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Violations of Scout Oath/Law by Scouts outside of Scouting

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I originally posted this in the Scouting the Web Forum.


Almost all social media, including email, have an age limit to set up an account.


When you sign up for an account the sites generally ask for your birthdate and age and will deny you an account if you are under age. Their Terms of Use specifically prohibit use by anyone under the age of 13. (including almost all email services, Facebook, Twitter, IM, Chat, etc.)


So, if a Scout is under the age of 13 he is violating their terms of service when he signs up for the account and is continuing to violate it every time he uses the site. He had to lie to get the account. He is therefore also violating the Scout Oath and Law. And by knowing that he is under the age of 13 you are contributing to his lie if you use those accounts to communicate with him.


So, my questions are: How do you respond to a violation of the Scout Oath/Law by a Scout, that takes place outside of Scouting? And DO you respond? And do you believe that as a leader you have an obligation to talk to a parent about such violations that you become aware of to be sure they are aware?



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I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess this is an actual case and not a a "what if" question.


1st I would verify the site this Scout signed up for has an age restriction. Not all do.


2nd I would verify the Scout in question is underage for the site he signed up for.


If all are accurate, I would then talk to the Scout's parents and advise them by signing up and using the site in question, their son is in violation of the Scout Oath and Law and this will be taken into account come advancement time.

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Are we splitting hairs about this?

My 12 yo has a FB page and an email acct, that I set up for him. I'm friends with him on FB, I also have his password to FB and his email shows up on my desktop. Unfortunately, my son never checks his email, but is in contact with his patrol through FB. While the troop uses google groups for parents, ASM's, PLC, TTFC, committee members, I'm only on 3 of those lists. If my son's PL sends something out through the patrol page, my son will never see it due to it going to his email and not mine. So if my son's PL sends out a list for the next campout through email, and my son doesn't get it, is he now violating the scout law by not being helpful? Now if he's using those medias to talk bad about somebody or spread ugly rumors, then I will sit him down and explain the unscout like behavior.


Unfortunately, kids communicate different today, than we did. Social media is how these kids communicate now. A lot of kids don't use email now, because it's not immediate, and would prefer to text or IM their friends.


If my son were living by the Oath and Law 100% of the time, then my job as a parent is done. But I know that's not the case. He's not perfect and neither am I, but I know he and I DO OUR BEST to live by those words every day. There are times when we're not so succesful and the oath and law and our faith make us stop and pause for a moment about our actions.


As a leader, if I see any of our scouts outside of Scouting not being Scoutlike, I might give them a courtesy nod or wave to let them know I am seeing their actions. Just because I am a leader, that doesn't give me carte blanche to browbeat the oath and law outside of scouts. If I show them the respect they've earned as Scouts, then the one time they come to me with an issue, they can trust me to be open minded and fair about it. Now, if I catch them doing something seriously wrong, I don't have a problem letting their parents know about it. My role is to mentor these boys to become young men of character, not be the disciplinarian or the oath and law police.

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Sorry evmori, but I have to disagree with you on this one, which based on my frequent reading of these forums is actually rare. To me, a relative example would be to replace "social media age restrictions" with "posted speed limit". If every time a SM is driving he/she goes 5 miles over the posted speed limit, the SM is in violation of the law. The SM obeys the rules of the road to a t when performing the SM scouter role, but people see him/her driving 5 - 10 mph over when going to work or to the beach with the family. Based on that, I need to inform the committee the SM is an unsafe law breaker, and this will be considered during recharter at the end of the year.


The one thing I definitely do not want to do is attribute words to you when they are not justified. When you say "taken into account come advancement time", you are not saying you would withhold based solely on this issue, would you? Like all things, whether we agree or disagree on this specific issue, even the best young men are a work in progress. Heck, most adults too.

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I personally discourage the use of elsectronic social media by younger scouts. I have not seen our crew's FB group improve communications at all, so I am not inclined to stretch the rules for younger scouts to make it work in our troop. Our time is better spent teaching youth to routinely check a troop website.


The boys in my troop who do use FB created their accounts on their 13th birthday. My youngest son actually refused to set up an account the week before his 13th birthday.


I inform parents of these norms, but try not to get into details. For some families, it is very important to have individual E-mails for their children. For other's it is very important to have one family E-mail until a kid starts applying for college.


Finally, OwntheNight points out a very important facet of E-mail, it has a poor Reciever/Operator Characteristic. A message that goes out to a patrol does not impact all members equally. It's no replacement for regular meetings.


So, I guess I tend to be pragmatic about this. It's kinda like that music download thing ... You get more mileage having an open discussion than you do playing detective, judge, and jury.

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Really?????? Honestly?????? Are WE that out of touch?????? It is here so you better embrace it or be left behind. Your scouts knows all about it.


I live in an urban poor area, everbody has internet and a computer, they all are on face book. Most of the cubs, even at 8 years old have their own facebook page.... Just saying how it is. I ended up creating a Scouter profile on Face book for the cubs to be friends with.


We, scouters, need to get over this entire anti tech stance. Whether we like it or not social media is here to stay in one form or another.


If you read the terms and conditions I imagine you will find a clause that you must have a parents permission. This is the same discussion as the cell phone discuss, While at scouts it is off,




If we continue to try and push back, scouting will become more and more irrelevant.



I don't like facebook or social media......an example.....we had a scout email saying he had a death in the family and could not make a campout.......he then posted he had a great time on his date friday night and was going to the fair on saturday. The boys called him out on it at the next meeting. My point to the group was, if you don't want to camp it is fine, there is no need to lie about it.


......Too many people in each others personal business, and it can create a huge vortex of gossip and you can waste huge amounts of time with it.




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I agree with Blancmange, lets keep this in proper perspective. The social network is here to stay and growing rapidly, as long as the kids are trained in potential internet risks and act responsibly online, no harm no foul. Besides SD what are you going to do drum the boy out of scouting? Let rational minds prevail, talk to the boy casually about it but don't make a crisis out of it.

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I do think it is important that the troop not ask younger scouts to 'break the rules' by communication primarily on FB or other age-restricted social media. Primary troop communications should be accessible by all.


And FWIW, my ISP provider has no age restrictions on email accounts and Yahoo has a family account for the under-13 crowd.

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I agree with most of the conventional wisdom here. To those who compare the "offense" with jaywalking or speeding, I'd add that violating a web site's "terms of service" is even less serious. The TOS's generally aren't legally binding. Jaywalking and speeding a few MPH over the posted limit aren't generally considered to be that serious, but they technically are illegal. Violating a TOS isn't even necessarily illegal.


Its actually fairly common even for adults to "lie" about some of their personal information when putting it online. In fact, given some sites' poor security track records, it would almost be irresponsible to provide truthful identifying information in many cases. Personally, only sites that have a legitimate need to have accurate information about me (online banking, online retailers, etc) get accurate information from me. Any other site that wants to know my personal information (including this site, given how frequently it seems to hosts malicious code) gets mostly phoney information. Am I violating the Scout Oath and Law by chosing to protect my identity and my privacy in this way?


Think through the Scout Oath for a second. It talks about having a duty to God and to country, to others, and to oneself. Nothing in there about being truthful with computer programs. Suggesting that you might delay rank advancement because you perceive a scout to be "lieing" to a computer is, honestly, one of the more rediculous ideas I've seen floated here.


I guess I'm wondering what the "real" issue is? Unless you happen to read through the Terms of Service, privacy policy, license agreeements, etc, of every web site you visit and every program you run, I doubt that violating a TOS is really what you're worried about. So what is the real problem then?


If the scout is using the social media or communication tool to engage in bullying, harassment, or some illegal activity, that would be a legitimate issue that needs to be addressed. But it's a separate issue from a web site's TOS.


If you personally are uncomfortable communicating with a younger scout via Facebook or social media, then just don't use that method of communication yourself or for your troop. But don't try to make it the scout's problem for chosing to use that mode of communication in other settings - that's up to the scout and his parents, not you or the troop. Unless the scout is clearly being irresponsible, that's outside of your sphere of influence.


Maybe a better use of time and resources would be to invite a speaker knowledgable about online safety and security to speak with your troop to help them develop safe habits online?(This message has been edited by KC9DDI)

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Just an observation here...


... if you don't boot a scout or registered adult for ...


... openly professing to being an atheist ...


... throwing Coleman gas on an open fire ...


... going out for some "quick ones" on a campout ...


I can't imagine that a FB account would result in anything.

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he one thing I definitely do not want to do is attribute words to you when they are not justified. When you say "taken into account come advancement time", you are not saying you would withhold based solely on this issue, would you? Like all things, whether we agree or disagree on this specific issue, even the best young men are a work in progress. Heck, most adults too.


If this is the sole issue, I wouldn't withhold advancement.

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BD Really?????? Honestly?????? Are WE that out of touch?????? It is here so you better embrace it or be left behind. Your scouts knows all about it.


Sounds like a line from That Hideous Strength.


I don't feel any obligation to embrace any technology that gives one the delusion that they are actually communicating when, in fact, they are not.


(That said, I just rattled off an E-mail asking my Crew for the fourth time for responses for this weekend's activity.)

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Yah, hmmm...


I reckon this sort of stuff belongs at da family level, not with the troop. I know all kinds of families who let their kids set up various online accounts at a young age, and a few who get all wigged out about a 17 year old having email.


While I suppose there's some citizenship merit to actually making the lads read through one of those bizarre terms of service agreements or click-through software licenses just to be astonished by the unmitigated gall of the company, I doubt yeh could find an adult in da country that's actually read all of 'em. And let me tell yeh, I don't think a single one of 'em is enforceable as written.


If yeh have time to worry about 12 year olds on Facebook, then I reckon things must be goin' really, really well in your troop, eh? In that case, spend your time dreamin' up some great new outings rather than being the Internet police. You'll be happier and healthier for it.



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