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Appropriate discipline for disrespect

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To make a very long story short, my 15 year old son, a life Scout, was overheard telling his younger brother, a First class scout, that washing pots on a camping trip to the point of sterilization was stupid because they were just going to be washed again at home.


This comment somehow devolved into my son saying that "Respect is earned, not conferred." Our committee chair took that as a personal insult and when my son refused to back down, he was brought home from the trip by the ASM. The CC had already left as he was not staying over in any regard.


My son says that he never said that he didn't respect the CC but he doesn't. He admits that he refused to tell the CC that he respected him just because of his status as a CC and an adult. He does/did respect the ASM involved. My son is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and has an IEP at school. When he feels threatened, he won't back down and he can be defiant. Both of these men have known him for years and are aware of his issues.


To compound matters, when the ASM returned to camp after bringing my son home, he told all present (including my youngest son, who had just bridged into the troop the night before!) that my son was "expelled" from scouting forever! I found out later that the SM, who had been contacted, had specifically told the ASM not to say that and that my son was not being expelled.


To date, neither adult has spoken with us. A meeting is set for next week.


There are two separate but intertwined issues here. One is that out troop has no code of conduct so there is nothing to base an offense or a punishment on. We have spoken with our son and he was disciplined by us with the loss of certain privileges that were important to him. I believe that a suspension of one month and an apology to the CC is warranted. The SM tells me that the CC and the ASM, with their "advisor" (more on him later) want my son to be placed on a zero tolerance permanent probation which will result in him being permanently expelled if he ever does anything they deem disrespectful again.


As to the "advisor." He is a dad in our troop who has single-handedly tried to derail our son's progress at every turn. It is well known that he dislikes my son and my husband. The feelings are mutual. When the current CC was SM, he placed this man on my son's BOR for Life and he convinced the other members of the BOR to fail my son (he holds a position in our council as advancement chair and used his experience to bulldoze the other parents, who told me later that they would have passed my son if not for this man's statements). This "advisor" was not present on the camping trip at issue. I have now been told that CC and ASM have been discussing this incident with him and the email about the meeting was cc'ed to him and indicated that he would be attending. The SM asked the CC not to have him there, but the CC refused. I sent an email requesting that this man not be at the meeting. I have not had a response yet. My husband spoke with our Council Executive who said that he would inform this man to stay away if we requested it but he preferred that we try to work it out. However, we can't work it out if the CC won't respond to our emails or answer our calls.


Does anyone have any advice, either about appropriate discipline or how to keep this man out of my son's life? Note that I do feel that my son should have a consequence. Even though I believe he was goaded into his outburst, he is a teenager and needs to show respect for adults just because they are adults. If there is a probation period, I think it should last only till the end of this scouting year (about 3 months). He has already missed troop meetings and a scouting activity pending the outcome.


Also, it is our inclination to keep our son away from the meeting. At the SM's request, we are bringing him but have not decided if he will come in or wait outside till the adults finish discussing it first. Any suggestions on that?


Lastly, we have informed the SM but not the CC that we will not participate in any meeting if the "advisor" is there.


Frankly, I am so angry that I am on the verge of pulling all three of my boys out of scouting altogether, after a dozen years in the program. However, my son the Life Scout wants to earn his Eagle award.


I am so glad to have found this forum since there is nobody IRL I can discuss this with who has enough knowledge of scouting but isn't involved in our troop or pack.


Thank you.

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Wow, it is unfortunate when adults can not play nice. This "adviser" sounds like he has no business being involved with this meeting as he has no formal position in the Troop.


Are there any other Troops in your area you would consider transferring to?



Edited because I can't seem to spell this evening!(This message has been edited by Scoutnut)

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i just found out from my husband that the "advisor" is a committee member in our troop, but so am I.


There is another troop that I could put my youngest boy into and a Venture crew for the older 2 but we all LOVE our SM and don't want to leave him. This "advisor" actually managed to get our SM suspended two years ago on bogus charges (as witness the fact that the SM is back in place after the investigation was done). I have been begging the SM to move over to the Venture crew as the leader there wants to give up the post, but ...


The saddest part about it is that the "advisor's" son is such a great kid! Everyone in my family is incredibly fond of him. I am just getting to know his younger brother and he is also a good kid. They just have a jerk for a dad.


Thanks for your comments. I was starting to wonder if it was just me.

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I think your son should apologize to the committee chair now - not wait for the meeting.


Then, you should register your son with the Venture Crew before the meeting - he can still earn his Eagle Scout rank there - just make sure none of the Troop's adults are involved in any way, shape or form with his BOR.


Then when they hold their meeting, don't attend. When they ask you later why you weren't there, tell them your son is no longer in the Troop and you saw no point in attending a meeting that was no longer needed.


What's your relationship with the COR?



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So, I'm assuming your son has not been a continual pain in the rear beyond the ability of the average 15 year old. I have one myself.


1) Your son needs to learn how to swallow his pride and apologize to the CC for the whole episode and explain that he respects the CC as an adult. I don't care about his anxiety disorder/IEP since this is a life lesson. Sometimes you say something that someone else takes offemse to and you end up eating dirt. Lesson learned is to not say or write things you don't want to be held responsible for.


As for the CC, I wonder what he was doing hanging around a dishwashing station.


2) Your troop does have a code of conduct: The Scout Law. What you may be looking for is a progressive discipline policy. If there is one it's in the Troop By-Laws.


3) The ASM needs to be given a good clout on the head for announcing something he was specifically told was not happening. This is an SM issue and it sounds like the SM is going to handle it.


4) The "Advisor" is doing nothing more than stirring pot for his own ends. The triad of CC, ASM, and "Advisor" is simply disturbing in that just about all Scout discipline short of suspension or expulsion ought to be handled by the PLC with SM advice and consent.


5) The recommended perpetual probation is idiotic and gives three people not at all responsible for Program a sledge hammer to swat a gnat. This is appropriate for a boy who has committed a series of escalating offenses up to violence and theft. If the SM allows this, run don't walk to another troop.


6) As for this meeting, I, the parent, would run it like this no matter who was there:

A. My son makes an apology to the CC and the SM for his behaviour, acknowledges it is unScoutlike, explains how he has been punished at home, and promises to keep his temper and opinions in check in the future.

B. At this point, I would thank my son and tell him he can go wait outside, and my son would not at all remain in the room after this point.

C. Then I would simply state, "We're done here. If this isn't acceptable to y'all, then SM Bob would you give us a call in about an hour after we get home?"

D. If SM Bob calls me with anything other than a "Don't worry about it, your son and I will discuss this in a SM conference," or a "I think an X month probation is in order, and I'll discuss this in an SM conference. You can be there if you'd like." then we would be out of the troop. And, I'd probably warn Bob that I was writing a letter to the CO and council about three adults who can't seem to act that way.



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Since you can easily move to a VC, why are you hanging around the snake pit with 3 adults who are taking this way, way, way too seriously? Your loyalty is admirable, but there's only so much to which you should subject yourself and your kids.



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It sounds like you son publicly challeneged/insulted/embarrassed the adult leadership at the campout. If that's what happened, maybe the adult leaders don't think he's ready for Eagle yet. A punishment is called for IMHO. I would think 60-90 days no camping and an apology would be appropriate.


When an adult leader doesn't pass a boy on his life BOR, it doesn't necessarily mean he or she is trying to "single-handedly tried to derail our son's progress". It could mean many things (perhaps your son wasn't ready for the rank). Sometimes the volunteers trying hardest to help a scout get the worst wrap. Perhaps their trying to make a good scout while your mind is thinking of that Eagle COH.


I'm not implying that what you said isn't true. But I know from experience that there are two sides to every story. I suggest you and your son talk to the leaders involved. Try not to dwell on hearsay.


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Yah, 5scoutmom, sorry you're feeling your sons' troop leadership isn't living up to what you think is right.


Now, first step for you is to take a deep breath, go out and take a walk, set it aside for a bit and get some perspective. Right or wrong, yeh won't get anywhere unless you step back and help your son learn how to be a man.


Your son is of course right, eh? Respect is somethin' that is earned. Unfortunately, like most teenagers he hasn't yet learned tact or timing ;). Nor has he yet learned that in order to be respected yourself, yeh first have to show respect to others. Both of those are things he needs to learn at his age, eh? Yah, and I reckon he also has to learn that sometimes it's just best not to mouth off to da boss, even if the boss is wrong.


None of the rest matters. Doesn't matter that yeh think the adults are gangin' up on him; doesn't matter which adult is takin' lead on dealing with your son's behavior, doesn't matter that their communication is all confused. Bottom line is your son should have known better, and needs to know better in order to become an effective and happy young adult.


So that's your job as his mom, eh? Your job is to sit down with him and say "Sorry, kiddo, you reap what you sow. You might have just lost Eagle and lost Scouting because you couldn't keep your mouth shut when you knew better, and I'm not going to help you out of it. To be a man in this situation, you step forward, look the other fellow in the eye, and apologize to him for being a twit. And then you accept whatever consequence you get." As his mom, you back the other adults to him, and yeh don't stand between him and da consequences of his actions. Yah, you're goin' to stay with him and help him a bit through and after those consequences, but if yeh step in before then all you're teaching him is that you agree with his unacceptable behavior.


That's it. Your son's anxiety issues or IEP aren't relevant. Scoutin' isn't school, and volunteers don't have to deal with situations or behaviors that they feel are beyond 'em. Da prior history or interpersonal relationships aren't relevant. Da issue right now is your son's behavior on his last trip. Doesn't matter that they don't have a written code of conduct. I think you recognize that your son broke our real code of conduct, eh? And so does he.


Now, yeh seem to have all kinds of other baggage goin' on here, and there's no way for us to sort that out by remote. But generally speakin', in those cases where one adult just doesn't "get" a kid and goes overboard da thing gets sorted out by the other adults. Just takes a bit of time. All that is provided you and your son conduct yourselves well after the fact. It's hard to argue for your son's removal if his family is supporting da troop leaders and the lad is truly sorry. It's easy to remove him if he won't acknowledge his error or if his parents won't support da troop leadership.


Generally speakin', discipline in a case like this is a matter for the SM, not the CC or some "advisor." But when a boy's behavior is disruptive enough, it can rise to the level of da troop committee. The "advisor" may be someone called the "Chartered Organization Representative" - the representative of the owner of the troop, and it might be perfectly legitimate that he's involved. Any way yeh cut it, yeh can't control who da CC or SM choose to talk to.


So... your son needs to apologize, in person and in writing, to the CC and to the ASM. Then your son has to call da SM and apologize to him for causin' a big ruckus. Then it should be a SM conference, then it might be a meeting with some or all of the troop committee, yourself excepted. Then there'll be some sort of resolution.


Then yeh support the other adults in your son's life, and you support your son by makin' him live up to their expectations, or by helpin' him find a different scouting venue to continue his scouting work where there isn't so much baggage. But he's got to learn da lesson first, eh?




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Wait now.



No one knows exactly what happened. We have only heard one side.


We all know some adult scouts can be really horses behinds. Especially committee members. Had some bad experiences with them, It is really easy to sit on the sideline and comment about things going on in the troop with out actually participating.


Your son may or may not have been right in his actions. His statement is correct that respect is earned, a shame the CC is such a small man to extract revenge instead of using it as a teaching moment.


If you pull him from the Troop the lesson you are teaching is flee in the face of conflict.



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My son has been co-registered with the Venture crew since he turned 14. He has also been hired to staff at summer camp this year; he was a CIT last year. He is not and has not been a discipline problem out of the ordinary before this. He is currently a PL and has been a den chief, an APL, a troop instructor and a troop guide. I assume he will be losing his PL status and that is fine.


The BOR at which he was held up was two years ago. The reason the "advisor" gave was that my son MUMBLED! Not that he said anything wrong or his answers were incorrect, but that he mumbled; he was TWELVE at the time. The two other dads there told me much later on that this man had pushed them and pushed them until they agreed that my son should not be passed on his BOR. They were afraid he would retaliate against their boys. By the time they told me, he had been passed by a different BOR so all I did was ask the SM never to assign the "advisor" to a BOR involving any of my sons again.


The CC is not picking up the phone when we call. He emailed us that he would talk to us at the meeting and not before. I will have my son apologize before the meeting. My son was banned from the troop meetings so I couldn't bring him there to apologize and I am not bringing him to the CC's home. I agree that my son should apologize and he plans to. I have spoken with him at great length about how he should just suck it up and apologize because the CC deserves respect as an adult. I said that it doesn't matter, you still have to treat him with respect. He is 30 odd years older than you and he has earned respect for his life experiences.


I just still can't figure out how my son's general stupid comment to his brother morphed into this debacle. It seems to me like the CC had his feelings hurt because nobody has said word one to me about anything specific that my son said that was disrespectful. From what I can gather, he was told that he had to respect the leaders and he said "Respect is earned, not conferred." He did NOT speak in a rude tone, did not raise his voice, did not swear or curse.


The "advisor" has always been an enemy. The CC has been ok till this point and, as I said before, the ASM was one of my husband's best friends till this happened. I was always able to deal with the "advisor" before but now if the balance tips, I will pull the boys out.


It's just a shame. This boy has 5 years in the troop and my next one has 3 in. Many of their friends are from scouting; it's a large part of their identity. For my little guy, it could be ok. His best friend went to the other troop in town because it's meeting night didn't conflict with his sports schedule.


I don't have a problem with appropriate discipline. I know the Scout Law and oath are the code, what I meant is that our troop has no formal disciplinary code that I know of. I have never seen one and I have never seen the troop by-laws, either. I don't want these people making up punishments and I won't stand for any that are purely punitive, rather than intended to help him learn and grow as a scout and a person. A suspension and a banning from Troop activities till the end of the year would be acceptable. Even the boys who had a knife fight at sleep away camp two years ago (one of them the son of this ASM) were not treated this harshly! I will pull the boys if they put him on 'Animal House" double secret probation.


I in no way believe that my son is blameless. I do believe, knowing the personalities involved, that he was goaded. My 13 year old said that they asked him the same thing and he just said 'Yes, of course I respect the leaders." His older brother mouthed off and said "respect is earned."


I am sorry for rambling. This has just upset me so much. I think of our Troop as an extension of our family and to be embroiled in a fight like this is not what we want. Thank you all for listening and for your advice.

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And as an afterthought -


I mentioned his anxiety disorder and his IEP only because it is something that has been fully disclosed to all adults involved for years. They know that he has difficulties when backed against a wall; we have had meetings and brainstormed about how to handle this IF it came up, which it never has in five years before this. I can't figure out why they didn't just take a cool down period at the camping trip and come back to it. My 13 year old said that they just started yelling at his brother and yelling and that he was cowering in a corner. None of the adults has told me what happened other than my son was "disrespectful." There was no physical violence or threat and the only other scout who was around at the time was my other son.


If I pull him out, I am not running away from a problem. I will only pull him out if we can't resolve this satisfactorily. The "advisor's" presence at this meeeting is a deal breaker for me and my husband. I can't stop the CC or ASM from talking to him, but it is utter disrespect for my family if they insist on having him at the meeting.


Our COR would be a good choice to participate. He has worked with my son on a couple of merit badges and knows him well. I would have no objection to his participation. He is a fair person and I would accept his mediation as well. The ONLY person I have an issue with is this "sdvisor." He has not earned MY respect.


I have no plans to challenge any disciplinary action that is fair and is rooted in scout ethics. I just wish that this could have been more of a learning experience, rather than a slap down by someone who is bigger and older.

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One thing really concerns me:


"as I said before, the ASM was one of my husband's best friends till this happened"


Why? At some point, aren;'t you prepared for a situation where the outcome may not favor your child? Loss of friendship because it didn't go your childs way seems extreme..especially when the final outcome does not solely belong to the ASM.


Now, I know there are two sides to every story, and they usually do not sound even close to being the same.


But when your some made the original comment about a thorough cleaning being stupid, he was trying to justify and reason himself out of doing a duty. And I know he did not "mean" to attack anybody, but in essence, saying that "....that washing pots on a camping trip to the point of sterilization was stupid because they were just going to be washed again at home.: is in essence calling the leadership stupid for requiring it.


Simply put, he questioned the leaderships intelligence. No, I'm sure that's not what he intended, but that is what happened.


I was a kid not so long ago...well maybe it was long ago, but I remember it well. I have no doubt your son did not mean that comment with the severity it has strangely been taken with.


But like Beavah said...There is a certain amout of pride that has to be eaten in your son's position. The position deserves respect even if your opinion of the individual says not.


And as a former kid...yes, it's true... I know that I did not always tell my parents things verbatum. Of course everybody over reacted to my actions or comments. Of course the made a mountian out of a mole hill. It was never my fault! The world was out to get me!


Yep, typical teenager mentality.


The boy owes an apology .


Now having said that, I think somebody does need to reel in the "advisor". Wether he is the COR or not, he should not be having direct dealings with your son. He should work throughy our committe and they should advise te SM and ASM, who should advise the PLC.


But If the mentality is that he is "the enemy" It would probably be best served to leave the troop as even if "the enemy" makes a perfect descision or observation about your son one day, you will automatically question it regardless of it's validity ...solely because of who made it.


You may not like the guy, but declaring him the enemy will only contimue to bring heartache and trouble to your scouting experience.

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Scoutfish -


The friendship with ASM was damaged when he announced to all of the people present that my son had been "expelled" from Scouting despite having been told not to by the SM. He, as an adult, chose to subject my 13 year old son to humiliation AND to reduce my youngest son (who, as I mentioned, had just bridged to the troop the night before and was on his first scout outing; he thought his brother had been taken to jail!) to tears. The son who was involved had already been dropped off at home and wasn't even there. NOBODY but my 13 year old, the ASM and the CC knew what had happened at that point. It was the broadcasting of the incident around the camp that has damaged the friendship. I hope that it can be repaired but my husband is so hurt by it that I don't know if they will ever be as close again.


The "advisor" is NOT the COR. He is on the committee for the Troop and has a volunteer position at council.


So far, it seems that people agree that my son should apologize. That is a given. I don't think he was right. I do think his comment to his brother was not intended to be heard by anyone but his brother, but it was. I told him the walls have ears and apparently the woods do, too. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK. He was not trying to get out of the cleaning job; in fact, he and his brother were on their way to the alternate location, pots in hand, when the comment was made. Was it stupid? YES! Does it deserve discipline? YES. Does it warrant the level of reaction these people have given it? No and I believe that the "advisor" has stirred it up for his personal reasons.


There have been a couple of concrete suggestions in here as to appropriate discipline.


The 60 - 90 days mentioned as a suspension would take us to the end of this soout year. I would not have a problem with 60 days, 90 days is pushing it. An apology to the CC is a given; however, since his offense was committed privately and not in front of the Troop, I don't believe an apology to the Troop is warranted. He was not the one who publicized the incident. I disapprove of the adults yelling at him, but I am not going to ask them to apologize to him. I assume that if he is suspended, he will lose his PL status; that is a reasonable consequence. An essay on the meaning of respect would be acceptable to me but since my son has a learning disability in writing, I am not going to suggest it. If they do, I will have him do it.


I am certainly not condoning my son's behavior, but from the evidence I have here, the adults did not act too well, either. The "advisor" was not even on the trip and he is putting his two cents in.


I guess my bottom line is - the discipline needs to be reasonable and appropriate and the "advisor" can not be involved in it.


My son enjoys the crew as an adjunct but the Troop is his home.


Frankly, in scrolling through the topics here, I have seen that people have allowed a scout who offered pot to other scouts to remain without consequence, have not imposed discipline nearly as severe as we are speaking of for my son on scouts who fought at camp, and did nothing to a soout who displayed a joint on a camping trip (the SPL took it away but didn't tell an adult till a month later).


I don't want to leave my Troop - we were here before the "advisor" and our youngest sons are the same age.

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