Re: Totin' Chip and Hazing
Amick Robert (amick@SPOT.COLORADO.EDU)
Mon, 12 May 1997 17:03:47 -0600
I doubt that anyone takes the view that inappropriate actions are without
consequences. However, in the spirit of Scouting, we are trying to
instill appropriate behavior through good role modeling, and through
appropriate and positive correction methods. There are still those who
subscribe to the arcane philosophy of "spare the switch, and spoil the
child.."; sadly, this never has worked and never will, but it takes folks
a long time to wake up and realize that there are far more effective and
positive ways to achieve behavior modification.
In the example given about the Eagle Scout who was inappropriately
flipping a knife open with other Scouts, would it not have been far better
for the leader to have counseled him privately rather than confronting him
in the presence of the other Scouts? Even though the Eagle Scout's
behavior was inappropriate, was it a good idea for the leader to threaten
him with cutting off a corner of his 'totin chip in the presence of the
other Scouts? Did the Eagle Scout's self-esteem
not suffer due to this rather callous approach?
It is quite possible that if the Eagle were asked "what do you think the
best way would be to correct the impression given to other Scouts about
flipping a knife being dangerous?" The Eagle Scout might have
thoughtfully said, "maybe I should go back and explain to them that this
wasn't a good idea and that there are safer ways to handle knives, so
let's practice some safety techniques..." In this way, he is given the
opportunity to correct the misimpression if he chooses to do so,and to
maintain his dignity and self esteem with the other Scouts. Youth are
amazingly resourceful if given the opportunity; their methods and
responses will surprise and delight you.
While the leader's intent
was good, the impact of his methods were clearly inappropriate, so more
damage than good was done, when just the opposite might have been the case
with a little forethought. Too many folks just "wade in" without thinking
about what impact their actions and methods will have.
Sometimes leaders take the view that public humiliation is OK because
"that's the way they were brought up, so it must be right.." If leaders
are properly trained in counseling and IF they accept and support what
they are taught, there should be no problem. Conflicts arise, however,
when leaders refute the training, and revert back to their traditional
negative reinforcement techniques. Those folks either need to be
counseled firmly about that, or get out of the program if they can't
change their methods.
If you help a youth discover his behavior is inappropriate without
destroying his self-esteem and personal dignity, you have done him a far
greater service than may ever know. Conversely, if you publically
humiliate him and destroy his self-confidence and personal dignity, you
will be hated for it; and quite
possibly you will have reinforced the negative behavior you sought to
correct because there is no respect or friendship for you as a leader.
We have to remember that we are "selling" a way of life, and the youth are
our clients, so our product has to be presented in the best possible way,
or the "clients" will find other "markets." If you read surveys about
"what do youth want"...high on the list is association with adults that
they like and respect, and that understand and respect them. They
don't have to be in
Scouting; there are plenty of other interest areas that compete for their
time, so we need to do everything possible to keep them involved.
Negative reinforcement by Scout Leaders is certainly nothing new..
Baden-Powell wrote disparagingly of leaders who used these tactics on
youth in the early days of Scouting, and
his criticism is just as valid now as it was then.
Bob Amick, Explorer Advisor, High Adventure Explorer Post 72, Boulder, CO
On Sat, 10 May 1997, Paul H. Brown wrote:
> I suspect that there are those who will say that any consequence, for any
> behavior whatsoever, is demeaning. Therefore hazing. Therefore
> forbidden. I hope that you didn't buy into it.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City