There is discipline and accountability in Scouting but Scoutmasters are not disciplinarians.
We are volunteers in the game of Scouting and our job is to mentor and train youth to lead themselves.
When there is a question of accountability – a Scout who is not doing what he is expected to do – Scouters can speak to them and encourage them to rise to the occasion. If they don’t it is not up to the Scouter nor the troop to discipline or punish the Scout.
Parents are responsible for correction and punishment, not Scouters.
If a Scout is not performing his leadership duties his fellow Scouts will want to elect a new leader.
We don’t deal in negative reinforcement.
- We don’t hold the threat of punishment over Scouts, that’s not our job.
- We don’t withhold advancement to teach them a lesson.
- The Scout oath and law are our rules of conduct.
- We don’t deal in demerits and suspensions and probations.
The only tools in our toolbox are positive reinforcement and constructive discipline. We can inspire, encourage, inform, exhort and support our Scouts. It’s the right tool for the job, and it works every time for any young person who wants to be a Scout.
What is Scouting Discipline and Accountability?
“Discipline is not gained by punishing a child for a bad habit, but by substituting a better occupation, that will absorb his attention, and gradually lead him to forget and abandon the old one.” – Baden-Powell
“If a boy is given sufficient positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior, positive behavior will usually continue.” – Scoutmaster’s Handbook
Here’s an excerpt from the Guide to Safe Scouting
Youth Member Behavior Guidelines
The Boy Scouts of America is a values-based youth development organization that helps young people learn positive attributes of character, citizenship, and personal fitness. The BSA has the expectation that all participants in the Scouting program will relate to each other in accord with the principles embodied in the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
One of the developmental tasks of childhood is to learn appropriate behavior. Children are not born with an innate sense of propriety and they need guidance and direction. The example set by positive adult role models is a powerful tool for shaping behavior and a tool that is stressed in Scouting.
Misbehavior by a single youth member in a Scouting unit may constitute a threat to the safety of the individual who misbehaves as well as to the safety of other unit members. Such misbehavior constitutes an unreasonable burden on a Scout unit and cannot be ignored.
All members of the Boy Scouts of America are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the principles set forth in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Physical violence, hazing, bullying, theft, verbal insults, and drugs and alcohol have no place in the Scouting program and may result in the revocation of a Scout’s membership in the unit.
If confronted by threats of violence or other forms of bullying from other youth members, Scouts should seek help from their unit leaders or parents.
Adult leaders of Scouting units are responsible for monitoring the behavior of youth members and interceding when necessary. Parents of youth members who misbehave should be informed and asked for assistance.
The BSA does not permit the use of corporal punishment by unit leaders when disciplining youth members.
The unit committee should review repetitive or serious incidents of misbehavior in consultation with the parents of the child to determine a course of corrective action including possible revocation of the youth’s membership in the unit.
If problem behavior persists, units may revoke a Scout’s membership in that unit. When a unit revokes a Scout’s membership, it should promptly notify the council of the action.