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Refusing membership to transferring scouts

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This might be a tricky question as I can''t find a written policy or approach for this situation. Our Troop is only about three months old.


Three of the boys came from another Troop in town, one of the boys came to the troop because he was pretty much the punching bag kid by a few of the other troop members. The other two boys never picked on the kid. The adult leaders at the old troop claimed that they never saw anything so they couldn''t do anything about it. Ironically, the kids of these adults are the perpertators of the behaviour. The adults that came from the old troop were aware of the bullying issue, but didn''t have any authority to solve it.


The boy has been a Scout for over a year, and was struggling to make TF.


The kid who used to be bullied is now very happy, worked very hard to make TF and accomplished it.


The new Troop and kid is running along happy. One day, two of the bullies and dad (the two boys are 1 year apart and are brothers) come to the new Troop wanting to join. The now happy TF told me that he will not stay in the new Troop if they join. These kids in particular were the worst as they made a slingshot and used him as the target, but the SM never saw it.


Knowing that the kids are bullies I don''t want them either. The SPL also said that the new kids are too much trouble as he remembers them.


So what is the best way to deny boys joining the Troop and also denying the adult from being a member of the Committee?


We thought about having the PLC vote on the their membership and then having the Troop Committee validate the PLC vote. Is this a good plan?



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No voting - the BSA isn''t a Frat House. Do not have the PLC do any voting on this - they shouldn''t even be discussing this. It''s apparent that the SPL is already aware of the transfer request, and since the new Tenderfoot knows, maybe the whole Troop knows. That''s all they need to know - that two Scouts from the other Troop are thinking about transfering.


You''ve already heard from the two Scouts who will be the most affected. The Proud New Tenderfoot who suffered in the old Troop at the hands of the two applicants, and the SPL who remembers them as being trouble and likely isn''t looking forward to having to deal with them again.


You could allow them to join on a probationary status letting them know you will be monitoring their behavior very closely - but that means losing your new Tenderfoot unless you can convince him you''ll be keeping a sharp eye on the kids. Frankly, I think this option is too much trouble - why invite such a hassle on yourselves. You''re there to provide a great program to the members of the Troop - not to take on other Troop''s problems.


If it were me, I would consult with the COR, suggesting that the best course of action is to simply refuse to let these lads transfer based on their past behavior - if this seems to be the consensus of the Committee after a discussion (should the committee decide to have a discussion on this and not just leave it to the CC and SM). If s/he agrees, then the SM and CC should call the parents and tell them the answer is no. Now the part where you need to show some real strength. Just say no - no explanation needed. If the parent''s push, say simply that you don''t think their boys would be a good fit with the current members of the Troop. That''s it - the sum total of the explanation. Do NOT bring up their past reputations, do NOT bring up their bullying, do NOT bring up Dad''s turning a blind eye. Do NOT state at any time "It''s been decided" - that makes it seem as if a vote was taken. Just simply state, over and over and over again if need be, that "We don''t believe the boys will be a good fit with the other members of the Troop". It will be hard because they will likely ask Why and Who over and over again, but hang tough and keep repeating "We don''t believe the boys will be a good fit with the other members of the Troop". And when the Troop members ask what happened, the answer is "They decided not to join after all". That''s it - no other answer.




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Others likely have more knowledge about BSA policies on this than I do.


It is my general understanding that troops can decline membership to anybody and really are not obligated to provide any explanation. Clearly one wants to avoid membership decisions based on clearly discriminatory criteria such as race, religion, etc. However, in the circumstances where there is a clear history that indicates incompatibility among the youth in question, I would think that you would be perfectly within your rights to turn these applicants down, and would be prudent to do so. It does not matter that the other parents disagree that any abusive behavior ever occurred. Youth take care and are smart enough to avoid adult notice. Denial is more than just a river in Africa. You are faced with a "he said" vs "he said" situation. This is not a disciplinary situation where you are faced with possibly having to suspend a youth member or come up with a sanction of some kind and justify your action. You are faced with a situation where you are trying to prevent a repeat performance. I think that all you need to say is, "We think your boys will be happier elsewhere," and you are not obligated to provide any explanation whatsoever.

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Any unit can set their own membership requirements. I know of "closed" troops, who basically only take boys coming from their pack, or perhaps boys have to be a member of their church. These are perfectly fine (albeit some one say shortsighted).


Our troop has this policy - any boy can crossover from our pack and is welcome to join. A scout coming from anywhere else is asked to visit with us for two months before we joining the troop. He must attend at least one campout during that time. If we''re all okay with him, then he''s in. The decision is really made by the SM & ASMs, but we let the Committee Chair and COR know, just in case they might have an issue. And so they''ll know the facts and back us up. (We''ve only had one occasion where we felt this way and it never came to pass, the boy never tried to place membership).


I would NOT allow the PLC to make this decision. It becomes a popularity contest. I know a troop where this is out of control. If a boy comes in with a learning disability, he''s rejected by the PLC. Fat and awkward, no dice. Goofy looking, forget about it. Their troop is small and cliquey. The boys all look alike.

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1) Get with the SPL. Stop the conversations. Use a SM Minute to back up the SPL on this.


2) Contact the COR. Do that soonest. You want the COR''s backing.


3) Conduct non-advancement SM Conferences and BORs. You''ve got Proud TF and SPLs input. Gather information from the rest. Use active listening techniques. Be empathetic and sympathetic, but don''t commit.


4) SM, CC, and COR meet, share info and make a decision.


5) If the decision is no, do exactly as CalicoPenn described. If you want highest cover, ask the COR to be the bearer of bad news; he represents the values of the chartering organization.


6) Finally, keep your UC and DE in the loop.


Time is not on your side!

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Something like this happened to us. We got a transfer of three boys from another troop. One of the boys had been hurt on a campout, and one of the other boys had been accused of causing the hurting. There was a district investigation even. The accused scout was much older than the other two, although he had not achieved any rank.


Our parents were up in arms that we would consider the transfer. Our committee was divided. I was willing to give the boy a chance. Our District Executive told me first not to take any of them, then told me it was up to the troop and the charter org.


We had to hammer out a dicision. We took the younger two scouts, but on condition that they be closely watched. The older scout was encouraged to join a venture crew we are associated with, since it would be more age specific. I don''t think he did, but the unvoiced message from us was, sorry, no go.


It is amazing how quickly the parents knew about this. I had a lesson in troop politics, and will not again lightly brush aside their concerns. I also know that the district is not that forthcoming with information that is actually helpful in this kind of situation.



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Yah, eghiglie. Yeh gotta wonder if they just got suspended by the old troop, eh?


You've got a brand new troop that's just gettin'' off to a fine start, and has become a happy home for some lads who were bullied in their previous Scouting experience. Da reason being that weak adult leaders couldn't get off their duff and deal with a serious issue. Never saw it??! That's the weakest adult excuse for not followin' up I've ever heard.


Don't be one of 'em, eh? Protect your new-born unit. New units need some space to grow without dealin' with this kind of youth and parent problem. In a bigger, well-established unit yeh might try a closely supervised probation, but I wouldn't here.


Just say "no."


"I'm sorry, we've discussed it with our committee and CO, and we don't feel like we could provide the Scouting environment your family needs at this time. Thank you for your interest. We'd be happy to refer you to some other units in the area." That decision is final.


Whether we're talking youth members or adult volunteers, it's a membership application, not an entitlement. It's your unit's job to evaluate each application and make a decision that's in the best interest of your program - especially adult applications, but also youth.



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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The situation described by allangr1024 is interesting. I can understand the reluctance to provide information that can be characterized as defamatory. The solution you came up with sounds OK. However, if the older buy was really a danger to the younger boys and there was evidence to back it up, why didn''t the council remove him from BSA altogether? I would think that the legal liability to younger scouts who may be targets of future anticipated abuse would outweigh any fears of liability to the abuser.

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In our case the older boy in question was investigated by the district, but there was no evidence that he did the deed. He was with another boy who was removed from the BSA altogether. They could not tell if he participated or not.


Still, the fact there was an investigation caused our parents to demand that we not accept the older boy. I was swayed when I learned from his mother that he is behind emotionally and socially that what his age would suggest, and that this would be detrimental to our troop if he were accepted as older (16) when he operates on a 13 year old level.


I think we got into a situation where no one wanted to take responsibility of keeping this kid out of scouting. The district guy did not, but left it up to the troops. I dont know what rules he operates under, it is probably dictated by threats of legal action.



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This is not an issue that the boys should have any say in. They've made their position known and that is enough. Coupled with the information that you and the other adults have, you can simply say, "I'm sorry but you would be better served in another unit".


Don't kid yourself, the parents of those boys know what kind of trouble their kids created. They are not naive.


Perhaps you want to be a nice guy and turn this into a positive for them. You could inquire about why they want to leave the last troop. I suspect the answer will be something like...'we want a troop with more discipline'. Tell them that since the boys have a history with some of your scouts they would be better to join a troop where they don''t know anyone. It would be more productive for them.


Foto(This message has been edited by fotoscout)

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