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Progressive Discipline

"Discipline is the continual, everyday process of helping a [cadet] learn self-discipline."    - Fred Rogers     


Starting Points

Basic Expectations of Cadets

Key Concepts & Principles


Sample Misconduct & Intervention Match-Ups




1.1       Intended Audience for this Resource
  • Local leaders wondering how best to respond to cadet misconduct

  • Parents or guardians wanting to understand CAP’s approach to discipline

  • Local leaders and parents or guardians, working together, to verify that a given disciplinary intervention is in line with CAP national standards

1.2       Goal for Progressive Discipline in CAP

Cadet life should be safe, fun, and meaningful. To help make that happen, CAP uses a system of progressive discipline that is positive, incremental, and seeks both accountability and behavioral change from cadets. 

1.3       Our View of Cadets

Cadets are young people who are using CAP to try something new while preparing themselves for leadership and success in adult life. Cadets voluntarily participate in an Air Force-style learning environment. Their Air Force-style uniform motivates them to change their self-image for the positive.  They fulfill their Cadet Oath and abide by the Core Values to the best of their ability. (Ref: CAPR 60-1, 1.2.9)

1.4       Core Values

Our Core Values are moral signposts, memorable terms meant to remind us of the virtues that will make us thrive. Cadets are expected to strive toward these ideals in and out of uniform.

  • Integrity:   Honesty, promise-keeping, doing what’s right when nobody’s looking

  • Volunteer Service:   Helping other people, focusing on the team and community

  • Excellence in All We Do:   Trying new experiences, working hard, trying again after a setback

  • Respect:  Giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, treating others as you’d like to be treated


This short online module walks you though the process of managing behavior challenges in a way that promotes growth and learning.

**link will take you into eServices. Once logged in, the video is at the bottom of the page. 


Specifically, some of CAP’s main expectations for cadet behavior include:  (Ref: CAPP 60-20, CAPR 60-1 & 60-2)

Positive Behavior Negative Behavior
  1. Treat everyone with common courtesy and respect.
  1. Be honest and take responsibility for your actions.
  1. Wear your uniform properly.
  1. Obey your officers and follow local rules at cadet events (e.g., off-limits areas, wingman rules, phone use, lights out, etc.).
  1. Use the chain of command if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to share (with exceptions for #6 below).
  1. Go to any adult leader (Senior) you trust, regardless of the normal chain of command if you need to report bullying, abuse, or violence, or to discuss sensitive topics.
  1. Use the Air Force command, “KNOCK IT OFF” at any time to have everyone stop what they are doing if you think someone could soon get hurt.
  1. Don’t use profanity, racial slurs, or disrespectful language.
  1. Don’t get into fights. Don’t bully, threaten, or haze anyone.
  1. Don’t take property that is not yours. Don’t break or mishandle equipment lent to you.
  1. Don’t touch someone inappropriately. Don’t kiss, hug, or hold hands at CAP activities.
  1. Don’t bring tobacco, vapes, alcohol, marijuana (or derivatives) or illegal drugs to CAP activities.
  1. Don’t share, request, or post sexually suggestive text messages or images.
  1. Don’t bring firearms, air guns, paint guns, or any weapons to CAP (small knives may be allowed in the field).



Key Concepts

Four concept areas guide our approach to progressive discipline. We share these statements to convey a sense of what we mean by “progressive discipline” and how it ought to look in CAP.

Theory Policy Practice

To discipline is to teach self-control. A disciplined person is a “disciple” who habitually follows the right teachings.

“I think discipline is the continual everyday process of helping a child learn self-discipline.”  – Fred Rogers

“People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” - Dr. Samuel Johnson

Most of the time, cadet discipline can be maintained through verbal reminders, mentoring, praise, catching people doing things right, Socratic questioning, and other informal methods.

  • Adult leaders have a duty to act in loco parentis (in the place of parents), protecting the cadets’ wellbeing as a reasonable adult would for the benefit of his or her own children.
  • In relation to cadets, adult leaders are authority figures functioning as instructors, mentors, and supervisors. They do not permit their relationship with cadets to deteriorate into a peer relationship.
  • CAP does not allow corporal punishment or using exercise as punishment.
  • If disciplinary action is needed beyond informal, verbal warnings, local leaders will speak with the cadets’ parents, adult to adult.
  • Leadership by positive example is morally right and it works.
  • Nobody should try to “get” a cadet. Adult leaders hold cadets accountable for their actions but are never the cadet’s adversary. Adult leaders should help each cadet achieve long-term success.
  • The principle "praise in public, admonish in private" is the best approach in nearly all situations. 
  • If informal, on-the-spot, soft interventions don’t work, CAP will escalate the response.
  • In the case of an egregious incident, CAP will skip soft, private interventions and respond more emphatically, possibly including immediate membership termination in a worst-case scenario.
Core Values
Integrity First  ★   Volunteer Service   ★   Excellence in All We Do   ★   Respect

1.    CAP's goal is to achieve accountability and behavioral change via positive and incremental interventions. Discipline is a function of good leadership.
2.    Early intervention prevents greater misconduct.
3.    Responses must be proportional to the misconduct, reasonable, related, and respectful.
4.    Responses may increase with repeated misconduct, but it is not required to increase after each occurrence. 
5.    When responding to misconduct, consider age, maturity, experience, and whether others were harmed. Each situation requires that you look at the whole picture. 
6.    "Praise in public, admonish in private" is the right approach in nearly every situation. Trying to correct a cadet in front of his or her peers is unlikely to be effective and it weakens cadets' trust for senior members.
7.    If others are harmed, response must include restoration, if practicable.
8.    Moderate interventions require informing the parent verbally; heavy and final interventions require written parental notification.
9.    Unit commanders are responsible for cadet discipline while most responses to low level misconduct are implemented by cadet cadre.

4.        TOOLS

Some of the tools available to help with disciplinary interventions are described below. Use a little creativity, there are more tools available than what might first be imagined.  

Tool Description
Core Values

Discussing how one of the Core Values relates to the problem behavior; prompting reflection upon a Core Value as a lens through which to view the problem behavior; prompting reflection; expressing these thoughts through a short essay or oral presentation

Cadet Oath

Examining a phrase within the Cadet Oath and how it relates to the problem behavior; prompting reflection; expressing these thoughts through a short essay or oral presentation

Schoolhouse Weave

More than just moral ideals, the Core Values should be real concerns kept alive in everyone’s minds. The schoolhouse weave is the practice of intentionally relating how one or more Core Values relates to a given training topic, thereby reenforcing that value as a norm in CAP.

Wingman Concept

Using the Air Force version of the buddy system to provide cadets with accountability partners and peer support.

Role Models

Providing opportunities for cadets to interact with trustworthy older cadets, aviation professionals, Air Force members, and others who set a positive example


In a disciplinary context, a mentor is an authority figure from outside the cadet’s direct chain of command (i.e.: not their boss or boss’s boss) available as a trusted listener and counselor.

Leadership Feedback Form
(CAPF 60-90 series)

A tool for improvement, grounded in the “leadership expectations” that prompts cadets to think about their performance as leaders, the Leadership Feedback forms work best when they are routinely used at promotion eligibility time.


An act of contrition intended to make amends for misconduct.

Cadet Position Descriptions

Position descriptions define what cadets should be doing in their role as leaders and, by implication, define roles and responsibilities outside of their lane. When leadership behavior runs off course, reviewing the position description with a cadet can redirect their efforts.

Learn to Lead Teachable Moments

A working knowledge of the content of this textbook enables local leaders to relate academic material to real-world behavior. Teachable moments are made possible when


Assigning cadets to refresh their understanding of a standard via repeating training previously completed

Service Activity

Using some form of extra chores or service to the squadron, unit, or community as a way to express contrition and restore the cadet’s relationships with other people.

Teaching Assignment

Appropriate for cadet NCOs and cadet officers, after a setback, errant cadets can renew their commitment to an ideal by teaching that ideal to junior cadets

Cadet Reset Agreement
(CAPF 60-97)

Cadets, parents, and unit leadership use this optional tool to enter a voluntary agreement enabling all parties to “reset” their relationship and (metaphorically) to start over, with assistance from the discussion prompts included on the tool.  A reset agreement is a youth-scaled contract that recognizes the cadet’s agency.


A temporary reduction in grade, this disciplinary measure is an  unavoidably public insistence that the cadet needs to overcome prior misconduct by demonstrating positive ideals


As a punitive measure, suspension withdraws the cadet’s privilege of participating in CAP activities for a short period of time; suspensions are sometimes needed as brief, nonpunitive cooling-off periods and when local leaders need time and space to investigate a serious concern


The most severe disciplinary measure in the Cadet Program. With termination, CAP expresses its considered judgment that the cadet’s continued participation would be detrimental to the cadet corps. Termination is a last resort following persistent misconduct despite multiple, progressive interventions, or is a necessary response to a single, egregious incident jeopardizing member safety or the unit’s ability to serve other cadets.


Each disciplinary situation is different because each cadet is a unique individual. Still, we hope that a cadet’s misconduct in Maine receives a similar intervention as similar misconduct from a cadet in Hawaii. Shown below are sample misconduct and intervention match-ups. These pairings are not definitive. They are not intended to limit local leaders’ options, but rather provide a starting point that helps ensure cadets are treated fairly and receive the help, correction, encouragement, or admonishment they need.

Low Level Misconduct Examples Soft / Private Interventions
  • Disrespect / mild insubordination
  • Late to class, meeting, or activity without valid reason     
  • Public display of affection during CAP meeting or activity  
  • Wearing unauthorized grade / award
  • Failure to follow order / CAP regulation
  • Disrupting class or activity
  • Failure to follow chain of command
  • Loss or neglect of CAP property
  • Failure to inform parents of important fact
  • Malingering to avoid PT / duty
  • Improper wearing of CAP uniform 
  • Informal mentoring
  • Verbal reminders; “on the spot” corrections   
  • Closer supervision
  • Praise for changed behavior
  • CAPF 60-90 Feedback Session
  • Retraining in the specific area of need
Mid-Level Misconduct Examples Moderate / Semi-Public Interventions
  • Repeated low-level misconduct
  • Failure to perform staff duty that affects other cadets
  • Give or receive unauthorized assistance
  • False statement of important fact to superior
  • Bullying (as defined in CAPR 60-2, 1.5.5, 2.5)
  • Possess /use tobacco during CAP meeting or activity  
  • Possess /use alcohol during CAP meeting or activity
  • Verbal warning
  • Sustaining in grade (CAPF 60-90 series required)
  • Exclusion from activities
  • Temporary suspension from staff position
  • Cadet Reset Agreement (CAPF 60-97)

* All moderate / semi-public interventions require verbal notice to parent or guardian  

Higher-Level Misconduct Examples Heavy / Public Interventions
  • Repeated mid-level misconduct
  • Fighting during CAP meeting or activity
  • Cheating on CAP exam
  • Sexting (CAPR 60-2,, 1.5.13, 2.4.3)
  • Hazing (CAPR 60-2, 1.5.3)
  • Theft

Higher-level misconduct potentially warranting membership termination: 

  • Criminal activity    
  • Violent activity
  • Sales / furnishing alcohol or controlled substances during CAP meeting or activity  
  • Removal from staff position for cause
  • Membership suspension
  • Demotion

* All heavy / public interventions require written notice to parent or guardian   

Final Interventions :

  • Membership suspension and termination (See CAPR 35-3)




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