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T216

should alcohol use affect advancement

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I agree with SemperParatus, Scoutnut and OGE.

 

There's enough reason for you to have a closed-door session with your Council Scout Executive. He has the connections and the resources to get a determination of what is legal for the parents to do in their home. If necessary, his reporting can initiate a child abuse investigation.

 

The fact of the matter is a 15 year old is a MINOR in the eyes of the law for most things that happen (certain violent criminal offenses may give him a premature majority). His parents are legally accountable for his actions.

 

Let's not worry about the advancement in Scouting until we've assured the young man is inside the limits of the law, please?

 

 

 

 

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To me, this is clearly a function of LAW. Both Legal and Scout. If you do not put forth some consequenses, other boys may interpret this as acceptance on the part of the Troop. You can check with your local laws. I would tend to believe that you could be liable because you know about the situation. Having the family as friends does put a cramp in the whole thing for you but this reaches a lot farther than that family's home.

 

T216, I am glad that you mentioned that the consequence of stopping advancement would apply to all ranks and not just Eagle. It seems common sense to do that but one can understand the need to question that if it wasn't mentioned.

 

As far as the argument made a couple times in this thread conderning whether or not other scouts are doing it is really a moot point right now. From my understanding, there is no proof of any other violation, only assumptions. Would you be making an example of this boy? It may seem so, but the Law is the Law and your policy clearly states drug/alcohol and advancement coorelation. Others will hopefully see the consequences being handed out and cease their drinking activities.

 

And as far as whether or not we adults broke this same law when we were kids is also moot. Just because we (or others) did it doesn't make an argument for not upholding the law. I started drinking when I was 17 and probably drank to excess more before the age of 21 than I have after. Does that make me a hypocrite if I punish this boy? No. What that means is that I (hopefully) am taking the opportunity to be a mentor for this child and help lead him down the right path.

 

And Kahuna, you are correct that DRINKING is not illegal under 21 in some states. However, where the law covers this is regarding purchasing AND/OR possession under 21. And even if there is (and I don't think there is) still a state where these laws are effective earlier than 21, I doubt that they are as young as 15.

 

As far as covering this at meetings or even showing this thread to his father - I would be very hesitant at doing either. You don't want to come across as airing somelses dirty laundry or making an example out of someone. However, reminders of policy and law (Legal and Scout) are apparently needed. How to balance that is the tricky part. I wish you luck.

 

Jerry

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And Kahuna, you are correct that DRINKING is not illegal under 21 in some states. However, where the law covers this is regarding purchasing AND/OR possession under 21. And even if there is (and I don't think there is) still a state where these laws are effective earlier than 21, I doubt that they are as young as 15.

CM Jerry: No, and I speak as a lawyer, there are a fair number of states in our nation that do not consider it a crime to purchase and serve alcohol to your own children in your own home or as part of a religious observance. Check with your local DA's office. This kid may not be breaking the law.

T216: You have a different issue with regard to your troop handbook and pledge. If the boy has taken a pledge and is bound to the troop rule, then he is not qualified to be an Eagle Scout in your troop, for the moment. I still think we have to mindful of youthful indiscretions, remorse and second chances. I'm sure many of us had our first drink before it was legal and went on to be Eagle Scouts. He has broken his pledge, though, and if it clearly includes alcohol then it's serious.

Finally, I don't see how YP comes into this at all and you CANNOT be serious about taking this up with the Scout Executive. Any troop should be able to handle this on their own.

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Kahuna, I see. Thanks for that info. And I too would tend to lean away from seeking counsel from Council. They usually maintain a "hands-off" approach when it comes to dealing with intra-unit issues.

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First your troop has a Policy which both the boy and parents agreed to. The facts if this boy is comsuming alcohol, need to be known.

As a concern leader, there are many programs through Law enforcement, schools, health professional, which can address alcohol and youth, which can be used at your meetings for both scouts and leaders/parents.

As for advancement in rank,the scout should be informed of items or actions on his part which can denine him advancement in rank or other action that could take place. This should take place prior to a BOR, when the facts are known. At the BOR, if the actions of the scout are judged not to meet the requirements, then advancement should not be allowed at that time, it is up to the members of the BOR if the re-examination of the scout will take place again at a later date to see if the requirements are meet.

As Kahuna stated know the law, check with the DA.

Document your BOR actions as well as the Troops in any discipnary actions. There are rights to appeal.

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Thanks to everyone for input.

 

Troop Com Chair is talking to dad today (I already have). Our plan is to delay his advancement until such point (3 months?) he can demonstrate that he has understood the severity of alcohol use underage and has completely quit himself. I am not naive - he may very well return to his ways after getting to Eagle. But to get there in the first place, he has to have a sustained period of commitment to the scout program through and through.

 

We do not plan to turn this family over the authorities or anything like that. I know some disagree, but i think they are good, solid parents, with good solid kids. Except on this one issue. But there is no way i am calling authorities. i only talked with our district advisor about it to see what our responsibilities/obligations are - and going to the authorities was not one he mentioned.

 

i'll keep checking this thread and would welcome and fresh thoughts. Thanks.

 

PS: Drinking under age 21 is against the law in our state. There may be an exception for religious services, but that's not what's occuring here.

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actually, i said "what our plan is" but that's really on my opinion on what our plan will be, after talking with a couple of my TC members on this. But we will meet with the boy and decide actions as a Committee. Just thought i'd clarify that.

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Wow. This is rather serious.

 

What about contacting the student's school guidance counslor? Perhaps He/She has a suggestion on how to handle the problem.

 

Perhaps the boy in question could be asked to not only be clean for X months before his Eagle BOR, but also "strongly request" that he present a project / discussion on "Why Alcohol is bad for you"

 

Jon

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T216: Very wise, IMHO. The less higher-up involvement, the better. I think this young man will see the error of his ways, at least in the short run. :) As you said, who knows what happens later, but we can't be responsible for that.

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I see two issues:

 

1) Is he indeed breaking the law? As has been pointed out previously, depending on the circumstances (i.e. at home under parent supervision and in moderation), no law may have been broken by this youth. If he has broken a law, then clearly the board has every right to hold up the process.

 

2) Is he abusing himself or acting dishonorably by consuming alcohol? I realize that some folks believe, due to his age, any usage is abuse. I'm not thoroughly convinced that is true. I personally believe that its acceptable for young teenagers to have a small glass of wine - if there its a special occasion. Some folks believe it's always okay with dinner. Regardless, I think the subject needs to be broached and explored with the Scout and his parents. Given the public nature of this kid's usage, I don't see such an inquiry as being intrusive - especially since he is an Eagle candidate. If hes not breaking a state law, and the board does not agree that it is abuse, then I would not hold up the process.

 

An explanation I might accept

 

Eagle candidate claims that he had three beers in the past 12 months. One during the Super Bowl after my dad gave me permission to have one. One at my uncles wedding after my dad gave me permission to have one. And a third on my birthday after my dad gave me permission to have one. Now, I might personally question dads judgment And I might still feel compelled to warn the Scout about the dangers of alcohol. However, I could see this happening in various homes of folks I know and I would not consider it to be abusive.

 

Something that bothers me

 

What bothers me most about this story is not the alcohol use in and of itself. What bothers me is dads very vague and cavalier attitude about the issue. He doesnt feel compelled to clarify the circumstances and extent of his sons usage. In fact, it appears that hes not certain himself. To me this is a serious red flag. Given another year or two, it sounds as if this boy will be totally unfettered from mom and dads discerning eye. Even today, it sounds if hes making decisions on his own that he is not ready to make. A Scoutmasters conference is definitely called for and may be an unpleasant meeting, particularly if the parents are brought into the picture. But personally, I really feel thats the right thing to do.

 

Disclaimer:

 

Obviously I'm not privy to these discussions. That being the case, I feel compelled to say that "dad" may be a very concerned parent. It just doesn't appear to be true, given the posts in this thread.

 

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For what it's worth: I asked my 16yo scout his opinion of this issue - just giving the bare facts presented in the original post. His response was that since one item reviewed in the Scoutmasters Conference is living the Scout Oath and Law and since underage drinking is illegal this appears to be in conflict with the "Physically Strong, Mentally Awake, and Morally Straight" area that it should be discussed with the scout and the rank withheld at least for a time.

 

When I further asked him how to develop a contract or decide that he has straightened up his act he was less definitive and didn't have a good plan in mind.

 

 

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I applaud your efforts to maintain confidentiality in this matter, and your desire to not drive this kid out on a rail, but to encourage a change of behavior.

 

As a surgical technician in a level 1 trauma center, I see to often the effects of a 'harmless drink'. Education can help deter drinking, but only a true desire to live the law (scout and state) will change this young mans desire for alcohol.

 

Perhaps he could plan the troop's anti-substance abuse campaign, complete with speakers, press releases, steps to involve other scouts, etc. Use it to reach out to the schools in his comunity as a sign of good faith. Would that not make a great Eagle Project?

 

IMHO, those who want to wear the Eagle must be held to a higher standard. Otherwise, they are just wearing a funny looking bird on their shirt!

 

k

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I've read all of the posts on this issue and one thing stands out that I'm surprised no one has mentioned - the knowledge about this boys drinking is all heresay. No one has actually seen this boy drinking, at least thats the impression I get from reading the posting. Even the father's "admission" that his son has had a drink is heresay, unless the father actually witnessed the drinking.

 

The claim is that it is common knowledge that the boy is drinking - but again, without a witness, without actual facts, the "common knowledge" is all heresay. Be very careful about using common knowledge as your "factual" basis - remember, it was once common knowledge that the earth was flat, or that the sun revolved around the earth.

 

Unless this boy admits to drinking, or unless you have actual witnesses to the drinking, you are walking an extremely fine line in denying this boy a rank based on heresay - even to the possibility of opening up yourself to a charge of slander.

 

Even questioning this boy on his drinking based on the "common knowledge" accusations against him may not be wise - again, unless you have witnesses, use caution.

 

In a way, your fortunate you are dealing with a father who seems to be showing somewhat of a laisez faire attitude about this issue right now - I know parents (more than I care to) that would already have you in front of a judge to defend yourself against slander charges.

 

I'd suggest that you proceed with caution and remember that the Scout Law and Oath works both ways - if your unit is giving greater credence to outside sources of "common knowledge" with no factual basis over your own scouts, then how can the scouts be expected to be trustworthy when their own leaders aren't being trustworthy.

 

Just my two cents.

 

CalicoPenn

 

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Calico -

 

i don't consider it hearsay when the dad has directly acknowledged the drinking.

 

And we have never directly "accused" the scout of drinking - that's one of the reasons to talk with him person to person: to ask him about it, and then discuss it further.

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I have a few thoughts about this:

1. It is still hearsay, unless the boy admits it. His dad doesn't have to face the Eagle BOR--he does. If he says he doesn't drink, or that he had a few drinks some time ago and doesn't do it any more, what will you do?

2. Drinking itself does not violate the Oath and Law, unless it is illegal. Otherwise, it would violate the Oath and Law for adults too.

3. I think I have to agree with Rooster that if the drinking is fairly minimal (as in the examples he gave) I would not hold up his advancement. Are you going to hold up the advancement of anybody who admits to exceeding the speed limit when driving?

4. I don't want to minimize the problem of underage drinking. But in this case there really is no evidence of any problem with underage drinking, other than some (vaguely defined) amount of drinking itself.

5. Is there a cultural difference that may explain the difference in attitude about drinking here?

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