Protecting our Youth
Dear Parents, Leaders and Supporters,
We care deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward.
The BSA has taken significant steps over many years to ensure that we respond aggressively and effectively to reports of sexual abuse. Today, the Volunteer Screening Database – a tool the Centers for Disease Control recommends for all youth-serving organizations – serves as one of BSA’s many strong barriers to abuse, which also include:
- Ongoing mandatory youth protection education for all volunteers, parents, and Scouts;
- A leader selection process that includes criminal background checks and other screening efforts;
- A leadership policy which requires that at least two youth protection trained adults will be present with youth at all time; prohibits one-on-one situations where adults would have any interactions alone with children – either in person, online, or via text;
- Prompt mandatory reporting to law enforcement of any allegation or suspicion of abuse; and,
- A 24/7 Scouts First Helpline (1-844-726-8871) and email contact address (firstname.lastname@example.org) to report any suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior.
We believe victims and remove individuals based on only allegations of inappropriate behavior. We steadfastly believe that one incident of abuse is one too many and we are continually improving all our policies to prevent abuse. This is precisely why we fully support and advocate for the creation of a national registry overseen by a governmental entity, similar to the national sex offender registry, of those who are suspected of child abuse or inappropriate behavior with a child, and thus allowing all youth serving organizations to share and access such information.
We call upon Congress and other youth serving organizations to support this initiative. The BSA also regularly convenes leaders from other youth-serving organizations, as well as experts in the youth protection field. Sharing of information is one of the key focus areas of those discussions. Experts note that among the general US population, one in six men have experienced sexual abuse or assault at some point in their lives. This is an unacceptable public health and safety problem that must be addressed, and we seek to be part of the solution along with all other youth-serving organizations.
Please call me with any questions.
Hawk Mountain Council
Boy Scouts of America