Dr. Steven Parker at Web Md writes about childhood memories of two schoolmates:
In my defense, I wasn’t overtly mean to Billie or to Fred. But – to my eternal shame – neither was I at all friendly. Never did I tell my friends to cool it with the cruel taunts. Never did I attempt to get to know either of them. Never did I empathize with the hell they were going through.
I was, after all, a kid and – let’s be clear-eyed about this – kids can be incredibly cruel. Differences in others are inherently threatening, mandating excommunication from the tribe of peers, to be avoided at all costs, lest you too be perceived as weird and banished. It is such peer culture (not peer pressure) that rules the world.
But, I wonder now, where were the adults? Why didn’t my parents talk to me about Billie and force me to go visit with him and his parents to dispel my fears and fantasies? Why didn’t my teachers inform us about the nature of Fred’s seizure and disability, and put an end to our cruel taunts?
As I have written before Scouting is all about inclusion. We will all have difficult and challenging Scouts. The Scoutmasters job is first to understand the challenge is not to change the ‘difficult’ Scout so much as to create an atmosphere of acceptance that changes the perspective of Scouts.
As Dr. Parker suggests fears and fantasies are powerful barriers to acceptance. They are easily expelled by adults who have resolved these fears and fantasies themselves