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PLC hazing and bullying problem

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New member, relatively new Scoutmaster with a few years as an Assistant. Recently, Some members of my PLC had a sleep over. One of the Scouts has developmental delays. He is ADHD, on the Austism scale and has learning disabilities. He is a non aggressive, non violent 13 year old. All of the boys there have known him for a few years through the troop. They all have seemed relatively accepting and patient with him (under adult supervision).

At this sleep over, the other boys began to bully him throughout the night. The adults in the house were sleeping in another part of a relatively large house. At some point, the SPL approached from behind, stood over the boy in his underwear as the boy sat on the floor watching a movie, and straddled the boys neck, pressing his crotch against the back of the boy's head and neck saying he was going to tea bag him. The boy pushed him off and demanded that he stop. The other boys, all part of the PLC laughed at the boy as the SPL persisted, again and again, 4 times until the boy began crying . The boys continued to mistreat this boy throughout the night until he finally called his parents, early in the morning to come and pick him up. 

When his parents arrived, he was crying, angry and very upset. He was ashamed and embarrassed and didn't understand why they treated him that way. As the Scoutmaster, I feel compelled to act. In the few years I have been active with the troop, I have observed instances of bullying and mistreatment among the Scouts. Since becoming Scoutmaster, I have addressed these incidents with the troop many times. I have explained to them that this kind of behavior is unacceptable, impressing upon them that they should be looking out for one another, rather than being unkind. I have explained that the Scout Oath and The Scout Law stays with us all and is not left in the scout room. That they are a code a set of values that we all must try to live by. Values that our society respects. 

I haven't had a chance yet to ask the PLC about this incident. I know from experience that this boy is telling the truth. Before I take action, I must get their side of the story, and discuss the incident with the parents. My plan of action is this; Counsel all of the boys involved. The SPL for his actions, and the rest of the PLC for their failure to put a stop to it. After that the SPL must Mea Cupla in front of the entire troop, explain what he did, why he did it and why it is wrong. He must then apologize to the Scout. I will then suspend the SPL from his position for 3 months. The rest of the PLC that was present will be placed on probation for the remainder of their tenure in their current positions. A further similar act of poor scout spirit will result in me suspending them for 3 months from any leadership positions. 

I invite thoughts and advice. 

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3 months?  That's it?  To me, that's very light for something very vulgar and un-Scoutlike. 

And... "a similar act of poor Scout Spirit" -- just no.  There should be no more similar acts.  A similar act, from my point of view would be dismissal from the Troop.

Are you going to discuss this act of sexual bullying and youth-on-youth abuse with your Scout Executive?  I think you need to. 

 

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Seems like a good plan.  May want to have the SPL be more generic in his mea culpa, just that there was bullying, it is inappropriate, skip the details.

Tough one as the PLC was involved and stood by. 

Good luck

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Tell us more about the 

24 minutes ago, Bside said:

New member, relatively new Scoutmaster with a few years as an Assistant. Recently, Some members of my PLC had a sleep over. One of the Scouts has developmental delays. He is ADHD, on the Austism scale and has learning disabilities. He is a non aggressive, non violent 13 year old. All of the boys there have known him for a few years through the troop. They all have seemed relatively accepting and patient with him (under adult supervision)...

The boys continued to mistreat this boy throughout the night until he finally called his parents, early in the morning to come and pick him up. ..

When his parents arrived, he was crying, angry and very upset. He was ashamed and embarrassed and didn't understand why they treated him that way.

What help and counsel did you give this scout? What was the reaction of his parents? 

Why should this young man stay in your unit or in scouting?

No one in the troop helped him? He had to call his parents for help? Who were the adults leaders on this trip?

:mad:

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13 minutes ago, WisconsinMomma said:

3 months?  That's it?  To me, that's very light for something very vulgar and un-Scoutlike. 

And... "a similar act of poor Scout Spirit" -- just no.  There should be no more similar acts.  A similar act, from my point of view would be dismissal from the Troop.

Are you going to discuss this act of sexual bullying and youth-on-youth abuse with your Scout Executive?  I think you need to. 

 

I agree 100%.  The SPL was threatening to sexually assault the younger boy.  I thought the 3 month suspension was too light, and I agree totally that another similar act should be dismissal.  The rest of the PLC should be punished as well, as they either participated or didn't stop it. 

Edited by perdidochas
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Momma, I agree that there is a weird, sexual undercurrent in this. The boys are 12 and 13 year olds. Change some minor dynamics such as age or sex of some of the scouts involved and nobody could argue that this was a sexual assault. I'm not ready to label the SPL as a sex offender. I am tempted to fire the lot of them. However, I think there is a lesson in this for the entire troop. These boys are immature. Some of them are cliquish and feel that they are above some of the other scouts. I think I can knock them down a few pegs without putting them out of scouting. I hope that will give me an opportunity to teach them to be better young men and to learn empathy and compassion. 

Jameson, I think that the SPL should feel some shame and humiliation similar to what the victim here felt. I may allow him to give details without naming the victim, but you know how that goes. It won't be long until everyone knows anyway. 

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9 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

Seems like a good plan.  May want to have the SPL be more generic in his mea culpa, just that there was bullying, it is inappropriate, skip the details.

Tough one as the PLC was involved and stood by. 

Good luck

Yeah, skip the fact that he threatened to sexually assault a youth with special needs?  Not listening to or respecting the kid who said no and attacking him four more times?  Way to give the kid an out.  

Think about this kid who was assaulted having to deal with this other kid in the future.  How will he feel in the Troop when all his "friends" sat by and laughed while he was being bullied in such a vulgar way. 

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1 minute ago, RememberSchiff said:

Tell us more about the 

What help and counsel did you give this scout? What was the reaction of his parents? 

Why should this young man stay in your unit or in scouting?

No one in the troop helped him? He had to call his parents for help? Who were the adults leaders on this trip?

:mad:

This was not a BSA sanctioned outing. This was a group of "friends" that happen to be members of the same troop having a sleep over. 

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I am so sorry you are dealing with this but these young men need to be taught what is appropriate and what is not, and there is no tolerance for bullying or hazing of this nature in the BSA.  They need to learn in no uncertain terms what they did was wrong, and it benefits them to learn that lesson in a very memorable way now so they don't go and make even worse mistakes as they grow older. 

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Welcome to the forum @Bside. Sorry it has to be under such circumstances.

I would not have the SPL talk in front of the troop. In fact, I'm not sure I'd start with a list of punishments. The real issue is whether the scouts understand they did something (many things) wrong and not just that they got caught. For any scout that just thinks he got caught I'd fire him. But I would give him a chance to figure that out.

I'd start with sitting down with all the scouts that were there except for the one scout that took the brunt of the bad character. I'd start by reviewing exactly what happened in as much detail as possible. They'd likely really feel the pain as an adult asked them why a scout rubbed his crotch on the boy's neck. Once that was all out we'd talk about each point of the scout law and ask them how what they did represents that. Then I'd ask them if they think they need to make things right. If, and I really would hope this doesn't happen, they said it was all in good fun, I'd fire the lot of them. If, however, they show some remorse, I'd ask them how they're going to make it right. Then I'd keep my mouth shut and listen. Maybe I'd encourage them to think more and talk about it. Anyway, let them come up with a plan. If you think it's a bit light then sure, add some time or whatever. It would be great if they volunteer to talk to the rest of the troop but I wouldn't make them. Public punishment is frowned on and your making them do that is really nothing more than punishment.  @Jameson76's idea is also an option.

The fact that these scouts think they're above it all is a red flag to me. One other thing to think about is that some of the scouts were likely just following along. As guilty as they are for not standing up to the SPL, they might see what they did as wrong.

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3 minutes ago, Bside said:

This was not a BSA sanctioned outing. This was a group of "friends" that happen to be members of the same troop having a sleep over. 

Makes no difference.  A Scout should not be threatening to sexually assault a younger, weaker person regardless of this being a "non scouting" event.  It's not scoutlike behavior, and honestly, every boy involved in this attempted sexual assault should be punished by the troop.  If it was found they did this kind of stuff to a non-scout, I would feel the same. 

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MattR's advice is great. The only thing I would add is that after you initially speak to them as a group, with an ASM also there. Then speak to them individually (with an ASM) to truly ascertain remorse etc...

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5 minutes ago, perdidochas said:

Makes no difference.  A Scout should not be threatening to sexually assault a younger, weaker person regardless of this being a "non scouting" event.  It's not scoutlike behavior, and honestly, every boy involved in this attempted sexual assault should be punished by the troop.  If it was found they did this kind of stuff to a non-scout, I would feel the same. 

Which I why I am considering my options and what actions to take. 

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Handle this sooner than later. Confront the PLc as a group. I held the whole group equally accountable and demanded (in a calm quiet firm voice) they make a list of actions to hold them accountable to be presented to me for discussion, recommendations, and approval. THEN I will talk with their parents about the whole situation.

As for the SPL, I demanded he set up a meeting within the next 2 days with himself, his parents, the CC, and me. He must set up the meeting. He would be advised to recommend his own actions of accountability for discussion, recommendations and approval.

This is your moment of defining the culture of behavior from here forward. I believe the less you say and the more the scouts are SEEN holding themselves accountable, the more impact you will have on all the scouts. Many adults choose these moments to get vocally loud for more impact. But I believe less is more. Body language speaks volumes and will have more impact in the future.

what happens to the scouts depends on their reactions and how they hold themselves accountable. The goal the SM  is to not take any credit for their actions of accountability, but be a strong mentor and guide of moral and ethical choices. 

Finally, this is the adults fault because the SM  hasn’t roll modeled your behavior limits. Word have little value. But you haven’t had an opportunity to show your expectations for proper behavior yet. You are being tested. This is an opportunity to instill character changes in the scouts by showing your disgust of this behavior. Remember, quiet voice and body language. 

Barry

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