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PLC hazing and bullying problem

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My opinion:  this WAS a sexual assault and YP issue.  I would at least cover your own behind and make a mandatory report to your Scout Executive.  Let him/her advise you as to your response.  The fact that it was not a sanctioned Scout activity may or may not be relevant.  At a minimum, I would remove the SPL from office permanently.  The SE may remove his membership.

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Full disclosure, the victim here is my son. I am furious over this. However, being the Scoutmaster puts me in a precarious position. The father in me first wanted to react like my father would have. To encourage my son to go beat the crap out of this kid. My son has about 75 pounds and 5 inches in height on the SPL. He just doesn't have an aggressive or violent bone in his body. The boys know this and the SPL only bullied him because he knew or thought he could get away with it.

If I act too harshly, I will be accused of favoritism, or over protecting my son. If I let them off too lightly They will feel like what they did was O.K.. I feel like I must have a deliberate, measured response. Something that will resolve the situation but not turn my son into a pariah. Scouting is his only social outlet and he loves it. He has seen most of these boys as friends. He says he wants to just forget about it, but I have never been a parent to encourage him to just sit back and take it. He feels desperate for friends, but he just doesn't know what real friendship is yet. 

This situation on one hand is very simple and clear. On the other hand, it is very complicated. I intend to simplify it and take action to both teach and punish these Scouts. Firmly but fairly.   

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And this SPL is most definitely not his friend. But violence is not the answer. The SPL is obviously, as they say, unencumbered by the thought process. It could be that this could be a life lesson for him as well as for the others. Your son is already experiencing enough 'life lessons'. The SPL could simply be monumentally stupid or there might be a mean streak. Bring in the parents asap.

Our unit had its share of boys who were vulnerable in this and other ways....and a few bullies as well. You know the situation far better than any of us. I suspect that you'll be able to better gauge your response once the parents of the SPL have 'processed' all this. Could be that they will make the decisions for you regarding their son. If they step up to this situation and take control in a manner that you think is appropriate, that would allow you to focus more on your son who probably could use it.

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Since this is your son who was mistreated, I suggest bringing in the committee chair or scout executive to help you and back you up.  You can't handle this one alone, get some help.

Have you talked with the SPL's parents about what happened?

I would also consider having the SPL and possibly the PLC sit out the next outing or two, to give them some time to think and reflect on their inappropriate actions, and to give your son some safety without the bullies around.  I would suggest creating this kind of a safe environment for any kid who was victimized, btw.  Maybe it's an opportunity to start some new friendships with no distractions or negativity.

Edited by WisconsinMomma

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My thoughts...

Regarding my scout son who is also special needs, I am always his Dad first. If he called me and described such events, I would have arrived with the police. After returning  him home, I would have called my son's clinical therapist.  I would focus on helping my son.

If the SPL would do this to the Scoutmaster's son  while the PLC watched in amusement, then they have no respect for that Scoutmaster. Still I would notify the COR , CC, and other ASM's and let them handle the matter from the Charter Organization and BSA standpoint.

my $0.02

p.s. very sorry to hear about this

 

Edited by RememberSchiff
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I am so sorry to hear of this. The fact that the child is your own son does make this a bit more complicated and delicate of a situation. You may want another adult perhaps committee chair another ASM or Charter organization rep to stand with you or even take lead in lead on this situation. You may even want to call in a district executive or District commissioner to consult.

As I think we all know, voice of this age can the very immature and make extremely stupid choices. they do not think of or realize the possible ramifications of their actions. Although the boys I'm sure will say they were just joking around, and didn't mean anything, the fact of the matter is that those actions easily landed them with felony charges and even permanently on the sex offender registry.

They need to understand this. This goes well beyond inappropriate and unScout like Behavior. Each boy should really be extremely grateful that you did not immediately call the police and press charges against them. Accessory to sexual assault is still pretty serious.

Parents of each of the boys needs to be involved as they are minors.

From what I have read, it is my understanding that you do not wish to involve the legal system at this point. As a parent this is your call, and I believe I would probably made a similar decision. The boys should know however that had this incident happened on a scout activity, there would have been no choice but to immediately report it to the Scout executive and police.

Do not, I repeat do not, have the SPL give any details if you have him apologize in front of the Troop. This in itself it's not the Scout Way and maybe against youth protection. We do not single scouts out in this manner. Having him apologize four acts that were not in line with the Scout Oath and law is probably sufficient.  

Just be careful, so that it does not appear your actions as scoutmaster have anything to do with you being the father.

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4 hours ago, WisconsinMomma said:

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. 

Not skip the fact, just the public discussion of the occurrences.

Just saying that that part may not be a good section to be discussed if the choice is to have the SPL address the troop.  Not sure all the troop needs all the details. 

That does not give a pass at all on his actions or the inactions of the PLC group.  This may need to involve a higher level within BSA.  As with all disciplinary actions the facts are not typically broadcast or discussed outside the ones involved

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@Bside, welcome to the forums and thanks in advance for all you do for the boys.

I could second guess that you let past acts of bullying go unchecked. But, that's water over the dam. Reflect on it, and if you think by being a little severe earlier might have prevented this, you'll owe this scout an apology.

Talk to your committee chair and charter org rep, but I think a three month suspension from meetings and activities is warranted for the complicit scouts. Their return should be based on their understanding of BSA's and your policy on bullying. They should not be given positions of responsibility until after they show they can comport themselves in a scout-like manner on he next activity in which they participate. And even then, the assigning of PoRs will be at the discretion of the PLC who replaces them during the next three months.

It's a tough row to hoe. You risk losing these scouts.  But it seems like you can't afford to do otherwise.

 

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5 hours 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. 

I couldn't agree more.  Just because they take the uniform off doesn't mean they stop being a Scout.  The fact that they are Scouts and Stand up in front of everyone each week and recite the Scout Oath and Scout Law and still did this makes me sick.  It also makes me wonder what they haven't been caught for.  No place in Scouting for this.  Any and all discussion in front of the Troop should require all parents of the Troop be there.  Make everyone involved see what is going on there.  Sounds like some parents need a wake up call as well.

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If anyone else finds themselves in this kind of situation...

This is first a problem to handle as a parent.  Have you done all the things you would have done if these boys were not scouts and you were not their SM?   Only after that should any action be taken in regard to the Troop.  This is definitely a matter to bring in your CC/COR and SE in on.  Not only because you are the Scoutmaster in this situation, but also because this is pretty serious stuff.   "Boys will be boys" doesn't apply here.  

Here are things to be careful of, IMHO... Be careful of holding the entire group at fault.  As adults where the dynamic is known, inaction can be associated with approval.  In a group of young boys who we have no idea about the dynamic here (i.e. is the SPL a bully to the whole group? Did they not react because they thought it was funny or because no one has addressed how to react to things like this).  Finally if you can, take a step back, and think about what scouting does for these boys.  I continue to think that sometimes the boys that cause the most problems need scouting the most.  

If significant action is taken by the troop, might I suggest that the right person to talk with the boys is their parents, not the leaders.

 

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1 hour ago, qwazse said:

@Bside, welcome to the forums and thanks in advance for all you do for the boys.

I could second guess that you let past acts of bullying go unchecked. But, that's water over the dam. Reflect on it, and if you think by being a little severe earlier might have prevented this, you'll owe this scout an apology.

Talk to your committee chair and charter org rep, but I think a three month suspension from meetings and activities is warranted for the complicit scouts. Their return should be based on their understanding of BSA's and your policy on bullying. They should not be given positions of responsibility until after they show they can comport themselves in a scout-like manner on he next activity in which they participate. And even then, the assigning of PoRs will be at the discretion of the PLC who replaces them during the next three months.

It's a tough row to hoe. You risk losing these scouts.  But it seems like you can't afford to do otherwise.

 

You know two things about me. Guess what those things are? They begin with "J" and "S". I've been the SM for 3 months. The previous SM was a scouter for 50 years and the SM for 14 years. I'm dealing with his mess. Reflect on that while you play with your jump to conclusions mat. 

Edited by Bside
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8 hours ago, Bside said:

You know two things about me. Guess what those things are? They begin with "J" and "S". I've been the SM for 3 months. The previous SM was a scouter for 50 years and the SM for 14 years. I'm dealing with his mess. Reflect on that while you play with your jump to conclusions mat. 

I'm sorry, it could be I misread. Were you not ASM for two years? And did you not see bullying incidents at that time? How did you handle them? Might your PLC be falling in line with the SPL because they were imitating the adults they knew?

Now I could be dead wrong. And for the past three years you showed up at every committee meeting demanding a heavier hand against abusive scouts ... possibly even calmly telling those scouts themselves what you were demanding. I'm not gonna waste time filling in blanks. The results won't satisfy you. And how highly strangers on the Internet think about your character doesn't mean a hill of beans if the boys don't believe it.  None of that changes what should be done.

You could play "new sheriff in town" or you could own all you all's past of letting things slide. You picked up the patch. You own it. Then you tell everyone, "We're scouts. We're better than this. And, starting now, here's how we'll prove it. ..."

Bottom line: insist the committee give these boys time away from the troop to decide if they really want to be scouts. They might compromise, but so what? Even if they override your decision, any other victim in your troop will know you're on their side.

Edited by qwazse
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This was a border line call to the police to report the SPL.   The only reason I wouldn’t was that it was a single occurrence and his underwear was on. Given that, I think a call to your SE is appropriate.  It was a group of scouts... yes non scouting... but  it doesn’t lessen the impact of the action.  The council can decide if the SPL should be dismissed.   If you don’t report it and this gets out... I think some may question your Troop’s leadership.  If the SPL does this again and then the council hears you had an earlier issue you didn’t report... your scouting membership could be at risk.  At this point, given his actions, I wouldn’t want to put my own scouting membership on the line by not reporting. Just my opinion... I know this isn’t a black and white situation.  

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17 hours 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).

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. 

Not to split hairs or lessen the impact, was this a Scouting / Troop sponsored type event or was this just a gathering of youth, some (most??) of whom belong to the troop.

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