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  1. Sherry:

    The practice of cutting off a corner of the Whittling Chip card after a Cub Scout violates a safety rule is NOT official BSA policy. Just think about it. Does it make sense to confiscate a pocketknife from a boy after he has violated safety rules four times???!!! I would hope not!

    I have heard some other Scouters say that this practice (cutting corners) is unacceptable because it is considered as a form of humiliation toward the boy because it singles him out and publicly shows his bad behavior (defaced card).

    To possess a Whittling Chip card means that the Cub Scout has earned it after demonstrating knowledge of, and skill in, the use of a personal pocketknife. If he should violate the safety requirements, the Whittling Chip card (and knife) should simply be taken away and it must be re-earned. There should be zero tolerance for bad behavior and improper knife handling techniques.

    • I agree. Giving a boy 4 chances to continue unsafe behavior is unacceptable. When I witnessed boys throwing their knives between each other’s feet (blade open) I did not embarrass them by cutting a corner. Instead, since it was at a council level function where younger, more impressionable scouts were present, I took their knives and escorted them to their parents. I returned the knives to the parents, not the boys. Knives are a tool, not a toy. carrying a knife at a scout function is a privilege, not a right. If we teach them respect for the tools they are using, you don’t have to worry about embarrassing them by calling them out on their bad behavior…it won’t exist.

      • I absolutely agree. Take it to the parents, so the matter can be dealt with immediately, and the parents can do reteaching and decide when and if the scout can be trusted with a knife. Great comments and information everyone.

      • Reading over the material, I think there is a bit of a misunderstanding of the ‘cut corners’. This is for MINOR offenses, such as tossing a CLOSED knife, not cleaning it before putting it away, etc. Things that are a bad idea, but do not put someone in immediate danger.

        Actions that are dangerous, like throwing an open knife, or using it as a weapon are obvious zero-tolerance infractions.

        In between, there are some infractions where a judgement call needs to be made by the adult. For example, scout #1 is working at a table, and has established a safety circle. Scout #2 walks up to see what scout #1 is doing.

        Suppose scout #1 stops using the knife, but doesn’t close it. I would say that might cost him a corner. If scout #2 has his whittling chip, invading another scout’ s safety circle might cost him a corner, as well.

        Now suppose scout#1 keeps working, and scout #2 is checking out his project within the safety circle. Now THAT would probably warrant taking whittling chips from BOTH scouts. Nobody got hurt, but danger was imminent.

        Recognizing the difference is part of our job as leaders.

    • We get the parents involved. We have added information that the whittling chip, along with their parents decision, allows them when and where they may take or use their knife. And, a strong emphasis that there are places where they are NOT/ ZERO TOLERANCE to bring their knife. We have had 2 in the past 2 years have their knife in their backpack when they went to school. (And a non scout friend who took an older brother’s dagger to the bus stop). We told the story of the non scout who is in an alternative school on the other side of town now for 1 year (no teaching, just a packet of self work to do and no getting up or recess no bringing anything allowed) and has a police record, has to meet weekly with a probation officer and court dates, etc. His brother and mother are devastated but the law is strictly enforced. For this 2nd scout, after talking with his mom, we made a plan for him to teach the lesson on knife safety to the scouts again and share his experience (principals office, police called, and ISS- in school suspension) and discuss the law about weapons of any kind in school. I added other places like airports, sports games, hospitals, etc. We just did this monday night, so I am hoping it will prevent any future incidents. I would be heartbroken if the whittling chip instructions led to legal trouble or a sibling getting hurt. Oh, we also stressed that those with younger siblings needed to be extra careful about where their knife was stored.

  2. Bent out of shape much? It is up to the leader what constitutes a violation. I, as a youth, have seen boy after boy cut themselves and NOT be humiliated with a missing corner. I have seen boys lose a corner for cutting on live wood, or playing with the knife aka not using it as the tool it is.

    Sorry ladies, we’ve gotten soft with the lack of pass/fail items in life. The guidelines are there for a reason.

  3. All safety rules are written in blood, which means someone got hurt, then a rule was made to prevent the next guy getting hurt the same way. This should be a guiding principle behind all safety training, and used to explain why safety rules are important.

    I have begun today discussing knife safety with my nephew. I came here to be certain I don’t miss or gloss over the important bits, and it occurred to me that we as responsible adults and mentors could use some refresher training ourselves.

  4. The HUGE safety aspect of cutting away from your body when whittling was not mentioned that I could see.
    I think it is actually one of the most important safety rules and should be added in immediately.
    Thank you!

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