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how to address a SM about his treatment of special needs scouts

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A few years ago a small group of us decided to start a new troop in our area because we could not find an existing troop where the needs of our boys were being met. Every family involved in starting the troop has at least one son with special needs. Most are not apparent when looking at the boys. We have boys who have Aspburger's, severe ADHD, ED, learning disabled, dyslexicia, dysgraphia, and bi-polar. One is a brittle diabetic.


Some of the scouts were older and had been ostricised by other troops to the point that they had left. Most of the boys were just crossing over to scouts.


Our problem has been that the leaders all have a "rebel" attitude about everything. They do not want to read scouting liturature or only look up specific topics and interpret the information the way they want. They openly state at the meetings that they "buck" the system, yet expect the boys to follow the troop rules (which have never been written down).


Things have finally come to a head- our oldest scout only has 18 months to finish his Life and Eagle rank. The next two boys only have 21/2 years to finish their last 2 ranks and Eagle. This could be possible for a "normal" boy. Unfortunately we have been told that the disabilities these boys have would not allow them an Eagle extention. They need this time. The SM is very focused on that core group that crossed over at the beginning of the troop creation. His sons are in this group. The needs of the older boys are being ignored as are the needs of the younger boys just crossing over. Now we are having behavior problems from these two groups.


We have tried to explain to him that these boys MUST have consistancy. They must know what to expect as well as what is expected of them. The SM acknowledges this, but when the meetings or campouts come around he shows up with no plan, flying by the seat of his pants and yelling at the boys. He thinks if they don't pay attention he should just yell louder and more often.


He has been approached by the committee chair, and the rank advancement chair and will agree to activities where the older boys can work on advancement, but shortly before the activity he says he's "putting his foot down" and it's going to be "his way" because we don't do thinks for the benifit of just "one scout." There is a growing resentment in the troop. The boys see the SM telling them to "get over their disabilities" and no excuses, yet he will totally change the troop activities, menus, etc. to meet the needs of his sons. (The scouts pay equally for the meals at camp, but are not allowed to eat the special, more expensive items that are needed by his son.)


This man was a friend before the troop was ever created. But now he his using our friendship as an avenue to attack our sons, berate them, call them names, accuse them of being the cause that all that is wrong in our troop. He tells them his sons cannot help their condition, but they are to get over their "problems" and set an example for the troop.


How should I go about opening his eyes? Is it time to look for another troop before it's too late for my sons to make Eagle?


Please give me some ideas of where to go!

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Well,as the disabilities awareness counselor for our troop... I can only say that this SM (for lack of a more specific phrase) simply mirrors the society at large......Some tend to not want to get involved with SNS.

With this in mind...........you may want to get council involved to help see the light; however.sometimes this only makes matters worse.


You may see if you have enough support among the troop to serve a "vote of no confidence"

He may leave and take his sons with him.


Create a meeting among all troop parents to explain your side


Find another troop with a SM that is sensitive to SNS.


Start your own troop?


Find an ASM who would be willing to work the SNS in your


troop exclusively........



I wish I could be more help but sometimes the only solution is a radical change


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I'm sure this is gonna open a can of worms, but my opinion is, if the SM is yelling, and then, yelling louder at Scouts, whether special needs or not (especially if), he is putting himself in a position to be removed due to YP violations. It is something for your Troop committee, CO, COR, and UC to address.


You said they are coming close to being out of time. Are you saying they'll be 18 soon? With proper documentation, special needs Scouts can get extended time to complete all rank requirements, even Eagle, even beyond 18. I don't know all the details for all that stuff, but I've seen it.


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First as for the time for the scouts check with your Council as to Special Need Youth....

In 1995, alternate requirements for Tenedrfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks were established.These requirements can be found in the "Scouting for Youth with Physical Disabilities"(#33057C), "Scouting for Youth with Learning Disabilities"(#33065A), "Advancement Committee Policies & Procedures"(#33088C), and "Boy Scout Requirements"(Y2K)(#33215C/D).

As for the Person in charge ( scoutmaster )as rkfrance stated he is involation of YP , and your COR ,and Committee Chair should address this item with him,...

It is up to you and the parents to speak out, Ask questions, read other posting in this area, contact your council...

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You said your CC has already spoken to him about his behavior. It is now shape up or ship out time. Your CC & COR need to inform him that unless his behavior changes he is in danger of losing his BSA registration due to Youth Protection issues & at the very least replacement as SM. Then they should start looking for a new SM.



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Are the other parents, whose sons are either older or younger than the "core group" that the SM is focused on, active as ASMs or committee members?


If so, could a specific ASM be designated to work with each age/rank group? (for example, by encouraging patrol activities rather than relying on only troop activities) That way if the SM is fixated on the group that his boys fit into, at least the others won't be ignored. If not: time for them to get involved.


Is there someone in your troop designated to work with scouts on Life to Eagle transition? If not, there probably ought to be anyway and perhaps this is an area where one or more of those other parents could step in. They should talk with the district advancement staff too - because they have a say in approving Eagle projects also and should be aware of the situation in your troop (they will probably be able to offer advice too.)


Do you know who your unit's commissioner is? The UC should be in a position to help the troop leadership "see the light" on issues including following established BSA policy. They're not "council cops" but they can provide information and make suggestions. If you don't know this person, you can find out by contacting your district staff.


I think somewhere near or at the bottom line, and as someone pointed out to me recently in a different thread and context: the SM works for the committee and the charter organization, not the other way around. Sounds like he may need a gentle (or not so gentle) reminder of this. It is too bad your personal friendship with the SM is mixed into this though.



A good old bobwhite too!

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I think that it's time for your CC & CO to get involved and do something about this situation. I would suggest that if you can, get a group of ASM's together who can oversee the other boys an help them work out a plan for completing their requirements, if that is their wish.


I tried to address some of these special needs issues within our troop committee meeting a few months back and got a statement from one member about how these kids just use these things "as an excuse for bad behavior"!...also have some ASM's who want to ban certain boys from camping trips because they don't think they should be "social workers" and don't want to deal with boys with issues.


Naturally, most of the parents who say these things also have "normal" kids though, so they they have no real idea of what it's like for these kids, or why they deserve to have the same opportunities and benefits from the scouting program as the other boys!


sue m.

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