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Crossramwedge

SPL in Hot Water

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Well our 16 year old SPL has posted a video on Facebook (not him) on his personal page that basically uses a lot of cuss words to describe a situation about interracial dating and since he is Facebook friends with the younger boy's in the troop they also had access to this video. No sexy scenes just a lot of cussing describing situations. He himself happens to be a product of a interracial marriage. He is a very good SPL but is a little heavy handed when he deals with the adults. Lets just say as a SPL of a boy led troop he lets the adults know he is in charge. He has stepped on a few toes.

 

To make matters worse he is also (unofficially)the Troop Chaplain. Well he has disappointed me as well as others in doing this. We have some of these leaders wanting him to step down and if he does not then they may leave the troop. I talked to the SM and he thinks that we do not need to hang the boy. He wants him to offer a deep apology and learn his lesson and move on. He says if the other Scout leaders want to walk away over this then so be it. The boy has been an exemplary scout and has never been out of line as far as it comes to cussing or acting out. Any advice.

(This message has been edited by crossramwedge)

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If I were SM, I would first have a sit down talk with his parents. They need to know about what he has posted.

 

Then, his parents and I would have a sit down talk with the boy together.

 

He must learn that actions have consequences, and that things posted on Facebook, and other social media outlets, are not really private, and can come back to bite you even years later.

 

I would talk to him about what kind of an impression his video had on the other Scouts, especially the younger ones.

 

I would help him to come to a decision as to what the consequences for his actions should be.

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Wedge,

 

Greetings!

 

If I may offer an opinion and comments...

 

Since the video is not of him, and posted to his personal networking page (and not a group social network page belonging to the troop), may I assume it was of a comedian using vulgar language to make fun of interracial dating?

 

I agree, once information is electronic it is published out there, saved on a server, sitting in an email queue, etc, etc. If it is posted to a social network website it makes that information even more proliferated. Just ask some politicians. They have taken measures to hide information, while news media have taken measures to expose information. (i.e. Donna Rice, and many other recent expose').

 

If I may reflect on myself. When I was 16, I thought I was a fairly good kid. I thought I had good moral values. And then gradually, it seemed more acceptable to drop the F-Bomb more frequently, on occasion in front of my parents and adults. My vulgar vocabulary probably grew, at the age of 17 when I became independent. I felt more grown up using vulgarity. I used vulgar language very liberally till maybe the age of 22. From my mid 20's till today, I regret using foul language at inappropriate times, what I would give to just turn back the clock and not have used language like that. But it's in my past, and all I can do is say that I am embarrassed by my actions and for family/friends to please ignore my choice of language during that stage of life. I certainly wish that a role model would have pointed out the differences between positive character development and bad decisions. Maybe I would have dropped the F Bomb a couple of times, rather than a couple of hundred times. I can tell you, I regret my choice of language in my late teens, early twenties. I cannot shame your SPL; I can offer to him that I made bad decisions with my choice of language and decisions that I regret.

 

Do I still know vulgar language? Yes. Do I still use vulgarity? I certainly hope not. I've posted similar comments in this forum before regarding Scouts and adults cursing. My own children are all grown now, and I have told this to them repetitively. If you hear me using cursing now, bring the first aid box quickly, I probably cut myself.

 

Back to your SPL's decision. If it was a comedian on the video, your SPL probably thought it was humorous enough to share. In NYLT the evening of day three, there is a topic about decisions Good vs Good, Good vs Bad, and Trivial decisions. Although the NYLT scenarios are not this extreme, some boys need to start learning that they will arrive at character development crossroads when they have a decision to make, and the convenient easy road may be to make a bad decision. Stealing a video game CD, downloading a pirated movie or dropping the F-Bomb.

 

ScoutNut has given excellent advice and I'm sure you will receive many more advising comments. Illustrating that the SPL will be responsible for more increasing decisions. That his decisions will have a more dynamic effect on his life, that they did when he was an 11 y/o Tenderfoot. That his decisions in life in the next few years; at 20, at 25, and at 30 will have more increasingly significant consequences. Some will not be favorable and some will be very costly. Then advise the SPL to seek out a positive role model, inquire with him, who he wants to be like.

 

Finally, today I cannot remember who said it. I believe it may have been Dale Carnegie; but a motivational speaker and public personality once said that a person should write their gravesite epitaph today. To think out 70 years from now and how you want people to remember you, and then live your life backwards from now on, towards that goal.

 

Hopefully, the SPL will learn something about sharing vulgar video to such a broad network and will work to maintain a higher standard of character development.

Good Luck!

 

Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21_Adv

 

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I think it may be worthwhile to separate the perceived "problems" and consider them one-by-one. Based on what you posted, it looks like you're dealing with (in no particular order):

 

1) Some naughty words on Facebook

2) Some difficulty in working with adults respectfully

3) Doing a not-so-great job in a position of responsibility that he doesn't even have (Chaplain's Aide)

 

Taken individually, I don't think any of these "problems" are particularly problematic. Just the typical stuff you would expect to see in a 16 year old.

 

It seems like problem #1 and #2 can easily be solved with a SM Conference. Just guide the discussion towards the way the troop (both youth and adults) are coming to perceive him, and ask him if that's the impression he wants to be making on people. Then work on guiding him towards adjusting his behavior appropriately.

 

#3 should be even easier to fix - work with him on identifying an "official," full-time Chaplain's Aid. Kill two birds with one stone - another Scout gets to take on a leadership role, and your SPL can focus on just one area of responsibility.

 

Honestly, I think that many adults tend to overreact on Facebook-related issues, and vulgarity-related issues.

 

Regarding vulgarity... there's another thread going on about removing hats indoors, and the consensus seems to be that it's a silly, arbitrary, useless "rule" that people worry far too much about. I see some parallels with the language issue. Why are "darn," "fudge" or "shoot" acceptable words, but modifying one or two letters in any of those words to express the exact same idea is suddenly unacceptable? Seems awfully arbitrary and stupid to me :-) Personally, I'm pretty tolerant of vulgarity on the part of the youth. But, as was pointed out in the "hats" thread, part of "A Scout is Courteous" sometimes means complying with other people's arbitrary and pointless expectations of behavior. And that's the message I'd try to convey to the SPL - if you're speaking to an audience that expects a certain behavioral standard, the courteous thing to do is to behave as expected.

 

Regarding Facebook... Yes, it's important to remember, and for youth to realize, that what gets put on Facebook might reach a wider audience than they expect. But it's also important for adults to remember that they're not required to act, or overreact, to every last little thing that a kid posts on Facebook. There's really no need to take a silly computer program that seriously. Put this in a little perspective: you have a 16 year old who used some dirty language to talk about a potentially sensitive subject. What would you do if you overheard this straight from the kid's mouth at a troop meeting, or on a camping trip? You'd probably pull him aside, have a 5 minute chat with him on appropriate language and behavior, and then send him back to his patrol. But when those same words appear on a silly computer program, suddenly we're talking about ex-parte meetings with SMs and committee members, SM conferences, phone calls to parents, removing the kid from leadership positions, and other people leaving the troop.

 

Seriously? Overreact much?

 

The boy has been an exemplary scout and has never been out of line as far as it comes to cussing or acting out. Any advice.

 

Yes. Calmly point out to him some that some of his recent behavior aren't consistent with his "exemplary" track record, and act as a guide, mentor and role model in bringing his behavior back to the "exemplary" level. No public apologies, no meetings with parents, no removal from leadership, no court ordered community service. Just be a good Scoutmaster.

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This is all back room stuff. I don't like it.

 

there is a lot of adult elbowing and jockeying for position at the kill. This about revenge and not a mistake.

 

 

Boys make mistakes. So what was his mistakes?

 

As a boss it is really bad form to have employees as friends on facebook. See this played out in daily life way too much. As SPL he is the boss

 

As a leader you can never let your guard or standards down for a moment. He did that, no matter what his mood or attitude is.

 

I would council him to the above two points and ask him if what he posted was what a SPL in the BSA would post on his facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

May I ask what age the offended scouts are?

 

I would remind the parents that you must be 13 to agree to the facebook terms of service. I am guessing that most were less than honest about their age to get their accounts.

 

 

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"Lets just say as a SPL of a boy led troop he lets the adults know he is in charge. He has stepped on a few toes. To make matters worse he is also (unofficially) the Troop Chaplain."

 

Clergyman: I was interested to see a Bible by your bed. You actually find time to read it?

 

Patton: I sure do. Every goddamn day.

 

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Yes it is easy for something online or an email to explode out of proportion. Been there, have the scars.

 

Really this is under the label of consequences. If the SPL teases the younger boys or lets them get bullied - he loses the respect of the younger boys. He will have to work that much harder to get it back. Same here, except he loses respect of adults. Better to learn it now.

 

Hopefully the reaction from other adults will be manageable.

 

As for the language, it seems like most of the boys do it. You need to stomp on it when you are around. Sadly the parents are much of the problem as well. In my case my son has Tourettes and I am amazed at how well he can swear under stress. It has *ahem* created a few difficult situations.

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Wisdom is only gained when actions are reflected with humility.

 

If the scout in his heart doesn't understand the harm of his initial action, he will likely repeat it. If he truely sees the harm in his action, he will respond appropriatly. It's only our job to guide him toward a humble reflection. His heart must do the rest.

 

That is what is meant by "prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law"

 

So the first question is "what does the SPL say?".

 

Barry

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"We have some of these leaders wanting him to step down and if he does not then they may leave the troop."

 

That seems to be the solution frequently offered by the indignant public. We see it used against anyone in some kind of position of authority or leadership be it a politicion, corporate officer, teacher or administrator or whatnot. How is it that quitting solves a problem? And, adults threatening to quit if the boy does not borders on childishness.

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First, in talking with him, make sure that he actually posted the video. There are quite a few virus-y/spoofing programs out there (I'm not sure of the exact term) that post things on peoples' FB walls without permission.

 

Second, and trust me on this, the language in that video, unless it's Andrew Dice Clay-esque, is no worse than the language your Scouts use on campouts when you're not around. Kids swear. If the language is what's horrifying your fellow leaders, they need to get a reality check.

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If the video is not of him, is it just something viral with a title that we can find on YouTube or elsewhere?

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Basement has pretty good advice on this issue. I don't think this should be a death penalty offense (or even one that leads to his loss of his SPL position), and without a doubt, the boy needs to be able to tell his side of the story.

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"If the scout in his heart doesn't understand the harm of his initial action, he will likely repeat it. If he truely sees the harm in his action, he will respond appropriatly. It's only our job to guide him toward a humble reflection. His heart must do the rest."

Barry really hit the nail on the head with this posting.

Thank You.

Eamonn.

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