How leaders can effectively deal with a Scout's inappropriate behavior

A Webelos den leader asked what could be done when a boy lies, swears, and hits or chases other boys and his father will not intervene. Readers suggested better communication with and involvement of both parent and boy.

Front Line Stuff

Our pack has developed a “Cooperation Contract” modeled after the parent’s guide on youth protection found in the Cub Scout manuals. It must be agreed to and signed by the boy and the parent or adult partner. In clear language we try to communicate that “BSA” does not stand for Baby Sitters of America, and that while we welcome all boys, we are not equipped to offer major psychological help. As a last resort, it provides for expulsion from the pack.

If a boy is preventing others from benefiting from the program, the pack committee chair, Cubmaster, and den leader discuss the matter, and, if necessary, meet with the boy and adult partner and tell them that the boy may be expelled if his behavior does not change. If there is no change, we ask help from our local council. As a final step, we explain that we have no choice and ask the boy not to return.

We haven’t had a problem in the last five years that wasn’t solved prior to expulsion.

Former Pack Committee Chair C.P.
Shrewsbury, Mass

We had a Scout who we decided was a hazard to his fellow Scouts and someone who would also flagrantly and willfully violate major camping safety rules, endangering Scouts and leaders alike. As leaders, we agonized before expelling the boy from the troop.

The final determinant is the safety of the other Scouts and leaders. We are no more supermen than our boys are, though the ethos is to put the boys first and take second place ourselves. We have to guarantee as safe a program as possible for all. One Scout cannot be allowed to jeopardize a pack or troop.

Troop Treasurer L.F.
Worcester, N.Y.

I’ve learned that ignoring bad behavior in hopes that it will pass is not the best approach. If you speak politely with the boy about the offending behavior and care enough to help him develop a plan to correct the problem, nine out of 10 times it will be corrected.

In rare and extreme cases such as physical violence or acts contrary to Scouting’s ideals, I use “progressive discipline.”

An example would be a verbal warning for the first offense, suspension from Scouting activities for up to a month and a conference with the boy’s parent for the second offense, and so forth.

Be sure to document, with dates and times, the inappropriate behavior, as well as your reaction and any parental conferences. It also does not hurt to ask help and advice from your unit or district commissioner.

Assistant District Commissioner B.M.
Tecumseh, Neb.

The den leader should talk to the boy and his father and explain why the boy’s actions fall short of the Cub Scout Promise and motto. Also, the leader might give the boy a major responsibility that puts him in the spotlight. If he meets the responsibility, he will learn that success breeds success.

Pack Committee Chair A.M.
Dallas, Tex.

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