Barry C Runnels (Barry_C_Runnels@MMACMAIL.JCCBI.GOV)
Fri, 19 Sep 1997 14:43:59 CDT
Our Troop has had some trouble with Scouts picking on handicap Scouts. So I
am going to have a talk with them about all things, "hazing". I thought I
knew what hazing was but I have seen several interpretations here that I
never about before. So now what should I tell them?
Do I tell them adults physically holding or touching a Scout could lead to
hazing. No, that won't work because our Scouts plan all their agenda and
many times they ask adults to help do many things that may result in
physically touching Scouts for safety.
Do I say hazing could be when the activity isn't a worthy or fitting of the
Achievement. That won't work because even in our Pack, the Scouts plan many
of the ceremonies or activities. All we ask is that it is respectful and in
good taste. Who am I to judge whether it is worthy or not.
Should I tell them hazing is when the activity is dangerous for the goals
Scouting. There's a hornets nest. Our PLC has planned a canoe trip and
repelling trip in the next year just like many of the Troops in the
District. We went white water rafting last summer and we are planning to go
into the Wilderness by ourselves for full week next summer. Would taking
away those activities impede the goals of Scouting? No, I can't really tell
them a dangerous activity is hazing. To them danger is part of the
adventure. To me it is giving me a premature heart attack.
So what do I say to them. I looked it up in a few dictionaries. Hazing,
verb, to harass with silly, disagreeable, or demeaning task. Each one says
it slightly different of course but the intent is the same and they all use
To harass, now there is something the Scouts would understand. In fact,
that's something most adults would understand. I can say hazing is
demeaning, insulting, torturing, belittling, putting down, or insulting
anyone against their wishes, or for your entertainment. In other words,
harrasing? That is a little more than what the dictionary says but I want
to give enough description of to harass with, silly, disagreeable, or
demeaning task, so each Scout understands.
Where did we veer off on this discussion that has us saying that inverting
a Scout could lead to the Winging incident. I was hurt by that and wondered
how I could explain away what I felt was a ridiculous analogy. After my
emotions settled down and I could see may way through the HAZE (sorry, it
was in the dictionary also, I couldn't resist). I realize there is nothing
I could do or say to change anyones mind about hazing.
We have to respect each other feelings. That's the heart of matter. That is
what I will tell my Scouts. As leaders we are obligated to listen to
everyone's concerns and fears. We should do the best we can to find a
solution to get rid of their fears or concerns. I do it a lot. I usually
did not completely change the whole activity or program, rather I modified
it to respect the wishes of the Scout or parent.
That's not always easy. I once had a parent complain she didn't like us to
say "In Jesus name we Pray" in our prayers at the Pack Meeting. I had two
parents complain when we left it out at the next meeting.
I also hope people would not push their views and fears to where they can
disrupt and interfere with the program for their own personal agenda. We
are, after all, mature adults. We all have choices. If I am concerned that
that a ceromony is to dangerous for my Son but everyone else thinks is OK,
then I feel we can make a choice to either not participate, look for more
acceptable program for us or work with the present program to make changes
acceptable to all of us. Maybe it is to dangerous for me to allow my son to
particpate but it may come under that accepatable risk catigory for the
rest of the group.
I here a lot of "what if the others laugh" or "call my son names", "what if
this", "what if that" could lead to hazing. These what ifs will happen for
the rest of our lives and it's how we as humans deal with the what ifs that
prepares us for our lives. Sure we could try to prevent the "what ifs" but
is that really possible?
Seems today we have to use labels like: conservative, liberal, homophobic,
religious right and hazing to drive our beliefs and agendas when we aren't
satisfied or don't trust other peoples decisions even after we present the
facts. We do have choices. We are free to leave or move to another unit. I
had a mom whom felt I wasn't strict enough with the boys and she changed
packs. She could have made a big deal, called me names to try and make us
change my program, but she moved instead.
A few months ago, a CM friend of mine said they were not doing Pinewood
Derby races anymore because a mother felt the competition of the event was
a form of hazing. Is that hazing? Is that fare to the rest of the group who
are willing to work with the emotions of competition. And what about the
"what if this" and "what if that". We have choices.
Someone said what we teach the boys lays the foundation for their behavior
later in life with other organizations. I agree and if I can't tell the
boys the difference between dangerous and hazing, then their foundation for
understanding hazing could be on shaky ground.
As for inverting the Scouts, lets face it, turning a child upside-down has
a level of danger and somewhere (I can't find it) National is SUGGESTING
against it. However, they have left the decision up to us mature adult
leaders. It is dangerous, but hazing?
Scouters live by the Scout Law all the time, we need to respect anyone's
opinions, views, beliefs and concerns and to act accordingly. If we didn't
than Scouting wouldn't be a safe place. At the same time, we need to
realize that there is other choices when we don't approve or agree with
parts of the program. If we didn't have choices, it wouldn't be Scouting.
Sorry this was long.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City