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MarkBrownsky

Bullying incident - need advice

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I am sorry this happened to your son. I do find it odd for an SPL to bully his own ASPL. In our troop using the guidence of BSA the SPL chooses his ASPL with the help of SM.

The SM is doing the right thing and make sure he shares his findings with the CC.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, fred8033 said:

One big challenge you may face is getting agreement on what bullying is.  Too often resolving situations like these is hard because of differing perspectives and opinions.  I'd work to build consensus and understanding.  If you can't do that, all the rules and procedures won't help.  

YTP does give some helpful criteria for defining bullying. For good reason, deciding what bullying is should not be left up to unit leaders or parents. You would run into the exact problem I ran into, where some adults just chalk it up to "kids being kids".

It's not as vague as would be expected from the BSA. Broadly, they define forms of bullying as:

Verbal—name calling, teasing, threats
Social—spreading rumors, leaving the target out of activities, breaking up or manipulating friendships
Physical—hitting, pushing, shoving, physical coercion
Group—intimidations, ostracizing
Criminal—injury, assault, sexual aggression
Cyberbullying—using digital technology such as social media, gaming, texting,etc.,for any of the above

Within YPT, if I recall correctly they go into more detail.

Edited by FireStone

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4 minutes ago, FireStone said:

YTP does give some helpful criteria for defining bullying. For good reason, deciding what bullying is should not be left up to unit leaders or parents. You would run into the exact problem I ran into, where some adults just chalk it up to "kids being kids".

It's not as vague as would be expected from the BSA. Broadly, they define forms of bullying as:

Verbal—name calling, teasing, threats
Social—spreading rumors, leaving the target out of activities, breaking up or manipulating friendships
Physical—hitting, pushing, shoving, physical coercion
Group—intimidations, ostracizing
Criminal—injury, assault, sexual aggression
Cyberbullying—using digital technology such as social media, gaming, texting,etc.,for any of the above

Within YPT, if I recall correctly they go into more detail.

The thing that people tend to get caught up arguing about lately is that bullying isn't any of those things happening once or twice. (some people think it differently)  Any of those things needs to be stopped immediately, but they aren't "Bullying" until someone is doing whatever it is deliberately and repeatedly.

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1 hour ago, fred8033 said:

One big challenge you may face is getting agreement on what bullying is.  Too often resolving situations like these is hard because of differing perspectives and opinions.  I'd work to build consensus and understanding.  If you can't do that, all the rules and procedures won't help.  

Agree. Personally I find people too quick to label rude behavior as "bullying".  Bullying has been such a hot button issue lately, that it's turned a lot of people on ear to hear about it.  We spend so much time raising awareness and teaching kids how to respond to bullying that now they call everything bullying.

Let me be clear, neither bullying or other rude behavior (e.g. teasing) have a place in Scouting. But it needs to be said that Teasing and Bullying are 2 separate things. Where BSA considers bullying to be a YPT issue, teasing is not. Approaches to respond and resolve the two may vary.  I'd recommend googling the difference and determining which category the behavior in question falls into.

As someone mentioned above, SPL usually picks his ASPLs. I'd be surprised he picked someone he didn't like and would feel the need to bully.  However, they are kids; if they're anything like mine, one day he's best friends with X, the next day he never wants to see him again.

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8 minutes ago, elitts said:

The thing that people tend to get caught up arguing about lately is that bullying isn't any of those things happening once or twice. (some people think it differently)  Any of those things needs to be stopped immediately, but they aren't "Bullying" until someone is doing whatever it is deliberately and repeatedly.

On the occasions when I've had to address these kinds of situations, I do my best to steer the conversation away from the semantics of whether or not the behavior should be labeled as "bullying" or "hazing" or similar. Instead, I try to focus on identifying that the actual behavior that occurred is not acceptable in Scouting, and focus on tangible actions that need to take place to discourage the behavior from happening again. How we label the behavior is less important than recognizing that it is inappropriate and that action needs to be taken to correct it.

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6 minutes ago, FireStone said:

YTP does give some helpful criteria for defining bullying. For good reason, deciding what bullying is should not be left up to unit leaders or parents. You would run into the exact problem I ran into, where some adults just chalk it up to "kids being kids".

It's not as vague as would be expected from the BSA. Broadly, they define forms of bullying as:

Verbal—name calling, teasing, threats
Social—spreading rumors, leaving the target out of activities, breaking up or manipulating friendships
Physical—hitting, pushing, shoving, physical coercion
Group—intimidations, ostracizing
Criminal—injury, assault, sexual aggression
Cyberbullying—using digital technology such as social media, gaming, texting,etc.,for any of the above

Within YPT, if I recall correctly they go into more detail.

Your missing the key part, harm. The first three acts on that list could be, and many times would be, "kids' being kids". Someone who just happen walk by a group of boys calling each other names might assume the worst when in reality it is nothing more than kids trying to outwit the others, play. So, BEFORE anyone is accused of anything, a CLARIFICATION should be determined of the situation. I can also think of two situations where scouts were taken to the emergency room for an injury cause during play. No foul intentions, just play that went too far. 

We were taught back in the day that bullying is best identified when the perpetrator is purposely forcing their power on an unwilling victim. The first reaction is to gain an understanding of the whole situation. 

Barry

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1 minute ago, GMath said:

I do my best to steer the conversation away from the semantics of whether or not the behavior should be labeled as "bullying" or "hazing" or similar. Instead, I try to focus on identifying that the actual behavior that occurred is not acceptable in Scouting

I agree. I think we should try to avoid labeling a behavior as "bullying". It is far better to identify the actual behavior.

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1 hour ago, FireStone said:

Within YPT, if I recall correctly they go into more detail

There are 4 relatively recent optional YPT modules, one of which specifically addresses bullying.

All 4 are good, the bullying segment should be mandatory. 

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After a good read and advice given on this, I only have one recommendation for you.  Stay on your son's side of this, let an "independent counsel" (sorry for the term) dig into the matter.  If each party gets as upset as some parents at a little league game, that counsel will have to be able to answer for any findings.  May be I missed it in the posts, but I didn't see a lot of detail for us to know more.   

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56 minutes ago, FireStone said:

YTP does give some helpful criteria for defining bullying. For good reason, deciding what bullying is should not be left up to unit leaders or parents. You would run into the exact problem I ran into, where some adults just chalk it up to "kids being kids".

It's not as vague as would be expected from the BSA. Broadly, they define forms of bullying as:

Verbal—name calling, teasing, threats
Social—spreading rumors, leaving the target out of activities, breaking up or manipulating friendships
Physical—hitting, pushing, shoving, physical coercion
Group—intimidations, ostracizing
Criminal—injury, assault, sexual aggression
Cyberbullying—using digital technology such as social media, gaming, texting,etc.,for any of the above

Within YPT, if I recall correctly they go into more detail.

That is a good general list, but also we as leaders need to make sure we understand the context.  Yes the reporting scout may feel bullying took place, it is the catch all phrase.  But in some of those instances, especially the verbal, social, and group issues there can (and I stress can) be times where the one feeling bullyed may have played a part, poked for a reaction, and then got a reaction.  Critical to fully speak with and understand what caused this to transpire.

Not excusing a reaction, but we as leaders need to understand the background

Had a scout who complained he felt bullyed, basically the scouts were not including him in all the reindeer games..but...the scout was a bit of a troublemaker, cause some strife, like to stir things up.  We talked with the larger group about being friendly and also that a if they had a problem, maybe a conversation with scout would be helpful.  Talked with the scout about his attitude and what he may could bring to the solution.

Not a specific bullying issue but at an Eagle BOR we asked a Scout about what good life lessons he gained from Scouting (open ended question).  He admitted that when he was an 11 year old he could be a bit of a pill, he was trying to do something with some older scouts, they told him to not be such a a**hole and maybe he could, he needed to shut up first and not be a jerk.  Made an impact on him that his behavior could have a negative impact on people's perceptions (lightbulb moment)

 

34 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Your missing the key part, harm. The first three acts on that list could be, and many times would be, "kids' being kids". Someone who just happen walk by a group of boys calling each other names might assume the worst when in reality it is nothing more than kids trying to outwit the others, play. So, BEFORE anyone is accused of anything, a CLARIFICATION should be determined of the situation. I can also think of two situations where scouts were taken to the emergency room for an injury cause during play. No foul intentions, just play that went too far. 

Absolutely, some quiet conversation and fact finding can go a long way.  May lead to some tough conversations and intraspective thoughts

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A website from Health and Human Services (HHS) has some really good information and tips for these types of situations. https://www.stopbullying.gov/

I think their definition is more complete than the BSA's.  Importantly they add in the components that it is "unwanted and aggressive" "real or perceived power imbalance" and "repeated or has the potential to be repeated"   Those three change things from just boys will be boys, and can help understand the difference between unacceptable bad behavior and true bullying.

"Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.

In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:

  • An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.

Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose."

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1 hour ago, elitts said:

The thing that people tend to get caught up arguing about lately is that bullying isn't any of those things happening once or twice. (some people think it differently)  Any of those things needs to be stopped immediately, but they aren't "Bullying" until someone is doing whatever it is deliberately and repeatedly.

We argued this over the recent bullying incident in our Pack, because the offending actions happened repeatedly throughout one Pack meeting, not over days/weeks/months. Some deemed it not "repeated" because it occurred during one day/event.

I disagreed because the offending scout sought out the victim throughout the meeting, seeking to find her and harass her (on the basis of gender) repeatedly even when he had no reason to be around her (they were in separate groups for an activity).

I guess "repetition" is certainly debatable, but context does indeed help to clarify it.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, GMath said:

On the occasions when I've had to address these kinds of situations, I do my best to steer the conversation away from the semantics of whether or not the behavior should be labeled as "bullying" or "hazing" or similar. Instead, I try to focus on identifying that the actual behavior that occurred is not acceptable in Scouting, and focus on tangible actions that need to take place to discourage the behavior from happening again. How we label the behavior is less important than recognizing that it is inappropriate and that action needs to be taken to correct it.

In general, I agree with you.  The only reason I think the label is relevant and worth addressing (at the adult level) in some of these situations is that when the stories inevitably get conveyed to other parents, you can end up with some serious misunderstandings when:


Johnny was teasing Steve this weekend and at one point Steve started crying. So Mr. SM had a talk with Johnny.

gets reported to other parents as:

Johnny was bullying Steve to the point of tears all weekend long and Mr. SM did was have a quick chat with him.

Edited by elitts

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49 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

Had a scout who complained he felt bullied, basically the scouts were not including him in all the reindeer games..

Yeah. This is a relatively new meaning that has been applied to the word "bullying".  We never considered social exclusion to be a form of bullying. We felt that people had a right to be friends with, or not be friends with, whoever they pleased. If you don't like someone, just leave them alone. Today it is called bullying. I don't get it.

 

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21 minutes ago, David CO said:

Yeah. This is a relatively new meaning that has been applied to the word "bullying".  We never considered social exclusion to be a form of bullying. We felt that people had a right to be friends with, or not be friends with, whoever they pleased. If you don't like someone, just leave them alone. Today it is called bullying. I don't get it.

 

Social exclusion and choosing not to be a friend are two completely different things.  Social exclusion in the context of bullying refers to an action that is designed to repress or abuse another.  The bully will isolate as punishment or simply to control the victim.   The distinction is also found in the severity and frequency.  Is it a constant action or a once off?  Are there other examples where the scout is being picked on by the same scout?   

In the case of my son, the negative actions have been consistent over a long period of time.  This isn't an isolated incidence of rudeness, but a systematic process of degrading my son by the SPL.  In fact, its been going so long that it became the new normal.  

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