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5yearscouter

Discipline Policy for Troop--suggestions needed

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Thanks everybody. What you say is what I think. There should not really be punishments for the sake of punishment. I believe the SM is more toward logical consequences and re-education rather than punitive, but the committee chair is strongly thinking there must be punishment to show the parents that scouting is a safe environment.

 

The scout who brought the inappropriate sized knife had done so more than once, but never had his totn chit taken away, or had to reteach totn chit to others, if he were being sneaky that his parent needed to know he couldn't bring any knives to scouts until he re-earned the chit and taught the chit and showed that he could be responsible about it. An older scout after this occured volunteered to teach a class to all the scouts on appropriate sized knifes for the job at hand, and which knives should probably never come to any scout thing, what the troop rules about knifes are (no wearing sheath knives, sm approves when sheath knives may be appropriate--but this had not been shared with the youth in years), plus a bit on boy scout camp knife rules in the area, local city and national laws about knifes.

 

But the scout who had the knife problem was suspended for 30 days when he really needed to be the one doing the research and going thru the above class or learning it and teaching it with the other older scout beside him. The 30 day suspension in effect told the scout we didn't want him anymore, and he has not returned so far at 60 days. I do not think he will recharter with our troop.

 

The scout who lassoed his friend wrote up what happened as soon as he was told there was a problem and he needed to see the sm for a conference about it. The scout laid out a list of things he should do including apology letter to the scout and his parents (cause the mom was upset that her son had rope marks at his neck) the scout had apologized as soon as he realized that he lassoed the neck instead of the shoulders, and there were no marks evident until the scout went home and mom saw something. The scout also had a plan to teach a class about the dangers of ropes around body parts you want to keep, choking, the choking game, damage to the windpipe that could occur and that things like this should be reported to the SM. He offered to pay for the dr visit if the scout had gone to the doctor as well (he did not need medical care of any kind). The committee chair wanted to suspend the boy for 30 days, the SM thought the scout's plan was ideal and wanted to just do that. I told them they needed to always involve a third adult in these things since obviously they do not agree. Scout was suspended for 7 days, but after a lot of discussion is going to be allowed to attend PLC to see if they want him to teach the class according to his plan. He figured it fit in with the rest of the knot and rope stuff, and based on status of the troop rope box, they all need to learn some rope respect including whipping/fusing and coiling rope correctly and getting it all away from being a tangled mess.

 

 

I'm just not looking forward to the committee meeting.

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Sounds like the problem is with the CC. Punishing a scout to send a message to the parents is rather draconian.

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but after a lot of discussion is going to be allowed to attend PLC to see if they want him to teach the class according to his plan. He figured it fit in with the rest of the knot and rope stuff' date=' and based on status of the troop rope box, they all need to learn some rope respect [/quote']

 

So he is going to research the topic, instruct the entire Troop for a month on how to throw a lasso*, and then lead your rope-throwing campout?

 

This should get him started:

 

HOW TO SPIN A ROPE:

Lariat throwing,

Rope Spinning

and Trick Cowboy Knots

 

http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/spin_rope/

 

To introduce the topic with a Scouting context, here is an introduction by one of the BSA's founders, Dan Beard:

 

Lariat

*Properly speaking, there is no such thing as a "lasso." You may lasso things with lariat, but you cannot carry a "lasso," because lasso is a verb, and no cowboy carries a verb coiled at his saddle-bow though he may have strings of forcible adjectives under his tongue...

 

http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/autumn/lariat.htm

 

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The glaring issue is definitions. What is "bullying"? It has become the norm in our society lately to label anything bullying, but bullying is a specific behavior with a specific definition, first and foremost it requires repetition, but most people apply the term to one-off instances. What is an "inappropriate size knife"? Contrary to popular belief, BSA sets no limit to the length of knife a scout may carry, so the committee must make its own definition.

 

As noted by others above, the biggest problem with these is that they are most often overly complicated, seeking to address every little thing that might ever happen when they cannot anyway, and no one ever reads them and they are rarely applied as written. They're useless in that way.

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What is "bullying"?
It's what the CC was doing to the SM. I would strongly encourage the CC to back off. Save the heavy hand for real bad kids.

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The glaring issue is definitions. What is "bullying"? It has become the norm in our society lately to label anything bullying, but bullying is a specific behavior with a specific definition, first and foremost it requires repetition, but most people apply the term to one-off instances. What is an "inappropriate size knife"? Contrary to popular belief, BSA sets no limit to the length of knife a scout may carry, so the committee must make its own definition.

 

As noted by others above, the biggest problem with these is that they are most often overly complicated, seeking to address every little thing that might ever happen when they cannot anyway, and no one ever reads them and they are rarely applied as written. They're useless in that way.

Gee, I've shown up at a camporee with a sidearm and 36" sword and no one said a thing. :)

 

On the other hand, I've never been in the woods without a hunting sheath knife. It was a practice I began while in scouting and now with the more modern types of equipment it is no longer a great necessity as it once was, but for fire starting and ropes, it can't be beat. Of course for really good fire starting, the belt axe I also carry is fantastic. Of course the the belt axe is sharpened to knife keenness. That whole process is not forbidden by BSA, only local councils who feel it necessary to restrict tool usage to the level of inefficiency. It's better to bring wood from home on your hike than find appropriate wood in the forest. At least that's the way the theory goes.

 

Stosh

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What is "bullying"?
It's what the CC was doing to the SM. I would strongly encourage the CC to back off. Save the heavy hand for real bad kids.
Definitely agree. One does not need to be under 18 to be a bully.

 

Hmmm, which leads to the question, are adult-led programs breeding grounds for bullying? Who holds sway over the activities and maintains control by dictation? :) Just an interesting thought.

 

Stosh

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Adult discipline undermines the youth taking responsibility for their own behavior. Why should the boys police themselves if the adults will do it for them?

 

Gotta walk the fine line between being supportive and taking over.

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I think the form of bullying is different in an adult-led Troop; some of the bully's are the ones good at manipulating the adults. I agree that the adults need to be there for the real hard cases--you know when you probably need to notify Council over.

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It just might be me, but the kinds of disciplinary problems I have faced generally do not even need to be escalated to the parents notification let alone Council. Any time a situation like that occurs, I'm assuming there has been a few red flags thrown up long before it got to that point. I don't know, I always try and nip it in the bud those flags long before it gets to that point. I may be a bit over the top myself on this kind of thing, but it has worked 40 years for me.

 

I had the trading post employee accuse "someone in my troop of shoplifting" while in the store. I was told of this by the camp director. I went back and notified the SPL and he said we're ALL going back to the trading post and the culprit will be identified. He formed up the entire troop and marched them back to the trading post. Then asked the employee to point out which of the boys he saw shoplifting. He looked over the boys and said he was mistaken, none of the boys there was the boy he had seen. The SPL then addressed the employee and said, "Will you be notifying the camp staff of this misidentification or should I?" The employee said he would take care of notifying the director of his mistake.

 

While none of my boys was involved, they all got a good lesson of what would happen if this really had occurred.

 

Was I sure none of my boys was involved when first notified? Nope. While I trust my boys, when dealing with boys this age, any and all things can happen. Was I surprised when the employee couldn't identify any of my boys? Not surprised, but very much relieved.

 

Stosh

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Adult discipline undermines the youth taking responsibility for their own behavior. Why should the boys police themselves if the adults will do it for them?

 

Gotta walk the fine line between being supportive and taking over.

There are a lot of people who think the boys should not be the disciplinarians, but peer pressure is a wonderful asset to have in a troop! Of course it helped that each boy in my troop carried a 6' piece of closet rod for a walking stick. Like knives and woods tools, they were informed that it is a tool, not a weapon. I said I would allow the boy to use it in defense of himself (Rule #`1: safety first), but NEVER as an offensive weapon (Rule #2: Look and act like a Scout.) I actually never had a problem with any boy misusing his stave. If any of the boys got playful with it, a number of the boys would bring it to a halt very quickly. More than once I heard someone say off in the distance, "That's a tool, not a weapon!" I didn't always know if it was the stave, a knife, ax or saw, but the boys were taking care of it on their own.

 

I had one new boy come to me a few weeks after getting his Totin' Chit and complain to me one of the older boys had torn up his card. I didn't even need to go ask the older boy why he did it. I asked the boy what he was doing just before the boy tore it up. He said just whittling. I asked him where. He said by the campfire. I asked why he wasn't in the whittling area. He said there wasn't a whittling area. I asked him why he didn't make one before he started. There was a long pause and he said okay and asked if he could keep his knife in his pocket until he got home. I said sure. And that was the end of the situation.

 

Right off the bat, my first thought was some older boy was picking on him, but it turns out the system worked.

 

Stosh

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I think you are all missing a critical element here by mis-defining "discipline." Discipline is not punishment. Discipline is training which makes punishment unnecessary. We don't punish Scouts. That is the parent's responsibility. We do try to instill in the Scouts a sense of discipline such that their behavior is not a problem. In this sense discipline takes on the same meaning as disciple -- as in an adherent of a particular philosophy. While I like the simplicity of Stosh's three rules, I also have a bias toward the Scout Oath and Law.

 

My rule is if you want to be a Scout and get to do the things Scouts do, then you behave like a Scout, that is, follow the Scout Oath and Law. If not, you don't get to be a Scout. That may mean you are removed from the program for whatever short time is required to bring your behavior back in line with the ideals, or it may be longer. In very rare cases it may be permanent.

 

Our troop discipline policy about a page and a half. It mostly talks about how we expect Scouts to behave -- follow the Oath and Law, set a good example for others, provide service to the troop and others, wear the uniform and attend regularly. There is a list of specifically prohibited behaviors stolen for our summer camp -- most of which comes under the heading of DUH! We then have an escalating progression for dealing with unacceptable behaviors: first the junior leaders, second with a SM conference, third removal from the activity and last suspension or expulsion. At each level the policy is to do what is necessary to ensure the safety of the Scouts and what is in the best interest of the troop and the individual scout. NO sentencing guidelines, like 5yr's CC seems to want -- that's a terrible idea, just creates work for the local Scout lawyers. We do what we think is best. The other thing we do is share information. I think one of the worst things you can do is keep behavior problems confidential. I absolutely want all the ASMs to know what is going on so the next time something comes up they know were things stand. Same rule applies to youth. I encourage youth leaders to handle problems, but they absolutely must let the adults in charge know what happened and how it was handled. (This applies to first aid, too, and for the same reasons. Yes, there are numerous war stories and scars behind that policy.

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What is "bullying"?
It's what the CC was doing to the SM. I would strongly encourage the CC to back off. Save the heavy hand for real bad kids.
Any organization that maintains strict standards of control over its members behavior like fraternities, bsa, military will always be popular sources of bullying/hazing. Their entire organizational structure is centered on control and what one level of member can demand of another with relative impunity.

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Why is the Comm. Chair involved to this extent with Discipline and punishment of the boys? The ScoutMaster has the final say with everything pertaining to the boys, not the CC. I used to have issues within my troop when I first took it over... we had a few "bad apples" that were only interested in causing trouble... once I took over the boys realized that they'll actually have to earn what they receive, I now leave initial punishment to the SPL and ASPL... they have a heavier and more appropriate hand than I ever would. If something occurs that warrants my attention as SM, the boys bring the accused to me, and they plead their case. I have never had to send a boy home from a campout, never had to call the police, or anything like that. I've had one boy tell me to "screw off" after he was being increasingly difficult during a troop meeting, In that case I pulled the boy aside and told him I wanted to speak with his mother when she came to pick him up after the meeting. I mentioned it to her, and she had him write an apology to me and now he's the most polite boy in the troop :-)

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Speaking from the committee position, the CC needs to know what's going on. I don't think the CC needs to be in on every issue or have some kind of veto authourity, but he needs to be aware of what's going on, especially if a boy is disruptive. The only time the CC needs to really be standing shoulder to shoulder with SM, as opposed to behind him nodding, is when something happens that is serious enough to warrant police and/or legal intervention. I've been in troops that run the gamut, but in all of them the committee has taken seriously its responsibility to support the program and run interference with anxious, hovering parents.

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