So I recently became aware that one of the parents of a boy in our troop believes that I am too strict and too hard on her son. She thinks I'm picking on her boy. The situation is that her son misbehaves during activities and camp outs, often being loud and disturbing other campers and troops late into the night at district events. He doesn't pay much attention during scout meetings, often leading the other boys down a disruptive track as well. The issue is that this boy also happens to be our senior patrol leader, and holds an important leadership position within our church as well. We have a small troop, consisting of six boys total, and the other boys are not currently capable of fulfilling these roles that this boy fills.

All I've been doing is reminding the boy of his leadership positions and his responsibility to behave better as an example to others. I remind him he needs to wear his uniform, which he never does. He also has just one requirement to fulfill to earn his next rank, but he doesn't take the time to fulfill it. He cannot advance in his current rank or any other without first fulfilling it. It's not one he can do with the troop as it requires a short amount of time with his parents. Instead he claims "he's busy" with extracurricular activities at school, ones I know do not take up all of his time at home.

I don't believe that I am wrong in holding him accountable to the standards he should be setting for the other boys. The unit committee is supportive of my actions as well. My question is am I wrong in holding him to a higher standard? In all reality, I'm not handling his behavior any differently than I am the other boys. What suggestions would you give me in handling this parent and child? We need his participation and this parent's support, but she doesn't seem to want to give it, which is influencing her son's desires to participate.

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Disclaimer: I'm not involved in BSA, but I do run my church's boys' group, which in a lot of ways is similar to BSA.

Going off what you shared here, you seem to be doing the right thing. Have you explained to his parents that he is behaving in a way unbecoming of his position, and what he needs to do to advance? They may be only hearing what their boy tells them. If you have made any threats of punishment, be prepared to act on them. If you haven't, you may want to start, along with the promise of reward if he does well.

I do an inspection every meeting on Wednesday. They get a point for every category I can check off for them, and every quarter I give a modest prize to the boy with the most points. One of those is for dress code. Maybe you could use something like that as incentive for him to wear his uniform.

What I'm not hearing here is what you have actually done.  You've been "holding him accountable."  What does that mean?  Sending him home for being out of uniform?  Arguing?  Public humiliation?  Asking him to let others speak without interrupting?  Specifics will make all the difference.

A good question.

One thing that I'm sure has contributed to the sore attitude I've been receiving has been my reaction to a bullying event that occurred during one of our activities. This boy had been discovered to be leading some others in bullying another boy, and after a swift end to the activity for the day, as most of the troop participated in the bullying, each of the parents of the boys involved were contacted. Most of the boys' parents were appreciative of our actions, but this parent never reacted in any sort of way. Only recently did I learn she didn't think her boy was actually involved in the bullying, even though I know it to be true as I saw it with my own eyes. The general feeling amongst those on the committee is that this parent may be one that doesn't think her child could do anything wrong. However, as the one who discovered the bullying and enacted punishment (i.e ending the activity and sending the boys home, contacting their parents) I seem to be the one this parent wants to find issues with. I'm not he only leader but I am the only one keeping order and discipline. This has been discussed by the committee and will be addressed so that I am not the only leader to discipline the boys for misbehavior, in an attempt to perhaps remove the focus on me.

So the action you took that she objects to is ending an activity and calling her to report his misbehavior?

And the action she took was what -- to complain to you that you were picking on him?

Just trying to figure it out.  It doesn't sound debilitating yet.

She is not complaining to me about the situation at all. She is complaining to others on the committee and while not explicitly saying it, seems to be implying that she no longer wants my participation in the program. She's said she is beginning to think that she doesn't want to send her boys--she has two in the troop--to attend scout meetings so long as I'm involved. However as I've said before, the unit committee doesn't see the things she's complaining about nor do they see that I've done anything wrong.

I wouldn't say that it is debilitating just yet. I'm just trying to find ways that I could diffuse the issue before things aren't repairable any longer.

OK.  So you ended an activity and called her to report his misbehavior.

She has complained about you doing this, to the committee.

The committee is on your side.

What would you like to have be different from what it is, or what do you think might happen that you want to prevent?

His leadership position in the church is irrelevant. Judge his actions in the troop, by the standards of the troop, and what is best for it.

The standards of the troop are heavily influenced by those of our church as the troop as it consists at the moment is a uni-denominational unit. The same boys he leads at church are the same boys he leads in Scouts. While it would be nice to separate the two, in the minds of the boys, and due to human nature, separating the two simply isn't as easy as it sounds.

That's one reason I've long argued that the Troops should not be hosted or otherwise organized by churches. But that's my own hang up with the BSA, and sadly, why despite being a scout myself, it is unlikely my son will be one. 

Good luck! I'll be following the thread to see where things end up. 

That does make it tricky.  But it sounds like he can't advance due to his own lack of care.  Hold him to the specifications just like every other boy.


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