Discussion Scenario. The Personal Conflict


Book Reviewer
The Personal Conflict

This is the first discussion scenario referred to in the announcement. This is a serious one that requires, potentially, a difficult moral decision about who’s interest is put first.

Read and consider the following, it is a situation that a lot of cadet instructors could find themselves in and is based on a genuine event.

I am the detachment commander of an cadet unit which is isolated in that there is not another cadet detachment of any type within 3 miles. I have a 13 year old son who attends the local comprehensive school and who has a long record of being bullied and victimised by a group of boys. Interventions by the school, and the previous junior school at my insistence have been reasonably successful.

One evening one of the teenagers who you believe to be instrumental in the string of bullying incidents which have caused your family so much grief over the years, arrives at the detachment and wants to join the cadet movement.

You know some of his background.

He is historically a bully but more verbal than physical.
He lives with his grandmother who is not supportive.
His mother died 3 years ago,
He lived in the interim period with his alcoholic and violent father who is now in prison.
You are on good terms with his much older sister who lives near you and is a sensible and upstanding citizen.

So this is exactly the kind of teenager who is crying out for a bit of structure and discipline together with a strong, responsible male role model. Just what the cadet movement offers for troubled teens.

I however have to decide whether I can work with a cadet who has caused my family so much trouble over the years. I run the risk of not treating him fairly, additionally I can’t stand the sight of the little turd and expect him to rapidly follow his father into the criminal justice system.

What do I do?

Do I accept him as a cadet and make County HQ aware of the potential conflict?
Do I try to organise a different detachment for him and some way of getting there?
Do I accept that his need for the cadet movement is paramount and accept him but request a transfer to another detachment to give the boy a fair chance?

Carry on.


Sounds like quite a conundrum, and while my experience is limited to a short spell as an CI with the ATC, I believe that you have to put personal feelings aside for a short while.

Perhaps you may be able to offer the young man a period of probation? (ISTR being a probationary cadet when I first joined the ATC.)

I would suggest that ensuring your County HQ is kept in the loop would be a wise move.

Best of luck.
Could you discuss these circs with County HQ to discover if there's any relevant precedent or policy which could inform or constrain your options?

If at all possible, this lad should be given the chance. You could be the making of him. Were things icw your son specific and direct enough that you can refer to them in a pre-joining interview with this character? Unless he's completely devoid of insight (a real possibility, though), he should be ready to accept that necessary discipline will be imposed. Can you get him to think imaginitively about what this means before he joins?
You should use this as a test of your skill as an instructor,to put this kid on the right road,by showing him the advantages to be gained by changing his ways useing the activities of the cadets as a carrot, If he wants to stay and take part, one of the best methods I have found is put a bully into a situation that shows there weakness. The intake bully we had in Juniors came undone the first time we went caving, when he quit literaly begged the people he had bullied to get him out. he no longer had the same kind of power ever again, try it and see everone has a weakness, break him down and then build him back up as a better member of society
It's a tough one....... County should defintely be kept in the loop. I know of a right pain in the butt aged 15 who just f***ed around on Parade, smoked himself silly on Annual and generally caused mayhem. Someone had the bright idea of promoting him to Lance-Jack and he blossomed.

Of course he had a similar type scenario; Lived with Granny who'd give him cash to pacify him etc. No father figure etc. He went on to do good things in the ACF and is getting ready to go Regular. I loathed the kid at the time, but now he and I meet up once a month on a Saturday lunchtime for a beer.

Keep us posted mate and all the best!
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