the day. He was quietly crying after this. On finishing I had to explain that some members were refering to other Scouts. One of whom was present. I even mentioned the names (The P/L's keep me well informed) and explained that the "pain" can be a joy to have around and gave examples. He was told to behave the next day or to stop coming for a while.

 

Next day he was fine. I spoke to his dad - as I have often do about this boy's behaviour.

 

In this example the boy was hugely embarrassed. He was very angry. He was the focus of a public meeting (a small one from inside a formed group). He was cricised in public (and praised a little). I have tried counselling in private on very many occassions. His final comment at the meeting was that he hated everyone.

 

On the other hand he was treated in a mature fashion (maybe not like an adult but it was civilised), negative points were matched against positives and all comments were very genuine. The Patrol co-operated in dealing with the issues raised and others were criticised as well. The Scouts were very controlled and mature in their discussion. That night the boy had recovered his humour.

 

I hope that the road I travelled was more successful than implementing or creating a policy - which I could have done. It was certainly a lot harder for everyone but I suspect will have been a significant step in the right direction.

 

Sorry for the long winded scenario.

 

My point is that we must be humane in our dealings with people and that as personalities mix in different ways we should use our best judgement on all occassions. Relying on a policy, be it on hazing or on singing is a mechanical approach to a human issue.

 

PS How the hell do you put those little yellow faces on these posts?

 

 

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ozemu

Next time you should have the scout sing for forgiveness! ;):):(

 

For the happy faces type in : ) but no spaces, you can do wink, happy, and gay!

 

Okay for you cruel people that would have a scout show submission by having them sing, what would you do if the scout refused to sing, and demanded his 25 dollar watch back.

 

Now he goes home and tells his gauardians, no I did not lose my watch, the scoutmaster has it. Someone took it out of my tent, and said they found it, and the leaders wanted me to get down and sing for it!

Would you have a leg to stand on?

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Main Entry: 3haze

Function: transitive verb

Inflected Form(s): hazed; hazing

Etymology: origin unknown

Date: 1840

1 a : to harass by exacting unnecessary or disagreeable work b : to harass by banter, ridicule, or criticism

2 : to haze by way of singing

 

There was also a pitcure of a chicken and a mori ell also, I could not quite figure out what that was about. :)

 

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First I says:

 

Perhaps, as an imperfect adult, I can empathize more readily with children who are imperfect.

 

To which Rooster replied:

 

Wow.

 

"Wow"?, asks I in response. What do you mean, Wow? First I had to check a dictionary to make sure "empathize" means what I thought it meant, and it does. Actually it means "to experience empathy," but "empathy" has 2 meanings, and definition number 2 is:

 

"the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner"

 

Admittedly that is a bit more than I had in mind, though technically it fits. What I basically meant, in my sarcastic way, was that since I am a human being (and therefore imperfect) I understand how other human beings feel when they also prove to be imperfect. Which raises the question, and this is not a personal attack, Rooster, are you of a different species than the rest of us? That would explain a few things. :)

 

To complete my thought: When human beings make mistakes, especially those that don't actually hurt anybody or anything, they don't expect the Spanish Inquisition -- nor do they expect to be hauled on stage to be made an object of ridicule. And if in a particular unit, they have come to expect such treatment, the expectation needs to be changed. Scouting is not about punishment.

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