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Racist remarks within the troop

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I'm with Beavah. Be Prepared. You know what right looks like, we'll be your sounding board.


Get your COR in the loop. Yesterday. Make sure your CC has your back.


Have a friendly cup of coffee with your UC. If the parents decide to make fallout, you want him and your DE also watching your back.


Keep talking with us :)

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Wow!!, Don't we have some learning opportunities here.

1) Weekend trip is out for both.

2) For the SPL:


- DEMOTION! Maybe APL if your so inclined to even give him that.


- If he does not have his Citizenship In The Community yet, make him do his required 8 hours of service to a non-profit organization with an organization that deals specifically with racial discrimination and hate crimes.

He also needs to watch a movie about the en-betterment of a community for the above merti badge. I wonder if Schindler's List, or a documentary on the Bosnian or Rwandan genocides, and how those countries are trying to work through the racism, would get the point across. But then again, the kids of todays society see so much violence on TV and at the moovies, that this probably would not have the affect that is needed.


- Same goes for Citizenship in The Nation. Have the speech that he needs to read, be a speech from an activist, or someone who has experienced racial discrimination.


- If he has not planned out an Eagle Project yet, have him center the project around fighting racial discrimination, community solidarity and awareness. Maybe a Cultural Diversity Fair for the community or school. Maybe set up, promote and run a conference on racial discrimination and hate crimes.


If he wants Eagle, he'll follow through. Maybe his eyes will be opened and he'll learn something.


Same goes for the younger scout. Same requirements. I don't think the above requirements are to harsh. Hopefully the above requirements will make them better men.

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I wonder were you know who got his start? Yes, maybe Schindler's List may be a bit extreme, but isn't 6,000,000 people ethnically cleansed because of their heritage the worst case scenario of racial discrimination? Sometimes it takes extremes to get boys to open their eyes and see the real picture. Only then may they see the societal effects of what they may consider harmless comments and name calling.


Another option could be something on Apartheid. In 2000, my son had the honor of meeting and becoming friends with Dr Colin Smith of the Tutu Foundation. Dr Smith is one of Mandela's confidants who had to flee S. Africa during Apartheid, because of threat on his life. He later returned, and became one of Madela's govt. officials, before moving to the Foundation.


In my last post, I meant to also throw in the American Culture MB as being required for these two.


The best way to open these scouts eyes would be to throw them in a reverse discrimination setting for 4 or 6 hours, maybe a day, where they were the ones on the receiving end, without their prior knowledge. The only problem would be how to do this effectively, while keeping them safe, and not lessening the effect because they think or know that they will be out of the setting in so many hours or at a certain time.


The scouts in question should have to work at getting off this hook, and show that they have learned from the experience. It shouldn't be a slap on the wrist.


Scout, how would you handle this situation?

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So was Smith a part of what the ANC which our own State Department classified as a terrorist organization in the 1980s and responsible for the murder of whites too like Mr. Mandela. I hope so . . . that would make a great role model.


I would want to know what the kids said first. Has anyone even asked that?

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ASM's requirements are a little extreme. However, I do think that a demotion from SPL is appropriate. In addition, I think some volunteer work in the black community would be appropriate--maybe a few hours with the Boys/Girls club somewhere in a minority section of town. Regardless, I think Buffalo Skipper is on the right track about treating this seriously. For Scouts to survive, we can't have a racist reputation. I'd rather kick out the racists than lose the minorities.

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Well, lots to digest, and my heart has been very heavy over this all week. The consequences of these boy's actions will be significant and multifaceted. However, for the moment, I am asking specifically about how to handle the issue of Scout Spirit.


Clearly, this is not to be signed off, but neither scout is ready to advance. One aspect of this (there will be additional consequences) will be a Scoutmaster conference, and I intend to formulate a 3 month plan of showing improvement. How can I phrase this? Do I say something like: "I have to see that you don't use racial slurs for 3 months." That kind of leaves the wrong impression, in my book (it's OK 3 months from now, but not between now and then). This is what I was trying to ask earlier when I was talking about implementing a "zero tolerance rule."


I have some other ideas which I may discuss here further, but I need to run them by the Committee Chair and CoR first. I do not doubt that I will have their support, but I feel I need to their blessing before I act, to ensure a cooperative front on this issue. Nothing could be more devisive than acting without having the committee back up my decisions. Both CC and CoR are veteran scouters (15+ years each), Eagle Scouts, and, both have Eagle sons (from our troop); neither of them have had youth in the troop for many years (creepy, isn't it?). My point being that they are experienced, knowledgable and have great perspective.

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Yah, yeh aren't goin' to change a deep-seated attitude in three months, eh?


Not everything has to be tied to advancement. Advancement is designed to encourage kids to work hard to do good things. It isn't set up to stop bad behaviors. In fact, if you use advancement that way, you cheapen it, because everyone starts to feel "well, I didn't do anything bad, so I deserve to get...".


Bad behavior gets addressed through adult relationships (disappointment, losing trust), patrol method (positive peer pressure, group roses & thorns), outdoors (natural consequences), and youth and adult leadership (decisions about roles, participation, and membership).


So I'd leave advancement out of this, eh? No need to talk about it unless they bring it up. They shouldn't advance until they've rebuilt trust, and until you see that they are demonstrating scout spirit and making a positive contribution to the program that advancement represents. That could be in three months or three years, whatever.




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OK, here is what has been decided so far. Tonight before the weekend activity, I will have a Scoutmaster conference with each of the offending scouts, separately, of course. I will advise them that a matter like this would normally be presented before the PLC for review (aside: All discipline is usually handled through our PLC and has been for many years; sometimes the PLC has decided that this is out of their hands and they defer the adult leadership, however). As all involved (offenders and victim) are members of, and make up nearly half the PLC, this is not a practical solution, and I will begin to deal with this accordingly. First, each will need to come up with a 3 month plan on how they can show improvement in this area (and just saying I wont do it, is not sufficient). Until they have successfully followed through with this 3 month plan, I will not sign off on the Scout Spirit requirement for their next advancement. I will also make it clear that there will be additional consequences for this behavior, but that it must first be discussed and agreed upon by the other adult troop leaders. Finally, if there is any indication of continued behavior (especially this weekend), there will be an immediate and severe consequence.


[aside: in response to Beavah's and Eagledad's most recent responses: Though this will certainly delay one scouts advancement (and he has pleny of time before he is 18), it is unlikely to slow up the other. Identifying this aspect of their punishment is not something I will bring up in a conference; they should be aware of their advancement requirements and needs. I expect them to show scout spirit, regardless of their earning rank. It is not my "goal" to hold up their advancement. And, in fact, they will be determining their own "punishment" through their 3 month plan.]


As our CC works offshore and will not return for another 6 days, he, the CoR and I will not be able to make a final decision for another week. However, my recommendations to them will be that these two scouts be suspended from the next weekend outing (which is our 4 day hike over MLK weekendour biggest activity of the year outside of summer camp, somehow appropriate), and remove each from their leadership position (but allow each to run again at the next election in mid-March). I have suggested that we not air this before the whole committee, and that we meet to discuss this and decide at the earliest opportunity. I will be the one to act and enforce our collective decision. This way there is little room for backlash from parents, and no public debacle. It is a case of getting permission first rather than asking for a blessing afterward. If removed, I will (preferably) announce to the other scouts that these two have stepped down for personal reasons and hold a new SPL election after New Years (our next meeting), followed by PL elections for vacant spot(s). There will be additional fallout from this in our troop, but I will save that for a later conversation.


I know many of you have recommended a stronger and more immediate response, and I value your advice. In fact, I considered what each of you has said very, very carefully. A combination of factors here, most of which I have discussed, temper my (perceived?) ability to react so swiftly. That I have not been installed as SM, that the outgoing SM (who counseled these boys years ago) is out due to health issues (surgery yesterday), and that I cannot consult with the CC as he is offshore for another week all played a role in this measured response. By delaying their suspended activity, they will miss a greater hike, as these scouts played a large role in planning this hike (where we have never gone before). I remember missing a long hike my troop went on 30 years ago as punishment for a transgression (family related); obviously, after so long a time, missing it had an impact on me.


I feel I have created a situation in which Joseph will not feel threatened this weekend. He and I have discussed this some, though I have made it clear that the exact nature of their punishment is a matter between me and them, and I will not involve him in the final judgment. From my perspective, seeking Josephs approval in their punishment is inviting an eye for an eye scenario. If push comes to shove, I have laid the groundwork to remove these two from the activity if there is another incident (in such a way as to jeopardize neither 2 deep leadership nor troop safety).


I will continue to seek advice on an acceptable 3 month plan of improvement. I will leave this up to each scout to create and present to me. I want to have an expectation of what may be appropriate for this (without adding to requirements). I think this leaves me with a lot of wiggle room, but it helps them create their own punishment.


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Yah, Buff, just one quick gut-check, eh?


If you were a teenager, and you just got told you were losing your position of authority and being kicked off the second most fun outing of the year because some wussie black kid named Joseph ratted you out to the adults for callin' him names.


What would you do or say to Joseph, or about Joseph to others, on this weekend's trip? When the adults weren't watching, of course.


You're askin' for an ability to deal effectively with short-term emotions of anger, frustration, etc. that is beyond most teen boys, and I expect well beyond these two characters. Don't set these boys up for failure, mate. Lads need time to process and simmer down.


Like it or not, you're the guy who is the responsible adult right now. Whether you hold the title or not is completely irrelevant. Somethin' happens on this trip, it's on you.


Are you sure you want to be personally responsible for puttin' these boys back together in a youth led outing situation this weekend? And are yeh sure that yeh want to start your tenure as SM by not fully steppin' forward on an important matter?


Personally, I don't think boys are real good at learning from punishments that come more than a month after their behavior. It feels like a sort of arbitrary punishment - an "adult thing" - rather than a natural consequence. "After all, if it were really important, he wouldn't have let me go on the December trip, would he?"


Beavah(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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I hear you loud and clear. In fact, I have no intention in saying anything about their POR and the next hike. Any decision regarding that will be made by myself, the CC and CoR. I do intend to address the issue and advise them that they need to come up with a plan. I will not "advertise" how this may be implemented, so it is unlikely they will make a leap connecting this with their advancement. I will be very clear with them that any escalation of this will result in immediate action on my part. For Joseph's sake, I cannot allow this weekend's activity to take place without some response.


If you are saying, that I need to keep these scouts off this outing, I understand and appeciate this. However, without setting them up for failure, I have given much thought to this and I believe I can deal with this at the campout if needed. Since your post, I called and spoke to one of our most experienced adults, who has known both these scouts since they joned. He does not feel that either will react in this situation. One will have his dad there (he is always good in front of his dad). The other, is not one to act alone; at worst, he will declare he does not want to participte, which will be accepted immediately, and may yet serve other purposes. Regardless, we feel this is in hand. I have laid the groundwork for an emergency plan to get through this if things escalate on the hike (getting off the trail and sending these boys home). I don't want (or expect) to have to go to plan B, here, but it is ready if needed.

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I like what Beavah just wrote. I think these two young men deserve two weekends of not getting the Outdoor Method of Scouting.


I like the idea of letting Scouts define their consequences, but having a more dramatic consequence in backup.


We are coming up on MLK. I think NOW is the time for these Scouts to be exposed to what happens when racism is writ large. Think about having both the assassination of Dr King and the riots to hand. Racism is something that should resonate at the "gut-check" level.


There's a part of me that wants these Scouts to experience intimidation as part of their consequence. Something tells me they've never been on the far side fo the bridge. I don't know how to achieve this, though, in a world where YP and G2SS matter.


I think, finally, Barry hits on a good point of having the parents in the background: BUT!!! there is an "if and only if" in that: If a quiet conversation with the parents show "they get it", then this can happen. If the parents are part of the problem, then you may well have a bigger problem. It may not show up now, but it will.


Keep your guard up.

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