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Youth protection is something very near and
dear to my heart. As a youth, I was abused by a family friend in a position of
trust. This is something that one never gets over. Although this had happened to
me over 30 years ago, I still am affected today through memories and dreams. In
2004, I was called to testify against my abuser when he petitioned to have his
status changed from being a violent sexual predator. Even at 40 years old, it
was one of the most difficult days of my life, seeing him again, face to face.
In 1990, I volunteered to be our council's
Youth Protection coordinator and held that position for the better part of 16
years. Youth Protection Program is not something we do because we have to do it.
It is something we do because we want to. We are in Scouting because we care.
Training youth and leaders about youth protection is not to scare them, it is to
empower them. We don't expect them to injure themselves, but we teach them first
aid. We don't expect them to get into an abuse situation, but we have to teach
them how to recognize the situation and be prepared to deal with it.
As a Chaplain, you may be the first to hear
about an abuse situation either directly or indirectly. You will need to
consider the privacy of the victim and accused abuser. Your job is not to pass
judgment, investigate or even ask detailed questions. Your job is to listen,
make mental notes and document those mental notes as soon as possible. Know your
councils reporting policies and the reporting policies of your state. You may or
may not have a legal obligation to report to child protections services, but you
do have a BSA requirement to report to your council executive.
News from the BSA
In July 2010, the BSA appointed Michael
Johnson, an internationally recognized expert on child abuse investigation and
prevention, as its first full-time Youth Protection director. Johnson and his
team will continue to review the BSA's policies, procedures, and training
materials and recommend continued enhancements to ensure the BSA remains at the
forefront of youth protection. Since last summer, the BSA has made the following
enhancements to its youth protection efforts:
Improved Tools to Encourage
Prompt Reporting of Abuse: The BSA's Youth Protection Team has increased and
clarified national standards for reporting inappropriate conduct, which were
published in the 2011 edition of the Guide to Safe Scouting. Additionally, the
BSA is publishing a series of fact sheets to help volunteers recognize various
types of abuse and is launching new online tools to encourage prompt reporting.
Mandatory Training for All Adult Volunteers: Effective June 1, 2010, the BSA
required all adult volunteers to complete Youth Protection training every two
years in order to maintain their membership. Since that time, approximately
640,000 people have taken the training. Johnson also has led a series of
in-person workshops to review safety information and ensure volunteers
understand how to recognize and report abuse.
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