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The PC Obsession of the Boy Scouts

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 22 October 2012

Another day and another daft PC missive from an organisation that you once respected. This time it is the Boy Scouts that makes one despair for Britain. The Scouts want to ban nicknames because that can lead to bullying. Oh please…

My brief foray into the Scouts saw some stern ex soldier take us for walks where we made “secret signs” with sticks so that only fellow Scouts could follow the trail. A few more years of that and I am sure that I too could have ended up like “Bear Grylls” who is apparently the Chief Scout today but must henceforth be known as Edward – for that is his real name. We would not want poor Bear to get put upon.

Apparently these days Scouts earn badges for things like recycling. All very twenty first century. And the Scouts now have a chief “safeguarding” officer Sam Marks who claims that

Bullying can advance gradually and can start with something as simple as a nickname – Research and experience all highlight that name calling – whether it be nicknames or harmless taunting – is often the largest form of bullying. Many nicknames come from someone’s appearance to something they’ve done. We don’t have a black and white list of approved nicknames.

Oops. Not very PC Mr Marks (or “wimp” as he was known as a lad). Black and white. You won’t be earning a Diversity awareness badge with language like that. But apparently nicknames which refer to a physical characteristic are especially bad. So “Ginger” is definately on the black list. Sorry unapproved list.

I guess that I am going to have to stop calling my ex-wife and the mother of Olivia “big nose” then. Actually it is a term of endearment but if it is banned what shall I do? How about “Welshie”. Maybe not. Sefton lackie – I guess I shall settle for that.

The instructions about the use of nicknames between adults have been included in “anti bullying” sessions given to new leaders as well as “top up” courses given to serving leaders. In typically, Guardian reading administrator/HR language “wimp” Marks says that: “If we are asking adults to be positive role models to young people, then we should be making sure the way we talk to them and interact with them is positive.

Maybe my next book should be 999 reasons to leave Britain. The only problem is how to whittle it down to such a short short-list.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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