Hazing/Leaders Acting Badly....
Jay Thal (jay.thal@TCS.WAP.ORG)
Mon, 15 Sep 1997 09:57:29 EST
The issues of hazing and leaders acting badly raise some interesting
questions for our society, and (perhaps) conflicts between our Scouting
avocation and the vocations some of the Scouts-L participants pursue.
When I was in the Army, lo these many decades ago, I kept hearing the
phrase: "The Army builds men." Each service, undoubtedly, had it's equivalent.
I already thought I was a "man" - 22, a college grad, an Eagle , etc.
I felt that my "training" should be just that - a preparation to learn the
necessary skills to support a mission and to keep myself and buddies alive.
Scouting had already given me skills, such as orienteering, which exceeded
those of some of my leaders.
Yet, when I looked around, much of the training was degrading and meant
to strip away individuality, and make the soldier more maleable to training and
following orders. It was hazing. It was leaders acting badly. It is,
probably, the basis forcontinuing (an fortunately
rare/aborrent) harrassment and abuse which we read about. Clearly, top level
policy makers are taking actions against such incidents and the culture which
But we also witness the difficulties of some of those "feeder"
institutions such as the Citidel, and VMI where "traditions" such as the "Rat
Line" are condoned and lauded. These traditions are nothing more than hazing
and bad behavior. The "justifications" are that it teaches the cadets self-
control under stressful situations.
I seems to me that there are better ways to train without the
disrespect. Scouting does it. That's why Scouts perform well in emergency
situations (such as that recent train wreck) - training kicks in, and boys act
well either independently or as a team without having individuality first
stripped from them.
So one could argue that Scouting's Youth Protection Guidelines, and
game with a plan, could prove an equally good model for military training.
Perhaps Army Secretary Togo West (an Eagle Scout) can convey that message, and
convert the training mode of the military.
As we don't/shouldn't accept poor behavior in Scouting, we shouldn't
accept it in the other institutions which claim to build our future leaders.
Just felt like sharing some thoughts....
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City