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ParkMan

Light hearted teasing of scouts

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Oh, I don't know. We've got another dad in the troop with my same last name. We've jokingly started calling each other "Fat Mr. Smith" and "Bald Mr. Smith."

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I look at things like this like I do the sexual harrasment training at work...

 

First, if the individual being targeted takes offense, they need to let it be known. Then it is the duty of the manager / supervisor (i.e. adult leadership, SPL, PL) to discuss the issue with those involved and make sure it doesn't happen any longer. If the individual being targeted doesn't say anything, or goes along with it, or gives the teasting back to the orgininator, then its really not an issue, is it?

 

Second, the issue is between the teaser and teasee. One cannot claim a "hostile environment" because they are offended by something between two other scouts that are fine with it. Now, if the teasing is in the form of posters, graffiti, signs, etc... that would create an overall "hostile environment" in the unit area, then yes it needs to be addressed by anyone who takes offense.

 

Finally, one cannot report on behalf of another. You got a problem with someone picking on a 3rd kid, so be it. It is their interpersonal relationship to manage as they see fit.

 

Teasing, nicknames and the like is one way guys (well at least certain guys) bond. It is an acceptance into the group / clique / etc... it has gone on since the dawn of time and will continue to go on whether there is a policy for or against it. The best way to deal with it is on a case-by-case basis and to work with the youth to understand other people's feelings and boundaries and also to TEACH the kids how to deal with one of their peers that might offend them by taking it too far. Its part of growing up and learning to handle it on your own is also part of the growing up process.

 

Its funny how BSA's own policy forbids hazing or bullying.... yet even in today's watered down OA "ordeal" - there are still concepts in it that can be considered hazing and bullying... not the least of which are forced silence, forced labor and the rationing of food... I know a lot more people who would consider such acts bullying above and beyond giving a friend a nickname he may not fully embrace.

 

Dean

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I look at things like this like I do the sexual harrasment training at work...

 

First, if the individual being targeted takes offense, they need to let it be known. Then it is the duty of the manager / supervisor (i.e. adult leadership, SPL, PL) to discuss the issue with those involved and make sure it doesn't happen any longer. If the individual being targeted doesn't say anything, or goes along with it, or gives the teasting back to the orgininator, then its really not an issue, is it?

 

Second, the issue is between the teaser and teasee. One cannot claim a "hostile environment" because they are offended by something between two other scouts that are fine with it. Now, if the teasing is in the form of posters, graffiti, signs, etc... that would create an overall "hostile environment" in the unit area, then yes it needs to be addressed by anyone who takes offense.

 

Finally, one cannot report on behalf of another. You got a problem with someone picking on a 3rd kid, so be it. It is their interpersonal relationship to manage as they see fit.

 

Teasing, nicknames and the like is one way guys (well at least certain guys) bond. It is an acceptance into the group / clique / etc... it has gone on since the dawn of time and will continue to go on whether there is a policy for or against it. The best way to deal with it is on a case-by-case basis and to work with the youth to understand other people's feelings and boundaries and also to TEACH the kids how to deal with one of their peers that might offend them by taking it too far. Its part of growing up and learning to handle it on your own is also part of the growing up process.

 

Its funny how BSA's own policy forbids hazing or bullying.... yet even in today's watered down OA "ordeal" - there are still concepts in it that can be considered hazing and bullying... not the least of which are forced silence, forced labor and the rationing of food... I know a lot more people who would consider such acts bullying above and beyond giving a friend a nickname he may not fully embrace.

 

Dean

Disagree Dean. We cannot apply adult thought processes to 11-17 year-olds. As adults we have developed thicker skin and we get that teasing and ribbing is a form of bonding. Not all teens get that. Kids are not likely to bring it to anyone's attention either. Many times these kids internalize this stuff that on the face of it looks harmless, only to one day explode. When you think about it there is really no reason for it. Why call a kid "the brain" -- even if meant flatteringly -- when his proper name would do just fine?

 

Case in point: I have two brothers in my troop...one taller than the other. The brothers look very much alike and are new to the troop. Obviously guys start calling one "the tall one" and the other "the short one". I asked them if they mind the nicknames and both said they were fine with it. Well, that went on about a month before it bolied over in two ways. First, the "short one" got ticked off that everyone was calling him that and not bothering to learn his real name. He eventually got in to it with a guy who used the nickname in a very passive manner. Second, using the nickname "tall one" eventually bleed into other nicknames and well-meaning jibes which eventually got to the kid.

 

So I really don't agree with the "boys will be boys" or "that's how guys bond" argument. That always seems to excuse this stuff or ignore how the recipient may feel...either on the surface or deep down. What's wrong with simply using they kid's name?

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I don't know that we need to apply workplace standards to Scouting, but I do agree with the personal respoonsibility element of Dean's approach. As I said earlier, it needs to be handled individually and you need to know the kids involved. And sorry, Krampus, but I disagree with you. If the brother didn't have the fortitude to say, "No, I don't like being called short." he either needs to find it or plan to spend the rest of his life being dumped on.

 

Nothing builds self-esteem like taking control of and solving your own problems.

 

I do agree that as a basic courtesy you learn folks names. I've posted before about the time three of the older 16- and 17-year-old scouts in the troop were assigning the new kids nicknames, ala Animal House ("From now on you're Pinto. From now on you're, uuuuh, Flounder.") I pulled the older guys off and told them they needed to learn the new boys' real names.

 

"But this is fun. Everybody likes nicknames."

 

" Well you should have told me that in the first place!," I told them. "If nicknames are such fun, you three need nick names too! You," I said to the big one, "are Lardass. You are D.F., you know, like on your report card. And from now on you are Dewey, but we'll spell it D.U.I. , 'cause, well, you know. Gee, you guys are right, this is a lot of fun! "

 

That was the end of that.

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Okay, I'm not counciler...but my wife is... (and it tends to rub off)

 

The issue here is how the person feels about the comment. It's not how the person making the comment 'meant' for it to be.. or how the people around it meant.. it's all about how the Scout feels about the comment.

 

At the age of most scouts (12-18), there are often feelings which the boys are trying to sort out. Most kids feel at some level as though they are struggling to fit in.. and will allow a comment they don't like to be said, in an effort to simply "be one of the guys." I can remember very well some of these types things from my childhood... and I didn't like them. Did I pretend it was okay? Sure! I was "one of the Cool Kids." Did I develop a "thick Skin?" Perhaps... but did it bother me when I was at home, after the other kids left? YEP!

 

Bottom line: IMHO, Scouts have names, and so do the adults. Use them unless the individual says otherwise. If I say "Call me Sponge-Bob," you can safely believe I"m okay with it....however it's also a slippery slope (which some already said) because I could just be reaching for more approval from the crowd.

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I have been overweight since birth...I have resigned myself to the genetics of it. I was always "fatty fatty two by four, can't get through the bathroom door", or "Tubby" or whatever. It always hurt. It still does, as I am amazed that people think it is still ok to mention someone's weight. WHere I work, a certain gate guard used to greet me with ""Mornin, Big Guy...have a bless (sic) day"...I often wonder what the response would be if I responded, "mornin, Black Guy", or "skinny guy" or "stupid guy"... KIds can be cruel...and at that age they are not "used to it" or are able to let it slide off their backs, like a 58 year old senior manager can.

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We might fight and fuss over nearly everything else but this is something that OGE and I seem to be in complete agreement on. Teasing between the boys themselves is not good but between an adult and a boy it is, I think, just plain wrong. I think it's destructive among the boys as well. The only time I think it's ok to tease, is between two individuals who are close enough to know each other very, very well (like between me and my daughter). And even then there are lines that the two of us don't cross - we know each other well enough to understand what those are.

But between an adult and a boy, sorry, that's out of line. Period.

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