I answered the phone call of a friend one day greeted by an enthusiastic, “You’d love this place!  They do everything you have envisioned and want to do.” I was skeptical but didn’t want to rain on her parade.  My company had been in existence far longer than this other company. As I was expanding my role in leadership and finishing my doctorate in educational leadership, I was learning patience is key in developing great people and quality programs. It didn’t seem quite possible to me that Young and Growing Too Fast ABA, Inc. was able to pull all this off. 

Unfortunately, three months later the call was quite different: “I have to leave Young and Growing Too Fast ABA, Inc.  I’m being asked to step too close to the ethical edge and I’m afraid as I inch closer I may no longer see where that line is.”  Followed by some frantic, ‘what am I going to do’ comments was the ‘how did I get this so wrong’ question.    

This story is such a common experience in ABA today. ABA wasn’t like this when I started. Which is a big reason I wrote a cautionary book. There’s an entire chapter devoted to ‘the bait’ that is dangled for prospective employees.

 I’d like to consider another way in which bait is dangled. This time, the after-hire-bait. The most dangerous ‘bait,’ in my opinion, are the little things.The little things are tempting to nibble on. As a BCBA you are “baited” daily. Much like my friend in the story, small steps away from the ‘ethical edge’ add up to a big jump. 

 Maybe it’s unintentional or a relatively minor step slightly away from the line. Always rounding up, for example. You know who you are. Maybe you’ve done it, thought about it, asked about it, been asked to do it, been caught. 

 [insert other examples here] You know who you are. Maybe you’ve done it, thought about it, asked about it, been asked to do it, been caught. 

 We do it throughout our day in many ways. 

 Let’s take driving as an example. Speeding, multi-tasking (while speeding). It’s not THAT bad, right? Only 5 miles over isn’t really speeding. 

 Are you thinking about it? Did you think about it the first time you did it? Are you still thinking about it? Maybe you think about it when you pass an officer or a place where an officer is typically hanging around. Are you just doing it? Is it automatic now?

 What bait is dangling in front of you?

What are you doing about it? Are you just doing it. Doing it and thinking about it. Thinking about it and then doing it. Reflecting on why you did or didn’t. Contemplating what you’d say if you were baited. 

 I wouldn’t have thought to prepare in advance. It was ‘in one ear, out the other’ because I know I was warned. I knew, and know, it happens. I didn’t really see it… until I did. 

 This is bait. Some call it the devil’s temptations. Neatly planted in your path. I’m sure there are other references (but being raised Southern Baptist that’s the one stuck in my head). What do you call it?

 No matter what you call it, there are ethics involved. Let’s call it that. Ethics. When people leave your company or oversight what will they remember about your ethics? What seeds have you planted? It takes a village, right? What part are you playing?