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How The Boy Scouts of America Keeps Kids Safe Today

posted Aug 18, 2019, 4:38 PM by Council Web Team

This article was contributed by Michael Johnson, National Youth Protection Director for the Boy Scouts of America.

Recent media reports have highlighted claims of abuse against the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). As Director of Youth Protection here at the BSA, I share the same concerns as anyone seeing these stories, and I have the utmost respect for the courage demonstrated by these men coming forward. These claims understandably raise questions about what we do to keep kids safe in Scouting today, and I’d like to take the time to address those questions.

Sadly, there have been times when individuals targeted youth in our organization and took advantage of our programs in order to harm children. This infuriates me and our entire organization. We are heartbroken for victims and apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support survivors, and we encourage them to come forward.

In my 24 years investigating child abuse cases as a police detective, I spoke with hundreds of victims and spent decades interrogating predators and sending them to prison. I know what we as an organization and as a society are up against.

I understand the scars victims carry throughout their lives and have seen firsthand the impact on families. Victims and survivors must be believed and supported unconditionally. Protecting children is a duty we all share. 

The BSA understood this when it took the step of creating a full-time National Director of Youth Protection position in 2010, which is dedicated exclusively to working to keep kids safe from predators in Scouting programs. Contrary to many inaccurate reports, our youth protection policies are in line with – and sometimes even ahead of – society’s knowledge of abuse and best practices for preventing abuse. We actively share and continually improve these policies through our mandatory youth protection training, our ongoing collaborations with groups such as the Centers for Disease Control[1] and youth-serving organizations, and continuous engagement with survivors of abuse and top experts in this area. We also make our training and policies available free to the public.

Our efforts began in the 1920s with what we now call the Volunteer Screening Database (VSD), formerly known as the Ineligible Volunteer Files. This system has been the subject of much misinformation, but it was established at a time when there were virtually no resources or tools for protecting youth. It was intended as a screening mechanism to prevent individuals accused of abuse or inappropriate conduct from joining or rejoining our programs. Today, experts[2] agree that maintaining such a database is one of the most effective ways to prevent predators from having access to children.

While local chartered organizations and parents are responsible for selecting their unit leaders, the national organization mandates criminal background checks as part of that selection process. It is worth noting, however, that background checks alone are not sufficient, as experts have found a significant amount of abuse goes unreported.[3] This is why we will continue to push for the creation of a national database to serve as a clearing house for all youth-serving organizations and go beyond existing criminal databases. We believe all organizations such as ours should identify, document and report adults who have harmed children or have been suspected of harming children and report this information into a national registry so that these individuals cannot move from one organization to another, regardless of whether authorities pursue criminal charges.

In addition to mandating that volunteers complete comprehensive, research-based and expert-informed youth protection training, we also require adherence to youth protection policies including “two-deep leadership,” which prevents one-on-one interactions between adults and children – both in person and via digital channels. Additionally, even when not required by state or local law, we mandate all volunteers and staff members nationwide immediately report any abuse allegation to law enforcement. We require this in every Scouting program across the country despite the fact some states have exceptions to the mandated reporting of child abuse.[4] The child safety policies and procedures we utilize are among the most advanced and comprehensive of any youth-serving organization today.

It is a tragedy and a national epidemic that out of the general U.S. population, one in six boys and one in four girls experience sexual abuse or assault by the time they turn 18.[5] This is an unacceptable public health and safety problem that must be addressed. I’m proud that our organization has long sought to be a part of a collective solution to confront this epidemic and work toward a holistic solution, and we will continue to do so.

I can’t say that I, or the BSA, have all the answers; nor will there ever be a simple solution, but I can say we are working with key stakeholders to identify solutions. Our organization has always sought to protect youth, both in and out of Scouting. If there’s one thing that we have learned, it’s that keeping children safe requires a commitment by experts, government officials, organizations, families and survivors across the country to work together to end the national crisis of child abuse and exploitation. 

If you have been a victim of abuse or have any information about suspected abuse, please reach out to our 24/7 Scouts First Hotline at 1-844-Scouts1 for immediate assistance. For more on what the BSA is doing to keep kids safe, please visit: https://www.scouting.org/training/youth-protection/.

 

Michael Johnson is the National Youth Protection Director for the Boy Scouts of America. He is an internationally recognized expert on child abuse prevention and investigation, and for 24 years of his 28-year law enforcement career he served as a Detective and the Lead Child Abuse Investigator in the Criminal Investigation division of the Plano Police Department outside of Dallas, Texas. He has conducted more than 350 trainings for child abuse prevention professionals in 47 states and internationally.

 

[1] Child Safety in Youth Serving Organizations: Assuring Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships and Environments. The CDC Foundation.

[2] Saul J, Audage NC. Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Youth-serving Organizations: Getting Started on Policies and Procedures. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; 2007.

[3] Michael L. Bourke, Lance Fragomeli, Paul J. Detar, Michael A. Sullivan, Edward Meyle & Mark O’Riordan (2014): The use of tactical polygraph with sex offenders, Journal of Sexual Aggression: An international, interdisciplinary forum for research, theory and practice, DOI: 10.1080/13552600.2014.886729

[4] Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2016). Mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.

[5] Dube, S.R., Anda, R.F., Whitfield, C.L., et al. (2005). Long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse by gender of victim. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 28, 430-438.

Wood Badge Registration Now Open

posted May 16, 2019, 9:18 PM by Council Web Team

When:  1-6 November 2019
Where:  Tama Hills, Inagi Japan (near Tokyo)
Cost:  $350 in Council, $400 Out of Council
Wood Badge is an advanced leadership course designed for all adult Scouters.  Ideally, every Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, and Venturing adult leader, as well as council, district, and church youth leaders will take a Wood Badge course within two years of becoming a Scouter. Get all the details by visiting Wood Badge 2019 under the Training Tab or by clicking HERE.

2019 Silver Beaver Winners Announced

posted May 16, 2019, 8:29 PM by Council Web Team

The Silver Beaver Award is the council level distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America. Upon nomination by their local Scout council and with the approval of the National Court of Honor, recipients of this award are registered adult leaders who have made an impact on the lives of youth through service given to the council by implementing the Scouting program and performing community service through hard work, self-sacrifice, dedication, and many years of service .   Congratulations to the below individuals who picked by the selection committee. 

-                    John Harris, Sr.

            Edgar John LaBenne

            Daniel J. O’Neill

            Mallory H. Riegger

Far East Council 2019 Annual Awards (for 2018)

posted Feb 26, 2019, 5:52 PM by Council Web Team

Far East Council 2019 Annual Awards (for 2018)
These council level awards recognize those volunteers who have made significant impact at the council level or specific areas outlined by the award.  All award submission are due by 15 February 2019.   The Awards Packet can be found at THIS LINK.

2018-2019 Far East Council Alumni Awards

posted Feb 26, 2019, 5:50 PM by Council Web Team

2018-2019 Far East Council Alumni Awards

The National Eagle Scout Association established the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award (ESSPY) to recognize valuable service of an exceptional nature by an Eagle Scout candidate to a religious institution, a school, community or other entity through completion of an Eagle Scout project.  Submissions for this award are due by 8 February 2019.

 

The NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout Award (NOESA) was established during the BSA's 100th Anniversary in 2010 with the first recipient to receive the award a year later. The award was created to recognize notable Eagle Scouts who had either performed distinguished service at the local, state, or regional level or who were known nationally, but had not yet met the 25-year tenure as an Eagle for the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. Often, worthy candidates for the NOESA have inspired others through their actions and have devoted a lifetime to their profession, avocation, community, and beliefs, at great sacrifice to themselves and their families. Submissions for this award are due by 30 March 2019

The awards package and details on how to submit the award are available at THIS LINK. 

Council Statement to BSA Financial Future (Originally Posted December 2018)

posted Jan 19, 2019, 11:23 PM by Council Web Team   [ updated Jan 20, 2019, 12:23 AM ]


In a communication released today, the National BSA office reaffirmed its focus on keeping children safe and delivering our nation’s foremost program of character development and values-based leadership training.  The BSA reiterated its commitment to the social and moral responsibility to fairly compensate victims who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting, and the deep care and concern for all victims of child sexual abuse and the proactive steps to help victims heal and prevent future abuse.  We at the BSA stress that at no time in BSA history has the organization knowingly allowed a sexual predator to work with youth and will always seek to act swiftly when alerted to abuse allegations. We are committed to communicating transparently and there are no imminent actions or immediate decisions expected by BSA in light of the WSJ news story.  Assembled below are a few items of information that may be helpful considering the news story.   

The strength of Scouting for over 100 years has been its local domain.  Each troop is owned by its charter partner which is typically a place of worship, service club or educational institution.  Each Council is locally incorporated in the specific area where it operates. The Far East Council is a 501(c)(3) entity with our Certificated of Incorporation in Delaware.  Our Volunteer Service Center, our bank funds and investments are owned and controlled by the Far East Council.  The nature of the relationship for a council with the National BSA organization is that our council is the holder of a charter to conduct the Boy Scouts of America programs in our defined territory.
    Council’s receive no funding from the national organization; in fact, we pay fees to National BSA as a part of our charter agreement and for specific services. We receive value back from the national organization, but we operate as a significantly financially independent not-for-profit organization. Areas where we partner with National BSA, for business purposes, include several insurance programs, services for IT and expertise related to camping, Youth Protection and so on.  Also, important to note is employee benefits such as healthcare and retirement are funded by each council but through programs controlled and operated by National BSA. The Far East Council’s finances, including our endowment, are segregated from BSA National finances and will not be part of any restructuring or settlements at the National level. We hope the National Organization can navigate the difficult waters that many others have faced. With over a century of existence, the BSA is ready and able rise to this challenge.  In the Far East Council, we stand ready to help and will continue our primary focus on bringing high-quality Boy Scouts of America programs to the over 7,000 Scouts and Volunteers in the many countries we serve.  

     Yours in Scouting,

    Don A. Olsen                                                                                           David Nichols
    Scout Executive/ CEO                                                                          Council President
    Far East Council                                                                           
    Don.olsen@scouting.org

    Sync Your Calendar

    posted Mar 6, 2013, 5:15 PM by Council Web Team   [ updated Mar 7, 2013, 2:54 PM ]

    Would you like to be able to see the latest local scouting calendar on your computer, iphone, android phone, or other mobile device?  Now you can.  Check out the Sync Calendar page of the Far East Council website to learn how to be able to view the Council, your district and other scouting calendars on all your devices.


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