I read an article by a Harvard Psychiatrist on How Trump’s Speech Was Toxic For Boy Scouts Beyond ‘Rhetoric’ . as a senior child and adolescent psychiatrist and advocate for healthy youth development, I’m concerned that the leadership may still not get just how bad this speech was for the tens of thousands of Scouts who heard it, cheered it, chanted “We love Trump!” I feel a professional obligation to share my understanding of the risks this kind of “political rhetoric” poses for our children.
After reading the article, I sent a copy and a letter to the leadership of the Tidewater Council, the Albemarle District and of one of Boy Scout troops on the Outer Banks asking their response:
Thank you for ALL you do for the Boy Scouts and our Community. I wanted you to know that I am very concerned about the lack of communication to Friends of Scouting and parents and grandparents of Scouts regarding the offensive speech given by the president at the national jamboree. I am a big supporter of the Boy Scouts. I have supported my husband Larry in the last 35 years in dedicated volunteer work. I don’t think the Tidewater Council has seriously responded to the damage done by the president’s offensive speech to Scouts at the Jamboree. I think a stronger message needs to be sent to parents and friends of scouts NOW. I don’t know what action the district has taken to communicate about this. I’ve have ‘heard’ the bare minimum and not in any direct way.
Officially from the Tidewater Council , I was told to contact Boy Scout Headquarters where an official statement was issued. It included “I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree,” said Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh. “That was never our intent.”
I’m still disappointed that the Council and District remains silent. I know Bill Neally, the paid executive of the Tidewater Council, and he is a very nice, and very articulate man. He told me that he was hired to help the organization as they required, and that it was not his task or obligation to become involved with anything political. The volunteer board and volunteer president are really responsible for the Council. I have yet to hear from the Albemarle District. I did contact the volunteer leadership. I know that when a local Scout Leader asked for Council assistance, particularly how to distance his group from the rhetoric, he was basicly told not to. He should decline to talk politicas with parents of scouts.
I agree with Dr. Gene Beresin.
boys from 11-18 have many things developmentally in common. Namely:
Their brains are still in the process of development, and, during these years, are more likely influenced by emotion rather than reason or logic;
they are drawn to powerful male role models and often follow them with passion;
they are significantly influenced by a strong desire to be part of a group, regardless of its moral intent;
they are fiercely loyal to each other — and their leaders.
So what is the big deal about this speech? Several issues:
It models seeing the world and people in it as either good or bad, while in reality we want our kids to see shades of gray and understand nuances.
It promotes individual winning as opposed to shared group effort for greater good.
It models devaluing and badmouthing those who disagree instead of listening and conversing.
It promotes distrust of our models of freedom, such as the free press.
It glorifies material wealth and social status above higher values, while promoting the glory of being feared and revered, not loved and respected.
The big deal is that Trump’s speech smacked of indoctrination. It had the potential to capture the developmentally normal aspirations of young boys and teenagers to idealize a “successful hero,” and band together for his mission of winning, of defying adversity. But then it subverted those natural aspirations, toward all the issues listed above.
Whether you are a fan of President Trump doesn’t really matter in this situation. This was a national leader who ‘subverted’ the meeting place, the audience, and normal aspirations of young boys and teenagers.
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