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CrewMomma

The Ugly Side of Scouting - Discipline

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With working with as many boys as we do, you are bound to come up with some that are going to have behavioral issues. Does your troop have a process for dealing with behavioral issues? You know, like warnings or probation? Have you ever had to ask a scout to leave the troop due to behavioral issues?

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PLC handled all discipline problems. have had to send someone home. Worse case I heard of, and I know it's a true one as the individual involved told me, was a scout getting sent home from Jamboree on the second day. Obviously no refund and mom had to pay all expenses to pick up her son.

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Yes our troop has removed boys from the unit as a disciplinary action. We have no formal process for dealing with this. Removal has in all cases of which I am aware been initiated by the SM, who brings it up in the regular committee meetings. In only one instance was the removal contested by the scout and his family, but ultimately the troop was upheld in its decision.

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SO what would prompt you to remove a boy from the Troop? What actions would the boy have taken where you felt you had to remove him?

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I don't know that this is the "ugly side" just part of the job description.

 

Our behavioral policy is intentially very sparse, a little more than two pages. It starts with the Oath and Law. Then we have minimal behavorial expectations for all Scouts and a list of higher expectations for Scouts in leadership positions and those wishing to advance. The expectations cover more than just a list of Thou Shall Nots, but include stuff like expectations for attendance, uniforms and leading by example. There is also a list of expectations for the adults which includes stuff like supporting their Scout and the troop.

 

Consequences are intentionally left very vague so that the Scoutmaster and Committee have maximum flexibility to deal with situations. A nearby troop has a policy which gives weight to the various offenses times the number of prior offenses, blah, blah, blah. I don't have time to keep up with that mess. We use our best judgement to come up with an appropriate response to the situation. Youth leaders are encouraged to deal with discipline situations to the extent of their ability while keeping the adult leaders apprised of the situation. The SM is authorized to remove boys from any activity or meeting if he deems it necessary for up to a month. Longer suspensions or expulsions are up to the committee.

 

Yes, in five years we have suspended two boys and eventually removed one of them from the troop. Both boys had engaged in dangerous (and stupid) activities which put themselves and other at serious risk.

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A local troop just removed a young man from the roster.

 

 

While on a weekend Camp out on Private property several scouts snuck off and vandalized the owners building to the tune of about $1600. Destroyed mens and womens bathroom and destroyed a soda machine. Two of the three told the exact same story and the third, who did the damage told another. My understanding is his boot prints matched the ones on the wall and on the kicked in doors and on the destroyed stall dividers.

 

Needless to say scouts, all scouts are no longer allowed to camp on that site.

 

I just don't understand, why boys do this sort of thing.

 

 

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Basement Dweller -

 

Did these boys have prior issues or was is just "Out of the blue" and a shock that these were the boys involved?

 

I guess what I am getting at is, if you have boys with discipline issues, what's the final straw for you to say "ok, enough is enough" as a volunteer?

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CrewMomma,

 

To answer your questions about our troop, in all three cases there was a history of general misbehavior, disruptiveness, etc., even after being counseled.

 

The first case is the easiest to understand and I have written about this one before in other threads. This happened several years ago. This kid was fooling around with a knife at summer camp, threw it at another scout from another unit, hit that scout in the eye, and sent that kid to the hospital. The camp director immediately demanded that the offender be sent home. That was done and he was removed from the troop at the same time. We did get a letter from the parents asking for reinstatement. There was no doubt that this kid needed scouting and could have benefited from scouting, but the safety of the other scouts was our paramount consideration.

 

The second incident also involved summer camp. This boy was difficult to handle and I personally knew him better and liked him. He was not a good example to the younger scouts and occasionally disruptive. He had been counseled repeatedly. Again he stood to benefit from being in scouts, but crossed a line with the SM that caused the SM to want to remove him.

 

Contrary to instructions, this scout had driven a car to summer camp. Upon discussion with the SM at camp, he agreed that he would not drive any other scouts home with him. He gave his own best friend a ride home anyway. When the SM learned about this, he, the SM, had had enough. This boy's parents (who had enabled the misbehavior by making the car available to him) objected. We referred the matter up to district which everybody agreed was fair so that other senior volunteers who had no axe to grind could advise. In that "hearing" the boy acknowledged everything and exhibited no remorse or contrition whatsoever. Scout removed. Case closed.

 

The third case I know a lot less about. I know the SM had wanted to remove him earlier, but was essentially overruled. Further counseling was provided. A year later he was gone. I don't think there were any particularly egregious incidents with this kid, just general attitude and disruptive behavior.

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In our situation with the boy we eventually expelled, we probably let it too long. The kid was a bad influence on a number of other kids and was absorbing a disproportionate amount of our time. Sad thing was, when this kid was away from his posse, he was a pretty good kid. After a year and a half, we pulled the plug.

 

His main problem was he was a firebug. His first campout he was lighting matches in his tent and setting paper on fire. He was suspended for three months for trying to light a propane cylinder on fire. When he came back, he continually did things to irritate the adults and show off for his buddies. Nothing big, just not doing what he was supposed to do, being disruptive, not being where he was supposed to, constantly pushing the rules and causing conflict. We finally got to the point where the stress and aggrivation of dealing with this kid wasn't worth it. Since he was already on probation from the propane thing, he was removed from the troop.

 

Once we got rid of the kid, the behavior of the others improved immediately. I don't know if the kid we suspended was really the instigator of all the problems, or if giving him the boot put the fear of God into the rest. Either way, it sure solved a lot of problems.

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It's hard to remove a kid because as leaders, our goal is to create an environment where the kid can learn and grow. However when the kids is so disruptive to the rest of the group that it takes all the leaders to manage him, it might be time for him to move on. I don't know if its a "giving up" on the kid or really not knowing how to handle the mental/behavioral issues. As leaders, we aren't psych majors, we are volunteers doing the best we can.

 

We had a kid that was removed earlier this summer, after being with the troop for about 4 years and having a long history of behavioral issues during those four years, that was showing threatening and violent behavioral that just kept escalating as he got older. He is now a mid-teen. It got to the point where his behavioral was threatening to the leaders and intimidating to the other younger scouts so he was removed from the troop. Now there is a fear that there is going to do some kind of "revenge/retaliation" coming down the road.

 

We really tried to work with him but his mental health issues were beyond what we could handle. I am upset for him but you have to think about the safety of the rest of the troop.

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This is my story for my Scouts (and impatient leaders) about "the bad kid" or "the annoying kid".

 

When I was in my troop as a Scout, there was this one knucklehead. He had at least one knife confiscated off of him every trip (as his patrol leader, it was usually by me), talked back to the older Scouts (and some leaders as well), was regularly in fistfights, had some extremely dangerous moments with fire, made the leaders absolutely crazy, and had almost no Scouting abilities whatsoever. In his third year of Scouting, we all (about 50 kids and 15 adults) went up to New York state for a week of camping in a state park. There were backpacking trips of various lengths and other adventures. One of those adventures was a 14 mile canoe trek with all of us.

 

Anyway, the day started in the 90s with a bright sun. Out of nowhere (the weather forcast had predicted a gorgous, hot day), we had a rain storm come through that dropped tempatures 25 degrees in a half hour, as well as soaked all of us head to toe. I was unfortunate enough to have an extremely large Scout (at least 50 pounds heavier than myself) in the front end of my canoe who froze up and would not paddle. I exhausted myself trying to get downriver, and I was freezing due to the rain and the paddling wasn't warming me up. We all made it back, crammed into the vans, and went back to camp. When we got there, I wandered back to my lean-to I was sharing with "the outcasts" of the troop (who were all kids I had had in my patrol at some point and helped along), including before mentioned knucklehead (my tent had been flooded out on a backpacking expedition, they were nice enough to make room for me in their lean-to). I was exhausted and completely out of it, and I lay down in my soaking wet clothes to sleep.

 

The knucklehead looked over at me, immediately realized something was wrong, and told one of the other Scouts to go find one of the leaders who was a nurse. I insisted I was fine, I was just tired. The other kids were laughing and carrying on and told him to leave me alone, I was fine. He told them to "Shut the (word deleted) up and go fine Mrs. So-and-so right now", which one of the kids, taken aback, did. He and another Scout in the bunk immediately started to get me out of my wet clothes and into dry ones.

 

I was, as you may have guessed, was in fairly advanced case of hypothermia, one missed by a carload of good friends (many who were also the youth leaders of the troop, many of whom became Eagle Scouts), an ER doctor who was driving the van I was in, a lean-to full of far more Scoutlike Scouts, and, in my humble opinion, a group of some of the finest Scout leaders to ever put on a uniform. The leaders came and put me into a van with heat cranked, covered me in blankets, fed me hot chocolate and soup, and sent me 800 miles home that night. Alerted to the danger by this kid, they searched the camp and found some less serious cases, which they also took care of.

 

It was the knucklehead, the screwup, the unscoutly Scout who figured out that something was wrong, and immediately went into action despite my own and his bunkmates arguments. If I had gone to sleep for an hour or two, who knows what would have happened?

 

So you simply never know.

 

And even those kids who do get removed, you still may have made a difference.

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Momma......These were not boys I knew other than seeing them at District events. The Troop was disruptive at district events, but again I have no idea if this was the last straw or not.

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Yes after this past summer camp.

 

The boy was disruptive all week, pushed quite a few buttons and caused trouble. He somehow convinced the SPL that they should cut classes all day to catch up on sleep. The SPL caved in. Both him and the SPL earned 1 MB each. $350 for 1 merit badge. The other 4 boys that came completed all the badges they signed up for.

 

During the school year he attended two weekend campouts, out of nine.

 

During the school year he would brag to me and the other scouts about all the detentions he would get in school. I thought he was kidding to show he was a tough guy. His parents confirmed that he really did serve at least one detention a week in 7th grade. He claims everyone at school hates him.

 

When his parents picked him up I spoke to them and they told me about his issues. He then started saying that I hate him.

 

The parents then stated that they would need to reconsider his being active in the troop, I replied that its a family choice they would have to make. He can remain in the Troop but one of his parents would have to attend all meetings and outings.

 

They chose to leave.

 

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Years ago we had two brothers in the Troop who were real trouble makers. They were not at all interested in bring Scouts, but their father had grown up in the Troop and was on the Committee, along with several other guys who had been in the Troop since they joined as kids.

 

These two were very disruptive in part because they didn't want to be there, but had no choice. Their parents apparently told them they had to be in Scouts or they got no other privileges. So they showed up and screwed around, but could care less about anything to do with Scouting.

 

I had just become SM after a year in the Troop as ASM, so was very new the whole thing, so was very naive about discipline. The established adult leadership caulked up the behavior of these two brothers as "boys will be boys", and resisted on imposing any discipline on the kids of their good friend.

 

Finally they were caught red-handed vandalizing a park facility on a camping trip, with nearly $1,000 assess by the rangers. The boys vehemently denied, despite numerous witnesses including myself and another ASM, and their parents completely believed their sweet little boys. Rather than waiting to be expelled, the parents and boys quite the Troop and refused to pay a cent of the damages they caused. The Committee didn't want to take any legal action, believing their old buddy had suffered enough, and paid for the damage out of the Troop budget.

 

Nevertheless, when those two left the Troop, it was as if the clouds had cleared and sun shined down on the Scouts. Without these two bullies, the Scouts started having much more fun at Troop meetings and on camp outs. Despite all the pain of the event, everyone was greatly relieved to have them gone.

 

Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, I would have expelled those two far sooner, and ignored the good old boy protection network that was so well established in the culture of the Troop at that time. There were numerous times they did things I would now take action on. No reason to wait until it hits the fan. We now let the Scout Law be our guide and authority - step outside of it, and discipline will be imposed, starting with the PL, then SPL, PLC, ASM, SM, and eventually the Committee.

 

If a kid really does not want to be a Scout, forcing him to be there will not develop character!

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Our policy is similar the the one described by twocubdad.

 

In 15 years as a troop 1 scout has been expelled for cutting large holes in a tent at summer camp and also throwing his knife at a tent that was occupied by scouts.

 

We've been blessed the past few years with good kids.

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