I am what I feel to be fortunate for having a good group of junior firefighters. There is a total of eight of them. They have all been involved for a little over a year now. They are generally very well behaved and the most helpful members at any type function. Recently we have acquired a new recruit and he is also a junior but has not fit in for different reasons. The main reason that I believe he does not fit in is that he is home schooled and does not interact well with others making him different and a target to the others.
He tries and generally for the most part means well. He has been the recipient of more than his share of hazing and it is beginning to get out of hand by both the juniors and a handful of some of the younger senior members. I don't believe that they are all involved but do you feel I should have the whole group of juniors held responsible and punished? or should I single out the ones responsible? Punished is a little harsh what I mean is reprimanded.
I WAS RECENTLY PUT IN CHARGE OF THE JUNIORS IN MY DEPARTMENT THIS PAST YEAR. I WAS ALSO A JUNIOR FOR ABOUT A YEAR AND A HALF BEFORE I BECAME A SENIOR FIREFIGHTER. I AM CURRENTLY A LT. SO I AM SOMEONE FOR THE YOUNGER MEMBERS TO LOOK UP TO. MY BIGGEST THING IS KEEPING THESE YOUNGER MEMBERS INTERESTED. WHEN I STARTED THERE WERE PROBABLY 10 OR SO OTHER PEOPLE FROM MY SCHOOL THAT JOINED MY DEPT. THERE ARE ONLY 4 OF US WHO ARE STILL ACTIVE MEMBERS OF MY DEPT. SO KEEPING THESE YOUNG PEOPLE INVOLVED AND HAPPY IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS WE CAN DO FOR OUR DEPTS. THE MAJORITY OF THE DEPTS ARE GETTING OLDER AND THE "SENIOR" SENIOR MEMBERS ARE STARTING TO DO LESS LEAVING THE YOUNGER PEOPLE TO DO MORE THAN USUAL SO WE NEED TO HELP BALANCE THIS OUT BY KEEPING THESE YOUNG PEOPLE AROUND. SO MY SUGGESTION IS TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE ALL GETTING ALONG AND THERE ARENT ANY ISSUES BECAUSE ONE DAY THEY WILL BE RELYING ON EACH OTHER IF THEY ARE STILL MEMBERS. JUST SIT DOWN WITH THEM AND TALK AND TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHAT IF ANY PROBLEMS THERE ARE. I HAD A SIMILAR INCIDENT WITH TWO OF MY FEMALE JR'S FROM DIFFRENT SCHOOLS AND THEY DIDNT LIKE EACH OTHER BUT NOW ARE GOOD FRIENDS. GOOD LUCK
Chief, gather all of them up and have a meeting. State what is going on will not be tolerated. Let what has happened be bygones or amnesty. Any further issues will be dealt with sternly and swiftly. You have to draw a line in the sand now, otherwise it will be more difficult to stop later. Research team building scenarios and try to incorporate them into your fire training.
I can sympathize with the young man in question, I was homeschooled as well. I don't necessarily know if his being homeschooled is the reason he doesn't fit in though, in a way a lot of homeschooled kids get the stigma of being under-developed socially. While sometimes it can be true, socially underdeveloped kids are in all schools. For the most part homeschooled kids are just as "normal" as kids who go to public school. Shy kids are shy weather they go to a public, private or home school. He may just be one of the people who has to be approached/engaged in conversation first before he opens up, maybe you could explain to those who are over hazing him (a little never hurt anyone lol) that they should give it a rest and try and get to know the guy, learn something about him and maybe he'll loosen up. But at the same time let them know that too much hazing might run the guy off, make him feel unwelcome and to give the guy a break.
However, if it becomes necessary to have a meeting. I think bringing everyone together asking them all to lay off the guy wouldn't hurt, though perhaps having an extra word with the main culprits in private might help as well.