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ETHICS


The Nickname Game Examining a scenario in which good-humored teasing goes bad.


THE GUIDE TO SAFE SCOUTING is clear on hazing and bullying: “Physical hazing and initiations are prohibited and may not be included as part of any Scouting activity” and “verbal, physical, and cyber bullying are pro- hibited in Scouting.” How do Scouts determine how far


is too far? This ethical dilemma invites youth to explore that question and reflect on their own unit’s practices.


The Dilemma In Troop 84, nicknames are as ubiq- uitous as mosquito bites and farmer’s tans. By their second or third outing, most new Scouts have acquired nick- names based on a personality quirk or something they’ve done along the way.


These nicknames often outlast any


memory of the Scouts’ real names. In fact, Scoutmaster Ted Swenson frequently has to translate nicknames into real names when completing advancement reports. Most Scouts accept their nick-


names with good humor and recognize them as a sign of accep- tance into the troop. Not Ivan Baldwin. After the


troop dubs him Ivy for managing to wallow in a patch of poison ivy on his first campout, Ivan complains to his mom, who in turn complains to Mr. Swenson, calling the practice hazing. At the next troop meeting, Mr. Swenson announces a new policy: no nicknames, period.


In response, Puddle Browder


resigns as senior patrol leader, arguing that Mr. Swenson has usurped his authority and is favoring the opinion of one Scout over the rest of the troop. Now, nobody is happy, except perhaps Ivan and his mother.


For Discussion Invite your Scouts or Venturers to list the issues at play, including: The troop’s tradition of assigning nicknames


Ivan’s apparent unhappiness with his nickname and his mother’s complaint


Mr. Swenson’s edict banning all nicknames


Puddle Browder’s decision to step down as senior patrol leader Next, discuss together the follow- ing questions about each issue.


The Troop’s Tradition Do you think the troop’s tradition amounts to hazing?


What’s the difference between teasing and hazing?


Who determines when an action goes too far?


According to the scenario, most Scouts like their nicknames. Is that enough to make the practice OK?


If you think the nickname tradi- tion is wrong, could it be modified to be more appropriate? How?


Ivan and His Mom Does it matter that Ivan’s mom complained rather than Ivan?


FIND MORE ETHICS discussions to use at your next Scout meeting at scoutingmagazine.org/ethics.


24 S COUTING ¿ SEPTEMBER•OCTOBER 2013


ARTHUR GIRON


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