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Bside

PLC hazing and bullying problem

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Eagledad, you really didn't state on the bottom of you post it is the adults' fault?  Holy moly has the actions of the individual and group been deflected from the abusers to the SM.  There is no easy way to handle this situation.  One way I consider the impact of this act is the impact on the victim.  Regardless of the way the victim is equipped, the act is one none of us would just accept, or have a spouse treated that way by the group.  If the group is 12-13yrs and they get to decide their corrective actions, will they do it because the adults say so, or because they really see the impact on the victim.  They failed to see the negative impact on the victim at the time of the incident, so now that it is discovered, they are sorry...I don't think so.  Before this gets blown up by the victim and his family, it has to be defined as whether a scout event or not.  If not, the BSA has a lesser role in this.  If an in way affiliated with the BSA, the CO, CC, an troop have a greater role in this.  I tend to lean on you owe more attention to the victim rather than the PLC. 

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@Bside call your council’s Scout Executive. This is a significant issue and the ASM and CC should not address this alone. The chartering organization rep needs to know about this too.

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17 hours ago, Bside said:

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.   

You should bring it to the DE or SE in the council or talk to your COR or even IH.  Let them be the bad guy.

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3 hours ago, qwazse said:

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?

It seems to me you're making some assumptions. It could also be that this is a first incident of this magnitude. The PLC is just 12-13 years old. It could be that the previous SM was the only one that would be the disciplinarian. It certainly was when I was SM. Nobody else wanted to be the bad guy. So when I left guess what happened. "The new guy won't mind."

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Yes, I was in a hurry and my wording wasn't the best. My apologies.

What I meant was that scouts don't learn values until their mentors react to their bad decisions. Mentors don't know how they will react until they are confronted with those decisions. It's a growing process for all units. That goes for all bad decisions, whether a scout chooses not to take responsibility when he is expected to cook or clean for the patrol or he bullied a scout. Adults will be have to learn how to contend with new challenges everyday. How they deal with the behavior sets the expectations for behavior for all the scouts. I used to teach that adults have to learn from each new challenge so that they will do better when it happens again. We had similar situations, so I can respond with some degree of experience.

After reading some of the emotional posts, I'm wondering why some of you are even leaders. Scouting is about helping young men build moral and ethical character. If you aren't up to it, then maybe hanging back as a parent is best for you.

Adults don't build the character for the scouts, they have to choose to do that themselves. But the adults do guide and mentor them by exposing them to the consequences of behavior, so they can make a choice. 

Character comes a the high price of humility. The adults responsibility is to expose the scout to his behavior so that he can see the wrong of his choices. Seeing the wrong of his actions is the humility that motivates change. 

The scouts need to be given the responsibility to see themselves in their actions. They need a objective pragmatic mentor who ask them the questions they must answer to themselves. Sure, the parents have to know, and I'm sure they will deal with their sons as well. But the scouts need to take responsibility for their behavior and show actions to atone for it.

I found that when a scout was confronted with the level of harm they caused, they are pretty good, not only at making restitution, but making a life long positive change in their character.  I would be surprised that after being confronted by the magnitude of his behavior, the SPL doesn't choose to take himself out of the SPL position. That has a lot more impact than angry emotional adults running around looking to cover their butts while demanding their bound of flesh. These boys needs help. If you don't know how to handle this situation, call for assistance, not cover yourself, but to learn from it. Something like this will occur again at some degree in the future. Not exactly the same way and likely not to the severity of harm, but it will happen again and the SPL or PL will need guidance and mentoring. 

Barry

 

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You have an obligation to contact your de and or council.    As a Scoutmaster and parent you need their support and guidance through this issue.   As a parent your son needs to know that you will be there to protect him whatever the situation or personal cost.   

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@Eagledad

I would be with you if this was straight up bullying if this wasn’t borderline sexual assault.  That is not an emotional statement, that is a simple truth based on what is described.  Having a scout decide to give up SPL seems incredibly minor given what occurred. 

Sexual assault covers a wide range of unwanted behaviors—up to but not including penetration—that are attempted or completed against a victim's will or when a victim cannot consent because of age, disability, or the influence of alcohol or drugs. Sexual assault may involve actual or threatened physical force, use of weapons, coercion, intimidation, or pressure and may include— 

  • Intentional touching of the victim's genitals, anus, groin, or breasts.

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18 hours ago, DuctTape said:

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...

My I suggest the CC because the BSA says they are to deal with discipline at this level.

Barry

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41 minutes ago, MattR said:

It seems to me you're making some assumptions. It could also be that this is a first incident of this magnitude. The PLC is just 12-13 years old. It could be that the previous SM was the only one that would be the disciplinarian. It certainly was when I was SM. Nobody else wanted to be the bad guy. So when I left guess what happened. "The new guy won't mind."

@MattR, of course I'm making assumptions. If I said "I'm sure you all tried to squelch this before, but you've been dealt a hand of conduct disordered kids." I'd be making assumptions. That doesn't change the challenge before us. It's twofold: 1) understand the role adults have played in setting this up and 2) set the proper bar for the youth.

I've had the privilege of associate advisors and ASM's who would correct me. I've also had folks who swept things under the rug behind my back because they knew I'd run the problem up the chain -- not out of a sense of obligation, but because generally when I did that, I've gotten helpful advice from seasoned professionals. Those folks basically loaded up a powder keg. So, I'm now a strong proponent of putting all cards on the table and calling spades spades. When there were disciplinary issues at camps, I had no problem telling the SM or aggrieved staff, "I have my keys here. (To drive the wayward scout home that hour, if desired.)" 

I'm not accusing this new scoutmaster of being too lax. I am just saying that part of this is taking an honest look at the past, and if leaders can recall instances that set the tone, their best strategy is to own up to it to the boys.

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1 hour ago, Mom2a said:

You have an obligation to contact your de and or council.    As a Scoutmaster and parent you need their support and guidance through this issue.   As a parent your son needs to know that you will be there to protect him whatever the situation or personal cost.   

2

And, this needs to be documented in case these boys ever pull this crap with another kid. 

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I hate the idea of reporting a kid to council, but as with everything else, there is a "line" where conduct is no longer in a grey area.  The actions of the SPL cross the line.  I am not sure about the Scouts who watched and encouraged, but the perpetrator definitely crossed the line.  He has also committed what would be (in my state) a serious juvenile offense, which would be a fourth-degree crime (the lowest level, but still a crime) if he were an adult.  The crime of "criminal sexual contact" is defined, (again, in New Jersey) as an “intentional touching by the victim or actor, either directly or through clothing, of the victim’s or actor’s intimate parts for the purpose of degrading or humiliating the victim or sexually arousing or sexually gratifying the actor.”  (Bold-face added.) The contact described clearly meets that definition.  If he had done it once, and stopped when he was asked to stop, it might be difficult to prove "intent", but since he did it four more times after being asked to stop, "intent" is clearly there.  The above does not constitute legal advice and, in any event, may not apply in your state.

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Parent first.  do what is necessary to protect your kid.  And based on what I have read this PLC/SPL is cabal of future kavanaughs.  You may be the SM but I wouldn't take that as a suicide pact for your family.  I wouldn't waste a lot of time worrying about how best to make sure these boys learn and grow--that can be their parent's (and someday probably state appointed counselors) job.   And if they care the CC/DE/COR.  There is a rot if the SPL would do this and no one on the PLC would stop it and, in  fact, just laughed. Not going to be surprised when the parents of these little angels claim 'wasn't my kid' or 'he would never do this' or figure how to blame your son.  In my experience misifts like this are usually enabled at home.   IMO this troop is toast.

Even if this is resolved in the most favorable manner to you and your son, are you ever going to trust these boys--alone w/ your son.  And would you if it isn't resolved in a favorable manner.  I am all for teaching and learning and helping boys become good men but I learned some hard lessons as a commander--there is a difference between a mistake and a crime.  This may or may not be a crime but it sure isn't a mistake.  If it were my son, we would be gone and I would be looking for maximum accountability (in any and all appropriate forums)  for the future defendants.

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8 minutes ago, qwazse said:

"I have my keys here. (To drive the wayward scout home that hour, if desired.)" 

I've used that exact same phrase. I've even told my SPL it was his decision on whether I drove a scout home. Nobody took me up on it but everyone knew who made the decisions after that. But when I was a new SM I wouldn't have done that. It took some time to be comfortable being the disciplinarian. This is a hard situation to deal with and a rude one for a new SM. I understand what you're saying, asking about where this problem came from, but for a new SM I can also see it being read wrong.

Unfortunately, I've also noticed that setting the bar to some scouts has the added caveat "when adults are around." There's a certain Machiavellian mindset for some scouts that the scout oath and law just doesn't penetrate. When someone is teasing a kid to the point of crying then that's a red flag. One scout told me that an older scout told him that swearing was okay when adults weren't around. In another thread I mentioned the scouts that had to be disqualified for cheating at the camporee. Two of them have been a thorn since they joined the troop (and one of them was the source of the adult dependent swearing). I'd like to believe that the adults and I kept them in check but I suspect it's just a game for them. None of the other older scouts have anything to do with them and what that usually means is these other scouts have enough confidence in their own character that it's just simpler to stay away.

But back to this situation. My assumption is that the SPL is the real problem and the rest of the PLC are watching and learning. There might be another one or two that provide an echo. I don't know the history of the SPL. It could be he saw someone at school do this and he's just trying it out or he's been a turd in the troop for a long time and he plays by his own rules.

Another question I'd ask is how often do scouts deal with behavior problems? That has always been a problem in my troop. Nobody wants to rock the boat and there's no doubt that's the source of the "only when the adults are around" caveat. I would really like to know how to develop that. Given the peer pressure these scouts are suffering at this age I don't know how to encourage the scouts to stand up to problems like this.

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