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Ideas - What Can Prevent Abuse in BSA


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27 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

Nearly all of the ideas I can think of is at a higher level (in terms of reporting, etc.).  If a unit strictly follows today's YP, I cannot think of any real changes that wouldn't simply kill most youth organizations.  @qwazse brought up interesting points but I'm not sure how we could change unit level YP policies to address it.

I took qwazse's post as more of; YP has done all it can, not it's up to family and community. Maybe that isn't what he said, but I can't see changes improving YP guidelines at the unit level.

Barry

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Wherever there are adults that can charm insecure youth, which includes all those places you mention above, there is abuse. That mindset is one ingredient to reduce abuse. Just like car safe

To me, all of these should be reported.  Reporting shouldn't be reserved for actual crimes, it should be any violation.  In EHS, we are expected to report "near misses".  Those are then used to improv

I actually agree with you that in the BSA today, the CO is the organization responsible for the unit and they should be vetting leaders.  They should be interviewing them, ensuring they are trained, e

1 hour ago, Eagledad said:

Great post, but this one line sticks to me as the major problem. This generation does not agree as a community of moral behavior. ...

I agree about variability in moral code. In Momma's frame of reference, what are now called micro-regressions wouldn't count for much. I had no business doling them out. (A bar of soap would be waiting for my foul mouth.) But, I'd better be prepared to endure them. She would call  parents of a kid to let them know what they did to set me running home crying, but she would turn to me and say, "You've got to get big."

It was an old-country way of thinking that she didn't call on often. But she applied it here.

14 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

I took qwazse's post as more of; YP has done all it can, not it's up to family and community. Maybe that isn't what he said, but I can't see changes improving YP guidelines at the unit level. ...

YP has increased the level of adult-to-adult accountability. That's a plus. There are probably even better ways to convey information if organizations weren't afraid of lawyers swooping in and using any disclosed data as justification for seeking damages. Limit tort, focus wrath on first line perpetrators only, and it could further increase transparency. That's the next step to help adults understand the sociology of this in the age of new media.

But, still, it might not help the front lines. Potential victims don't know what to do. I'm afraid we adults are going to need to be a little more forthcoming to children. Even in my Sunday School curriculum, I see how it skips chapters that some young men and women would need to grasp sooner rather than later.

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56 minutes ago, qwazse said:

Potential victims don't know what to do. I'm afraid we adults are going to need to be a little more forthcoming to children. Even in my Sunday School curriculum, I see how it skips chapters that some young men and women would need to grasp sooner rather than later.

I am no expert and just some guy caught in all of this, but I believe this is true. My parents never said anything like what your mother said. Not even close. Also, as I've seen here with many of you, adults must have an unvarnished clear-eyed grasp of what has, can and will happen when "rules" aren't followed, vigilance is sporadic and enforcement inconsistent. Again, this is a big reason survivors need to be involved. No one knows what happens better than we do. Not a chance.

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5 hours ago, Eagle1993 said:

Do we need a IIHS for youth organizations? 

No.  I don't believe in letting corporate America run our lives.  I don't think we should let media billionaires control our speech.  I don't think we should let medical professionals close our churches.  I don't think we should let late-night comedians set our morals.  I don't think we should let over-paid athletes choose our election laws.  And I certainly don't think we should let insurance executives raise our children.

 

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2 hours ago, qwazse said:

I'm afraid we adults are going to need to be a little more forthcoming to children. Even in my Sunday School curriculum, I see how it skips chapters that some young men and women would need to grasp sooner rather than later.

I totally agree.  That's why I teach Health.  There are many things children need to know.  Some Catholic schools are scaling back on the Health curriculum in response to the sex abuse scandal.  These pastors don't want their schools to talk about sex at all.  Not even in Health or Life Science.  The chapters are still in the book, and the kids can still see them, but the teachers are told to just skip over them.

In my not so humble opinion, sexual curiosity is the pedophile's best friend.  Satisfy the child's natural curiosity about sex, and you help fortify him against child sexual abuse.

 

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One small change that might help would be to enlarge the prior-history section of the adult registration form. Not to add more questions, but to actually give more physical space for the answers. Right now the following questions are all crammed into a column 2 1/4" wide at the right-hand side of the form. Since the applicant almost has to "write on a grain of rice" to fit any reasonable amount of information in there, it gives the impression that the information is less important, or maybe no one even checks it:

Quote

1. Scouting background. (Position / Council / Year)

2. Experience working with youth in other organizations. Please provide contact information.

3. Previous residences (for last 10 years). (City / State)

4. Current memberships (religious, community, business, labor, or professional organizations).

5. References. Please list those who are familiar with your charactr. References may be checked.

6. Additional information. (Yes / No) (Mark each answer.)

a. [removed from leadership due to allegations]

b. [drugs/alcohol]

c. [arrested]

d. [driver's license suspended]

e. [child abuse/neglect]

f. [any reason not listed above]

Now in my case I write "see attached" for at least one of those items and attach a second page, but there's no text anywhere inviting the applicant to do so, if needed.  The recent additional background-check authorization added about five pages of disclosure text and an additional page to be filled out to the form. I don't think it would hurt to move that reference-collecting form to a separate 8 1/2" by 11" page, collect full names (not just abbreviations) of positions, organizations and memberships, and give a single "Explain" field with instructions such as,

"If any of the options above is checked 'Yes', or if you need to explain your answer to any of them further even though all are checked 'No', please explain below. If you need more space, please check here [ ] and indicate the number of pages in your attached further explanation: ___ "

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On 4/7/2021 at 11:31 AM, Jeff1974 said:

My biggest YPT issue, as scoutmaster and a MB counselor, are scouts who email me without including a parent or another adult leader.  I cc a parent in response and remind them a parent or another adult leader must be cc'd on any communications.   Yet, it keeps happening, time and time again.  

I have been thinking about sending them a response like this (with their parent cc'ed...)

---------------------------------

Hello Scout!  Thanks for your email.  But, I am not going to answer it until you send it to me again and include your parent.

One important component of Youth Protection is that there are no private electronic communications between adults and Scouts.  Please help our Troop with this.

I'm looking forward to seeing your request again soon!

The Scoutmaster

----------------------------------

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18 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

I have been thinking about sending them a response like this (with their parent cc'ed...)

---------------------------------

Hello Scout!  Thanks for your email.  But, I am not going to answer it until you send it to me again and include your parent.

One important component of Youth Protection is that there are no private electronic communications between adults and Scouts.  Please help our Troop with this.

I'm looking forward to seeing your request again soon!

The Scoutmaster

----------------------------------

If trend is a unit problem, correct with instruction at the unit level. Trends aren't personal, so don't make the correction personal. When the correction involves the parents and scouts, then instruct the parents and scouts together.

Barry

 

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I'm curious  about the number of incidents of abuse at the Pack level versus the Troop level. I would guess more at the Troop level due to greater parental involvement in Packs. Since my scouter experience is at the Pack level I can only offer up some things that seemed to have worked there. Both of my boys went from Tiger to AOL in a fairly large Pack. (85-100 scouts). When we joined, all of the leaders were men (nothing against women, just how it was), almost all (75%) were members of the CO (Catholic church, we were not) and probably half were Eagles. Also ,in addition to BSA's volunteer application & background check, the CO required a background check w/ three character references and attendance of their own youth protection class. (mandatory for before you could be a leader). And there weren't any leaders that didn't have at least one scout in the Pack. I know that set-up wasn't planned, it just happened, but maybe there are some take-aways from it.

There is only so much that the BSA can do as far as vetting leaders (background checks & YPT). I think in  the vetting of leaders/volunteers will/should fall mainly on the CO.

Some things the CO should maybe consider when evaluating a new leader:

Are you a member of the CO?

Do you have scouting experience?

Character references?

Scout In the Pack/Troop?

CO YPT?

I know Troops sometimes have leaders who stay on after their scout/s have aged out, and you occasionally here about a SM who has been around for decades. I can see the good & bad about that.

for your consideration, YIS

Tim

 

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17 minutes ago, GrubKnot said:

There is only so much that the BSA can do as far as vetting leaders (background checks & YPT). I think in  the vetting of leaders/volunteers will/should fall mainly on the CO.

I actually agree with you that in the BSA today, the CO is the organization responsible for the unit and they should be vetting leaders.  They should be interviewing them, ensuring they are trained, etc.  However, I expect that rarely happens. 

The problem is that many COs are barely present.  In my area, 40% of COs are churches, 22% are PTOs (PTOs have been dropping units left/right), 20% are fraternal groups, 10% are "Friends of...", 8% are odd balls (barber shop, doctor's office, fire station, etc.).  Many units struggle to find their COR  to approve the adult leader application and recharter let alone taking a more active role.  If BSA starts saying COs need their own YPT and more vetting, I expect the 60% non church COs in my area to drop units nearly immediately and many churches may follow.

I know in my case, the CO has no building (so cannot provide a meeting space) and the COR has been pretty much non existent the last 4-5 years.  We go through a new COR & IH every year ... no consistency or involvement.  This year, we actually have a COR that is long time member of the CO and seems somewhat interested ... but is still fairly absent.  

 The CO model may be collapsing and COs are looking for less responsibility not more (the New Orleans' Catholic units are the recent example).  BSA will likely have to shoulder more responsibility going forward and admit the CO oversight is failing in most (not all) cases.

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The bottom line, it is impossible to get rid of YP problems.   Those types of people are going to find a way to wiggle through the system.  You can implement all sorts of policies to make it much more difficult for someone to assault youth, but 100% elimination is not possible.

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On 4/7/2021 at 11:24 AM, 5thGenTexan said:

So.  How do you make sure the people that are supposed to take the training are really the ones that take the training?  

Only way to do that is to eliminate the online training and make it mandatory in person.  The flaw in that plan is that there is a constant influx of new registrations, which would require in person sessions to be held pretty much on a weekly basis.  It is hard enough now to get qualified trainers, asking them to constantly be doing in person YPT would be a deal breaker.

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On 4/7/2021 at 11:34 AM, T2Eagle said:

Eagle projects with no adults.  Easy to argue that adults make the activity safer, but how directly would an Eagle project run by scouts lead to the abuse of a scout by an adult?  

Not by an adult, but it is important to remember the fact that not all abuse is adult/scout; there are a fair number of scout/scout cases as well.

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On 4/7/2021 at 10:02 AM, ThenNow said:

Thanks for the topic. I think it's good to focus outside the clutter of the main thread. Have you discussed this with anyone in the organization or outside? It's a very intriguing idea. I also think improving YPT, specifically, will require adding survivors to some element of the training and education. No one can speak to it like we can. They would have to be selected carefully and the context of their input thoughtfully crafted, but it would be powerful imho.  

Have you had the opportunity to view the current YPT program?  It includes several very prominent experts in the field, and also includes testimony from a number of survivors, both male and female.  As several folks have mentioned here, we encourage every parent to create a my.scouting account and take that YPT training.  I would like to see national do away the the little abuse pamphlet in the front of new handbooks, and replace the rank requirement pertaining to it with all parents taking YPT training.

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Personally, I think the most crucial thing the BSA could do is actually restructure the whole G2SS and fix all the problems with whole monstrosity.  The primary issue at this point is with compliance, not with having rules that address the primary issues.  And while getting people to follow rules is always tough, BSA makes it much much worse by committing several major rule making errors that I think lead directly to a lackadaisical response to the rules in general.

  • If you need more than one or two clarifying sentences for a rule, it's a bad rule.  This means that word choices become critical and a word should only be used if ALL of it's meanings are relevant.  (So for example, a major issue with "2 Deep Leadership is the use of the word activity" because the word is much larger in scope than how the BSA intends it to apply)
  • If a rule doesn't work across the board, it's a bad rule. (like attempting to require adherence to the Scout rules outside of Scout interactions)
  • There should be clear lines between rules, guidelines and best practices.  (A rule is a rule, a "best practice" is how we'd ideally like to see things done, a guideline is an explanation of how decisions on where to land between the rule and the best practice should be made.)
  • There must be a single, clear explanation for the existence of each and every rule and you need to get your people all "on message".  (Using a whole paragraph to essentially tell us "Because we said so" as with the rule requiring a female adult when female youth are present isn't productive)
  • You can't have "stupid" rules without a clear reason why it exists.  (If there is an insurance carrier that says "you can't let 7 year olds use a paint brush", that explanation needs to be given.  That way people understand it's the insurance company that is ridiculous, not the BSA.  Because if people think it's the BSA coming up with stupid rules, it makes it easier for them to decide on their own "Well if this rule is stupid, maybe this other one I don't like is stupid too".)

And then the other thing that needs to happen is when rules change, they need to actually publish a change log saying "We are changing the wording of "X" to read "This way" because there have been questions on the issue and we think this clears it up.

 

 

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