Scouts-L Mail Archive for September of 1999: Disruptive boy
Laurie K. Burnaby
Sun, 5 Sep 1999 17:34:09 -0400
Steve Berry was kind enough to take the time to send me an account of what
happened to a Troop in his town when faced with a disruptive boy was
endangering the other scouts.
Due to the confusion inherent in lists this really is intended for Carol C.
I hope that by sending Steve's excellent accounting of the situation to the
list it will reach Carol C. Other leaders should alsp be aware of the
pitfalls of doing the right thing for the safety of the boys rather than the
PC thing. I had a similiar boy when I was Scoutmaster but, thankfully, he
was a mush milder case. Even so we had a few close calls.
I believe that the Troop Steve is describing took, in asking the boy to
leave or change troops, the only correct step. As a Unit Commissioner I
would suggest that even knowing that the PC world might turn on me. The
problem here would appear to be that the boy's father was unwiling to admit
that his son had a problem. As the parent of two boys with ADHD I
understand the frustration that dad feels. But I had to be realistic and
accept their illness and learn to work with it and help them work with it.
They can develop a lot of anger because they feel different.
Councils and Nationals reaction was deplorable. I mentioned to Steve that I
am going to bring this issue up at the next UC meeting.
Enough of my ramblings here is Steve story
Yours in Scouting
Laurie K. Burnaby
"Received Sept 5
I had to respond to you regarding your message about the disruptive boy. We
were faced with that same situation last year. I want you to know you are
in for a very difficult time regardless of what you do.
I don't know if you recall the incident last year (October) regarding a Boy
Scout that has Tourette's Syndrome. He was a member of the Boy Scout Troop
our Cub Scout Pack is affiliated with. I am the Committee Chairman of the
Pack. Hence, I was involved because of the potential ramifications the Pack
would see. This is a little long, but I want to explain what our
experiences were so you can be prepared.
This boy was in our Cub Pack for 3 years. In fact, his father was an
Assistant Cubmaster at one time. His mother was also very active. We were
all aware he had Tourette's as well as ADHD. We dealt with it as best we
could. Several mishaps occurred, but no serious injuries happened. He
bridged over into Boy Scouts in February of 1998.
Troubles began in the Troop. As this boy got older, his behavior became
more aggressive. Two serious incidents occurred. One boy got hurt. In one
of the incidents, the boy was swinging a pole at other boys heads.
Fortunately, no one got hurt in that incident. All of these occurred in a
split second. It was not a matter of the adults not providing supervision.
The leaders always watch the boys. But all it takes is a split second.
Things escalated to the point where the Troop required the boys father to be
with his son one on one to watch him at all times. This did not happen.
The father would ignore the behavior and tend to blame the other boys for
"instigating" the bad behavior. It came to the point where the Troop got
Council's recommendation was to ask the boy and his father to leave the
unit. The boy was provided with several options. First, he could join the
Lone Scout Program. Secondly, he was invited to join a Troop where the
Scoutmaster and his sons have Tourette's. The father exploded. I was in
attendance at a meeting with all involved parties and the Council. It was
ugly. The end result was that Council told us they could not expel the boy
from the Troop. The SM and the ASM resigned. All of the other parents
pulled their boys from the unit. That left only the boy and his father in
This situation escalated to the national news and TV programs. Everyone
tried to make this a story about Boy Scouts discriminating against a boy
with Tourette's. It was never about the disorder. It was solely about
dangerous behavior. Every person was at potential risk of injury with the
way this boy's behavior was manifesting itself. This also became about what
the father wanted, not necessarily about what was in the boy's best
Everything the troop did was at Council's guidance and recommendations.
Once the story his the news, Council disappeared. Leaders names were put
out in the press (National) as to how they were discriminating against this
boy. Council and National could not be reached above the Commissioner
level. Keep in mind, United Way is a MAJOR contributor to BSA. Once
funding is threatened, principle does not seem to matter any more (so much
for loyal, helpful, ...brave,...). Needless to say, the leaders were
stunned and more than a little hurt that Council and National left them
hanging out on the limb alone to withstand all the press. Some of these
leaders own their own businesses. Keep in mind that clients can start
fleeing quickly. Especially when they only hear what the press says
(whether it is true or often times not). This was a very serious situation.
The situation eventually subsided. The boys and leaders that left formed
another troop. The boy and his father stayed in the original Troop.
However, they lost their charter because they never could get anyone else to
Needless to say, there are still many scars between these leaders and
Council/National. The Pack is doing great. at the time this was occurring,
I had a meeting with all the parents and Committee to explain the situation
so everyone would understand. Their support was great.
I realize this situation is not exactly like yours. However, be prepared.
You never know what it can escalate into. Also, be mindful of how people's
motivations can change. As you can see, it can get very ugly. I hope this
helps prepare you. My advice is, do what your heart tells you. Do what you
know is right for everyone involved. Remember, one person's rights are not
more important the entire group's rights. Most of all, pray about it and
let God guide you.
Yours In Scouting,
CC & WL, Pack 124