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Bullying and Scouting

  by Pastor Gene Horne for the Alamo Area BSA: October 16, 2015

There are times in any unit of boy scouting where a boy will take advantage of another boy. In Venturing Units, the situation may be different since they are co-ed, but girls are just as prone to this type of behavior as a boy. The question is what is the goal of the scouting program. It is to be found in the Scout Oath and Law. These two instruments tell of the programs concern to build character in the youth we serve. The Scouting movement aspires to grant any youth that enters the program to have held before them the opportunity to grow into adulthood as a trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent human being. Yes, the Scout Law describes what the Scouting movement desires every youth in the program to become.

There are many suggestions on how a unit leader can bring this growth in character to the scouting program. In all the methods I have seen, work relays on the desire of the youth members to become what the leaders are living before them. Who you are as a leader demonstrates to the youth of your unit what you desire them to be. This does not mean you are perfect. It means you are honest and just in your dealings with the youth of your unit. Of course that means your son does not get special treatment, for this is the first act that makes your leadership questioned by your youth members. Young men and women are quick to see your flaws. They are more than willing to forgive most of them if you are honest and just in your dealings with all the youth of your unit.

But ‘bullying’ does happen even in the best units and under the best leadership. When it takes place is a good time to have ‘a teachable moment’, as some have put it. However, this is the time for gentle firmness. The bully must not be publically humiliated for this tends to reinforce his behavior. This is particularly true if the youth feels he has not been treated fairly. Still the Scout Oath and Law can be at this time an occasion to remind the group of their meaning. The bully and his victim will need to face each other and explain themselves to each other. How does it feel to be bullied? Why does the bully feel the need to bully this youth? How is this bullying behavior affecting the unit’s ability to live the Scout Oath and Law? After they have expressed their positions and feelings, now is for the bully and his victim forgive each other and with the shaking of hands and the looking into each others eyes to create an agreement that this episode is to end with a lasting scouting friendship.

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