Concern for youth safety has been ingrained in the Boy Scouts of America’s DNA since the beginning. Michael Johnson, BSA’s Youth Protection director, talks with Scouting magazine about the ongoing effort:
If you had one message, what would it be? Youth protection can be best achieved through the shared involvement of everyone in Scouting. This includes Scouting professionals who are expected to increase the awareness of Youth Protection policies, make training available to everyone, encourage all Scouting units to include personal safety awareness education in their programs, and ensure youth protection is considered in all council-sponsored activities; volunteers and leaders who must create a culture of awareness and safety within their units and councils, and ensure their units follow the BSA’s Youth Protection policies; parents who should monitor and participate in their children’s activities and teach them personal safety skills; and anyone who becomes aware of possible abuse within Scouting and must report any suspicion to the proper authorities for review and investigation.
Why is Youth Protection training so important? It communicates the values that Scouting takes seriously. Most people know very little about the dangers that confront children every day. This training helps make professionals, volunteers, and parents more aware, and it empowers them to help protect youth. It also communicates to parents that volunteers have basic knowledge of these dangers and gives them a little more confidence in the leadership and in the organization.
Who should undergo Youth Protection training? Everyone. All registered Scout leaders, any Scout parent who attends trips or campouts, merit badge counselors, and anyone with a connection to youth. If you’re a past member, current member, parent, or volunteer, you should be Youth Protection trained.
What are some of the top dangers to youth? Ignorance—not knowing that child abuse exists and not knowing what to look for. Children may face some type of abuse at home—physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse. They may get bullied in school, or exposed to predators or illicit materials while online. Or the threat may come from neighbors or other parents and youth.
What are some recent steps the BSA has taken to protect youth? We’ve partnered with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to offer the NetSmartz Internet safety program (netsmartz.org) to Scouters and Scouts. The center derives a lot of information from the International Crimes Against Children Task Forces. They have police officers online pretending to be youth and identifying child predators. Information about NetSmartz goes into our training materials. We’ve updated our Youth Protection training, and we have started a national effort to work with other youth agencies.
What should parents do? Take the training! It’s imperative that parents and volunteers know Scouting’s Youth Protection policies, which include our barriers to abuse: the classic two-deep leadership and no one-on-one contact policies, as well as our mandatory reporting of child abuse and our social media guidelines.
What about the growing popularity of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)? We’re preparing our Scouts for this emerging threat. The reality is that behaviors such as grooming victims and inappropriate contact with youth are happening more and more online. That’s why last year we rolled out the Cyber Chip (scouting.org/cyberchip). It’s our latest weapon in the arsenal of personal safety—helping kids recognize problematic issues, respond in the moment, and report problems to their parents without shame or embarrassment.
Learn more about the BSA’s Youth Protection policies and take the online training.
I am one who prosed the Square Knot for the CCS Doctorate Square Knot approved in 2008. I have been able to get all new Leaders Awards, including the Sea Scout Training Award, and Skippers Key. There are 2 still not revised, the Roundtable Staff Training Award, and the District Committee Key, which most are not aware of the latter one. I staarted a Cub Pack 650 of St Patricks Parish in Elkhorn Nebraska, that someone from your Organization when the new Award, the Pack Trainer Square Knot, which I was in that position. Even though that Award is going out, I was at that Packs Blue and Gold, and they still have 43 Scouts, 14 as Tigers, and 20 Boys received Religious awards, and again, at this years Spring Recruiting their Target Market is Kindergarten Boys, a they do each year, including Leaders, and the Campaign is run with the Pine Wood derby Races. Thanks
in our pack, we’ve required all adults to take YPT. I think BSA should require it of all adults; it’s a pain that my.scouting.org doesn’t allow non-leader parents to be connected to their scout’s unit; it would make things much easier to track. In fact, the online tour plan will flag out-of-date YPT for leaders, but it doesn’t know what to do for non-leader adults listed on the plan.
Register non committee parents as adult scouter reserve and they’ll have numbers so you can track ypt like anyone else.
I think this is a great idea and want to launch this with the Pack at my church where I’m the Chartered Org Rep. My question for Carl or anyone is what has been the experience of Packs (or other units) that have implemented this rule, in what ways has compliance encouraged and what are the consequences of non-compliance?
Loving that this was just shared on Facebook today. My Wood Badge ticket is to encourage non-registered adults (therefore, ones that aren’t required to do it) to complete YPT for their own benefit. This article just gave me assistance in showing parents how it will help, I’ve shared it on our Pack Facebook page!
How does one reach those who can fix the many errors in the substance of on-line YPT and the errors in how it works.
Example: Three scenes show a Scout cliff climbing bare chested and with no safety gear. But in two of the three, the answer that the Appropriate Attire policy is implicated is rejected. Whoever built the app wanted a different answer but didn’t know how to structure a multiple choice question . Worse, both of the answers they were looking for – the only ones accepted in the respective questions – is merely the least incorrect answer due to the absence of determinative information to support the desired answer. One accepted answer contradicts the learning portion of the app and BSA policy by accepting only: contact the SE when a child is apparently being abused – and outside Scouting at that. Very sad.