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Should bad behavior be a factor at a Board of Review?

I didn’t give specifics about the situation because I was looking for a general answer, which I think I got. Also, because there really is not much out there about this, and I figured someone else may come looking for an answer, but their specific situation may be a little different.

As for this Scout, we do know his history, and he’s definitely had to deal with a few things a child shouldn’t have to deal with. In the past year that he’s been with us (we are his 3rd troop), the major behavioral incidents have been urinating on church (our charter) grounds during a meeting, in broad daylight, in front of the other Scouts (TWICE), breaking into a soda machine at the church, taking things from younger Scouts on campouts (and usually tossing them across camp or into the woods so they can’t find it easily), and the latest incident that happened hours after his SMC (and prompted this post of can we delay his BOR to ask him to think about his actions and reflect on whether he is living the Oath and Law), he shoved a Webelo from another unit and said “get out of my way you f***ing retard” because the boy happened to stop in a doorway in front of him.

Yes, his guardian is very involved, and in fact was with the Troop when this happened, and no, he doesn’t have any diagnosed conditions, such as ADD, ADHD, or ODD. We want this boy to stay in Scouting, and he wants to be there. The SM talked at length with him during his SMC about his past behavior, and he felt the Scout really understood and took it to heart, and then hours later the shoving incident happened. That’s why the committee wondered if we had the ability to ask him to take a few weeks to really reflect on this, and his past actions, and how it goes against the Oath and Law, etc.

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I would say yes, but likely not as a reason to delay the current BoR. It might be worth reaching out locally (if you haven’t already) to your unit commish (maybe generically the way you have here) to see if they have any recommendations or past experience dealing with issues like this. They might be able to push it up the chain via the district to see if there are any suggestions from folks in other districts or at the council level.

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We’ve had to do both – requiring parent attendance and temporary suspensions – in the past. Neither one is an easy decision, but both have to start with a frank and honest discussion between the parents and the Troop’s Key 3. If you don’t have that discussion and clearly communicate your expectations/requirements for continued Troop membership, you are setting everyone up for failure.

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We have had a few boys that needed redirection. Normally if I have a question about behavior, I bring it up during the Scoutmaster Conference when determining “scout spirit” and either postponed the advancement or asked the committee to have a discussion with the boy, but never at the Board of Review. We don’t want to make the Board a thing the boy fears. Normally we set up an expectation of behavior and watch his progress for a month. They almost always change their behavior. I have never had to remove a boy. Dave Wellman, scoutmaster for 48 years (116 Eagles).

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I think the key to all of this is a N+1 approach to the problem. Your scout started out in a bad state (I’ll call it N) and your scout improved to a better state of behavior (N+1). Instead of looking at this that your scout had made bad choices that totally returned to his original state of behavior you could think of it that if not for improving his behavior it could have been much much worse on that campout. The cumulative view of this whole time period is that the scout did make attempts to improve and things could have been much much worse.

Everyone is broken, everyone makes mistakes. Punishment is something in the toolbox; however, mentoring is also in the toolbox. You saw improvement for several weeks when your leadership mentored; continued mentoring with positive reinforcement through explaining that the scouts behavior has improved and shows merit for rank advancement, and future rank advancement requires continued improvement in behavior is probably the path forward. You are a point where you can alter the life trajectory for this scout, show this scout that better things are possible through effort to control behavior. Positive reinforcement and mentoring as an option versus punishment is the real question here; not rank advancement versus not rank advancement.

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Bad behavior can be toxic to your unit and your program. Uncorrected bad behavior will result in scouts who are serious about the program leaving your unit because of the uncorrected violence and bullying going on in your unit.
You need to address the incidences of physical shoving, name-calling, and stealing gear from other scouts. The adult leaders who either witness this behavior or become aware of this behavior are required to report it to your district executive so that corrective action can be taken. These issues are well beyond the scope of the Board of Review. You can address these issues separately outside the Board of Review. You must get your district executive involved.

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To what extent are the other scouts being mentored about this? @MarkBarnes comment leapt out to me as I have seen both sides. Yes, the one scout needs mentoring, but as Mark says it can also make the patrol or even the unit toxic and cause others to quit.

Are the other scouts being educated on how to handle these types of situations? I remember clearly having a disruptive scout and when we did our reflection as leaders, one thing I think we missed was not communicating with the other scouts about it and having them be part of the solution too.

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This is from the current 2021 Guide to Advancement.
I’m never sure why comments are made that the only course of action is to pass a Scout out of a BoR. The document clearly says that a Scout can not pass a BoR.

In this case that would be a choice that should be considered. I would also suggest that the CC have a conversation with the SM about why the SM Conference was signed off.
(Italics below are mine.)

2021 version:
Section on BoR
8.0.1.4 Board Members Must Agree Unanimously on Decisions to Approve
After the board of review the Scout is asked to wait outside the room or out of hearing range while the board deliberates. To approve awarding a rank, the board must agree unanimously. Every effort should be made to deliberate with careful consideration of each member’s perspective and in sufficient detail as to avoid factual misunderstanding. It is appropriate to call the candidate back if additional questions may provide clarification. Still, if any member dissents, the decision cannot be for approval. In the case of such disagreement, the Scout shall not be informed about the specifics of the conversations or any arguments taking place. As indicated below (“After the Review,” 8.0.1.5), the Scout is only told what improvements need to be made.

8.0.1.5 After the Review
If the members agree a Scout is ready to advance, the Scout is called in and congratulated. The board of review date—not that of a subsequent court of honor—becomes the rank’s effective date.
If a board does not approve, the candidate must be so informed and told what can be done to improve. Most Scouts accept responsibility for their behavior or for not completing requirements properly.
If it is thought that a Scout, before his or her 18th birthday, can benefit from an opportunity to properly complete the requirements, the board may adjourn and reconvene at a later date. If the candidate agrees to this, then if possible, the same members should reassemble. If the candidate does not agree, then the board must make its decision at that point. In any case, a follow-up letter must be promptly sent to a Scout who is turned down.
A copy of the letter should also be sent to the council’s designated appeals coordinator, council advancement chair, and advancement staff advisor. The letter must include actions advised that may lead to advancement, and also an explanation of appeal procedures. (See “Appealing a Decision,” 8.0.4.0, or—if applicable— “Appealing a Quartermaster Board of Review Decision,” 4.4.2.8, or “After the Venturing Board of Review,” 8.0.5.5.) The council must keep a copy of the letter.

with more than 40 years of being on many Board of Review, I have had several situations as you describe. My way to approach it is to do the following.
"scout name’. what point of the Scout Law is more important to you or is your favorite point?
the scout then gets to pick the point and explain it to the board.

I then pick the point of the scout law that has been broken by the scout or the point which is in need of discussion.
You look at the scout and ask: “scout name”, one of the points of the scout las is XXX. can you explain this point to me, especially in relation that you treated scout YY?" or “in relation of xwz event which you did?” AND THEN YOU WAIT FOR THE BOY TO EXPLAIN IS ACTION. Sometime than can be up toe 30 seconds to a minute.
Then you ask, "What do you think needs to be done to resolve this problems so that you can demonstrated that you follow the Scout Law? AND THEN YOU WAIT FOR THE BOY TO GIVE THE SOLUTION HE NEEDS TO DO.TO RESOLVE THE PROBLEM.
Some times tjhe boy will break down into tears and give you the needed solution .
Occasionally the boy will not admit that there is a problem that he needs to solve. IN which case I ask further about the problem… ONLY VERY OCCASIONALLY was the action caused by the other scout being a bully. And the answer: “Wlhy didn’t you come and tell one of the adult leaders about this problem?”

The Board of Review now had a solution given by the boy. They can either set a time period for the better behavior to be changed.
OR
The Board of Review can suspend things until they look deeper into the behavior between the boys.
OR
The Board of Review can ignore the problem and can overlook the problem.
In every case this (ruling and explanation) needs to be put in writing with a copy to the boy, a copy to the parent(s), a copy sent to the advancement committee on the district and council and a copy is kept by the unit advancement committee.

But this method has the boy explain his behavior and why his behavior was or was not that expected by a Scout living the Scout Law.
He also gives a solution that the Board can use or improve on. I have found that this system ALMOST ALWAYS solves the problem. IN ONE CASE we had to meet with the boy and the parents. In one case the police were called and the boy was arrested (a knife fight with a trip to the hospital for stiches and medical treatment. In two cases we denied the Eagle Scout rank to the boy(s)

My Troop had an incident happen after a SMC and before a BOR that resulted in a sit down with the scout and the scouts parents. The scout had done and said things that were offensive to other scouts without fully understanding they were offensive. The leaders suggestion and the parents agreed that the BOR would be put on hold for a month while the the scout reflected on what he said and did. Although we usually do a SMC as the last thing before a BOR it may be given at any time during the rank. There is no rule as to when you have to schedule a BOR.

That’s not strictly true. There is no specific timeline in relation to the completion of all of the other requirements, but the 2021 Guide to Advancement specifically states in 8.0.0.1:

Because the board of review date becomes the effective advancement date, boards should be scheduled promptly as Scouts are ready or set up on a regular basis that assures Scouts are not delayed in beginning time-oriented requirements for the next rank.

It also states in 8.0.0.2:

When a Scout believes that all the requirements for a rank have been completed, including a Scoutmaster conference, a board of review must be granted. Scoutmasters—or councils or districts in the case of the Eagle Scout rank—for example, do not have authority to expect a Scout to
request or organize one, or to “defer” the Scout, or to ask the Scout to perform beyond the requirements in order to be granted one.

It also states:

In a case where there is concern that the requirements for a rank as written have not been fulfilled, it is appropriate to advise the Scout that he or she might not pass the board and to make suggestions about what might be done to improve the chances for success. It is, however, the Scout’s decision to go ahead with a board of review or not.

So, as @DavidSchilpp (among others) pointed out, it is possible not to pass a Board of Review. However, the Guide to Advancement makes it clear that the unit may not deny a Scout a Board of Review or “defer” it, and that it must be scheduled either “promptly as scouts are ready” or “on a regular basis”. @DavidSchilpp noted various options provided for in the Guide to Advancement for the Board to take action once a Board is convened, and 8.0.0.2 provides that a Scout may be advised that they may not pass the Board of Review if it is convened.

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The reason for the board of review in my opinion is to review if the requirements for rank have been met. Not a board to judge behavior of the scout.

GTA 8.0.1.2
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This is key to this discussion in my opinion. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” or if you prefer “Those living in glass houses should not throw rocks.”

Either way it is important to remember that we are all human, and the effort is what is key and not necessarily what we perceive as the final product. It also includes daily life and not just scouting events.

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There is a separate Scout spirit requirement (First Class #11). That is the one I would talk to the Scoutmaster about. The SM conference requirement is a participation requirement.

A Scout who is not consistently on good (acceptable) behavior should not be advancing in rank. Period. Living by the Oath and Law is the “catch all” that’s left up to the Scoutmaster to determine if the youth is abiding by and benefiting from what the Program is designed to instill in the boys/girls in our charge.

I don’t know where this “I’m so afraid to say ‘no’ attitude” comes from from adult leaders. Guys… its so simple… we’re under no obligation to “pass them along” and it’s not our job to “advance them”. Scouting is a SELF PACED character development program. Some boys will advance faster than others when they’re ready, and ONLY when they’re ready. Don’t make this any harder than it needs to be. Embrace it as an opportunity to talk with the scout (and parents if need be) and ESTABLISH CLEAR EXPECTATIONS and stick to them. Trust me, if he cares at all about advancing, he’ll rise to the expectations.

I just want to add in… in our troop, we allow youth leaders and Assistant Scout Masters to sign off on rank advancement requirements, with the exception of the Scout Spirit section which we reserve for the SM who will conduct the SM Conference. Its very helpful if no one else but the SM address the “softer skills” as it is the SM’s job to hold the introspective conversations with the Scout and help them realize the Character side of the program. Knot tying, bandages, etc… sure, let anyone else sign off but leave the “turning boys into men” aspect to the SM. Clearly that’s not “official” BSA policy, but it works very well for us.

You’re completely right. The minute someone signs off on a requirement, it’s “done”. (Speaking with 21 years experience) What so many people seem to do, especially in the earlier ranks, is that they’re so gung-ho to advance them and keep the youth inspired, that they sign off prematurely. Correctly tying a knot ONCE out of 5 tries is not worthy of a signature, for example. We (all) must be doing our part to NOT “dumb down” the Program any more than it already has been. Competence and consistency should be the standard so when a youth advances, he REALLY has something to feel proud of earning.

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I can understand your feelings on this. I don’t think anybody here is saying to advance somebody who has not met the standard. We as adult leaders ride a very fine line of understanding and applying what the standard is. We have to hold them to the standard, but no farther, which can be hard. So take your knot tying example. The requirement states “Demonstrate tying XYZ knot”. It does not say “Demonstrate proficiency in tying XYZ knot”. So the argument becomes where is the standard? Where is the line when we have started to require more than what the requirement states?

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NO. If the requirement about living the Scout Law (Tenderfoot req 9, 2nd Class req 10, and 1st Class req 11) is signed off by the Scoutmaster or the Scoutmaster’s designee, it is not appropriate for the BOR to challenge it. Once a requirement is approved, the board does not get to re-test the Scout, which is what you’re doing in your case.

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@DilworthBrinton_Jr This is the trouble with just doing what we have always done and not understanding what we should be doing. Just because it is the way it has always been done does not mean it is right. If you read the GTA it makes it clear that it is not a test of the scout, maybe it was in the past, it is not supposed to be that way now.

GTA 8.0.0.1
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