The biggest story in the sports world this fall was the child sex abuse scandal that has rocked Penn State athletics. If you’re like me, you’re probably sick of reading the sordid details of this scandal and the breathless condemnations and defenses of the various people involved.
So why bring up Penn State in a Scouting context? Because we in Scouting can use this tragedy as a chance to revisit our commitment to youth protection and to redouble our efforts to follow both the letter and the spirit of the BSA’s youth protection guidelines. To me, the real strength of the BSA’s youth protection program is the set of barriers to abuse it creates: two-deep leadership, no one-on-one situations, separate sleeping and bathroom facilities, educated and empowered kids, etc. These barriers ensure that, even if a child molester were to slip through the background-check process, he would have no chance to hurt a child in Scouting. No chance.
It’s easy to look at youth protection training as just another box to check off at recharter time. I think tragedies like Penn State give us the chance to reemphasize the training’s real importance. Here are some things you might consider doing in your troop:
- Review the youth protection material at http://www.scouting.org/training/youthprotection.aspx and in the Guide to Safe Scouting.
- Retake youth protection training online—even if your training record is current.
- Get the Youth Protection Training DVD (#610327) and show it to all the parents in your troop, not just registered leaders.
- Get the “A Time to Tell” DVD (#605696) and show it to your Scouts.
- Invite an outside expert to talk to your Scouts and/or families.
- At a troop meeting, give a Scoutmaster’s minute on the three Rs of personal protection.
- At a leader meeting or troop committee meeting, discuss ways to improve your troop’s adherence to youth protection policies.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the old saying “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Fortunately, the corollary is true as well. All that is necessary for the defeat of evil is that good men and women do something.
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