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Lisabob

"by the book" who makes disciplinary decisions?

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I am looking for a "book" answer (NOT A DEBATE over best practices - that's another thread) and I don't have the books in question. Hoping for a few folks here who do, to provide a quick answer.

 

Is there anything in either the SM handbook or in the SPL's handbook about who makes disciplinary decisions? Specifically, do either books provide for or spell out the role that the SPL or perhaps the PLC might play in determining appropriate consequences for misbehavior on a camp out by a scout?

 

I ask this because it was always my understanding that disciplinary matters were one of the few places where "boy led" is likely NOT to be the gold standard, and that in fact disciplinary action ought to be the domain of the SM, with backing of the CC, and within the guidelines and preferences of the CO (to the extent that the CO is not utterly oblivious). However, I suppose I may be incorrect and would like to know what the book answer is. Thanks.

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This is from the Guide to Safe Scouting:

 

"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."

 

 

So, the Unit Committee is responsible for making disciplinary decsions for repetitive or serious incidents and the adult on the outing handle the "minor" issues. Of course that opens discussion for what is a minor issue versus a major incident but that is another discussion from how I perceive LisaBobs question

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OGE has given you a correct reference, which is available on-line so there is no need to have the printed version in hand.

 

Another would be The Scoutmaster Handbook, Chapter 11 under the heading "Inappropriate Behavior".

 

Yet another resource is the Scoutmaster/assistant Scoutmaster Leader Specidfic Training Course.

 

Still another resource is the Troop Committee Guide Book page 42, under the heading "Behavioral Problems".

 

Also, in the Senior Patrol Leader Handbook you will find "Conflict Resolution" on pages 96-97.

 

In The Patrol Leaders Handbook you will find a portion titled "Putting Out Fires" on pages 105-106.

 

Those are just the resources for the Boy Scout Program.

 

So here is the flow

First the scout himself should be able to self regulate, he knows by this age what is right and wrong and should be able to show a large level of self control.

 

If not.. the Patrol Leader's training is to try and diffuse the problem by talking and listening to the scout and looking for solutions that relate to the values to the scout Law.

 

Still no resolution? The patrol leader can turn to the SPL who usually has more experience, and more maturity to resolve the problem.

 

Still no luck, then it goes to an adult leader, who will also try to resolve the issue through counseling, but if the scout's behavior interferes with the delivery of the program then the SM is instructed by the BSA to send the scout home.

 

Once home the matter now goes to the Troop Committee who decide in conference with the parents an appropiate behavioral expectation or the can instutue punishment including removing the scout from the troop.

 

(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Agree with Bob White for the most part but sometimes I (apologize Lisabob, but I think it is a "book answer" and not just what I do) insert the Chaplain's Aide (or have trained the Chaplain's Aide to insert himself) into the equation depending on the "offense" and if used, usually after the PL and before the SPL in the order of "whom."

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I concur with what Bob White and others have said with this addition.

 

I don't believe that it is fair or proper to expect the PL or the SPL etc. to know, a priori, how to assess and create discipline and correction.

 

This is an area where those leaders need to be trained by the SM and other adult leaders. They also need to know, I would suggest, where their authority starts and stops and when they need to involve the adult leaders. Finally, they need to know, I would suggest, that they can always come to the SM for counsel and guidance in how to address discipline problems. They need to be trained that they should not hipshoot an answer but should think it through.

 

I suggest this because I have found that many Scouts have no experience with peer discipline and corrections. Their only experience is adult (parents and teachers) to child and in many cases, the adult is not that skillful. They need to be taught and guided how to do it better and do it right.

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Neil up, if you read the references in the Patrol Leaders Handbook and the SPL Handbook you would see that the methods recommended to them are nothing like you suggest.

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Thank you, FScouter. I would only add "particularly in the area of discipline."

 

BW, I read through my post again and can only come up with four items that might be considered "methods"

 

1) Youth leaders need to know where their authority starts and stops

2) Youth leaders need to know when to involve adult leaders

3) Youth leaders need to know they can always come to the SM and other adults for advice and counsel

4) Youth leaders need to be trained that they should not hipshoot an answer but should think it through

 

I guess based on your post that in the current SPL and PL manual, it is said that either:

 

1) Youth leaders should not know where their authority starts and stops

2) Youth leaders should not know when to involve adult leaders

3) Youth leaders should not feel that they can always come to the SM or other adult leaders for advice and counsel or

4) Youth leaders should hipshoot answers and not think them through

 

Hmmmm. Somehow, I find it a bit hard to believe that is what is in the National literature. :)

 

If I have posted something that is not what is in the official National literature, that neither surprises nor bothers me. If a reader finds what I have posted useful, it is available to them. If not, then they should disregard it. They are the leader of their unit, not me. My objective is to be Helpful, Friendly and Courteous.(This message has been edited by NeilLup)

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A few thoughts on the subject. That is the first time I've seen the list qiven in such a clear manner on this forum, well done. Second, it may appear simple to some, but to me it is a such a parsed list from different sources, it will take quite some time for adults to learn. Third, it actually is not that complicated of a list once it is practiced because it is naturally intuitive.

 

At the end our Scoutmaster Specifi classes we ask the participants for any questions on anything about the program and clearly discipline was number one. Even after all the training, adults struggle with real world experience. Part of the problem is the adults want to approach discipline as parents because it provides instant satisfaction for the adult and is easier than guiding it as scout leaders trying to develop character.

 

As parents, we want to nip in the bud. As counselors of character, we want the scouts to develop their own initiative in controlling chaos.

 

While the BSA gives clear direction in this area, it isn't something that is easy to master. We aren't experts in the skill of discipline in a unit because we have only practiced as parents. I think Neil's point is pretty good. This isn't a practice that boys instantly understand and use with precision. It has to be practiced and the struggle for adults is allowing the scouts to practice. That is a tall order for adults who struggle with it themselves. Many adults understand when I say that the more a scout makes the wrong decision, the more he will learn in making the right decisions in his future. But while they understand it, believing it or trusting it is are different thing. We adults have to practice and learn as well.

 

I know a troop that develops a sense of responsibility at the boy level is typically a very well rounded disciplined unit. They are easy to see: you don't hear a lot of yelling, the adults aren't standing over the scouts all the time and the scouts are very relaxed. In fact, discipline becomes second nature for the scouts. But it is not an easy vision for a unit. It requires patience and courage from the adults. Patience to not react to every misbehavoir and courage to let the scouts deal with the problem as much as their maturity will allow. I remember once when the PLC decided to prep the whole troop on the undisciplined new scouts. They had learned that new scouts are the most challenging discipline problems they deal with.

 

While I think the BSA has done a good job instructing discipline, I don't think it is something the newly trained scouter can expect to master easily. Personally I don't think the BSA is fair with the SM since the scoutmaster is confronted with misbehavior more than any other adult. But, sending a scout home does give him an easy out. My teaching to adults is learn from every single incident of misbehavior no matter how small or how big learn from it to do better next time. From the boys perspective, when the confront something new or challenging, work together with the adults. Funny thing is that it is likely something new for the adults as well.

 

Good discussion

 

Barry

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Like NeilLup, I guess I don't follow the book either, and likewise I don't much care. What I do find helpful is exactly what NeilLup suggests. My PL's are 100% in control of their patrols. They support their membership, guide them, help them, discipline them as needed, and are expected to run the show. If there is a discipline problem between members of two different patrols, then 2 PL's deal with it. My TG/SPL is responsible for interpatrol communications and assists in dealing with those kinds of interpatrol problems.

 

All in all, it is very rare that conflicts escalate to the level where an adult needs to get involved. I can honestly say that has not happened in the past 12 months in the unit I'm serving in and although it is a little different structure in my Crew, it has happened only once in the past 10 years. Only twice in my troop have I personally stepped in on a situation and that was because of safety infractions and once the problem was identified, the unsafe scout corrected the problem and life went on.

 

The principles of conflict management are simple and can be taught in five minutes. All my PL's are trained in these methods and deal with issues well before they become a problem.

 

Stosh

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? I did not get from Neil's posts that he does not use the book, nor that he doesn't care. Indeed, what he suggests IS in the book.

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"If I have posted something that is not what is in the official National literature, that neither surprises nor bothers me. If a reader finds what I have posted useful, it is available to them. If not, then they should disregard it. They are the leader of their unit, not me. My objective is to be Helpful, Friendly and Courteous."

 

And thus my caring about it is rather irrelevant as well. I found it helpful and that's all NeilLup expected. And no, I don't care what page he did not find this information on.

 

Stosh

 

 

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Sorry for taking so long to respond, I've been Sea Scouting all day.

My apologies to Neil up. I went back and reread his post and realized that I misunderstood him. My initial impression was that he felt the handbooks were asking the scouts to be involved in disciplining youth. I see know that I was hasty in replying. Again I apologize.

 

 

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No problem, BW, I am envious that you are Sea Scouting and I live a quarter mile from the ocean. :)

 

I completely agree that, as I remember the handbooks, they say that Scouts should not be involved in discipline. And if so, I agree with that too.

 

But having said that, I would argue that a PL, SPL etc. is involved with getting Scouts to do things, keeping order, etc. Ideally that does not mean discipline but that could be a matter of definition.

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