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dScouter15

Punishments - How far is too far?

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I have a question - this isn't related to any specific issue that may have occurred, I'm just interested in how various troops address behavior problems. Frequently, all it takes is a private, quiet conference with the SPL and/or the SM (keeping youth protection guidelines in mind, of course). Sometimes, though, this just doesn't work, and something more drastic must be done.

 

So - in what ways does your troop address more serious behavior problems, or scouts who are "repeat offenders?" In my troop, at summer camp one year, our SM came up with what I think is a good idea: the "Dice of Doom!" The SM brought a pair of dice up, and if scouts had continued behavior problems, they would roll the dice. Each number corresponded with a specific punishment, which included cleaning the Kybo, cleaning up around the cooking area, straightening out the troop trailer, etc - nothing too strenuous, but ultimately very useful for the troop. Also, if the dice were needed, it was conducted in private - we didn't make a spectacle of it. Fortunately, we only needed the nice a handful of times over the past several years - guess we just have a pretty good group of scouts!

 

Anyway, how does your troop address these issues?

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dScouter15,

 

 

This has been discussed before. You'll get responses reminding everyone that there is no "punishment" in the Boy Scouts. Period.

As the Scoutmaster, I've informed all of the adult leaders and the youth leaders, that when there is a discipline problem, depending on the circumstances, the Patrol Leader should give the Scout a chance or two. If it continues, the Scout is removed from the Patrol and activity. He hangs out with the adult leaders and has an immediate Scoutmaster's Conference. It's determined whether he can go back to the Patrol for another try, or a parent is called, and he is sent home. Of course, we'll take the time to explain everything to the parent.

What I have found in years of Scouting is, that as long as the program is busy, challenging, and exciting, there are no excuses for a Scout not participating. The Scout wants attention, and wants to disrupt the Patrol activity. We simply have learned to take the Scout out of the Patrol, and the Patrol runs fine after that. The disruptive Scout sees that he can't mess up the Patrol activity, and his audience has been removed.

 

Problem solved (usually),

 

sst3rd

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Yup sst3rd is correct. There is no "punishment" in Boy Scouts. Even though there is. Punishment is a consequence of certain behavior. We can call it anything we want but it is still punishment.

 

We have always tried to have the "punishment" fit the reason why it is needed. That seems to get the point across a lot better.

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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i remember at summer camp as a scout the SM's nephew was always getting in trouble. After one particular incident the SM sat him down at the table and asked "Why are you always causing problems?" to which the kid replied he didnt know. The SM then said that he should sit there and think about it until he came up with a response.

 

That kid sat there for the entire day. I had to admire his fortitude.

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I would have to say the "culture" of our troop is A#1, top shelf. My boys do very well in the discipline arena. We get complimented a lot on how our boys behave in public situations, it's a good feeling to hear the positive comments from complete strangers.

 

Regarding punishment: (or consequences should we say?)

 

The punishment must fit the crime in any event. We had an SPL who lied to his parents about his grades. On his own volition, he spelled out his punishment. At home he lost his phone, tv, extra fun privledges for a period of time. At the troop level he stepped down as SPL, appologized to the troop for not being trustworthy, and did not hold a POR for 6 months, negating any advancement opportunities.

 

We use this standard to this day for serious offenses, it seems appropriate that it was set by a boy. (we've only had to use it once)

 

We've also had to ask a boy to leave the troop. It goes against my instinct, but at some point as Mr. Spock said "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one". For a boy who obviously needs what scouting has to offer to come to the point of being asked to leave the troop is tragic IMO, but sometimes it needs to be done, and the longer you wait to do it, the lower the morale in your unit will be before it happens.

 

When I was a yoot, we had a smart alicky boy on an outing once, the SM got pretty tired of him, so he Punished him by making him clean out the dutch ovens from the nights cobler. If he had been instructed on how to do it right, that would have been an easy task. The SM never told him how to clean a dutch oven.

 

The next morning, the boy came back with the oven, all shiny and sparling clean. He scrubbed so hard that he got the metal to shine like... metal. 10 years of patina down the drain... Boy was the SM upset, but it served him right because he never gave the boy instructions. Needless to say nobody was ever aloud to clean the dutch ovens again.

 

I've not been in favor of assigning routine tasks as punishment, like kybo cleaning or dishes, that sort of thing. I have it in my head that if you negatively stigmatize those tasks, they won't get done unless you are punishing someone, or those assigned feel that they're being punished when it's their turn...that's my theory any way.

 

 

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"So - in what ways does your troop address more serious behavior"

Constructive discipline.

Discipline used in Scouting should be constructive and reflect Scouting's values. Corporal punishment is never permitted.

The Boy Scouts of America is a values-based youth development organization that helps young people learn positive attributes of character, citizenship, and personal fitness. The BSA has the expectation that all participants in the Scouting program will relate to each other in accord with the principles embodied in the Scout Oath and Law.

 

One of the developmental tasks of childhood is to learn appropriate behavior. Children are not born with an innate sense of propriety and they need guidance and direction. The example set by positive adult role models is a powerful tool for shaping behavior and a tool that is stressed in Scouting.

 

Misbehavior by a single youth member in a Scouting unit may constitute a threat to the safety of the individual who misbehaves as well as to the safety of other unit members. Such misbehavior constitutes an unreasonable burden on a Scout unit and cannot be ignored.

 

Member Responsibilities

All members of the Boy Scouts of America are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the principles set forth in the Scout Oath and Law. Physical violence, hazing, bullying, theft, verbal insults, and drugs and alcohol have no place in the Scouting program and may result in the revocation of a Scout's membership in the unit.

 

If confronted by threats of violence or other forms of bullying from other youth members, Scouts should seek help from their unit leaders or parents.

 

Unit Responsibilities

Adult leaders of Scouting units are responsible for monitoring the behavior of youth members and interceding when necessary. Parents of youth members who misbehave should be informed and asked for assistance in dealing with it.

 

The BSA does not permit the use of corporal punishment by unit leaders when disciplining youth members.

 

The unit committee should review repetitive or serious incidents of misbehavior in consultation with the parents of the child to determine a course of corrective action including possible revocation of the youth's membership in the unit.

 

If problem behavior persists, units may revoke a Scout's membership in that unit. When a unit revokes a Scout's membership, it should promptly notify the council of the action.

 

The unit should inform the Scout executive about all incidents that result in a physical injury or involve allegations of sexual misconduct by a youth member with another youth member.

Copied from

http://www.scouting.org/cgi/gss/viewall.pl

 

I see my role as the Skipper of a Sea Scout Ship as helping the Scouts I serve meet the goals that they set.

Of course discipline plays a very big role in ensuring that the Scouts remain safe.

Point 16 of The Sweet 16 of BSA Safety reads

"No supervisor is effective if he or she cannot control the activity and individual participants. Youth must respect their leaders and follow their directions."

If a Scout is unable to show the respect required to other Scouts and the adults. His or her parents must be contacted and remove the Scout. (Normally after the adult in charge has talked with the Scout)

What happens next is out of my hands,this is one of the reasons we have a committee.

 

A few years back I asked a friend of mine who is a Lutheran Minister, if he would have a word with his "Boss" to make sure we had good weather for an upcoming event. He reply to me was that he was in the delivery business not decision making.

I see the role of leaders as being in the delivery business! I'm happy to have the committee act as judge and jury.

Eamonn.

 

 

 

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First, I would point out that the BSA prohibition is against corporal punishment, and the suggestion is that unit leaders find positive means of changing bad behavior.

 

Having tried several methods, some of which I am told could be considered corporal punishment, and miserably failed with all of them, I know of only one method that works consistently. It does, however, require a great deal of effort to establish.

 

The first thing that must be done is to establish a standard of acceptable behavior and stick to it. In Scouting we're quite lucky because we have the Scout Oath and Law, which puts the Scout on his honor to behave properly. Bad behavior is, therefore, a loss of honor, trustworthyness, and everything else. Scout leaders must make it clear that the Scout Oath and Law are zero-tolerance rules--you either follow them, or you don't. If you follow them, you are worthy of being called "Scout." If you don't follow them, you aren't worthy.

 

If this standard is established and maintained most of the normal discipline problems will disappear. Scouts will still make mistakes or fail to live up to their promise occasionally, but it won't take much more than a sit-down with the SM to correct the behavior (see kb6jra's post for an example of this in action). For this to work, of course, the promise a Scout makes and the word "honor" have to actually mean something important to the Scout, and it's the SM to establishes what it means.

 

As far as using routine tasks as punishments, I'm with kb6jra. Cleaning the latring/kybo is a rather important job--not much fun, but important. Since it's not much fun Scouts tend not to want to do it, and if assigned the job they'll try to get it overwith as quickly as possible. Using it as punishment simply makes the job a punishment whether a Scout is assigned the job as punishment or not.

 

In my experience it's a lot more effective punishing a Scout by not letting him do something he wants to do, rather than by forcing him to do something he doesn't want to do. The "price" of bad behavior is a lot steeper that way.

 

 

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First, a quick disclaimer: I didn't intend to beat a dead horse, or open a can of worms, or *insert other negative metaphor here* so I hope no one's offended.

 

Secondly, thanks for the responses - they mostly echo what I've seen within my own troop, and other highly-functional units. It always surprises me when some units seem a little too strict, with leaders making scouts run laps, do push-ups, etc for relatively minor infractions. I guess some boys may actually respond positively to that type of disciple, but I have always thought there was a better way, and the responses have confirmed that, at least, I'm not alone in my thinking.

 

Thanks for the feedback!

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"I've not been in favor of assigning routine tasks as punishment, like kybo cleaning or dishes, that sort of thing. I have it in my head that if you negatively stigmatize those tasks, they won't get done unless you are punishing someone, or those assigned feel that they're being punished when it's their turn...that's my theory any way."

 

I have to agree with that approach. At summer camp one year, the kybo in our campsite somehow got a full roll of TP down the hole. Of course, it had to be removed because the service truck cannot suck out a roll of TP. The SPL and I presented the dilemma to the troop as "who among us has the most ingenuity to figure out a way to retrieve the TP roll from the kybo tank?" It was amazing to see how many boys jumped up and down begging to be selected for the task.

 

Aaron got special mention at the Court of Honor following summer camp for his successful effort at taking on a tough job in support of the troop, (and the kybo company).

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Yah, Eamonn had the fortitude to go pull all that exists in the BSA literature. If yeh read carefully, nowhere does the BSA literature actually give a single idea or example to an adult leader that they can use. That's particularly rough for a new SM or ASM, who doesn't have an established "reputation" with the boys to rely on.

 

Hmmm... maybe time for a new thread.

 

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Well in our Troop, behavior usually isn't a problem. If it is, the Scouts usually get a talking to, which can range from a "hey, just don't do it again" to a "one more time and I'll send you home" (although the leader who said that wouldn't have the gana to do it).

 

As for punishment, its usually in good fun. A scoutmaster will make a scout pick up trash, collect firewood, clean, etc. The real problem is, some scouts not listening to certain leaders in our troop.

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C-BOLT wrote: The real problem is, some scouts not listening to certain leaders in our troop.

 

This happens usually when the Scouts are convinced those certain leaders won't back up what they say. For example, if a Scout does something and a leader says "don't do it again or you get sent home," that can either be a warning or a challenge. If the Scout knows the leader means it, it's a warning. If the Scout isn't sure if the leader means it or not, it's a challenge. If he doesn't listen and the leader just says "don't do it again or you get sent home," the Scout now knows it's an empty threat. He knows he can do whatever he wants and probably never get sent home.

 

The two biggest problems adults have maintaining discipline are not meaning what they say, and giving conflicting messages--one adult says he'll send you home, the other says it's no big deal.

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I wish to emphasize agreement with FScouter. Unpleasant task punishments get stygmatized and unless someone is getting punished, they don't do them.

 

In our troop we try to emphasize the positive to avoid bad behavior in the first place.

 

If there's a task that needs to be done, our SPL has been trained to give the most unpleasant tasks, i.e. kybo cleaning, to the best patrols, and the PL is trained to assign it to his best scout. Each scout is learning that these jobs go to those best qualified, most responsible and dedicated scouts. Important jobs are not given to slackers for punishment.

 

Like the TP roll down the kybo, scouts quickly understand the dynamics of camp tasks and their assignment.

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I was asked some questions about my post privately, but they are good questions worthy of being answered publicly:

 

But my question is now HOW do you implement that? You mentioned that after some time, it won't take more than a scoutmaster sit down to nip things in the bud. But how do you get to that point.

 

I addressed this in another thread (see RE: name calling again). This isn't a quick, easy fix. The adult leaders have to put forth a bit of effort to make it work. Simply put:

 

1) Get rid of all behavior rules and zero-tolerance policies.

2) Sit down with the Scouts and establish the Scout Oath and Law as a zero-tolerance policy. That is, describe what you expect from each boy to be worthy of the name "Scout." He promises that he "understands and intends to live by" the Scout Oath and Law. He raises his hand at every meeting and recites the Scout Oath and Law--promising on his honor he will do his best to live by the Scout Oath and Law. Our job is to hold him to that promise.

3) Adult leaders must be on the same page as far as what is expected, and must always model the expected behavior.

4) Parents must understand the expectations and support them.

 

What are your consequences for misbehavior in a zero-tolerance environment?

 

The consequences for misbehavior are that the Scout isn't worthy of being called a "Scout." He doesn't deserve the benefits a Scout receives. That sounds harsh, and to some it may sound like I'm suggesting the boy be kicked out of the troop. Let me use Kb6jra's real life example to explain:

 

"We had an SPL who lied to his parents about his grades. On his own volition, he spelled out his punishment. At home he lost his phone, tv, extra fun privledges for a period of time. At the troop level he stepped down as SPL, appologized to the troop for not being trustworthy, and did not hold a POR for 6 months, negating any advancement opportunities."

 

What made him, on his own volition, admit his mistake and punish himself? His understanding of "honor," "trustworthyness," and what it means to be a Scout. Since he didn't lie to the troop, many would wonder why he admitted anything to the troop. Because he understood that being a Scout is a 24/7 thing. It meant something to him to be trusted with a position like SPL. It meant something to him to have "honor" in the eyes of his fellow Scouts. And because it meant something, he felt he needed to do penance for not being trustworthy.

 

Being worthy of the name "Scout" meant something to that Scout because the adult leaders, and even his parents probably, established from the start high expectations and gave it meaning. The promise wasn't just words. They expected him to actually do what he was promising to do.

 

No doubt, when he was just starting out in Scouting, he probably made the occasional mistake--he was momentarily unkind, unfriendly, disobedient, etc. On those occasions, rather than giving the Scout X number of push-ups, assigning him a dirty task, or making him write "I will not be unkind" 500 times, his Scout leaders sat down and connected his behavior with the Scout Oath and Law. They showed him how his behavior didn't just violate a point of the Law or a rule, but brought into question his honor--his worthiness of the name "Scout." The more they did that, the more being a Scout meant to him.

 

after a scoutmaster sit-down, and the behavior continues, where do you go from there?

 

Unfortunately, as some point you have to call the Scout on the promise he made. If he continues to misbehave, you have to give him an ultimatum. Either he lives up to his promise, or he doesn't come back. Scouting is for boys who want to be Scouts. That means they have to want live up to their promise. Misbehavior shows either they don't want to live up to their promise, or they don't understand their promise. Sometimes a Scout needs a little jolt for the pieces to fall into place. Sometime the Scout is just challenging your resolve. If you don't make the ultimatum and stick to it, the Scout realizes the promise doesn't mean anything.

 

Going back, for a second, to behavior rules and zero-tolerance policies. Most troops start out by saying "The Scout Oath and Law are the model of behavior." Some then add in something like "we have no tolerance for bullying," "we have no tolerance for name calling," "we have no tolerance for foul language," "we have no tolerance for [insert behavioral issue here]." The problem with this is each additional rule or policy reduces the force of the Oath and Law. Bullying is quite clearly covered by the Scout Law, so a zero-tolerance rule against bullying tends to indicate that the Scout Law isn't zero-tolerance. The Scout Law means less because we've added a rule to cover a behavior as if we didn't already have one.

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Well in our Troop, behavior usually isn't a problem. If it is, the Scouts usually get a talking to, which can range from a "hey, just don't do it again" to a "one more time and I'll send you home" (although the leader who said that wouldn't have the gana to do it).

 

If you aren't going to follow through with something, don't say it. If you say "One more time & I'll send you home" then be prepared to do it.

 

If a Scout messes the kybo, he should have to clean the kybo.

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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