Just got this email from the Denver Area Council which was sent to all the parents and scouter. Trying to get out in front. I think it was well written.
Dear Scouting Parent, Leader and Friend,
We recognize you have entrusted to Scouting the development and safety of your child. We are honored by your faith in this organization and want you to know these are top priorities. In this period of heightened awareness about youth safety, we want to share with you Scoutings many important programs, policies, and procedures that help protect our members.
We are committed to consistently strengthening and enhancing our Youth Protection measures and, in recent decades, have expanded our programs significantly as more information and new techniques and technologies have become available to us. Recently, experts in youth safety and the media have acknowledged the strength of our Youth Protection programs in place today:
"The Boy Scouts of America is one group advocates say has gone farthest to institute such measures to safeguard kids." (MSNBC, November 2011)
"The Scouts current prevention policies are considered state of the art and several independent child-protection experts told The Associated Press that the Scoutsthough buffeted in the past by many abuse-related lawsuitsare now considered a leader in combating sexual abuse. 'The Boy Scouts have the most advanced policies and training,' said Victor Vieth, a former prosecutor who heads the National Child Protection Training Center in Minnesota." (Associated Press, January 2012)
We want to ensure that you are aware of our Youth Protection programs, policies, and procedures so you know what to expect of our organization.
Our safeguards include the following:
All volunteers must complete a rigorous application and screening process before joining Scouting. As part of this requirement, applicants must provide references and submit to a national criminal background check. We also verify that our organization has not received any prior allegations of misconduct on the volunteers part by checking names in our Ineligible Volunteer Files. Our goal is to ensure that all adult volunteers represent the values and character outlined in the Scout Oath and Scout Law and are good leaders for your child.
All volunteers are required to complete Youth Protection training and must renew the training every two years. This training is accessible to the general public online at www.Scouting.org, under the Youth Protection tab. Please review the training, as it provides important information about detecting and preventing abuse, no matter where it may occur.
Scoutings two-deep leadership policy requires at least two adults to be present for all Scouting activities. No youth should ever be alone with a Scout leader for any reason.
Every Boy Scout and Cub Scout handbook includes a pamphlet to help parents teach their children how to recognize, resist, and report abuse. If you havent done so already, please immediately review and discuss this information with your child. A copy of the pamphlet and other youth-oriented literature is available under the Youth Protection tab on our website.
All Scouting activities are open to parents, and we encourage families to enjoy Scouting together.
Anyone suspected of inappropriate behavior will be immediately and permanently banned from Scouting. If you ever have any concerns about your childs safety, please contact the Boy Scouts of America, Denver Area Council at 303.455.5522. Our after-hours emergency contact number is 501.538.4943. The purpose of this number is to report a Youth Protection emergency or a fatal or serious injury (one that requires hospitalization) during non-business hours.
These measures are by no means the full extent of our efforts, but given the media attention youth-serving organizations, including Scouting, have recently received, we wanted to share some of the most important aspects of our program. Additional information and resources can be accessed by visiting http://www.scouting.org/youthprotection.aspx
While we continuously evaluate and strengthen our Youth Protection programs, we recognize that abuse can happen anywhere, even in Scouting. You may have heard recent news surrounding the release of certain Ineligible Volunteer Files. Today on Monday, September 17th, The Denver Post published a story from the Los Angeles Times about the Ineligible Volunteer Files. While they used a slightly different set of IV Files (19701991), which were produced in 1991 during litigation in California, they do include a majority of the files that will be released in Oregon (19651985).
The Oregon Supreme Court upheld a lower courts order to release 1,247 of our Ineligible Volunteer Files from the years 1965 to 1985. We now expect these files will be released in redacted form during a press conference held by plaintiffs attorney Kelly Clark later in the next 3-4 weeks and circulated to additional media electronically.
Ineligible Volunteer Files, still in use today, help keep people deemed to be unfit leaders out of Scouting. Still, we believe constant vigilance is the best protection. In Scouting, we tell everyone involved with our programs that "Youth Protection begins with you." That means each of us has a role to play in keeping kids safe.
As the files are released, we expect a significant amount of attention from media and the Scouting community, which are likely to have questions about the files, our Youth Protection policies, and, in some cases, about incidents directly related to our council, even if they are outside of the time period of the released files.
The Boy Scouts of America believes any occurrence of abuse is unacceptable, and we regret there have been times when the BSAs best efforts to protect children were insufficient. For that we are deeply sorry and extend our deepest sympathies to victims. We are committed to helping members in our Scouting family who have suffered abuse and assisting them through a variety of means, including counseling.
In the more than 30 years since these released files were created, we have continuously enhanced our multi-tiered policies and procedures, which now include criminal background checks, comprehensive training programs, and safety policies, and mandatory reporting to law enforcement of abuse or suspicion of abuse. We have always cooperated fully with any request from law enforcement and today require our members to report even suspicion of abuse directly to their local authorities. We are committed to the ongoing enhancement of our program, in line with evolving best practices for protecting youth.
As someone who directly interacts with Scouts, their parents, and other volunteers on a regular basis, you will likely be a first point of contact for questions, and we are asking for your help in reassuring and preserving their trust. Below, we have provided guidelines for dealing with any inquiries you might receive as well as some messaging you can use.
If you are contacted by a member of the media, please be polite but refrain from providing any comment on a specific case or anything pertaining to the files. If asked about the BSAs Youth Protection program, speak only from the talking points that have been provided to you. Please refer media inquiries to (John Cabeza, Scout Executive/CEO or Nicole Cosme, Director of Marketing & Communications at 303.455.5522) or to the BSA National Media Support Team at 855-870-2178.
Reports of Current or Recent Suspicious or Inappropriate Behavior should be handled with the care and personal sensitivity befitting this issue and in accordance with the BSAs mandatory reporting policy. Also, after reporting the suspicion to authorities, refer it to both firstname.lastname@example.org and to Michael Johnson, our Youth Protection director, at 972-580-2359.
Additional information and resources can be accessed on our dedicated Youth Protection website at www.bsayouthprotection.org. We encourage you to look through this site and become familiar with all of the new and updated information we have provided.
Thank you again for all that you do to help keep Scouts safe.
Yours in Scouting,
Boy Scouts of America, Denver Area Council