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There's No Such a Thing as a Bad Boy...

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OGE, like many of the whiners of this world, you can't see differences between similar actions.


There is a great difference between bullying and fighting. Bullying doesn't involve fighting and when it does, bullies usually back off because they lack the stomach to risk injury.


Boys fight for many reasons, usually unimportant but the process establishes a hierarchy in the crowd. If you had a normal childhood, you would have known that friends fight about all sorts of unimportant things. "You're sitting in my chair." "You're cheating at Monopoly." Non-friends fight overy more important things, such as "you're sitting in my chair" and "you're cheating at Monopoly."


What does fighting accomplish. If you stand up for yourself, you establish that you will defend what is yours. Fighting establishes that you will not allow your rights to be abridged or infringed.

Often after boys fight they become fast friends because they have established that they are both willing to stand up for themselves and will likely stand up for their friends.


I find it amusing that you folks who are against fighting are usually very willing to send young men into combat in places like Bosnia because "someone has to do something."



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I read the article last night. I think the expectations in the article are reasonable. A very important part of the article is the sidebar that explains "normal" anger and when to get professional help. It is NOT saying Scout leaders should deal with kids who hurt animals!



About the karate -- I considered that for my son. The advice I got from numerous people who had been in karate was it all depends on the style of the teacher. There are some karate styles and teachers that would only encourage this young man to attack others. Then there are some styles and teachers that would not. I can't remember the name right now, but there is a style other than Tae Kwon Do where the participants do not spar with each other. That might be a good one for the young man you are dealing with.


My son is only 11 but I have been dealing with his violent behavior for a long time. Hard to say when it started. As a toddler, he was not one that you held when he was mad, it didn't calm him just made things worse. By the time he started school, I found I was sometimes having to physical remove him from situations -- with him kicking and screaming. Luckily he had never been violent with other kids, usually I'm the target because I'm forcing him to do something. He will destroy things that he owns. He will throw things across the room. He has hit me, kicked me, thrown things at me and even bit my arm leaving bruises. The biting incident a few years ago is when we hit rock bottom. Then things began to improve.


He didn't learn this from his environment. I don't think he learned it from TV or video games. It is some natural fight or flight instinct. The article in Scouting is a good introduction to some things to do for these boys. Reminders of "this is not acceptable". Reminders of "very good" when they deal with anger approriately. My son has learned to remove himself from situations. Now sometimes this results in him hiding and no one can find him. But we are working on that as well. He is learning to do something to calm himself down -- read a book, draw pictures, listen to music. Many times his anger is worse when he is tired (MAKE the scouts have lights out and enough time to sleep!!!!!)


Scouting gives my son a chance to see how others behave. School is not a "natural" setting for learning that. I tell him it is okay to be angry but it is NEVER okay to take that out on others. You can be angry but life must go on, you still have to go to school, do your work, etc.


The other case I personally know of is my son's friend. He is 11, lives with single mom and 2 older sisters. Dad left mom about 5 years ago to marry mom's friend. Mom is constantly putting down dad and stepmom. Mom is still so angry of the divorce and some other past issues in her life she needs lots of help herself. The boy has been violent at school to both teachers and other kids. He is small, very much a loner and immature for his age, also one of the youngest in his class. He struggles with school work. He is a perfectionist (I think he is trying so hard to please Mommmy, who has so a low opinion of men.) Mommy doesn't let the kid grow up. She has made remarks about still thinking of him as her baby. In the meantime, the girls are treated like they are grown when they are 14.


The boy spent last school year with his father. I saw him in December, he was so much calmer. Can Scouting help him? I don't know. It's no so much his violence but his whole attitude. He is such a high risk for violence and/or suicide as a teenager that I really worry about him. He's a sweet kid. I know he could benefit from Scouting but it will take some effort by the men in the troop. He REALLY needs the positive male influence. He only sees his dad every other week at the most, then can't talk about dad at home.


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"The other case I personally know of is my son's friend. He is 11, lives with single mom and 2 older sisters."


This is certainly a boy who is trying to learn to be a man and is having tremendous difficulties. And how could he not, living in a home with a mother who is angry at men, and two sisters. I think he would defintely benefit from scouting through the exposure to positive male role models.


Theodore Roosevelt wrote a good article in 1900 on the American boy.

It's available at http://www.bartleby.com/58/10.html.

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Thanks SctMom - I will look into the various types of Martial Arts for my 17 year old. My gut instinct says it will be good for him and give him another physical outlet for his anger/pain.


My 12 year old is in an ager management counseling program after school. Since, enrolling him there, things at home have been much better and he is learning different techniques to reign in his anger as you mentioned.


Scouting does provide him with the male interactions and role models he needs to see in order to learn that there is a better way.


As for my husband and me, we attend in-service trainings monthly and meet with the boys' psychiatrist monthly and have weekly support from a Clinician who counsels the boys and acknowledges any concerns. We have seen so much change in both boys since they arrived (but they both have so, so far to go and grow) and as the writer of the article said - it is the power of positive influence.


I am going to make copies of the article for the agency I work for and advocate the Scouting program for all the teens with anger issues - which is most of them.


OGE - Thank you for posting this topic. It has forced me to re-evaluate my feelings toward the 17 year old and see things a bit more positively. I have been very upset with him lately because he has taken it to a personal level toward me. He has serious abandonment issues toward his mother and I feel that since I am in the "mother" role this creates more anger and pain for him. He sees the relationship that my 14 year old son and I have and I know it's hard on him - especially when he acts out and we show disapproval. I have a new perspective and am going to try to be more patient with him. Thank you for the nudge.

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I think the difference between my experience, is I did have access to gun and never consider using them once against the kids who were picking on me. I was taught from a very young age that I was responsible for my actions and also what guns could do and that I should not use them with out my father's supervision. That is what I was getting at that the new responses we are seeing to the bullies is not a change in bullies, but a change or lack of training from parents for all kids in self-discipline.



Some suggestions that I have for you if you are looking for a Martial Arts class for your kids (and I would recommend it for both) are as follows.


1. I would look for a class that focuses on the following while teaching the skills involved.



Good academics


Pride in their achievements

Physical fitness


2. The first thing they should learn in the class is that the skills they learn should never be used outside of class except for practice.


The last thing I would say if the class does not teach the same basic philosophy of Scouting, do not sign your sons up. The purpose of Martial Arts is to teach the same ideas of Scouting in a different format. Also do not sign your sons up to teach them self-defense that is a side benefit of the class and not primary purpose of the classes.


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When I was a much younger, thinner and more agile man, I dabbled in the martial arts. Never won any trophies but I had fun and I learned much.


I never pursued karate because the idea of getting punched in the head never appealed to me and the non-contact schools didn't make much sense. Why spend your time practicing to NOT hit an opponent because when you needed to shift gears and hit a real attacker, you might not be able to do so.


The two martial arts that I liked were aikido and judo. Judo is a grappling art, like wrestling and one of the important things that my instructor taught is that it is mostly defensive in nature. The other person has to be close enough for you to grab him before you can use his momentum against him.


Aikido is a non-contact martial art Very spiritual in nature. Much time is spent thinking about yourself, your reactions and how the easiest thing to do in a confrontation is to step out of the way.


I wish that I had the time to continue my study of aikido. Maybe I wouldn't be so grumpy.



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My boys both studied karate, and I think it can be a very positive force. Things to look for:


What is the philosophy that guides the school? Underlying philosphies vary a lot. Some schools of martial arts are simply about combat techniques. These might be fine for a police officer or a soldier, but are questionable for a child.


Others can be profoundly peaceful. One of the the great masters of Okinawan Karate, prominent in the postwar revival of karate, wrote a book about his experiences. He describes a situation where he actually had to defend himself in 1947 against a homeless war veteran who accosted him in a lonely waterfront street. The man asked for a cigarette, (the master did not smoke) then demanded money (the master was as poor as the veteran) and finally, attacked the master with a knife. Needless to say, the master demolished his attacker.


But the master did not see the outcome as a victory, but as a shameful tragedy, in which a poor man approached him in need, but because the master had neither the wherewithall or the wisdom to find a way to actually help him, the veteran ended up injured and beaten.


This karate master was one of the teachers who inspired the founders of my son's dojo.


The best martial arts schools, in my opinion, built defense skills not to win fights but to give the individual more options in a threatening situation. By removing the fear that the big ugly thug might hit me, (because I know 5 ways to block or sidestep the blow) my chances of a peaceful encounter with the fellow are actually increased.


The best schools teach avoidance of fights. Ironically, a trained person is better able to walk away because he is confident of his ability and has nothing to prove.


Philosophy aside, you must also look at how well disciplined the school is when it comes to sparing. Does the teacher keep tight control? Are they safe? Or are some of the students just pummeling one another in the corners? Are the students having fun? Is the instructor someone you want your child to emulate? Does the intructor emphasize respect for parents, school, younger persons, elders, and the weak? (Respect is a very big component of Japanese martial arts culture)


Finally, some kids like it and others do not. My younger son dropped out because he did not like the sparring, he likes prefers sports with stricter rules.




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Regarding the study of martial arts, twin_wasp said it right. Interview the sensei (teacher). Ask to sit in on classes. Ask to observe a ranking test. There is one chain of karate schools that thinks it necessary to yell at its students (that's why you want to observe).


I have a black belt in Shotokan Karate and studied Aikido for years. Both budos have remarkable qualities and can improve a student's ability to handle the frustrations of the world. I wish my children would study martial arts.

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