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Leadership position revocation

Everyone. Thanks for all your discussion and inputs. I was originally looking to see if BSA had any policies or procedures to guide SM/ASM/Committee etc. Not to say how to handle a situation but more how not to. After seeing national stories where merit badges are being revoked from special needs kids I wanted to make sure the actions taken with this scout were within the the bounds of the scouting program. I had already formed my own opinions about this situation and you have reinforced some of them and made me see some aspects from a different perspective. I think this all boils down to how kids with disabilities are treated and their needs communicated. The parents need to be and stay involved and have a strong relationship with the scouts leaders. However in scouts, school, and society, we all need to do a better advocating for our needs and understanding the needs of others. Thanks a lot.

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I completely support the action of the Committee although I think it also would have been appropriate for the Scoutmaster to have done the same. I have encountered the same situation on a number of occasions. When a Scout with ADHD becomes disruptive it interferes with the activities that involve the other Scouts and it creates problems. To overcome those problems, it is necessary that the Scoutmaster have the full cooperation of the parents. I specialize in working with Scouts with disabilities and it takes a lot of patience but there is a point when a crowd that includes the parents is needed. We only have so many resources and when one Scout requires so many resources that it interferes with the progress of the other members of the unit, then it is either time for that scout to shape up or get out.

We have had this situation arise in our Troop a few times over the past 30 years. When its has, we follow the procedures set forth in the Guide for Advancement, Section 4.2.3.4.5

"When Responsibilities Are Not Met.** If a unit has clearly established expectations for position(s) held, then— within reason —a Scout must meet them through the prescribed time. If a Scout is not meeting expectations, then this must be communicated early. Unit leadership may work toward a constructive result by asking the Scout what he or she thinks should have been accomplished in that time. What is the Scout’s concept of the position? What does the Scout think the troop leaders—youth and adult—expect? What has the Scout done well? What needs improvement? Often this questioning approach can lead a young person to the decision to measure up. The Scout will tell the leaders how much of the service time should be recorded and what he or she will change to better meet expectations.

“If it becomes clear that the Scout’s performance will not improve, then it is acceptable to remove the Scout from the position. It is the unit leader’s responsibility to address these situations promptly. Every effort should have been made while the Scout was in the position to ensure the Scout understood expectations and was regularly supported toward reasonably acceptable performance. It is unfair and inappropriate—after six months, for example—to surprise someone who thinks his or her performance has been fine with news that the performance is now considered unsatisfactory. In this case, the Scout must be given credit for the time.”

The scoutmaster and his position adviser counsel the Scout, reminding him what his responsibilities are and what our behavior expectations are. The parents are also advised (privately) of the situation and what changes the Scout needs to make to remain in his position of responsibility. If the Scout does not change his behavior, he is relieved from the position of responsibility by the Scoutmaster. The Scout receives credit for time served in the position of responsibility.

In the case of a den chief, it is still the responsibility of the unit leader to act but the cubmaster and den leader are informed. In our Troop, in most cases, the den leader is the position adviser for the den chief, and he or she will have been involved in the counseling session and will be monitoring the Scout’s behavior.

Only once in my 30+ years with the Troop was a Scout summarily relieved from a position of responsibility without having been counseled and that was based on conduct which both violated multiple parts of the Scout law and placed others in danger of serious injury.

OMG! Of course! Take away the one program that may ultimately help the boys’ issues! Remove a child with a medical issues from Scouting! Tell me again what we’re here for??? Probably 25% of boys under 13 are battling some sort of ADHD! I’m so tired of committee’s ‘flexing their muscles’ by showing short-sightedness & ‘disciplining’ the boy! Yes, ask a parent to accompany! Perhaps you’'ll get another adult assistant. Provide mentoring, show empathy, guide our youth. That’s what we’re here for! Stop removing youth because they don’t fit a pre-established mold!

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I will add, that in most of the instances where our Troop had to relieve a Scout from a position of responsibility due to either misbehavior or non-performance, the Scout later proved to be an outstanding leader. You have to allow Scouts to make mistakes and learn from them. Most of the time, they do.

I will also note that neither a unit leader nor a unit committee has the authority to “remove” a Scout from being a member of the BSA. They can end his or her affiliation with a particular unit (and, hopefully, help the family find a unit that will be a better “fit”), but they cannot revoke a youth’s membership in the BSA. That is authority lies with the BSA and is exercised through the Council Scout Executive.

The issue is presented as behavioral concerns secondary to a medical/mental health concern (ADHD). The decisions by this committee only serve to further contribute to the stigma associated with such a disorder. Furthermore, they are not being supportive of the scout and demonstrate that it is acceptable to exclude someone rather than striving for inclusion. What a disappointing and narrow-minded decision by this committee.

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Not knowing everything that happened and all the conversations that have taken place, it is hard to judge if this has been handled “appropriately” or not. One action I do find hard to understand is the committee making a decision regarding a Scouts status with the Troop. Maybe the SM approached the committee and requested their support for his or her (SM) decision. It is not the committee’s responsibility to be the final decision maker but to support the program. I am a committee chair and at times I may disagree with how some program matters are handled. I share my concerns and let the SM and ASMs make the decision since that is their role.

I agree with Andy. You have also noted that you do not have problems with the scout while he has taken his appropriate medication. You have not mentioned that he has acted inappropriately as den chief or in meetings. Appropriate remedies were found namely, the parents accompanying the scout on camp outs or communicating with the parents when there is a problem.

I agree. I am the parent of a Scout with ADHD and ASD. Our troop looks at the principles in the BSA Disabilities awareness document and crafted solutions to address his SYMPTOMS. When he crossed over from Webelos to Scouts and overnight opportunities expanded, we worked with his care team to develop approaches to address outbursts, etc. My son is now our JASM and Ship Boatswain, and is working on his Eagle project. I praise our Troop key 3 for working with him. Scouting is the best therapy he has ever had. On the other hand, my sister put her ASD son into a Troop that took the approach that her son was a “problem” and they left Scouting in under a year. You should be reaching out to the parents to develop a plan to handle this issue. In my son’s case, we worked with his care team to change his medication administration on overnight events.

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Our troop has several scouts on the autism spectrum and others with special needs. We work with the parents and the scout to discuss appropriate supervision and abilities. If a scout is not harming others, the adults need to step in an refocus the scout. Yes, this takes time and patience. Having these scouts in our troop has taught our other scouts patience and understanding. However, if a children is continually disrupting meetings, disregarding instructions, etc, the parents should be asked to provide a one-on-one supervision. TThis may defeat the purpose of scouts as most kids don’t respond the same when their parent is around. he determination needs to be made, however, is the scout capable of knowing that their behavior is innappropriate or is it out of their control.

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So because a scout is and we all fail, there is no program. Reminds me of our Chartering Organization saying they did not want their youth associating with that kind of person. I suggested their pews might not be very full if they only accepted the perfect. Scouts is a place where youth should be able to fail in safety.

This sounds to me like adults struggling.

I don’t propose to understand how your CO chose to discriminate. But working with your argument:

  • If we (scouts or scouters) all fail all the time … indeed there is no program. No troop can afford to have someone who becomes untrustworthy, treasonous, injurious, surly, impertinent, cruel, obstinate, morose, wasteful, cowardly, filthy, or irreverent.
  • If we fail, give pause, and correct ourselves, then we have potential for a great program. It is truly possible that most days troops get all scouts and scouters hitting on all points of the law most of the time.

A suspension is just one way of “giving pause.” Reassigning positions of responsibility is another. Learning some of the skills that a scout’s parents learned is another. (I have seen boys learn how to “whisper” troubled scouts. I’m pretty sure they picked it up from observing the parent.) All of them are “in bounds”, and the choice of which one to apply, is something few of us over the internet can rightly call. There are scenarios where gradual improvement is acceptable and others where it is not.

Yes, it is adults struggling. Why? Because really stinks to see a scout break bad. The hope is that by calling out these “precursor behaviors” in ways that convey seriousness but encourage recovery, the scout can recover and correct, and other scouts will feel safe.

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We can all talk about guidelines, but in the end we don’t know the whole situation. My biggest questions are:

What were the thoughts of the PLC?

How do the parents of the affected scout feel?

They may support the decision hoping it will motivate their child to try harder. They may be pissed and looking for another troop. Or not realize that it is an option. Sometimes changing troops helps. Sometimes not.

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