Two Years of Scouting Should be Mandatory Before Graduating High School
CON (4 arguments)
First, we would like to observe that the topic implies that students would be joining already existing scouting clubs. Thus, for the sake of this debate, boys in high school would join Boy Scouts and girls would join Girl Scouts.
Weighing Mechanism: Whichever side best improves the students’ education and promotes equality should win the debate. If we prove that scouting harms students’ education, then you should negate.
Boy scouts and Girl scouts are an incredibly outdated, sexist institution that perpetuates stereotypes. This can be especially harmful for students in high school, where they are just beginning to develop their own opinions on the world. Being separated into two distinct groups by gender simply reinforces the idea that genders are not equal and that they must have different activities that suit each better.
A University of Maryland researcher studying the Boy and Girl Scouts handbooks found that the badges that scouts could earn differed greatly on gender. The study found that 27% of girls’ badges had what they classified as “cutesy badges” while none of the boys’ badges did. For example, the geology badge, is called the “Rocks Rock Badge” for girls while for boys it’s called the “Geologist Badge”. Additionally, Professor Kaitlyn McGowan writes that: “Applying a different organization to each gender further adds to the sexual discrimination and stereotyping that run rampant throughout the U.S. Reinforcing the concept of gender separation through popular youth-oriented clubs places restrictions on their members’ potential to flourish beyond society’s gender norms. Furthermore, there is an obvious genderization of skills that are learned with the scouts. Girl Scouts earn badges based off of creativity and domestic skills. Boy Scouts earn merits that involve more rugged and outdoor activities.”
While scouting may seem fun and relaxing, for most high school students it’s just another requirement they will have to complete in order to graduate. As a result, students will approach the scouting programs with little interest and be unproductive when it comes to getting community work done. This forced requirement actually has long-term impacts on students future community involvement, as they become disinterested in doing community service since they feel like they already have done their part. In other words, scouting creates complacency since students feel like their duty to their community is finished once the two years are over with.
Professor of economics at Stanford University, Sara Helms, conducted a study on community engagement after being forced to attend a scouting program for the first two years of high school in Maryland between 1997-2011. Helms found that "If this is for school, how do we know [students] are considering this as community service, rather than just homework for school? One of the interpretations that is more convincing is, maybe we are substituting this [requirement] for being self-motivated.” Indeed later in Helms study, she concluded that students who were required to participate in the scouting program were less likely after it to stay engaged in community service. She found that before the requirement, students in Maryland were 7.8% more likely to be active in service activities than the average national student. However, after the mandatory scouting was implemented, Maryland students were 17% less likely to volunteer for community service jobs.
Most high schoolers have a ridiculous amount of work they must do every night just from their normal school classes. Adding a whole new mandatory class onto their schedule will overload high school students and raise stress levels for everyone. As a result, test scores and grades will suffer, as increased stress directly relates to a lower academic performance.
According to the Boy Scouts own Scouting Magazine, high school scouts are required to accomplish large projects to earn their badges. For example, the article reports about a common project that scouting troops require where they have each member build a bench or walkway for a city building. These projects can take around 3-5 weeks to complete, and the fear that your project isn’t good enough for a badge definitely adds a great deal of stress. According to the US National Institutes of Health, stress can lead to a greater likelihood of depression, anxiety, and even suicide. Decreased mental health can greatly reduce academic performance. Professor Ben Bernstein of Stanford University found that on average, increased levels of stress or worse mental health, corresponded with a massive reduction in academic performance, especially in the case of lower scores on tests. That’s why every year, over 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the United States alone. That’s a student every 26 seconds – or 7,000 a day. This is really important since a high school dropout will earn $200,000 less than a high school graduate over his lifetime, and almost a million dollars less than a college graduate. Additionally, in the U.S., high school dropouts commit about 75% of total crimes. Overall, forcing students to add another huge task onto their already stressful life will only harm them when it comes to what really matters: their academic performance in school and their prospects at a good future.
Doing an activity for two years of high school uses up valuable and limited academic teaching time that students need to use preparing to succeed in the job market or in college. High schools can’t be everything to everyone - community service and character development can be learned through other outside activities. Making scouting mandatory is therefore repetitive learning for kids who already learn these skills in their extracurriculars. Keeping it a voluntary participation activity is best for everyone.
According to US News and World Report, 55% of all high school students play a sport, and in 2014, the number of participants in high school sports increased for the 25th straight year. Introducing mandatory scouting could reduce this positive growth in sports participation. Also, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25% of teens already participate in community service. Thus, many of the activities these students would be forced to do through the scouting requirement, they are already doing.