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A cry for help to band directors everywhere


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3 hours ago, scheherazadesghost said:

The resources are readily available for parties interested in protecting their communities better.

Here's the 3rd highest hit from a web search of "definition of grooming behaviors:" https://www.rainn.org/news/grooming-know-warning-signs

RAINN is a trusted resource and national leader on the topic.

The grooming behaviors that don't involve direct-contact violations are: preferential treatment (not a viable teaching tactic in the first place,) favoritism (still not a viable teaching tactic,) gifts (similar to before, especially when there's a power differential,) one-to-one time (safe educational institutions and strong educators know this is extremely-rarely necessary,) use of personal email or social media (see previous,) contact outside of school hours (there are laws in Europe that say businesses can't even contact their employees off-hours... there is no "minor emergency" for a band student that can't be handled during hours. Even in cases of major emergencies, only the most qualified, trained, and prepared teachers should be handling student emergencies... instead call their guardians and 911, and get the student back in the care of their loved ones. Most anything else is not a teacher's place.)

Look no further than the Diamante report to see these in action... and they weren't young children, simply young adults. Strong educators know to avoid the behaviors because they have the potential to poison the social structure of a young student group very quickly. At worst, and in the hands of predators and their enablers, these behaviors can destroy lives.

I can agree 1000% with crossing lines that shouldn't be. This isn't even 10 or 20 or 30 years ago when SOME of these things were considered acceptable ( not talking about abuse, that was NEVER acceptable) 

Now with that said, I usually don't weigh in on a lot of people's personal beliefs but do want to say there has been over the past many who believe students should be involved in many things. A few examples are show design, music, rules etc etc.  I think you know what I mean. Well IMO I do believe there are lines not to be crossed and one cannot pick and choose how a line can be crossed. I believe when you blur lines on either side is when guards come down and opens a door for whatever behavior. This can mean many things you just mentioned (your high lights) Again I 1000% agree.

There is an abundance of young and new talent, younger by the day BUT there's a time and place when one is a student and one a teacher Blur those lines IMO and a door swings open. This is by no means a put down to a student, quite the opposite but I have been doing this for decades in this activity and the line crossers and not just the adult or staff. YES the staff should know better and if they don't then a good director should know when to step in and draw even a thicker line for BOTH parties. Students also need to know of that line and how NOT to cross it.

As a director, designer, staff, judge (the many roles I have had) I have often had to threaten staff of being fired to NOT play with the members and that I hired a staff person not another member and if they wanted to be a member either just march ( WGI WC , no age limit ) or find another job elsewhere.

Sorry for the long response but felt maybe I should weigh in a bit, especially because I have had to deal with this very thing many many times over the years.🙂

Edited by GUARDLING
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3 hours ago, GUARDLING said:

I can agree 1000% with crossing lines that shouldn't be. This isn't even 10 or 20 or 30 years ago when SOME of these things were considered acceptable ( not talking about abuse, that was NEVER acceptable) 

Now with that said, I usually don't weigh in on a lot of people's personal beliefs but do want to say there has been over the past many who believe students should be involved in many things. A few examples are show design, music, rules etc etc.  I think you know what I mean. Well IMO I do believe there are lines not to be crossed and one cannot pick and choose how a line can be crossed. I believe when you blur lines on either side is when guards come down and opens a door for whatever behavior. This can mean many things you just mentioned (your high lights) Again I 1000% agree.

This is a totally acceptable workaround, I say. If your staff isn't specifically trained in consent and boundaries, they're probably not the right staff to encourage greater student participation in design and leadership.

I've been in collaborative/shared-responsibility and hierarchical teaching settings as both student and teacher. They each have their place. But if your teachers/staff don't know how to ethically support a shared learning environment, you're right, it can open doors for grooming.

3 hours ago, GUARDLING said:

There is an abundance of young and new talent, younger by the day BUT there's a time and place when one is a student and one a teacher Blur those lines IMO and a door swings open. This is by no means a put down to a student, quite the opposite but I have been doing this for decades in this activity and the line crossers and not just the adult or staff. YES the staff should know better and if they don't then a good director should know when to step in and draw even a thicker line for BOTH parties. Students also need to know of that line and how NOT to cross it.

100%.

And depending on the age of the student, there are varying degrees of responsibility here right? Minors can't give consent so there's a hard line (it's on the adult.) Once you get into young marchers in WGI/DCI/DCA the responsibility is somewhat equalized in the eyes of the law. What still tips the responsibility towards the staff for me is the power differential that so many teachers leverage in the pageantry arts as their main teaching method. If that's at play, it changes responsibilities to me.

3 hours ago, GUARDLING said:

As a director, designer, staff, judge (the many roles I have had) I have often had to threaten staff of being fired to NOT play with the members and that I hired a staff person not another member and if they wanted to be a member either just march ( WGI WC , no age limit ) or find another job elsewhere.

Thank you for holding that ground in your many roles; students benefit greatly from educators like you who can demonstrate boundaries clearly. I know there are professionals like you in the field that do this and my gratitude runs deep for you all. If only I had encountered you sooner, when I was still involved. 🙂

3 hours ago, GUARDLING said:

Sorry for the long response but felt maybe I should weigh in a bit, especially because I have had to deal with this very thing many many times over the years.🙂

lulz, I only seem to write diatribes and I'm sure it drives some people crazy. I always welcome your thoughts.

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Well, I have sponsored one member of the Boston Crusaders each and every year since the mid 1980s, just like another alum did for me when I marched.   In every case, the member and their parents were appreciative and thankful and in none of those instances was there anything remotely akin to any kind of "grooming" going on.

I wonder...are we not throwing out the baby with the bathwater when we suggest that offering financial assistance to corps members is somehow a nefarious undertaking?

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42 minutes ago, craiga said:

Well, I have sponsored one member of the Boston Crusaders each and every year since the mid 1980s, just like another alum did for me when I marched.   In every case, the member and their parents were appreciative and thankful and in none of those instances was there anything remotely akin to any kind of "grooming" going on.

I wonder...are we not throwing out the baby with the bathwater when we suggest that offering financial assistance to corps members is somehow a nefarious undertaking?

Never realized writing a check was a precursor to grooming for bad purposes. Maybe I better rethink who I send checks to and what the money is used for. Guess I should stop buying the stuff my grandnieces sell to support their activities.

Seriously there is a world of difference between donation/gift to a member from someone who deals with that member and someone who is not even involved with the corps 🤦‍♂️

Edited by JimF-LowBari
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1 hour ago, craiga said:

Well, I have sponsored one member of the Boston Crusaders each and every year since the mid 1980s, just like another alum did for me when I marched.   In every case, the member and their parents were appreciative and thankful and in none of those instances was there anything remotely akin to any kind of "grooming" going on.

I wonder...are we not throwing out the baby with the bathwater when we suggest that offering financial assistance to corps members is somehow a nefarious undertaking?

The link I gave is pretty clear in the first sentence: https://www.rainn.org/news/grooming-know-warning-signs

But I'll save you a click. I'm going to bold and edit a few words so as to clarify that this abuse happens across ages and is not always explicitly sexual in nature: "One tool common to those who sexually, physically or emotionally abuse kids others is grooming: manipulative behaviors [note the plural] that the abuser uses to gain access to a potential victim, coerce them to agree to the abuse, and reduce the risk of being caught."

Sponsorship sounds like you run it through the BAC. That's not like meeting a member backstage one-to-one and giving them money.

You are in communication with the family. Great. Again, not a one-to-one relationship.

Lastly, I'm going to assume that you aren't sponsoring this member in order to, what was it, "gain access to a potential victim, coerce them to agree to the abuse, and reduce the risk of being caught." Might a predator or enabler use this tactic to gain access, coerce, and reduce the risk of being caught? Yes. Do all people that sponsor member fees with an institutional, transparent sponsorship program? Of course not and that's not what anyone here is saying.

Edited by scheherazadesghost
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18 hours ago, craiga said:

Well, I have sponsored one member of the Boston Crusaders each and every year since the mid 1980s, just like another alum did for me when I marched.   In every case, the member and their parents were appreciative and thankful and in none of those instances was there anything remotely akin to any kind of "grooming" going on.

I wonder...are we not throwing out the baby with the bathwater when we suggest that offering financial assistance to corps members is somehow a nefarious undertaking?

I didn't say sponsoring was a problem.  It IS a problem if you're their band director. THEN it's grooming.

Set up a Google News alert: "Inappropriate Band Director".  Watch what comes up!

Edited by NewToPosting
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1 hour ago, NewToPosting said:

I didn't say sponsoring was a problem.  It IS a problem if you're their band director. THEN it's grooming.

Mmm, there's nuance here.

It's important to note the difference between grooming behaviors conducted by predators and behaviors often associated with grooming conducted by non-predators.

As a director, I would avoid the following:

(1) gift giving (assuming that this gift is for just one student... although, I don't recommend giving gifts to students in general without transparency and absolute clarity of intention with students and other staff)

PLUS

(2) favoritism (beyond it simply not being a good teaching tool, it also muddies the power differential both in the one-to-one relationship and in the student group)

Can a band director give a gift and/or show favoritism without the intent to groom? Yes.

Does doing so expose you to the risk of appearing to groom no matter how innocent your intentions? Also yes.

Does it also normalize behaviors often associated with grooming that don't really serve the student/member anyway? Definite yes.

Have a student you want to see shine? Nurture them through the transparent mechanisms available to you within the defined scope of your expertise. I assume most educators here are doing just that. 🙂

It's like this: Keanu Reeves is known for taking pictures with women/fans without his hands touching them. Why? Presumably because there are countless ways to take a fun picture without putting your hands on the women with you in the photo. It's not even worth the appearance of touching women let alone actually crossing a fan's undisclosed boundary.

Same thing here. There are so many ways to teach a student and/or conduct a transparent sponsorship program that don't open the door to grooming behaviors, or normalize grooming-like behaviors.

And again, all the above can be applied to all forms abuse in the pageantry arts (physical, emotional, sexual.) All predators and enablers use these tactics to skew the power differential with their victims. I avoid all appearances of doing so by cultivating other pedagogical and administrative strategies.

____

Like I haven't written enough, but I just want to end with a positive note for my band educators, who modeled this for me at a young age, including: Billie Nero, Marion West, and Randy Phillips. Very little of what they taught me was reinforced in my drum corps experiences, and ultimately, drum corps taught me teaching and administrative methods to avoid. These folks are the reason I became an educator.

Edited by scheherazadesghost
fixing an unfortunate typo
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