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ParkMan

Light hearted teasing of scouts

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There's a discussion going on in my son's Troop about adult leaders doing light hearted teasing of scouts.

 

On the surface, it doesn't appear malicious. Mostly it seems fairly benign, but it can drift into areas like hight, size (i.e. refering to someone as a small guy) or stuff like being a geek. Most people laugh it off as nothing more than just harmless teasing from the leaders. The leaders are all deicated folks who devote a lot of time and energy to scouting. It really doesn't appear to be leader's favoring certain kids, picking favorites, or picking on certain boys. It seems to just be a style thing.

 

Most families are quite happy with the leaders, but there are a few that are concerned.

 

Anyone been down this path before? I did a Guide to Safe Scouting search, but the closest I find is:

"Physical violence, hazing, bullying, theft, verbal insults, and drugs and alcohol have no place in the Scouting program and may result in the revocation of a Scout’s membership in the unit."

This seems a bit harsher than what I've seen going on.

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I think it is an education thing. Folks often blame the recipient for reacting negatively or being too sensitive to teasing, etc. While I feel bullying is dependent on intent, an adult leader should be aware that comments about such things as physical attributes (height, weight, hair color/length, etc.) are best not discussed in a teasing manner.

 

Bottom line, if it makes a scout uncomfortable, don't do it. Now, if the leader doesn't realize it makes a scout uncomfortable, another adult, youth or the scout himself should respectfully point that out in a discreet fashion.

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Raise his self-esteem and consider the scout before poking fun. Remember. it is not fun unless EVERYONE thinks it is fun.

 

Here's a link about building self-esteem through scouting, it's focus is towards scouts with disabilities.

http://www.stlbsa.org/programs/special-needs-program/Pages/Building-Self-Esteem-Through-Scouting.aspx

 

My $0.02

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While I don't necessarily see it as a big thing between equals, it really is not a good character trait with anyone. Keeping a relationship / conversation / interaction / friendship going based on boorish, uncultured negative comments is not worthy of leaders who's ultimate goal is to teach character.

 

Again, I don't think it's a big big deal. It's just not a good example to set and it doesn't help anyone. So why do it ???

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Hopefully the leaders have enough insight to pick up on what is and isn't appropriate with each Scout.

 

Generally speaking, anything which is passes off as "boys will be boys" probably isn't. But I think folks have to realize this is just how guys interact. There is a fine line which can be crossed. I would want to know who's doing the complaining? If it's the Scout who is the target of the teasing, there's an issue. If not, it may be someone who doesn't have the understanding of the relationship between the principals do.

 

I have a few boys with very self-deprecating senses of humor. They're the first to point out their own foilbles. Others, including adults, tend to pick up on it. I have one kid in particular who is always making jokes at his own expense. I sat in on a Philmont planning session recently where this scout and the crew advisor -- who has worked with the Scout since Tigers -- were dishing it back and forth pretty well. I happened to notice everyone in the room was having fun with it -- except the Scout's mom. I mentioned this to the advisor and said he and he Scout have picked at each other like this for years. Knowing the two of them and watching the situation, I think he's right. But he's smart enough to understand the danger of a mad mamma bear.

 

I think you have to listen and pay attenti on when someone mentions this. In both the OP and the situation with my guys, it's good to reassess your perception and even talk it out amongst y'alls. But I also think it is incumbent upon the person who is offended to let the other guys know when the line is crossed.

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Depends on the Scouts, some enjoy the good natured ribbing and reply with their own jokes. (I get alot of height jokes because I'm 5'4.) I think it's more appropriate with older boys and less appropriate with younger ones.

Sort of like the discussion of nicknames, it has to be something that the Scout is ok with. Otherwise it's probably crossing the line into bullying.

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I do not like teasing, I think its Bullying "light" but still bullying. Well, I used to. Maybe I have left my own experiences color my perceptions, then again, I thought they were supposed to. I had a few experiences in the past that qualify as beyond "light hearted" so where does that leave us?

 

I can see a give and take attitude where the teasing joshing, whatever you call it is in the troop culture and it makes people feel welcome and one of the gang. But if this is a path you choose, be very careful it does not get ugly or a situation where manhood is question if you can't take it...

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I've seen this happen, and have done it myself once or twice with Scouts in my son's unit who I know very well outside of Scouting. Still, I try never to do it. Two concerns I would have:

 

1. It’s a slippery slope. Scouts will follow their leader's example and joking around between Scouts can easily devolve into more malicious teasing.

2. We have a pair of Scouts with autism spectrum disabilities in out unit. One thing I have learned is that those young men have a much more difficult time dealing with "shades of grey" when it comes to rules. We need to keep rules clear in order for them to cope. For them, there is no lighthearted teasing, even if they are not involved in it on either end.

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Hopefully the leaders have enough insight to pick up on what is and isn't appropriate with each Scout.

 

Generally speaking, anything which is passes off as "boys will be boys" probably isn't. But I think folks have to realize this is just how guys interact. There is a fine line which can be crossed. I would want to know who's doing the complaining? If it's the Scout who is the target of the teasing, there's an issue. If not, it may be someone who doesn't have the understanding of the relationship between the principals do.

 

I have a few boys with very self-deprecating senses of humor. They're the first to point out their own foilbles. Others, including adults, tend to pick up on it. I have one kid in particular who is always making jokes at his own expense. I sat in on a Philmont planning session recently where this scout and the crew advisor -- who has worked with the Scout since Tigers -- were dishing it back and forth pretty well. I happened to notice everyone in the room was having fun with it -- except the Scout's mom. I mentioned this to the advisor and said he and he Scout have picked at each other like this for years. Knowing the two of them and watching the situation, I think he's right. But he's smart enough to understand the danger of a mad mamma bear.

 

I think you have to listen and pay attenti on when someone mentions this. In both the OP and the situation with my guys, it's good to reassess your perception and even talk it out amongst y'alls. But I also think it is incumbent upon the person who is offended to let the other guys know when the line is crossed.

Heck, my wife doesn't even get the teasing back and forth between my son and me. Guys are just different.

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Hopefully the leaders have enough insight to pick up on what is and isn't appropriate with each Scout.

 

Generally speaking, anything which is passes off as "boys will be boys" probably isn't. But I think folks have to realize this is just how guys interact. There is a fine line which can be crossed. I would want to know who's doing the complaining? If it's the Scout who is the target of the teasing, there's an issue. If not, it may be someone who doesn't have the understanding of the relationship between the principals do.

 

I have a few boys with very self-deprecating senses of humor. They're the first to point out their own foilbles. Others, including adults, tend to pick up on it. I have one kid in particular who is always making jokes at his own expense. I sat in on a Philmont planning session recently where this scout and the crew advisor -- who has worked with the Scout since Tigers -- were dishing it back and forth pretty well. I happened to notice everyone in the room was having fun with it -- except the Scout's mom. I mentioned this to the advisor and said he and he Scout have picked at each other like this for years. Knowing the two of them and watching the situation, I think he's right. But he's smart enough to understand the danger of a mad mamma bear.

 

I think you have to listen and pay attenti on when someone mentions this. In both the OP and the situation with my guys, it's good to reassess your perception and even talk it out amongst y'alls. But I also think it is incumbent upon the person who is offended to let the other guys know when the line is crossed.

Heck, my wife doesn't even get the teasing back and forth between my son and me. Guys are just different.

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The fact that you have brought this to the attention of the forums indicates (IMHO) that its a problem, no matter how benign it may seem. If someone wants to make fun of himself, fine, but once you start poking fun at others its a slippery slope (as others have indicated).

 

Related info: We had a situation some years back where scouts were assigning nicknames to each other so we made a 'rule' that the person being assigned the nickname had to agree to the name, otherwise no go.

 

 

 

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It's a cultural thing AND a guy thing I think.

This is one area that my wife has almost had success in changing me.

In many regions and cultures..... the south where I'm from and in blue collar environments especially.... and I've also noticed it in groups of "sports guys", ribbing and insults are taken as compliments. You just don't compliment a guy or tell them that you like them...... just not socially acceptable. Calling him a litle guy is really a term of endearment!

There is of course a line not to cross, but its grey....

 

I think what's described here in this thread likely falls into that category.

No harm is intended, or usually taken....

But for some (like my wife) they don't get it. They get offended if its directed at them, or want to stand up for the bullied guy underdog if it's directed at someone else.

 

Over the years, i have come to realize that the line not to cross is just far too grey for some folks to see, so the better practice is to not do it. I do catch myself all the time doing it though..... it's just a social situation thing.

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Would the leaders tolerate it if the kids were calling them "the fat ASM" or "the dorky ASM" or "the bald ASM" or stuff like that?

 

I get the "guys being guys" mentality, but this is not a sports team we are talking about. Scouting is supposed to be about higher ideals. I always challenge my guys to be the one in school who stops people like that from picking on other kids, to sit with the kid who has no friends and try to be his friend. What ever happened to a Scout is a friend to all?

 

Ask the kids being called those names and see how they like it. My bet is they don't. As leaders we need to set the example. We don't have to be perfect, but if the kids see us doing it then what do you think they will do? And how do you think the recipient will feel when Scouters AND Scouts start calling him stuff?

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Would the leaders tolerate it if the kids were calling them "the fat ASM" or "the dorky ASM" or "the bald ASM" or stuff like that?

 

 

I agree with you mostly, but your examples cross the grey line even for adults. Depending on context of course..... but call a fat guy " Tiny" might be ok. Call him "big guy" or whatever ditto.... but you don't call him fat in almost any circle!

 

Youre right about the nut of it I think..... "Scouting is supposed to be about higher ideals"

 

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