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Scoutmaster Teddy

Juvenile Offenses and Ethics

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I've found myself in quite a predicament. One of my Life Scouts, the CC's son no less, was busted for having an illegal substance (weed) in the High School. I have no legal experience and this was treated as a juvenile offense. Actually, I have no access to any record that shows me "proof" that an arrest actually occurred.

I'm going to stand my ground and refuse a Scoutmaster's Conference for Eagle. I may end up losing my job but that's okay.

Hope your holiday season is better than mine!

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12 minutes ago, Scoutmaster Teddy said:

I've found myself in quite a predicament. One of my Life Scouts, the CC's son no less, was busted for having an illegal substance (weed) in the High School. I have no legal experience and this was treated as a juvenile offense. Actually, I have no access to any record that shows me "proof" that an arrest actually occurred.

I'm going to stand my ground and refuse a Scoutmaster's Conference for Eagle. I may end up losing my job but that's okay.

Hope your holiday season is better than mine!

We had a scout arrested on a Friday right before an outing for trespassing into a closed factory.  Obviously he missed that outing, what with being in jail and all.

Scout was a Life Scout, this was his first offense, the legal system worked the issue.  He had been and continued to be an active scout.  The Scout did seem to gain lessons from the arrest.  During the Eagle SM conference the issue was discussed, what he had learned from the arrest, what he would have changed and what he needed to take forward from the incident.

IMHO - Key is you as the SM may need to have the conversation with the Scout.  Is he upset he got caught or he does he realize that the path he may have (is) on from a long term perspective is bad.  Kids make bad decisions.  Do they grow and learn is the take away from this.

If he is just giving lip service to change and growth, your options may be clear.  If he has matured and realized that he needs to shape up, move forward, and effect change; that is sort of what we are going for in Scouting.  Maybe don't let one issue define him.

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This isn't the first time he was busted though. He's been in legal trouble before and we had a situation with him a few years ago when he verbally abused an ASM. He left he troop for a year but never seemed to learn the lesson.

 

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I would have the conference and have a discussion with him.  There is no "pass or fail" of a SM Conference...just sign off that there was one.  But I would make it clear of what I was looking for before I signed his Eagle Application.  It depends on his age, too...does he have time to show redemption before he turns 18?  

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We were typing at the same time...since this is not his "first strike", that may change things.  It begs the question, how did he advance to Life with a history of bad behavior?

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16 minutes ago, Scoutmaster Teddy said:

I've found myself in quite a predicament. ...

@Scoutmaster Teddy you are not in a predicament, you are in a pandemic.

There are forces at play that benefit from inculcating cannabis dependence at an early age. They are operating on a national level. And, local entities (i.e., schools, police, etc ...) are turning a blind eye to the pleas of moralists. I've read about it here, then seen it play out first-hand almost as if it the malefactors read the posts of the scouters who reported on their problem year or two earlier. So, inasmuch as misery loves company, you are in good company. I'm so sorry.

This is not a matter of an SM conference. Your youth are at risk. Your committee needs to decide how long the scout should be suspended, and on what conditions he should be allowed to return to troop life.

Nothing personal against your CC, he has a tough row to hoe. But, if he is any good, he he'll support you and your families in making a decision that will keep other scouts safe while his boy decides if he really wants to be a scout.

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32 minutes ago, Scoutmaster Teddy said:

This isn't the first time he was busted though. He's been in legal trouble before and we had a situation with him a few years ago when he verbally abused an ASM. He left he troop for a year but never seemed to learn the lesson.

 

Well - that paints a different light on the issue.  From your input we seem to have a youth that is in fact not learning from mistakes and may have some issues.  Agree that he may in fact not be an Eagle candidate.  Tough tough call and not a pleasant road to travel down.

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@Scoutmaster Teddy, maybe it will help if I share some stories. I was in a very similar situation. Do a search on "Eagle and weed." It was not fun. The question of whether the scout learned was the only thing I was looking for. The answer was no, just as you've seen.

Another story: at one point I had both sons of the council president in my troop and both of them just didn't get it. I told the oldest if he didn't change his attitude I wouldn't sign his application. That created a fuss. The good news is he did change his attitude and the scout's dad thanked me. Standing up for what you believe in is the right thing to do.

It's possible you'll get fired. More likely you'll be looking for a new CC. The question is not what the CC thinks, as he's the parent of the scout in trouble, the question is what do the other parents and scouts in the troop think? It could be that you're fired and everyone goes with you to start a new troop. It's not just about this one scout. It's also about the message that everyone else sees.

Yes, it sucks. But that's why you get paid the big bucks :)

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No one, including myself, lives or has lived the Scout Law perfectly.  When and whether that level of imperfection becomes a disqualification for a scout becoming an Eagle scout is first an individual judgment that a scouter makes when asked to specifically state that he or she believes the scout is showing scout spirit by living the oath and law, and then a collective judgment made by the troop committee, the chartering org, and then the council and bsa itself.

If you believe that you cannot, either because of this particular event or because of your view of the scout as a whole, say the scout shows scout spirit than you're not obligated to say that he does.  But it is worth remembering that other people of good faith and character may feel differently.  Just as none of us are perfect in our scout spirit so also are none of us perfect in our wisdom and judgment.  if there are other leaders in the troop whose judgment you have valued at other times and who may feel differently than you do today than make that person your designee and see if their discussion with the scout yields a different result.

You don't have to like the decisions that other well meaning people make, you just need to decide for yourself whether the fact that they are different is sufficient for you to cut ties with an organization where you believe that you are otherwise having a positive effect on the lives of the young people you serve.

 

 

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These days this violation is relatively minor.  Plus, youth are affected by societal changes.  States are legalizing.  Current culture openly shows contempt.  Youth are bound to be caught up in these changes.  I find it hard to blame him any more than a 1950s youth that experimented with smoking when he comes from a home where a mom and dad smoke.  

Generally, I think your focus is wrong.  If he is a member of your troop, he deserves the right to have an advancement path forward.  That's part of being a member and one of the core scouting tools.  We as leaders do not lay in the weeds waiting for the youth to reach a milestone that we will not let them pass.

Either address the issue now or let it go.  Like all good discipline, timeliness is key.  If you don't feel like you can handle it now, then I'd question if it really is an issue to be handled in scouting.  
 
For me and mine, I think this is more a membership question and  a question of the health of the troop.  Will he bring this into the troop?  Will he expose this other kids?  Will other kids avoid the troop?  Will other parents view the troop as a risk for their kids?  

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Another $0.02...   The Scout should have a Scoutmaster Conference.  I think the Guide to Advancement says so and perhaps in some small way a Conference might help his problems.

It's a separate issue if you do not sign the Eagle Scout Rank Application Unit Leader approval.  If it was me, I think I would tell the Scout during the Conference my position on approving his Application.

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54 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

For me and mine, I think this is more a membership question and  a question of the health of the troop.  Will he bring this into the troop?  Will he expose this other kids?  Will other kids avoid the troop?  Will other parents view the troop as a risk for their kids?  

I'm just about as liberal as they come on issues of marijuana, being a proponent of legalization. Full-disclosure, as part of my job I work with companies who legally make and/or distribute cannabis products or promote cannabis events.

That said, I'm actually kind of torn on this one. I support legalization but with emphasis on the "legal" part of it, not just for the companies that make/sell it but for those who consume it legally. Even in places where it's legal, it's an adult product, so no scout-age kids should be getting their hands on it.

Questions like Fred's come to mind... would this scout bring weed to a scouting event? He got caught with it at school, so I have to seriously wonder.

Teddy, are you intending to permanently deny the SMC? Or is this just to buy some time to think about it?

 

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1 hour ago, fred8033 said:

For me and mine, I think this is more a membership question and  a question of the health of the troop.  Will he bring this into the troop?  Will he expose this other kids?  Will other kids avoid the troop?  Will other parents view the troop as a risk for their kids?  

@fred8033 lays out the right questions.

Unfortunately, it will be too late before you get an answer to the first two questions. A user/distributor cannot tell you in good faith that he will keep his product away from the troop and other kids. The forces that are giving him his drugs are doing everything in their power to make sure the rest of your troop, your school, and every kid in your community gets a sample of this product well before their adult brain kicks in. Users, especially young ones, can't help but share. The industry is counting on it.

As to other kids avoiding the troop, well the opposite might happen. They might be drawn to this youth who knows all the good hikes to take to avoid getting caught.

Like @FireStone said, even the most permissive parents who believe in scouting's purpose for their kids will view this as a risk.

Until he's kicked the habit, his word that he'll keep it out of scouting is no good. He either is a scout or a user. And it simply takes time and tough love to figure out which he is.

Edited by qwazse
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The SM Confrence is symbolic. It doesn’t prevent the scout from the Eagle. But symbology is everything on this situation. The SM is the gatekeeper for integrity of the honor.

In my experience, the reputation of the scout likely preceded this bad choice. The troop probably already knows their choice.

Barry

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