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Confessions of a Bully: In gripping video, Cub Scout shares his lesson learned

Cameron Thompson isn’t a bully anymore.

The second-grader and Cub Scout in Pack 322 of California’s Inland Empire Council learned his lesson, and now he’s sharing an anti-bullying message that’s sure to resonate with your Cub Scout-age boys.

The news media have taken notice; Cameron’s positive story was on the Today Show this morning. He’s even wearing a Cub Scout T-shirt during the interview with Today.

Bullying of any kind is prohibited in Scouting. That includes verbal, physical and cyberbullying. Stories like Cameron’s remind us what happens when bullying does occur.

In a well-produced video, Cameron explains his story:

“Recently I made the wrong choice,” he said. “A boy in class brought a Barbie doll to school for show and tell. I didn’t really understand a boy bringing a doll to school, so I thought it was funny. I told some friends, and I convinced them to come make fun of him with me.”

Once teachers noticed what was happening, they stopped the bullying. But the damage was done. Cameron’s mom reprimanded him and explained why it was the wrong choice.

“My parents, church, Cub Scouts all helped me learn what good choices are. But they can’t always be there,” Cameron said. “She asked me how I would feel if someone teased me or if someone was teasing my little brother.”

Cameron wrote a letter to apologize to the boy and promised never to treat him that way again. But he didn’t stop there.

He started an anti-bullying club at school — his idea — and invited the boy he bullied to join the club with him.

“I know I wouldn’t like it, so it helped me understand how the boy would feel,” Cameron said.

Stories like these are a little difficult to watch, but they’re real. Bullying exists, but by understanding and living Scouting’s values, Scouts and Venturers learn to be friendly, courteous and kind to others.

Cameron’s video

Bullying happens online, too

Bullying doesn’t always happen face-to-face.

June is Internet Safety Month, so the timing’s right to remind your Scouts about the Cyber Chip.

Have a bully in your Scout unit?

Read Scouting magazine’s award-winning piece, “The Troop Bully,” which is full of useful tips.

Thanks to Michael Yates, marketing and development director for the Last Frontier Council, for the tip.

14 Comments on Confessions of a Bully: In gripping video, Cub Scout shares his lesson learned

  1. Wow – this piece is compelling, and Cameron’s video made me choke up. Scouting is such an excellent youth program.

  2. I would not classify this as bullying. This was an isolated event. Bullying happens on a recurring basis. Was the kid insensitive, yes. Was he a bully, no. My child is bullied daily so I am not discounting true bullying by any means but one incident like this does not make Cameron a bully, it makes him a child who needed help to see what he did was wrong.

    • I’d also like to say well done, to not only Cameron, but also especially to his parents for teaching him in a way that they feel is best. However, I certainly agree with Kim’s comments. From how this was described this is not an example of bullying. It’s an example of a good kid who did something wrong, and through guidance from his parents (apparently), tried to not only make it right, but even went the extra mile.
      Due to overemphasis and misuse, mostly by media, the term “bullying” has been frequently misused to the point that there is common misunderstanding.
      A common guideline used in school systems for bullying is:
      Dan Olweus, creator of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, defines bullying in his book, Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do:
      “A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself.”
      This definition includes three important components:
      1. Bullying is aggressive behavior that involves unwanted, negative actions.
      2. Bullying involves a pattern of behavior repeated over time.
      3. Bullying involves an imbalance of power or strength.

      As adults, our charge is to help good kids remember they’re good and give guidance towards appropriate moral behaviors.

      I am a father of 5, a Scoutmaster, and an elementary school principal. This is my take on this issue.

  3. Now THAT takes a big man to do something like that. What an inspiration. Great job sir!

  4. Carey Snyder // June 3, 2014 at 1:13 pm // Reply

    As a kid, back in the 50’s, I was bullied…but I handled it. What we need are parents to prepare their kids for this … as mine did…there should not be bullying, but when there is, the person being bullied needs to be taught by his parents to understand that the bullier is insecure, feels inferior, and is bringing himself up in his own eyes by tearing someone else down. When someone bullied me, my parents had let me understand my self-worth, and told me to ignore and avoid these people. I didn’t have a lot of friends, but those I had were real, not a large circle of acquaintances, and they were ones I could depend on.

    In addition, parents need to bring up their kids from infancy to know that they should not bully others.

    Bullying should not occur, but when it does, don’t coddle the bullied one, and bring in counselors and such – don’t wussify them. Use it to teach the bullied one to stand up for himself, and start a culture wher the bullier is shunned and ostracised…and keep an eye on him, and make sure the school of scout leaders do also.

    And no, I won’t think you are bullying me if you give a thumbs down to this comment . ;-}>

  5. I have a question related to the issue of bullying, but it involves an adult bullying other adults and youth. How do you handle an adult bully? Can he be removed from the troop?

    The bullying behavior consists of invasion of personal space whenever he does not get his way or the answer he wants to hear from other adults. He also casts disparaging remarks about others who are not doing things they way he wants. Our troop encourages all families to be involved with the troop and help in any way they are able. He tries to make parents feel guilty and inferior for not being available all the time.

    With the youth, he constantly calls them out in front of the whole troop, many times from across the room or campsite. He has a very loud voice, so everyone can hear. He gets into their personal space and towers over them (he is a very large man) making them feel small and insignificant. Some times the things he is commenting on do need to be corrected, but this could easily be done without belittling the scout.

    Once he makes up his mind about someone they seem to be a constant target. When he disagrees with an adult, that person’s son also becomes a target. I have been in several confrontations with this man and make it a point to avoid him whenever I can. My son has also been in confrontations with him to the point of tears. I have told him that he should not try to get his point across, but just inform this man that he does not wish to discuss the issue with him and then walk away. This behavior seems to provoke the bully into following and becoming louder.

    Any suggestions would be most welcome.

    • If he’s a leader, it’s simply a matter of the Committee Chair and COR informing him that his services are no longer required. If he isn’t a leader, then the Scoutmaster needs to stand up for his scouts and insist that this adult refrain from interfering in the Scout’s troop. Not only is this guy’s behavior toxic, but his methods aren’t part of the scouting program. Any “correction” that he feels is necessary should go to the SPL.

      If he’s a parent, he can’t be prevented from observing the troop, but he can for sure be prevented from inserting himself in the troop’s operations.

    • Carey Snyder // June 3, 2014 at 3:51 pm // Reply

      If necessary, get your District Executive involved – that’s why they get paid the /sarcasm on/ big /sarcasm off/ bucks.

      Perhaps if he won’t listen and change his methods, then a troop announcement at a meeting reminding everyone not to listen to him is the final straw…it may drive him (and sadly his son) away, but that is better than having him poison the whole troop. But keep an eye out…sometimes these are the sociopaths who will come back after everyone.

      And he needs to be reminded that the troop is to be boy-led – if he has an issue, unless a matter of safety, he brings the issue to the Scoutmaster, who if he deems it appropriate, mentors the SPL in finding a way to address the issue (the problem the guy is bringing up, not the problem of the bullying)

      The COR should be involved, since he approves tha applications of all adult leaders. Bring in all the resources you have – the COR, the unit commissioner, the district chair and the Districe Executive. Perhaps a personal vist from them, outside at a troop meeting.

      Another thing you can do is have a troop manual, addressing the unit’s polices on everything (dues, paying for campouts, duties of parents, etc.) Put in a section on behavior. Have all leaders read and sign an acknowledgement of having read and agreeing to abide by it.

    • I believe this is where the 10th point of the Scout Law is applicable: A Scout is Brave. Being brave or having courage may be the best way to approach this issue. The adult(s) who take issue with the perceived adult bully should first share their concerns directly with that person. It is my experience that the offenders are often unaware they’re being offensive until someone talks with them directly. They usually don’t intend to offend and change their ways when it’s brought to their attention.
      Since this adult is involved in scouting, he obviously is seeking some of the moral benefits of scouting. Skirting around the issue by addressing concerns “generally” in a group meeting won’t most likely work and may ultimately offend others. The conversation could gear around the ideals of scouting, such as kindness, loyalty, friendliness, courtesy, cheerfulness, etc.

  6. Jim Kangas // June 3, 2014 at 5:00 pm // Reply

    What a positive result from a negative action. Whether you classify it as true bullying or simply being insensitive, the result is the same for the victim. The important thing is, the young Cub Scout decided for himself his actions were wrong and is making an effort to make amends. I foresee good things in this boy’s future for doing so.

  7. Hello, this is Jessica (Cameron’s mom). Thank you for your support of Cameron’s campaign. I am not posting an any other forum as I believe it would be a waist of time to argue with irrational people, but I must say that I am happy about the respectful way that the adults here can disagree. Refreshing. If I may address a couple of things…. 1) I’m getting flack for the bully label, but he gave himself that label. When I asked if he understood what he did, his response was that he had been a bully. 2) This was not an isolated incident for Cameron or for the boy. Cameron had been caught teasing before but talked to by the teachers and it wasn’t brought to my attention. The other boy had been teased by others for the last 2 years and this incident was one of many for him. Unfortunately, it had hurt him so much that he didn’t want to return. Going back to #1, I do think that encouraging others to participate in teasing and making a boy cry to the point he doesn’t want to come back does qualify as bullying him. 3) I made Cameron write an apology note but the club was 100% his idea. I only talked to his principal about it and she helped him from there. I go volunteer but only in the background to help hand out markers or papers.
    4) I do not think that teaching the bullied children to develop a thicker skin is the answer. Yes in life we will have other’s insensitivities to deal with and we will need to learn to cope and either ignore or deal with them. But no child should be bullied to the point of fear to return to school. After speaking with the other boy’s parents, they’ve informed me that the bullying has stopped after all this has occurred (after 2 straight years of it). A larger part of the solution is helping our children understand the impact that their words and actions have on others. I hope this has cleared up some questions or misconceptions.

    • Go Mom! You saw that your child needed help and did what was needed. You didn’t just say “Don’t do that”, but you helped him understand what was wrong, why it was wrong, and that he should do something about it. He showed he got the message by starting the club and trying to become a friend. A lot of ADHD and other special needs kids get a bad label because they put more energy into what they are doing, giving the appearance of being overbearing. It looks like your son was able to take that energy and channel it in a positive way. Kudos to the parents guiding the ball of energy in a positive way!

  8. I myself am an Eagle Scout and can myself say that I am extremely proud of this young man for realizing the insensitivity of his actions and realizing the potential damage he caused (even if the damage wasn’t really there) and reconciled in such a large way. It’s quite commendable and I know this is what the scouting world organization wishes young men to be like with regards to character. Congrats Cameron!

  9. Looking at BSA in a bigger picture, I can’t help but find it strange that while they are happy to use this as a bit of good PR (regardless of who made/directed, etc; someone in BSA has still ok’d this to go out), when, once you look past the Cubs’ initial message, highlights the amount of bullying and discrimination that is happening within (and out with the BSA to a degree). How can they stand and say that it’s ok to accept someone who is different-and invite them into a club, when they themselves are not prepared to do so?

    Or was that the message, we aren’t going to stop you being friends with those that are different, but do it somewhere different, not in the BSA?

    While I know this post isn’t going to help the statistics, coming from the other side of the pond where we are inclusive of all, I really (not in a bad way) don’t see what the big deal is; in both aspects.

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