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Beavah

What is hazing?

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Forgetting things and singing for them, while that may have been the norm back in the day, heck I remember singing for stuff, it is now considered hazing by BSA

 

Yah, I must have missed da memo. ;)

 

I confess I really dislike ever-expanding definitions, eh? Things can be a poor choice without becoming an issue of criminality.

 

Hazing has a legal definition in many states. It is a criminal act. So I think we have to be awfully careful about accusing any youth or adults of "hazing" unless we actually mean to accuse them of committing a serious misdemeanor or felony. Makin' a lad sing for somethin' we may argue is inappropriate or embarrassing or a poor choice, but it does not meet any formal or even reasonable definition of hazing. In fact, it's hard to imagine anything in scoutin' that does, except perhaps for OA ordeals.

 

Now I confess I come at this from a particular perspective, eh? Accusin' an adult of a crime against children is one of those things that can get yeh in a world of hot water yourself, and people have a right to zealously guard their reputations against such damages.

 

I'm curious, though.

 

Do yeh find this sort of expansive definition becomin' common in your area?

 

Do yeh feel we scouters have a duty under the Oath and Law to stop or correct others who mistakenly apply such a loaded term to fellow volunteers?

 

Beavah

 

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Wow, I never really thought of it like that. When I read your post about singing for fogetting something, it snapped me right back to 1982 to Pine Tree leadership training here in Wisconsin. One of the less enthused scouts in my patrol forgot our patrol flag at the daily leadership meeting which meant that our whole patrol had to do something to earn it back....I think we had to do push-ups....maybe sing while we were doing it....and I hated every second of it. Until this moment I never considered it as I was being "hazed". Thinking about it now, with today's "new" definition, I guess it was....but I think it actually helped us develop into a stronger patrol for the week, because we learned that we were in it together. Thanks for the memories!

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Well Since I was the one quoted, I'll tell you where that came from. As I mentioned it came form several volunteer trainings I've attended as an adult, where is was mentioned that singing for stuff is no longer allowed as it can be considered hazing. Also at PDL-1 at the camp visit it was mentioned. While the "discussion" started out b/c of the 'OWA TAGO SIAM" skit, it did move on to other common practices of my youth, i.e. notching arrows at ordeals, singing for lost items, doing pushups, etc.

 

Also in regards to arrows being notched and other things related to OA there are Operations Updates and other materials on the topic of hazing.

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Yes Beavah, I see a continuing tendency to label many things we did in fun and friendship at one time as hazing, as a very occasional occurrence might happen that found a scout getting their feelings hurt, something accidentally happening to harm them that would rarely happen if similar actions occurred.

 

This applies to traditional things like snipe hunts, sending scouts for bacon stretchers and smoke shifters, notching of arrow in OA, actual tap outs in OA, elimination of certain skits, and so on. Similarly, many long accepted children's games are becoming banned on elementary campuses because an occasional child is not physically or emotionally able to participate on an equal basis, so they can "never win" within their own abilities. Surely much of this is simply an extension of the "failure is not acceptable syndrome" that leads to kids simply not trying, or watered down competitions that mean little or nothing. It also relates to the continued growth of foolish and punitive law suites, and the tendency for many to settle rather than spend to defend. The paranoia about possibly getting sued can be directly connected to the misinterpretation or change of meaning in hazing, or at least I think so.

 

Of course, occasionally someone publishes something pointing out the foolishness, but it does not seem to make much difference, even though everybody rushes to agree with the premise.

 

Personally, I find myself having to force focus on common sense and walking the line between allowing fun if it is basically harmless, and protecting scouts and kids by making reality based judgements. It gets harder the older I get. I honestly fear for the kids that never, or seldom, are exposed to the harsher realities of the world.

 

 

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I dunno. I guess I always considered hazing to be an action directed at an individual, that made them feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or unwelcome.

 

Having the whole patrol (or den) sing to get back a lost patrol flag? Sounds like team-building to me.

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We sing for stuff (as individuals or in groups) all the time. In fact, I've gotten so good at it the boys just give me my stuff back and sometimes "forget" to ask me to sing. ;)

 

I would never call that hazing. Why? It demeans what true victims of hazing have had to endure.

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Would BP consider it punishment to have to sing?...

 

Hazing is all about humiliation.

 

Singing? Might be slightly embarrassing, but as mentioned, if you ask someone else to do something you would do along side them in front of the troop and allow to be photographed & posted on the internet, it's not hazing.

 

If embarrassment is considered hazing, then I guess we may as well get rid of the public speaking portion of various merit badges, because it might make a boy uncomfortable to speak in front of his peers.

 

And let's get rid of boards of review while we're at it, because those might be stressful, intimidating and embarrassing as well....

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Oh I agree with some of the ridiculousness that is out there. I remember being asked to get 50' of shoreline, and surprised the SPL when I spread out in a 50' straight line the sand that I got from the shoreline. :)

 

I also remember being able to notch arrows of those OA candidate who spoke, and sending home those who were warned 3 times or refused to work. When the you cannot send them home policy first came out, we had an incident that no one knew how to handle, and it grew so fast that two groups of candidates stopped working. IMHO they should have been sent home, but our hands were tied. Best thing to do is to isolate the individual causing the problem and place hin in his own work party away from everyone else.

 

As for no more tapping out, I know it's been mentioned elsewhere, but OA stopped the practice b/c it was considered child abuse in Ohio, and maybe a few other states, and there was an Ohio lawsuit in 1983. 3 lawyers on the national OA committee were tasked with reviewing the situation.We all know where that went.

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Singing for lost stuff has never made sense to me. You have the kid who loves and craves attention and will "forget" stuff just so he can perform in front of others and the kid who is so painfully shy he will not venture out of his tent because he could lose something and have to be in front of others.

 

Doing pushups as punishment? So, the musclehead who can snap off 20 pushups in 10 seconds gets to pretty much act like the jerk he is because pushups are easy for him while the scout lacking in upper body development has to toe the line because they have difficulty with the consequences

 

To me, hazing is about humiliating and using power to entertain at the expense of others. ANd yes, hazing has touched me personally, I will spare my story but when it occurred to me I lost all respect for those involved

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Reminds me of our recent sexual harrassment training. The recipient gets to decide...if they don't like it, then by definition, it's harrassment. The moral of the story is, you can't predict who will like it and who won't, so we just don't do it at all. Personally, I thought snipe hunts were great fun...on both sides of the burlap sack.

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Yah, hmmmm...

 

So let's take a fairly typical state's hazing law:

 

No person may intentionally or recklessly engage in acts which endanger the physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating in connection with a school, college or university. Under those circumstances, prohibited acts may include any brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, branding, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug or other substance, forced confinement or any other forced activity which endangers the physical health or safety of the student.

 

So to be hazing, it has to 1) be a requirement of initiation, 2) be associated with a school, 3) endanger the physical health or safety of a student 4) be deliberate or reckless.

 

Singing for things, going for shore line, etc. are not requirements for joining scouts, scouting is usually not associated with a school, singing and pranks do not endanger physical health or safety. Therefore they are not hazing by any stretch of the imagination, and accusing an adult of the crime of hazing for making a lad sing for something is slander and contrary to the Scout Oath and Law.

 

Now states that do have hazing laws are all over da place on 'em, but I'm not aware of any that even come close to making these things hazing. (OA ordeals, by contrast, are initiations, and depriving boys of food while working hard can endanger physical health if carried out a bit too enthusiastically.)

 

We can argue, as OGE does, that singing for things isn't a good choice, or that doing pushups doesn't work well. I personally agree with him, though I reckon it depends a bit on da personalities and the context. I just don't think we need to turn every disagreement about approach or technique into a crime against youth.

 

Beavah

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And what one boy would say is the impetus to chance his life, another boy will say is hazing. Be careful, your career in Scouting is dependent on it.

 

Stosh

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You like Snipe Hunts Pappa Daddy? Think they are great fun?

 

It was a long time ago, in a place far far away, well, actually Chicago area, about 1965 or so. I was a bright young scout, really Gung Ho. I thought being a scout was the bestest thing in the whole world. On one summer campout. we drove for what seemed like hours. We got to the campsite and set up.. The Troop used an Army surplus 16X16, that thing was huge, and it was heavy and we all loved it. After the tent was up and the gear stowed, Charlie, the SPL came over and told me he needed my help. I was in like 7th heaven. Charlie was like a god to us younger scouts, he had his license and his own car. It was a 57-58 Chevy, it was painted candy apple red and roared like a jet, that car was cool. Rumor was he shaved everyday and had a girl friend. I fairly floated as we walked over to the group of older cooler scouts. Finally I was going to be part of the in crowd. I was to be the bag man on a snipe hunt. It was simple, all I had to do was stand on the Snipe trail and hold the bag open and the Snipe would run straight into it. Now, wait I said, I know what a Snipe hunt is, and I am not going to do it. I felt a lot let down that Charlie thought I was stupid enough to fall for a gag like that. So then Charlie says, well, you are right, but you know, Snipes are birds and we happened to have driven into where they live. So, I bought it. I went out and held the bag, and held it, and held it and held it. Well, back at camp the older scouts sure were having a party at my expense, they had this kid who knew about Snipe Hunts out on a Snipe Hunt, it was glorious. The adults on the trip knew what was going on, and reminded them that I was supposed to be brought back to camp about 1 am if I didnt show up first. Back at the Snipe Trail I stood, bag open. I knew Snipes were rare birds and figured we had driven long enough to get in their range. I waited, and waited. Along about dawn I figured I had waited long enough. Seems the older scouts got their signals crossed and everyone thought someone else would get me, but nobody did. I got back to camp as breakfast was being made, and when I was spotted, the whole camp cheered, laughed and hooted. I was not having a fun time. I remember thinking, remember this moment, remember how hot your cheeks feel, how angry you are, you are never ever going to feel this way again. A few months later it was the Fall Camporee. Charlie again asked me for some help. I asked him what, I was more than a little suspicious of anything he said at this point. He told me he needed the Camps Canon Report. It has the schedule of the Camporee on it and it was floating around the camp and people would get it, copy it down and pass it on. So, after being assured it was real, I went off. Gol dang it if every troop I visited had just had it but passed it along minutes before I got there. I went to over 10 troops before a kindly old scoutmaster who knew my dad from work asked me if I had ever been on a Snipe Hunt,. I almost fainted. The rage, anger, fear, humiliation just ran through me like an electric shock. He had done it to me again. I walked back to camp, slinked actually, imagining all who saw me were laughing behind my back, pointing me out as that absolute and complete idiot. When I got back to camp, I walked up to Charlie and told him I was sorry, but I didnt get it, but I would go after it first thing in the morning. I never did go after it and I never talked to Charlie again. I never did anything he said and completely blocked him and all his older buddies out. I learned never, ever to trust what a boy leader said because they were out to get me. As time went on, I made sure that no other scout ever went through what I did. I would tell all the new scouts about snipe hunts and canon reports and all that. I told them if anyone asked them to do anything that didnt sound right, to ask me first. I had a few angry older scouts, but I didnt care and I was getting big enough that nobody retaliated. I eventually was elected Senior Patrol Leader because the scouts knew I would not betray them

 

I did not have great fun

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I have to admit I never thought about it (and I got picked on a lot growing up). We have the boys sing the "teapot song" if they loose there Class A or Book. Once saw a boy I knew who had a bad lisp sing it and wondered if it bothered him.

 

OGE, I can relate though not as bad. When I was a Wolf I was in the woods with my 5 year old brother following some Webes on a nature hike sans adults. My brother wouldn't cross a log over a trickle of a stream and they left us behind. We promptly got lost (first time in the woods) and didn't get out and find a service road for 2 hours. No fun and felt betrayed.

 

My older boy, who has asbergers and other stuff is so literal he will believe anything. He is easy to pull tricks on but will never trust you again. Ever.

 

I am not sure where to draw the line.

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