Peter Farnham (pfarnham@CAPACCESS.ORG)
Tue, 16 Jun 1998 07:47:19 -0400
Well, I've been reading the varying comments on this thread, and must say
I am definitely and firmly implanted with feet in mid-air. I think there
is much truth in almost all the comments that have been made. The
responses can be broken down into two main camps--we're here for all
boys, especially the troubled ones; and, we don't have time to deal with
the bad ones; let's concentrate on the ones we can work with.
First, I agree completely with the first statement. W. We are here for
all the boys. I have never turned down a kid who wants to join my troop,
and hope that I never will. I could, however, envision circumstances
where I might feel that that was in the best intersts of everyone.
I can here shock and dismay reverberating around the PCs and Macs of some
of my colleagues as they read that statement. But I don't seem to recall
that I received a degree in child psychology or clinical psychiatry in
SMF--I could have not been paying attention during that discussion, of
course. Even Wood Badge, the top BSA volunteer lreadership training
course, only scratched the surface of such topics.
Guys, in spite of what we might wish, we are not trained to deal with the
sort of heavy problems characterized by things like Oppositional Defiance
Disorder. Believe me, seeing this disorder up close and personal in a
hulking 17-year-old with ADD who delights in intimidating kids smaller
than himself and has terrible low self-esteem and a lousy relationship
with his father and tries to pass off someone else's Eagle project as his
own so he doesn't have to do the work...I have to tell you, I am not
equipped to deal even remotely with this collection of pathologies.
About the best I can do is make sure the young man doesn't punch anyone
out, make him understand that it is supposed to be *his* Eagle project
and not someone else's, and try to apply a little psychological first
aid and hope he comes around and develops a differnt attitude before he
becomes an adult and is held responsible for his actions.
The young man in question is someone I dealt with last year on a high
adventure trip I was adult advisor with in my previous troop. I have to
tell you, in all honesty this young man needs more than the BSA is
capable of providing him, and I would think long and hard before I
knowingly accepted someone with these types of severe, inherently
disruptive problems into the troop.
Or what about the kid who grooves on pretend violence, who is
unbelievably manipulative, downloads porno off the internet, delights in
passing around 900 phone-sex numbers, and fakes a suicide attempt at a
sleepover? And who's parent says to me, "Well, Bill (pseudonym) tries to
get attention in unusual ways." I cannot believe that my fellow SMs out
there are going to want a kid with these problems around the other boys
who aren't burdened with them.
Guys, my point is that there are kids with very severe problems that the
BSA is not equipped to deal with. I can handle the kids with ADD, the
whiners, the occasional troublemakers, the ones who are lazy or shirkers
or who try to lie their way out of trouble or who occasionally get into
fights with their buddies. All this is normal and as an SM you deal with
it. But kids who need serious therapy or counseling that goes beyond the
limited training and experience I have in these areas need more than I
can give them. It is not unscoutlike to recognize one's limitations!
I'm sorry if the foregoing has offended anyone. I feel for these two
boys I have described; they have severe burdens that no other boy I 've
dealt with has. But that doesn't mean I am equipped to help them beyond
putting on an occasional bandaid. I'm willing and able to do that, but
they need more than I am capable of giving, and I'm sorry for that. It
also doesn't help if the parent is in heavy denial--but that's another post.
YiS (I used to be a Beaver...)
SM, Troop 113
GW District, NCAC
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City