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Weekly Discussion: I’m the one the DM warned you about…


Veteran (100+ posts)
It’s happened again. A national newspaper has formed a story about how we are the most awful self hating society destroying group out there.

Maybe it’s an old policy update they’ve just got wind of, something that’s just a matter of personal taste or it’s a small local story blown up for drama. Whatever it is your heart sinks when you see it and you stay well away from any comment section.

Please put your thoughts on the following:
  • Do you think we get enough guidance following a damaging new story
  • Do you tell parents with questions following a news story
  • Do you ever get guidance from an above level
  • Has a story ever effected your unit (for example a parent pulling their child from the unit/cancelling a Join Us request)


Veteran (100+ posts)
Staff member
I don't know what the story is you are referring to but the fact it's DM says a lot, but they have become the news today for other reasons.

The general rule for PR is never to comment, just pass it on to a higher level or HQ. So many of our policies can seem out of step with public opinon when taken in isolation, but put them in context they are very broad and there for reasons. The world is very quick to judge and the media are out for readers and to create a fuss, they don't care about the impact or fallout they cause.
We can all think of issues that we have felt strongly about and had to accept that others disagree and we have to live with a situation that we don't fully agree with but life moves on and we do too.

As for local comments, no parent has ever approached me about our national policies as reported in the media .I have had fellow leaders upset when a policy is highlighed by some rag such as the DM but they have tended to disagree with any change.
Do we need more training wit dealing with such situations ? Possibly, there is a danger trying to give leaders so much training on aspects that they may never use. I think just simple diplomacy is the best response, listen to the concern, accept they have a right to the opinion, maybe explain what the full policy is if the report is inaccurate or if it is a consultation and pass on the concerns to the next level.

Todays newspapers are tomorrows chip wrappings..


Veteran (100+ posts)
No specific story, although I have just seen that they have published a controversial column today (I saw it after I started this thread). Over the years there have been many, normally from the DM, on the Promise, on young members being “excluded”, on uniform, on D&I policy, resources (at one point there was a specific downloadable statement on GFI Glamorama), appointment of the chief executive…

The most I have ever had (and I posted about I on here at the time) was after the Promise change I was out hillwalking and wearing a centenary polo and a lady stopped me to ask (and this was her opening line!) “Excuse me-how many Muslims do you have really?”. I explained to her why wording had changed, and she seemed happy enough- she had read that “the Muslim and Sikh council” had forced us to change…

I think parents often don’t mind if their daughter is already involved and they can see that we don’t have an “evil agenda” (unless you count sending home glittery items or girls who have just had sweets!).

Although we should refer upwards if parents etc contact us it would be nice to get a quick and short statement for members- ie you may have seen X just published, our policy is Y and Z / or *fact*. This is because there often seems to be subsequent confusion within membership, who might suddenly be looking for information which is scattered across the website…


Veteran (100+ posts)
I try to keep my head down when the DM goes off on one to be honest. Most parents (where we are anyway) seem to be reasonable and take it all with a pinch of salt and so I don't put anything out unless someone asks. I just tend to look up what the actual facts are (for example, the story about transgender kids) so that I'm ready in case anyone asks. It would be useful to have information in an easy to find section - an "in the media" section on the website perhaps. The only problem with doing that is that it might give more weight to the story and we could look like we are defending ourselves (from nothing usually)

The only exception was the Promise, as it was a huge story in lots of different media. I just sent out an explanation of why the Promise was changing and asked them to contact me if they wanted to discuss it at all. Needless to say, none of them did.

I have never had anyone challenge about Guiding's policies, ethos or anything else reported in the media. The only trouble like that I've ever had has come from Scout leaders!