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Is Punishing Disrespect Also Disrespectful

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WE all read that thread. We all came up with lots of great scenarios and expectations as well as argued the actual intent of the scout in question.


But have you ever just seen something in an entirely different light? I didn't mean to...it just happened! :)


Just a few minutes ago, as I was looking at the basic forum catagories list, I looked over to the right side of the screen and saw a highlighted subject: "Appropriate discipline for disrespect?"


I don't know why, but I suddenly saw that title asking me something in a completely whole new way. Instead of reading it as a mom wrote it, I turned it around based on the situation and I read it as if an Adult Leader wrote it, in which case - to me - it sounded like it was saying:


" How do I MAKE scouts respect me, and how do I punish them if they don't?"



WOW! Kinda scary isn't it? It goes beyond something as simple as respect and steers itself more towards a power issue.


I grew up knowing that certain people and certain positions were deserving of respect, unless the individual did something to loose that respect, but in that case, it was the individual him/herself that lost the respect and not the position. Sometimes respect is earned..sometimes it is owed, but it must always be maintained by the individual in the position of respect, lest the lose it of their own accord.


"Either you respect me or I will punish you!"


A dictator couldn't have said it better!(This message has been edited by scoutfish)

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We. Do. Not. Punish.


Well, should not.


Corrective discipline is supposed to be of a positive and constructive nature.


You really need to read the Guide to Safe Scouting, scoutfish, and you may need to re-take youth protection. From the G2SS, as POLICY:


Constructive discipline.

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


Youth Member Behavior Guidelines


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.

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Re-read my post. I did not in any way condone anything remotely close to corporal punishmemnt.


What I did say was if you took the mother's post, but read it as if the Adult leader/ SM/CC/M/DL or whoever you want it to be wrote it ...


Then it would come out sounding like:


"How do I MAKE scouts respect me, and how do I punish them if they don't?"


See. the mother wrote about a son being disciplined for not respecting an adult leader.


But what if THAT adult leader wrote that same letting and asked:


"How do I MAKE scouts respect me, and how do I punish them if they don't?"


How differently would we have replied to him? What would we have said to him? Would we have even said anything at all other than to take him to task right then and there and tell him to get his egotistical head out of his butt?


Would we pointed outtrhe power trip he was going on and let him know that he absolutely had missed the whole point of the program?


John ,


Like I said, we gave the mom some pretty good suggestions and laid out our thoughts..but how differentluy would we have acted if HE asked us the same thing?

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You really can't punish "disrespect." You can punish harmful actions that come from disrespect. If you concentrate on the actions rather than attitudes per se, then you shouldn't run into problems.


As for getting a Scout to be more respectful, perhaps you should remind him that the Scout Law is chock full of respect, and if he can't follow that then he really isn't a Scout and his time would be better spent elsewhere.

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Everyone has a boss...I don't care where you live or what you do.


And everyone has to learn to respect bosses....even the bad ones.


In Scouting, there is a chain of bosses...just like the military, and if you don't respect it, you should (as a Scout) expect consequences for your actions, just like in real life.


Now if that consequence is the boot....so be it.



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Yah, I never got da notion that you should demand respect. I think it shows a fellow or a gal who just doesn't "get it" and who probably shouldn't be in youth work... or management... or a leadership role anywhere.


Leadership, especially in a youth program, is an act of service. Yeh do it without expecting reward or recognition or respect, out of duty to God or to others. Sometimes yeh get respect; sometimes yeh get grief :p. But if you're lookin' for an earthly reward for acts of kindness and service you're foolin' yourself.


I don't think respect ever comes automatically with a position. I think for some positions (boss, minister/priest/rabbi/imam, physician, etc.) yeh get the benefit of the doubt because of your position. If yeh then demonstrate care and service, yeh ratify the benefit of the doubt you were given and yeh earn respect. If you don't, then people won't respect yeh and it's foolish to demand it. If they're mature, they still might listen to you or obey you because they recognize that's an act of kindness and service to the group on their part in order to keep the company running. But it ain't respect. It's just them being classy.


There's somethin' funny about da Scout Law, eh? It's all positives. Yeh can never force someone to do a positive thing. Can't force 'em to be cheerful. Punishing someone for not being cheerful doesn't work. All you can do is inspire 'em. Inspire 'em to be trustworthy by your own example of being trustworthy and trusting them. Inspire 'em to be reverent by your own example of reverence and your invitation to join in.


We only punish bad choices, like settin' fire to your tent. :) Punishment is for reducing da likelihood the lads will do something negative (again). Good things, like respect, we must inspire.





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Some positions kinda already have the respect


Yah, but only in their area of expertise, eh?


I might respect my new pastor because he's da pastor when he gives a sermon on the meaning of da gospel.


But when it comes to fixin' my toilet, I'm goin' to be respectin' da plumber who lives down the street. No matter what my pastor says. :)


Gotta keep that in mind too. A lad may give da benefit of the doubt to his Scoutmaster on how to set up a tent. But da Scoutmaster may not deserve da benefit of the doubt on how to reprogram an i-thingy... or how to deal with some other "young folks" issue. ;)



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Yeah, some positions do have the respect already.


Takea SM or CM for example. I'd assume that the person has a certain amout of respect due because they are in that position.


But at the same time, if the only reason they are in that position is politics, popularity or butt kissing, they they themselves wil; surely lose the respct of the "office".


That make sense?

My boss has my respect as he is my boss. But he also has it because he truely earned the right to be there through knowledge, experience and hard work. HIs replacement will start out with the same respect too due to the "office" held. but that replacement could wquickly loose that respect if it turns out he got the position due to friendship, nepitism( I spell that right?) or playing good ole boys politics.


If the replacement is a total idiot who does not know the job, he couldn't lose respect faster if he tried!

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"How do I MAKE scouts respect me, and how do I punish them if they don't?"


Your question should be:


I feel I dont have the respect of my scouts. How do I go about earning that respect?


Its really an introspective question. What am I doing as a leader that is not encouraging respect? Perhaps your (and Im referring to our hypothetical leader) method of leading does not include mutual respect and trust?


While reading these respect threads the words of the Roman Emperor Tiberius kept coming to mind: let them hate me, so long as they fear me.


Respect is a two way street. Treat others with respect and youre bound to get it in return. While an adult should get a token level of respect just because of the fact that they are adults, I would much rather be respected as a person, with guidance based on life experience to offer, rather than simply because I am an adult. I think this is a far more beneficial relationship for all concerned.





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Well, I don't know about y'alls line of work, but if I disrespect my boss, regardless of his level of incompetence, I will be fired for insubordination....and jobs in my field aren't easy to find!


Not to mention the concept of "blacklisting".

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From the discussion it seems that most have a good handle on this.


In Scouting, even more so than in civil life - I expect some degree of respect from youth because I'm an Adult.

In Scouting, even more so than in civil life - I expect some degree of respect from youth because I'm a Volunteer.

In Scouting, even more so than in civil life - I expect some degree of respect from youth because I'm a Scoutmaster.

In Civil life, in Scouting, and from my previous Military service - I expect the respect I have EARNED, not necessarily just from being an adult, volunteer or scoutmaster.


On the other hand if I am of uneven temper, act unjustly, meddle in affairs I should leave alone, generally do things I shouldn't do and act in ways I shouldn't act - than all of that whittles away from what respect I should expect.


Now even though I believe in some areas I just should be accorded some and may have even earned some modicum of respect, the reality is that one cannot demand respect - it is either given or not - one may be able to force the show of respect, but the act of forcing the show itself justifies the actions of those who fail to respect the individual in question. Now in some situations it is appropriate to respect an office rather than the person, but this again tends to be an artifice devoted to individuals who have not shown themselves worthy of respect in one way or another.


Let me shift the argument just a little though at this point, so one should allow a Scout to turn away from the flag, put his hands at his side and intentionally not participate in the Pledge of Allegiance? At the very least I think it would be time for a SM conference to determine exactly what the youth is thinking. A little discussion about the responsibilities of a citizen and a refresher on the U.S. Flag code might be in order.


I think that at the point where a Scoutmaster asks the question posed by Scoutfish, it may, perhaps, be time to have a heart to heart with your COR about finding your replacement.

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