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MattR

Eagle and weed

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I largely agree with the Adan Smith quote, "Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent."

 

It is true, every scout joins scouting for a different reason.  Every parent signs their boy up for a different reason, too.

 

Many parents sign their sons up for scouting in order to keep them away from bad influences. What about the scouts who leave scouting because their families don't want them to be around drugs or associate with drug users? Don't they count?

 

It is the permissive scout units that take the easy road.  They feel that they bear no responsibility for driving good kids out of the program.  

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I largely agree with the Adan Smith quote, "Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent."

 

It is true, every scout joins scouting for a different reason.  Every parent signs their boy up for a different reason, too.

 

Many parents sign their sons up for scouting in order to keep them away from bad influences. What about the scouts who leave scouting because their families don't want them to be around drugs or associate with drug users? Don't they count?

 

It is the permissive scout units that take the easy road.  They feel that they bear no responsibility for driving good kids out of the program.  

 

You seem to be making a very polarised distinction here. There is zero tolerance, there is permissive and nothing else. In actual fact there is a whole raft of grey between the two. Taking an approach where there are consequences but ensuring that there is a way back is not being permissive or cruel to the innocent. It is helping develop the scout involved.

 

Back in 2005 I was part of a district contingent to the European Jamboree.One evening, after the scouts had all disappeared off to whatever evening events they were meant to be at a leader from the Italian unit next to us came over to fill us in on the gossip that the Maltese unit on a neighbouring sub camp had the illicit vodka supply. We may wish to watch out where our scouts were headed. Now it turned out that yes, two scouts, aged about 14 i think, had indeed made the acquaintance of the Maltese contingent and as they came back to camp, their manner of walking indicated that they had indeed indulged in the Maltese contingent's supplies.

 

Now we could of course have sent them home. There are though many ways to skin a cat!

 

They were dispatched to bed having been invited to drink a pint of water each. Me and the other leader there didn't say a word about the drinking.

 

Next day dawned, bright and sunny. Bill and Ben, as I will call them, magically found that the chores rotas had all been changed! Guess who was invited to get out of bed at 6am and get the food delivery for that day? And then cook it? All while nursing a cracking hangover each? Now I fancy myself as a bit of a camp fire leader. I encouraged everyone to burst into some loud, lusty singing as all this was going on. Part of me was half tempted to keep them back from whatever they were meant to be doing that morning. Till I remembered that it was a good 30 minute walk in the blazing sun to get there. They were going. And I was going to make sure they went. And join in everything. Loudly. And quickly.

 

I generally made sure that that day was the longest and most miserable one of their existence while of course making sure no harm came to them (I made sure there was plenty of water available).

 

That night they turned in quite early and didn't go near a drop of the stuff again.

 

And all without having to say a single word about Maltese scouts or vodka.

 

The point is that you can get a kid to learn a lesson without taking a zero tolerance approach. And make sure it stays learned as well.

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You seem to be making a very polarised distinction here. There is zero tolerance, there is permissive and nothing else. In actual fact there is a whole raft of grey between the two. Taking an approach where there are consequences but ensuring that there is a way back is not being permissive or cruel to the innocent. It is helping develop the scout involved.

 

Back in 2005 I was part of a district contingent to the European Jamboree.One evening, after the scouts had all disappeared off to whatever evening events they were meant to be at a leader from the Italian unit next to us came over to fill us in on the gossip that the Maltese unit on a neighbouring sub camp had the illicit vodka supply. We may wish to watch out where our scouts were headed. Now it turned out that yes, two scouts, aged about 14 i think, had indeed made the acquaintance of the Maltese contingent and as they came back to camp, their manner of walking indicated that they had indeed indulged in the Maltese contingent's supplies.

 

Now we could of course have sent them home. There are though many ways to skin a cat!

 

They were dispatched to bed having been invited to drink a pint of water each. Me and the other leader there didn't say a word about the drinking.

 

Next day dawned, bright and sunny. Bill and Ben, as I will call them, magically found that the chores rotas had all been changed! Guess who was invited to get out of bed at 6am and get the food delivery for that day? And then cook it? All while nursing a cracking hangover each? Now I fancy myself as a bit of a camp fire leader. I encouraged everyone to burst into some loud, lusty singing as all this was going on. Part of me was half tempted to keep them back from whatever they were meant to be doing that morning. Till I remembered that it was a good 30 minute walk in the blazing sun to get there. They were going. And I was going to make sure they went. And join in everything. Loudly. And quickly.

 

I generally made sure that that day was the longest and most miserable one of their existence while of course making sure no harm came to them (I made sure there was plenty of water available).

 

That night they turned in quite early and didn't go near a drop of the stuff again.

 

And all without having to say a single word about Maltese scouts or vodka.

 

The point is that you can get a kid to learn a lesson without taking a zero tolerance approach. And make sure it stays learned as well.

 

That has to be the greatest thing I have read on here.  I think you handled the situation perfectly.

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Zero tolerance policies are meant for those who are incapable to thinking creatively with helping others with their failures. 

 

More than once I have been accused of not reacting to difficult situations in the "normal" way.  I don't quote tolerance policies, I don't reach for the the rule book or the by-laws, I simply do what they don't expect, i.e. put them on the roster of chores the next day?  (Perfect!)  Don't dwell on it, they know they screwed up, they don't need to be told 100 times.  They don't get "grounded" (which to most teens means nothing), etc.

 

The consequences they suffer is usually enough "punishment" for the infraction.  I have never sent a boy home from an activity.  I have supported PL's who have sent boys home, however, and that happened only once.  I have had PL's ask that a boy sit out an activity because he couldn't be trusted considering what he did at the last outing as well.

 

A Scout is Trustworthy.  I have had to tell a number of boys over the years that I simply don't trust them, but if they wish to correct that, they can start at any time. 

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Cambridgeskip,

 

Your're telling me that the scout leaders running the jamboree knew there was an illicit supply of alcohol in the sub camp, and yet they did nothing about it.  They didn't conduct a search?  They didn't boot the offending unit out of the jamboree?  

 

There is no grey area here, that is definitely permissive.

 

Not only should the 14 year old scouts been sent home, the leaders who turned a blind eye to it should have been sent home as well.

 

I don't think this story is the slightest bit funny.  The actions of the scout leaders were wrong.  

Edited by David CO

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I’d make two points on that.

 

Firstly there is a big cultural divide between Europe generally and the USA on alcohol. I’ve seen it many times. Alcohol is definitely seen as less of a big deal here than it is in the USA. (With the exception of Scandinavia where they are paranoid about it) In parts of Italy and France kids are brought up drinking wine from startlingly early ages, some as young as 6 or 7. Nevertheless yes the organisers did deal with the Maltese scouts. It’s over a decade ago so I am not going to claim to recall exactly what happened although I am pretty certain no one was sent home.

 

Secondly in terms of my two scouts I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to disagree here. They broke the rules, there were consequences, they learned their lesson and neither they or anyone else in the unit did it again. As far as I was concerned job done and case closed. I don’t see where sending them home would have got anybody. I would see it as disproportionate. If they had repeated that kind of behaviour then it may have been a different matter. But they didn’t. So it wasn’t.

 

And no leaders turned a blind eye to anything.

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We agree on one thing.  There is a big cultural divide between Europe and the USA.

There is also wide divergence within the US regarding age and alcohol consumption.  Growing up in the mid 70s in a Pennsylvania steel town, drinking beer as a Junior or Senior in high school was widely permitted by both parents, and as exhibited by the behavior of the police, the community writ large.  Even today, when legal drinking ages have been raised, almost entirely as an anti drunk driving measure as opposed to a measure of moral approbation, in many states alcohol consumption by people under the age of 21 is legal under a variety of circumstances if overseen by parents.

 

At the same time there are of course many "dry" counties where the purchase of alcohol is illegal for everyone irrespective of age.

Edited by T2Eagle

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Hmmm, I know it was allowed at one time and I have not heard of it being changed, but parents can serve alcohol to their children up until they are 18 years of age.  Yes, a parent can order two glasses of wine at a restaurant and serve one to their child.  They can serve alcohol to their under-aged children in their own home as well.  It's up to the parents to decide for their children.  The kids in this state then go into the Twilight Zone.  That's the time from when they turn 18 and parents cannot serve them alcohol until they turn 21 and they can legally drink "as an adult" despite the fact that they are "an adult" at age 18. 

 

In America we seem to make up stupid rules all the time and it's no wonder no one can figure out what's going on.  It's not a moral issue, it's a "pick a number out of the air" rule that makes people feel all warm and fuzzy that they are protecting someone, somehow, somewhere, sometime.

 

Sorry for waxing nostalgically, but I pine for the good old days when intelligence, common sense and personal freedom ruled the society.

Edited by Stosh

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There is also wide divergence within the US regarding age and alcohol consumption.  Growing up in the mid 70s in a Pennsylvania steel town, drinking beer as a Junior or Senior in high school was widely permitted by both parents, and as exhibited by the behavior of the police, the community writ large.  Even today, when legal drinking ages have been raised, almost entirely as an anti drunk driving measure as opposed to a measure of moral approbation, in many states alcohol consumption by people under the age of 21 is legal under a variety of circumstances if overseen by parents.

 

At the same time there are of course many "dry" counties where the purchase of alcohol is illegal for everyone irrespective of age.

 

That's true.  I live in a area that's been a dry county for as long as it's been around.  They finally passed a law this year that made it wet.  The first liquor store opened it's doors last Saturday (to much local protest).  I'm probably the happiest person here.  I've been brewing my own beer for years and collect beer/liquor collectables.  If you go to Germany, France, etc. kids are drinking wine and beer at dinner.  Churches in a lot of countries have beer festivals and make or produce liquor.  Alcohol just isn't that big of a deal in most places.  Not that I'm defending Boy Scouts getting drunk on camp outs by any means.....

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Once someone makes it a taboo, it makes for that much "fun" for adolescents........  Well, anyone for that matter as Prohibition proved out in America back in the 20's and 30's and recreational drugs do today.  Oh, by the way, I put alcohol and nicotine in the definition of recreational drugs.  Only the BSA "outlaw" them as some sort of noble stance.  There are some boys in most troops that are exposed to these legal drugs on a daily basis.  Everything that BSA does to lead by example with zero-tolerance in this area is quickly nullified by the actions of the world around them,.  It's not just BSA, schools and other organizations do the same thing.  Kind of a well known dirty little secret that everyone knows about.

Edited by Stosh

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We agree on one thing.  There is a big cultural divide between Europe and the USA.

Absolutely! It's one of the reasons I come on here. Seeing how different countries view things is fascinating. I'm sure in time you'll spot things the the UK or Europe are far stricter on than you folks are. There will always be differences.

 

Differing national attitudes to alcohol is not really the point though. What I was more trying to point out is that a zero tolerance approach to (insert misdemeanour here) is rarely of much use. All you do is box yourself in when it comes to dealing with it. We're adults. I'm sure we all have the experience to identify that no instances of a given misdemeanour are ever the same and you need a sliding scale of sanctions for dealing with it. Yes the ultimate deterrent of kicking someone out first time needs to be there particularly where you need to protect others. I'd consider serious cases of bullying to be a case in point. But I wouldn't commit myself to that course of action in advance of it even happening. When I was what we call a young leader aged 16 helping with cubs and instance of bullying was identified when the culprit had his nose broken by a new (turned out there had been others) would be victim. (Yes an 8 year old broke someone's nose. It was an impressive punch!) Leaving the would be bully to explain to his parents how it happened coupled with several weeks suspension proved more than sufficient to teach a lesson he never forgot. Case closed. In differing circumstances a more lengthy suspension or expulsion would have been more appropriate. Similarly I would never consider one scout of any age punching another acceptable. But I think these circumstances are rather different to the more common instances of fighting I've (very occasionally) seen

 

It's all about flexibility and adapting to circumstances.

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Cambridgeskip,

 

I would disagree with you when you say that a zero tolerance policy is rarely of much use.  It is often very effective, and of great use.  That's why we use it.

 

Of course, a zero tolerance policy is not always appropriate for all types of misconduct.  Some types of misconduct do, as you say, exist on a sliding scale. In these cases, it would be disproportionate to impose the same (harsh) penalties to every offense along the sliding scale.  I think we agree on this.

 

However, I think you are mistaken when you generalize this concept of a sliding scale to all misdemeanors.

 

Sometimes it is about flexibility and adapting to circumstances, but at other times, it is about standing fast and holding the line.

Edited by David CO

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True justice requires a sliding scale on every misconduct, otherwise there is no justice.  Expelling a high school Eagle scout for having a small pocket knife in his survival kit he forgot to take out of the trunk of his car from the outing the previous weekend is not justice, but it is a classic example of the tyranny of zero-tolerance policies.  Expelling a kindergartner because his mother put in a butter knife to cut up birthday treats for his classmates is yet another good example of the tyranny of zero-tolerance policies that lack any resemblance to justice.  Same for the kids on the playground that make hand gestures that look like pointing a finger with the thumb up in the air?  Or the student that nibbles on his Pop-Tart until it looks like some imaginary weapon to some teacher?

 

Zero-tolerance policies is the politically correct way of expressing the notion of organized injustice, a.k.a. intolerance..

 

True justice requires the thoughtful application of a sliding scale where the punishment matches the infraction.  Last time I checked, that supposedly applied to the law of the land in America.

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