Re: Scouting for Life, Continued
Bruce Major (major@GATOR.NET)
Thu, 13 Nov 1997 10:42:07 -0500
Comments interspersed below.
> Bruce, of course, you can't predict it, but the statistics quoted here
> on the list recently emphasize that young males are at risk. We (BSA
> Scouters) deal with many young males. Therefore, I propose that we ALL
> fit the category "most likely to be affected."
" Most likely to experience" as I said, I would agree with. Effects are
impossible to determine. Some may not care enough to be affected at all.
You can not prognosticate how people will be affected. At least not without
extensive psychological testing. You can predict statistically what
experiences they are likely to have. Sounds picky, I know. But if we are to
communicate in words, the words must reflect the situation as accurately as
> > 2) This is so far beyond the expertise of most people, it would be
impossible to address.
The sad thing is, that with the successful suicides, there often are no
warning signs. Hopefully we already know how "normal" kids act and know our
individual scouts well enough to realize that something is amiss. That is
the time to talk with them to see how we can help. "A little learning is a
dangerous thing" truly applies to the field of mental health.
> > 3) The fatality rate of life is 100% ... Do we have a training program
to deal with every untoward experience life offers?
> > No. We leave it to the experts in mental health and counseling.
Then let's leave it there, so we can get on with running our unit programs.
See another posting to the list today for an alternative suggestion.
> > Remember the leadership skills, especially "knowing and utilizing the
> > resources of the group". The resources for dealing with events like
> > are out there and easily identified. The BSA is not one of them. But
> > leaders can certainly access community resources for specific events or
> > meet special needs.
> Yes! Exactly! But if we don't know what the resources are, how can we
> access them? Related note: I was a Den Leader for almost two years
> before I knew about training. I didn't know that I had a DE or a Unit
> Commissioner to lean on; I didn't know about Roundtable and PowWow; I
> didn't even know that the Scout Shop had all kinds of printed material.
> So I didn't use my resources. Once I was trained, I became a *much*
> better Den Leader. Because of that, I now believe in getting and giving
> all the training I can handle. Perhaps it affects my judgment, but *I*
> think that affect is positive.
Self-education is a responsibility we all have for the duration we are on
the planet. Get busy and identify resources in your community for issues
that concern you. I am sometimes amazed at the passivity of many people
these days. Don't wait to be spoon-fed. Go hunting.
As to the lack of information you received in starting out- shame on your
district! This is all supposed to be presented at Round Up, when scouts and
leaders are recruited. But the fact of their laxity just underscores the
need to "do it yourself". If you wait for this idea to go through the
process of becoming a national training policy, you will wait for years to
achieve something you could do yourself in your unit and you district in a
matter of weeks. Why wait? Get busy and identify your local resources.
> In a mental emergency, you can apply the equivalent (of first aid). This
can be the
> difference between life and death by suicide. Some training here can
> help you just as first aid courses help you.
The problem being, you often do not know who needs it, because you cannot
read a mind the way you can see a laceration. Even behavior is no clue. I
know of several people who committed suicide almost casually it would seem.
There is no universal set of behaviors or clues in which one can be
> We hope we never need any of it, but don't you feel better knowing
> you've been trained, just in case? Be prepared! :-)
Depends. Inadequate training to address an impossible task doesn't make me
feel particularly confident. I still remember the old "duck and cover"
drills in the fifties, when we were to hide under our desks at school or
furniture at home in case of nuclear attack. Now, realizing we were in a
"ground zero" area and would probably be killed outright, those drills
never made me feel better. They were hogwash. If anything, they simply
increased the anxiety.
As I stated, there are a variety of life crises all of us face,
continually. It is not the mission of the BSA to train every leader to be a
lay psychotherapist. I believe this idea, well-intentioned as it may be, is
actually destructive to our program and our goals. Once we start down the
path of believing we need to address every crisis personally, we have no
time left for anything else. Specialization is a wonderful thing. Leave
mental health needs to the specialists in that area.
However, I do appreciate the need to be prepared by "knowing and utilizing
the resources of the group". See my post today regarding an alternative
that you can take today, in you unit and your district to meet the goal of
providing leaders with the resources to deal with these issues without
waiting a decade for the national bureaucracy to act. Personally, I think
that because local resources vary so much, local action is more effective.
And you can start NOW.
SM, Troop 84
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City