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MarkBrownsky

Bullying incident - need advice

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1 hour ago, MarkBrownsky said:

Social exclusion and choosing not to be a friend are two completely different things. 

That's right. It's not just a scout not wanting to hang out with another scout. Bullying is intended to inflict emotional harm, or to make someone feel less-than or inadequate. So instead it would be something like a scout telling another scout that they don't belong in the troop, they should leave, "this troop is for xyz, not you," etc.

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5 hours ago, TMSM said:

I do find it odd for an SPL to bully his own ASPL.

So do I. It doesn't make sense.

It doesn't make sense that the SPL would offer the position to someone he doesn't hold in high regard. It also doesn't make sense that the ASPL would accept a position of responsibility which would require him to work closely with a SPL who treats him badly.

At this point, it is obvious that the two boys can no longer work together as SPL and ASPL.

Edited by David CO

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7 hours ago, Eagledad said:

Actually it does under discipline. It is the CCs responsibility. Still, the layer of dealing with it, (meaning identifying learning exactly what is going on) and determining how the unit should proceed starts with the SM. If the scout doesn't feel the SM is working to make the environment safe, then the next step is the CC. And when it gets this far, I feel asking for help from the parents or mediator is appropriate.

Barry 

Barry,

Please let me know where BSA makes discipline the CC's remit?  Thank you.

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7 hours ago, MarkBrownsky said:

Thanks for your response. Its presently with the SM, with the CC so far being kept informed.  Are you aware of any BSA guidelines that provide guidance to the SM and CC on how to best respond to bullying?  If they don't handle it well, I can always report it to the Area Council.  

It is not a district, council or Area issue. It is a CO issue.

BSA has a number of online publications.  Some are contradictory.  Most are helpful.  https://www.scouting.org/training/youth-protection/bullying/

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6 hours 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.  

BSA has made a brief, but useful effort to address just that issue: 

Bullying What Is Bullying?

Bullying is a widespread and serious societal problem that has a negative impact on the “target.” (We do not use the term “victim.” [except when they do.] Additionally, never label a person who engages in bullying behavior as a “bully.” [except when they do])

It is not a “phase” that youth have to go through. It is not “just messing around,” and is not something that a youth—the one doing the bullying or the target—will “grow out of.” All forms of bullying are prohibited in Scouting. All forms of bullying violate the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Continued bullying of the target will lead to poor self-image and poor self-esteem. The target may also quit Scouting or become a bully to other, younger youth, thus perpetuating the bullying cycle.

Forms of Bullying 

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

Effects of Bullying

Bullying has serious and lasting effects. While these effects may also be caused by other factors, research has found that bullying has significant effects on those who are bullied, those who bully others, and those who witness bullying.

People who are bullied:

Have higher rates of depression and anxiety, including the following symptoms, which may persist into adulthood: 

- Increased feelings of sadness and loneliness 

- Changes in sleep and eating patterns 

- Loss of interest in activities 

Have increased thoughts about suicide that may persist into adulthood. In one study, adults who recalled being bullied in youth were three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts orinclinations. 

Are more likely to have health complaints. In one study, being bullied was associated with physical health status three years later. 

Have decreased academic achievement (GPA and standardized test scores) and schoolparticipation. 

Are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out ofschool. 

Are more likely to retaliate through extremely violent measures. Studies indicate that in more than 70 percent of school shooting cases, the shooter had a history of being bullied.

Signs That a Youth Is Being Bullied

Acts reluctant to join in activities

 Complains of feeling sick, makes frequent visits to the camp infirmary, has psychosomatic complaints

 Loss of money and other items such as clothing, patches, etc., that a bully may have taken from them

 Goes to activities late and/or returns early (avoidance)

 Nightmares, bedwetting, insomnia (fear)

 Refuses to leave their tent (fear)

 Waits to go to the restroom away from group (avoidance/fear)

 Seems afraid or acts nervous around certain youth

 Shows increased anger for no obvious reason

 Exhibits a drop in willingness to participate

 Comments about loneliness

 Has difficulty making friends

 Suddenly has fewerfriends

 Reluctance to defend oneself verbally or physically when teased or pushed

 Has physical marks—bruises, cuts, defensive wounds on forearms or upper arms

 Appears sad, moody, angry, anxious, depressed

 Mentions or talks about suicide

 Seeks, carries, or hides weapons (as a perceived means of protection)

 Blames oneself for problems FACT SHEET  Avoids certain locations or areas

 

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This points to the problem I see where there is a BSA fantasy about what the CO role is and then there is the unit reality about it. Many COs are almost completely hands off. Ours just signs when asked and gives us space. If they really understood the degree of responsibility that BSA expects from them, they would likely drop their units. Many units understand this, and don't push the envelope. In an organizational sense, I think this is where so many things fall through the cracks. I know this is not the case everywhere, but it is maybe more the norm than the exception. No way would our CO want to get involved in a bullying case. 

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9 hours ago, MarkBrownsky said:

My son is Life and working towards Eagle.  He is presently ASPL and has been involved with his troop for many years.  Recently while on summer camp he experienced several incidences of bullying from the troop SPL.  I reported it to the SM and troop committee chair.  What was communicated to me by the SM was that they were undertaking an investigation (which involved talking to my son and the SPL) as I asked for it to be completed. My understanding is that BSA is clear that bullying isn't tolerated and needs to be acted upon.  Which is why I was confused when the SM suggested that he was only completing it as I requested it.  This is a red flag for me. 

I want to make sure that the right process is followed.  All my research has produced excellent guidance by BSA about avoiding bullying, what bullying is etc.. but I could find no guidelines on what is to be done if a bullying incident occurs, and particularly when the bully is SPL.  

What advice do you have?  I want to make sure the proper process is adhered to and that the SM and committee follow the correct procedure.

Was your son in fact selected by the SPL to be the ASPL?  It is often not the case.

 

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7 minutes ago, TAHAWK said:

Was your son in fact selected by the SPL to be the ASPL?  It is often not the case.

 

He was.  There was one vote that split the difference.  Given that, my son was the obvious choice and the SPL from what I can tell, was initially fine with my son being ASPL.  It has caused my boy a lot of stress as he is very committed to scouts (OA, National Leadership Training etc..).  

This discussion has been very helpful!  Thank you to all of you for your contribution. 

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18 minutes ago, yknot said:

This points to the problem I see where there is a BSA fantasy about what the CO role is and then there is the unit reality about it. Many COs are almost completely hands off. Ours just signs when asked and gives us space. If they really understood the degree of responsibility that BSA expects from them, they would likely drop their units. Many units understand this, and don't push the envelope. In an organizational sense, I think this is where so many things fall through the cracks. I know this is not the case everywhere, but it is maybe more the norm than the exception. No way would our CO want to get involved in a bullying case. 

I take you point.  Most COs are fairly passive.  However, what is the actual experience with the paid Scouters jumping in to take responsibility for interpersonal relationship, much less their abilities in that regard?  Our DE-level employees (not having actual districts any more) last about six months on average and, while nice enough people, are so young and still trying to figure it all out - and then are gone. 

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5 minutes ago, MarkBrownsky said:

He was.  There was one vote that split the difference.  Given that, my son was the obvious choice and the SPL from what I can tell, was initially fine with my son being ASPL.  It has caused my boy a lot of stress as he is very committed to scouts (OA, National Leadership Training etc..).  

This discussion has been very helpful!  Thank you to all of you for your contribution. 

Is the SPL actually trained for his job?  Has he delegated responsibility to your son?  Does the SPL have a mentor?

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17 minutes ago, yknot said:

This points to the problem I see where there is a BSA fantasy about what the CO role is and then there is the unit reality about it. Many COs are almost completely hands off. Ours just signs when asked and gives us space. If they really understood the degree of responsibility that BSA expects from them, they would likely drop their units. Many units understand this, and don't push the envelope. In an organizational sense, I think this is where so many things fall through the cracks. I know this is not the case everywhere, but it is maybe more the norm than the exception. No way would our CO want to get involved in a bullying case. 

I would tend to agree.  I can't imagine our CO getting involved in a bullying case.  However, I don't see why this is anything more than a unit leader & parent issue.  

Say a Scout is bullied by another Scout.  The Scout and/or his/her parents let the SM know.  The SM talks to all the youth involved and does some correcting.  If the bullying persists, the SM tells the bullying Scout he/she is no longer welcome in the troop.  If for whatever reason, the SM isn't handling the bullying correctly, the CC steps in and sorts it out.  If this is anything more than an isolated event, the SM is talking with the parents of the two Scouts and letting them know what is going on.

if the Troop isn't up to the job, the parents look at the situation and say "these leaders are clueless" and move on.  

I know that we have a tendency in today to want to escalate things quickly - but a Scoutmaster and CC are pretty seasoned Scouters.  If they can't handle some cases of bullying then they probably shouldn't be in those roles. 

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I just want to comment on who has the responsibility of dealing with bullying.  From a UC's point of view  - It depends.

If this is an opportunity to teach and improve the bully then it is "program" and the SM's job. 
If this is a situation that needs "corrective action" or requires involvement of the boy's parents (more than "let me tell you about the talk johnny and I had") then it is administration and the CC/COR/IH  (depending on the relationship) should be involved.  Anything where you are talking about "punishments" or the like needs to be handled by the unit key 3.  

If (and only if) this involves criminal action does the council need to be involved or probably even care.  I have provided advice and assistance, but have specifically been told that the professionals need to be contacted only if there is the possibility for (or need for) law enforcement/legal involvement. 

To the OP: If the response from the SM isn't satisfactory, your options as I see them are: 1. Talk to the CC, 2. Find a new troop.

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Markbrownsky,

    Sounds like your son is heavily invested in this troop. However, that SPL isn't going to change. He is "impowered" and he knows it. I kept waiting for someone to bring up the option of changing troops, but I'm guessing your son is where he wants to be. So, it looks like avoiding this "scout" will be your son's scouting program, and that's just not right.

But it's accurate. Maybe he could resign from ASPL and join a patrol that needs his leadership and experience. That could be as a troop guide, and would extend his leadership requirement needs, if necessary. But that SPL scout ain't going anywhere.

I'd find another troop. It's a life lesson to teach your son. Some things just aren't worth the fight. It's not fair, but it's accurate.

I wish him the best,

sst3rd

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33 minutes ago, sst3rd said:

Markbrownsky,

    Sounds like your son is heavily invested in this troop. However, that SPL isn't going to change. He is "impowered" and he knows it. I kept waiting for someone to bring up the option of changing troops, but I'm guessing your son is where he wants to be. So, it looks like avoiding this "scout" will be your son's scouting program, and that's just not right.

But it's accurate. Maybe he could resign from ASPL and join a patrol that needs his leadership and experience. That could be as a troop guide, and would extend his leadership requirement needs, if necessary. But that SPL scout ain't going anywhere.

I'd find another troop. It's a life lesson to teach your son. Some things just aren't worth the fight. It's not fair, but it's accurate.

I wish him the best,

sst3rd

Having been both the bullied and the bully at various points during my time as a scout, and having no knowledge as to the actual nature of the bullying in this instance - I would say that your assertion that this SPL cannot change is a little over the top.  These are presumably both Life Scouts, though I have no idea how old they are. 

These boys obviously aren't friends, but they don't have to be. Selection of the ASPL was done incorrectly it seems in this troop, and that certainly didn't help matters.  It may be that no one has taught these scouts how to be around people who aren't your friends.  If no one has actually talked this out with the SPL then us internet scouters certainly are in no place to make a determination on the heart of this scout. 

I am convinced that teenage boys are predisposed to be bullies at one point or another.  That doesn't make the bullying wrong, but it does make it one of the things we have to compete with when trying to get them to be Trustworthy, Loyal, etc.

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13 hours ago, T2Eagle said:

Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.

As we emphasis in our required bullying training at work (school system), it is important to remember that repetition does not have to involve the same victim each time.  The student who exhibits bullying behavior toward multiple other students is just a guilty of being a bully as the one who only has one target.

We also find, and you may as well after this is (hopefully) resolved, that a high percentage of children who bully are mirroring either what they see at home or what they have experienced themselves.

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