In a world where young children are addicted to technology and social media, barely spending time outside, it’s not too surprising that there is mental health is becoming an increasingly difficult problem in young children around the world.
Some people from older generations attribute this to children spending too much time indoors playing video games or spending time on social media. As a result, the children end up lacking in skills such as problem-solving and learning how to be independent. Not only is today’s culture physical unhealthy, but, it is also taking its toll on children mentally. It’s reported that feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety are much higher than they used to be. You only need to look at high levels of depression among freshman college children these days when they first move away from home and have to tackle real-world issues.
Founding of the Boy Scouts
Boy scouts were first introduced as a way of building character traits such as independence, self-confidence, community engagement and resilience among young boys. They also needed to learn vital skills such as survival skills, problem-solving, co-operation, organization and quick decision making. Boy Scouts are expected to learn to work together with their team members and often in the outdoors where they have to complete challenges.
Boy Scouting was designed to be both mentally and physically challenging, thus building up both mental and physical strengths. A study in 2017 found that for a sample of 10,000 males in the UK, participating in youth clubs and programmes when they were young correlated with better mental health by the time they reach 50. The men who were Boy Scouts when they were younger, had 18% lower risk of developing mental health disorders like anxiety.
How scouting helps break socio-economic barriers
There is evidence from research studies that show that joining collaborative, engaging youth programmes such as Boy Scouts can reduce the effect socio-economic inequality has on mental health. Because young children are exposed to collaborative efforts with their peer groups earlier on in life, they have more time to develop their character to feel resilient to injustices in life. They have more experience blending in or fitting in so that by the time they reach adolescence, they would have adjusted well to their peer groups.
Furthermore, boy scouting encourages ‘active learning’ or learning as you go. This means the kids are able to tackle any issue that comes their way even if they have no prior experience in tackling it. This method of learning, as opposed to traditional class-based learning, encourages children to improvise and think on the spot instead of remembering something they learned already.
You can find more information about how being a Boy Scout can benefit a child in the following interview with Richard Stockton of the Boy Scouts of America.
Problems that still need to be tackled
Looking at the psychology of boy scouts is very interesting because there are so many patterns and results in behaviour. It is interesting to look at different perspectives. It would make a fantastic topic for psychology essay writing.
Boy Scouts are a great way to get a young, impressionable child to engage with the community and strengthen character traits such as independence and resilience. However, they don’t solve all issues. As with any topic in psychology, it is hard to pinpoint exact human behavioural patterns. Human behaviour is still quite unpredictable.
Some children may actually be negatively affected by joining Boy Scouts. But, this isn’t a flaw of the Boy Scouts, it is a problem with any youth club or programme where kids have to work in groups. For some children who may be rejected from their peer groups because of things like weight or skin colour, it can leave a permanent scar on their mental health. This is why Boy Scouts are paying more attention and resources into developing and tackling mental health in young children.