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Cell Phones at Summer Camp

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Lay the rules out ahead of time.  If the rules are violated, give the scout the option to lock up the device in a vehicle or go home.  You're not stealing it.

I'm OK with phones during vehicle travel and having them to contact parents on the way home with our ETA.

We're going to Philmont and I have 1 scout with diabetes whose phone works with his insulin pump.  He might be on a new device, but his dad is going and they have that worked out.  I'd like scouts to be able to take pictures when appropriate.  I really only have 1 crew member I'm concerned about not following those rules.  Most probably won't take the phone on the trek, but will on the plane/van ride.

We had an issue with a couple of scouts at Sea Base last year with phones that makes me want to be more restrictive.  I just hate when 1 or 2 people cause harsh rules for everyone else.  I don't like group punishment.

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23 minutes ago, 69RoadRunner said:

Lay the rules out ahead of time.  If the rules are violated, give the scout the option to lock up the device in a vehicle or go home.  You're not stealing it.

I'm OK with phones during vehicle travel and having them to contact parents on the way home with our ETA.

We're going to Philmont and I have 1 scout with diabetes whose phone works with his insulin pump.  He might be on a new device, but his dad is going and they have that worked out.  I'd like scouts to be able to take pictures when appropriate.  I really only have 1 crew member I'm concerned about not following those rules.  Most probably won't take the phone on the trek, but will on the plane/van ride.

We had an issue with a couple of scouts at Sea Base last year with phones that makes me want to be more restrictive.  I just hate when 1 or 2 people cause harsh rules for everyone else.  I don't like group punishment.

Phones die really quick at Philmont. Combination of weak signal, changes in temperature, and roaming. If one of your Scouts can't get off his phone, by about day 2, he won't have that problem anymore. 

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10 hours ago, ParkMan said:

I'm pretty sure that when a minor Scout is attending a Scouting event, he and his parents have effectively enetered into an agreement to allow the Scout Leader to provide reasonsable oversight for the duration of the event.

If the leader or camp had a published policy, then this is easy.  By publishing the policy ahead of time and sharing it was families, the act of the parents sending the child to the camp allows the Scout camp or leader to enforce the policy.  If the leader or camp does not have a published policy, then it's probably a little murkier.  But, to have a leader who is providing supervision to the youth confiscate the phone and then turn it over to the Scout or parent at the end of the event seems a reasonable "good faith" activity.  I'm sure there's some legal text that justifies this, but the theory seems sound.  Now, if you do something like take away the phone and prevent the Scout from contacting his parents, then I think that's an issue.

All that said - I think you let the Scouts have their phones.  In 2019 they are a fact of life and young adults need to learn to use them at appropriate times. 

 

 

In this case, being "pretty sure," "reasonable," and acting in absolute good faith  is also being absolutely wrong in the eyes of the law.  Ever wonder why all those on-line sites won't do business with minors?"  ("You must be 18 ....")  With a few exceptions in some states (for necessities like food and shelter), no one can enter into a binding contract with a minor without court permission as they are conclusively presumed to be incompetent to enter into a binding agreement.  As I noted, you can contract WITH the parents but NOT on behalf of their child without court permission, and it's been that way longer- far longer - than any of us have been alive.  You do have the probabilities in your favor when stealing the device, but the risk remains.  (Sometimes reality is surprising and seems unreasonable compared to the good faith belief of even pundits.  Ask Hillary.)

But you have, wisely and correctly I think, solved the problem by recognizing that it is no more a problem than the axe, the knife, or the human voice.  All can do harm unless the child is properly socialized.  Hence, Scouting with "A Scout is ..." and "guide, enable" instead of "no, no, no."

Our council camp has twelve rules that are hard to improve upon.

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You and I agree that it's just a better idea to let the Scouts have the phone. I'm interested though in this point as it has broader implications.

3 hours ago, TAHAWK said:

In this case, being "pretty sure," "reasonable," and acting in absolute good faith  is also being absolutely wrong in the eyes of the law.  Ever wonder why all those on-line sites won't do business with minors?"  ("You must be 18 ....")  With a few exceptions in some states (for necessities like food and shelter), no one can enter into a binding contract with a minor without court permission as they are conclusively presumed to be incompetent to enter into a binding agreement.  As I noted, you can contract WITH the parents but NOT on behalf of their child without court permission, and it's been that way longer- far longer - than any of us have been alive.  You do have the probabilities in your favor when stealing the device, but the risk remains.  (Sometimes reality is surprising and seems unreasonable compared to the good faith belief of even pundits.  Ask Hillary.)

Forever, parents have relied upon each other to provide supervision on youth.  That happens when I send my son to his friends house.  This happens when my son goes to school.  This happens when my son goes on a Scout camping trip.  In those instances, adults are acting on the behalf of the parents.  They are not a substitue for the parents and do not assume all rights.  But, they assume a level of reasonable oversight of them.

If a Scout brought a handgun to a camping trip, no one would think twice if a leader confiscated it.  In fact, the leader would be culpable if he/she didn't confiscate it.  Similarly, if a Scout brought inappropriate items to camp (adult oriented materials or alcohol) no one would question if a leader confiscates them.  A cell phone isn't a lethal weapon nor it is something appropriate for a Scout to posses.  But, depending on the expectations of that troop or camp, it certainly could be inappropriate for it to be at camp.  

Confiscating an item is typically an act where the Scout is told to hand it over to the adult.  The adult then possess it for the duration of the event.  It's not theft where the leader goes in and takes it from the Scout.  It's the leader saying "give me your phone.'  It's no different than my child's teacher doing it.  Now, if the Scout refuses, then yes - the leader is probably powerless to physically remove it. 

But, that's true of any situation.  If the leader say - you need to go cool down - go sit in your tent for 30 minutes.  That's OK.  But, if the Scout says no, I won't do it then the leader cannot make him do it.  That's when the leader picks up his phone and calls the parent.  i.e. - your son is here and refuses to take my direction.  You've agreed to let me provide direction to you child and so please come pick him up.   Same is true with the cell phone.  If the scout voluntarily surrenders it, then fine.  But, if hte scout will not surrender it voluntarily, the leader picks up the phone and tells the parent to come get the child.

This, BTW, is all very different businesses interacting with youth.  In the case of a business not selling to youth it's because you are not allowed to enter into contracts.  The sale of an item or delivery of services is a contract.  Youth can't make contracts and so businesses should not sell to them online or they risk dealing with what happens if thre child refuses to pay.  This of course is different from a local merchant who requires payment up front.  If a child goes to the store and buys a drink that's fine because the money is handed over prior to the business providing the goods.

 

 

 

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General belief, even sanctified by time, does not have the force of law.  Law does IF you are "called" on a violation.  Although, law changes in major ways.

Most people drive over the speed limit because they can, not because they may.  When the unusual happens and the flashing lights appear, don't bother telling the LEO or the judge/magistrate that "Everyone does it."   You could try, "I was going the prevailing speed as that seemed safer."  

As for the gun (or adult oriented materials or alcohol or nuclear weapon or hypodermic needle with Class 1 drugs in it),  that is well-played, buta classic red herring.  We are discussing a common electronic device, so whatever exigent circumstances might be cited to excuse the seizure of a "gun" etc. are not applicable. 

I cited contract law because of the arguments that contract law allowed the seizure of another's property by council or charter organization fiat.  It would help if we agreed never to try and justify theft by citing supposed agreements that stealing is legal.  I cited on-line sales  as part of discussing the  "contract rationale" because those vendors - fewer and fewer - who don't understand the law are surprised on the occasions when they "sell" to minors and find they have, instead, sent a gift to the unscrupulous minor.  So here. The minor or his parents can "agree" until "the cows come home," and the risk of criminal prosecution remain no less.  The agreement was voidable or void ab initio.

"Confiscating an item is typically an act where the Scout is told to hand it over to the adult. "  Yes, arguably, as I pointed out, believe it or not, you have arguably described theft by intimidation. (Remember to say, "Please" in front of witnesses [half a dozen nuns would be good])

Now school employees and officials are quite different from Scouters in some states as, unlike Scouters, they are in loco parentis in those states.    And while "The genius of the law is reasoning by false analogy," we don't get to argue against the law by false analogy.  Well we can do so, and many have, but we lose once it comes down to court, which, I have repeatedly conceded, is a long shot.

 

 

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10 hours ago, TAHAWK said:

...  Yes, arguably, as I pointed out, believe it or not, you have arguably described theft by intimidation. (Remember to say, "Please" in front of witnesses [half a dozen nuns would be good]) ...

I know a few Sisters of Mercy who would make awesome ASMs!

But, to the legal argument, would "turn your device in or leave camp" (even from a nun) not also meet your test for "theft by intimidation"?

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Posted (edited)

Good grief!  This just seems insane to me.  Please stop playing lawyer ball.

Edited by 69RoadRunner
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Not sure why temporary confiscation of other inappropriate items such as adult material, etc... is a red herring. If the law is as stated, then the taking of any personal property regardless of the type would be considered theft.

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18 minutes ago, DuctTape said:

Not sure why temporary confiscation of other inappropriate items such as adult material, etc... is a red herring. If the law is as stated, then the taking of any personal property regardless of the type would be considered theft.

Nitpick. The area where this really concerns me is in the BSA YPT training. There the training explicitly calls for confiscation of an electronic device when you suspect something wrong (ie photos). All fine, but it doesn't really cover what to do when you request a phone be turned over and someone says "no".

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3 hours ago, DuctTape said:

Not sure why temporary confiscation of other inappropriate items such as adult material, etc... is a red herring. If the law is as stated, then the taking of any personal property regardless of the type would be considered theft.

Because you cannot argue exigent circumstances in mitigation over a device vs. a firearm.

2 hours ago, malraux said:

Nitpick. The area where this really concerns me is in the BSA YPT training. There the training explicitly calls for confiscation of an electronic device when you suspect something wrong (ie photos). All fine, but it doesn't really cover what to do when you request a phone be turned over and someone says "no".

Indeed.  

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4 hours ago, 69RoadRunner said:

Good grief!  This just seems insane to me.  Please stop playing lawyer ball.

Wishful thinking.  We live in the world that actually exists.  You have liability insurance, right?  Then you know better.

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5 hours ago, qwazse said:

I know a few Sisters of Mercy who would make awesome ASMs!

But, to the legal argument, would "turn your device in or leave camp" (even from a nun) not also meet your test for "theft by intimidation"?

In front of witnesses: "Please voluntarily turn over you device because its very presence violates my/our/the camp's rules.  No?  Leave camp."   

 

The best you can do when you - someone - have decided it's a Big Deal.   This is about understanding and reducing risk. 

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On 5/30/2019 at 4:32 PM, TAHAWK said:

Ohio Revised Code § 2913.02. [fairly typical]

"No person, with purposes to deprive the owner of property or services, shall knowingly obtain or otherwise exert control over property or services in any of the following ways:

  • Without the consent of the owner, or the person authorized to give consent [by the court if the owner is a minor]..
  • Beyond the scope of consent authorized by the owner or person authorized to give consent.
  • By deception.
  • By threat.
  • By intimidation.

 

Sorry TAHAWK, but you're getting everyone wound up here for nothing.

The "mens rea"  of theft requires that the deprivation of the property be intended to be permanent or near permanent.

From the same Ohio Code: 

Chapter 2913: THEFT AND FRAUD

2913.01 Theft and fraud general definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires that a term be given a different meaning:

(C) "Deprive" means to do any of the following:

(1) Withhold property of another permanently, or for a period that appropriates a substantial portion of its value or use, or with purpose to restore it only upon payment of a reward or other consideration;

If you see a kid snapping pictures in a bath house take the phone.  If you want to have a rule that says no phones (bad rule IMO) and you want to take the phone until you get home, don't worry, the local gendarmes will not be knocking on your door.

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Cool.

"Larceny," generally,  was once defined in Ohio as a taking of property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession.  So the Legislature knows how to say it.  (As they apparently do in illinois.)  However,  that narrow definition went away decades ago years ago and persists only in the definition of the crime of "Larceny" under the Ohio Code of Military Justice, which provides, in pertinent part-:

Ohio Rev. Code § 5924.121 Larceny - wrongful appropriation.

(A) Any person subject to this code who wrongfully takes, obtains, or withholds, by any means, from the possession of the owner or of any other person any money, personal property, or article of value of any kind:(1) With intent permanently to deprive or defraud another person of the use and benefit of property or to appropriate it to his own use or the use of any person other than the owner, steals that property and is guilty of larceny;

. . .

(B) Any person found guilty of larceny or wrongful appropriation shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."

Effective Date: 10-10-1961

Ohio amended it's general Larceny statute to a new "Theft" statute several decades ago and broadened the mens rea requirement.

The changes in the mens rea requirement were discussed in this  more-or-less contemporary law review article as follows:

B. The Culpable Mental State

According to the traditional concepts of criminal law, there is usually no crime unless an act is coupled with a specified mental state. Making no great change from the present law, the Proposed Code [CURRENT STATUTE] adopts this premise in the theft offense: "No person, with purpose to deprive the owner of property or services, shall knowingly obtain or exert control over either. .. ."  Fortunately, all of the operative terms of this mens rea requirement are carefully defined. [?!] One acts purposely "when it is his specific intention to cause a certain result. " In this section, the result which must be specifically intended by the actor is to "deprive" another of property or services which means to: (1) Withhold property of another permanently, or for such period as to appropriate a substantial portion of its value or use, or with purpose to restore it only upon payment of a reward or other consideration; (2) Dispose of property so as to make it unlikely that the owner will recover it; (3) Accept, use, or appropriate money, property, or services, with purpose not to give proper consideration in return therefor. It is not required that the actor intend that the owner never recover his property, or that the owner receive no consideration for his property or services. Rather, a flexible standard is established which sets a more reasonable understanding of deprivation from the perspective of the victim of the theft. The burden is upon the prosecution, however, to demonstrate that the act of obtaining or exerting control was concurrent with a purpose to deprive as defined above [e.g. as in subsection (3)].

Michael 1. Kuhinan, "COMMENTS ON THE PROPOSED REVISION OF THEFT AND DECEPTION OFFENSES IN OHIO," OHIO STATE LAW JOURNAL, Vol 33 (1972), at p. 475.

So what does it mean to  "appropriate property" when the current statute, Ohio Rev. Code § 2913.02,  criminalizes conduct described as  "to appropriate ... property, with purpose not to give proper consideration in return therefor"?  We are not talking of paying the owner, right?.  Allowing him to stay at camp? Worth a try.

Words in Ohio statures are to be given their "common usage" - unless defined otherwise, of course.  Ohio Revised Code § 1.42.

Ohio's statutes do not define "appropriate" in this context (as opposes to eminent domain).

Merriam-Webster define the verb "appropriate" as follows:

transitive verb

1to take exclusive possession of ANNEX    [e.g.] No one should appropriate a common benefit.

2to set apart for or assign to a particular purpose or use. [ e.g.] appropriate money for a research program

3to take or make use of without authority or right [e.g.] natural habitats that have been appropriated for human use." [emphasis added].

 

So unless he or she who seizes the "device" is sharing it thereafter with the owner or were to have a legal right to possession ....

 

Then we have forty-nine other states.  In some, if one dumps property before leaving a store, no theft charge may be brought, in other states, taking possession without intent to pay is theft, whether you "dump" or not.  Your life.  By all means, don't worry.  All is well. 

 

And none of this relates to civil liability for "conversion."  Not that anyone get sued these days.

 

 

 

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I'd be kind of amused to confiscate a Scout's cell phone and then have him call the police on me.  I can only imagine how this goes...

operattor: "911. How can I help you?"

scout: "I'd like to report a theft"

operator: "Please tell me what what was stolen and your location."

scout: "I'm at the Scout Camp.  My Scoutmaster just stole my cell phone."

operator: "OK, please tell me what happened"

scout: "My Scoutmaster told me to stop using my phone.  He then told me I had to give him my phone. I did that. I'd like you to send police to the camp."

operator: "Understood, I've got SWAT in route to your location now."

  • Haha 1

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