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runintherain

Possible Youth Protection Problem?

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Right or wrong, BSA youth protection training states that we don't "use good judgment" to decide if we should report to the SE or not - we should report it and let the judgment fall with the SE and others.

 

Now, if you search this forum you'll find a thread, many pages long, that discussed in minutia the "parent or guardian" issue. Exactly what constitutes a "guardian" was the issue discussed. Was it in the legal sense? Can a parent simply write a note or give a verbal to another adult that they have permission to be the Scout's guardian for this outing?

 

I would approach the Scoutmaster is a non-accusaatory manor and ask him (or her) to explain to you the YPT rules and use that opportunity to educate yourself and possibly have more light shone on the subject. Then, I would make a decision of what to do.

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>> He may say that he has the parent's agreement. Who knows?

> Does that matter?

 

Yes, in determining the seriousness of the offense, it does matter. The circumstances always matter.

 

You are free to decide that you literally have to call your SE at any time when any leader ever ends up in any one-on-one situation with a Scout. We had one cold-weather camping trip where a Scout woke up in the middle of the night and threw up. We moved him into the tent with his dad and another adult. There's a youth protection violation. Call the SE.

 

I actually think it would be pretty amusing if people took this requirement literally, and any time that there was even one second of one-on-one contact, they called their SE. I feel fairly certain the requirement would get changed.

 

I like acco40's actual suggested approach: "I would approach the Scoutmaster is a non-accusaatory manor and ask him (or her) to explain to you the YPT rules and use that opportunity to educate yourself and possibly have more light shone on the subject."

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I will say this about the example I brought up: I have taken my nephew many times, but so far, my son has always been there.

 

But, if the day comes when I might possibly take just my nephew..and I am spotted by a concerned parent or another leader....and I mean genuinely concerned and not just being malicious - then I have no issue with them reporting it to the committee, the COR, or SE.

 

Matter of fact, I hope any adult or scouter who has a genuine and honest concern would err on the side of overly cautious and call it in.

 

If the SE has even a lick of common sense, he'll understand the situation.

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Right or wrong, BSA youth protection training states that we don't "use good judgment" to decide if we should report to the SE or not - we should report it and let the judgment fall with the SE and others.

 

Oh fer cryin' out loud.

 

Da things you report to an SE are allegations by a scout concerning abuse in the program, youth behavioral incidents that result in physical injury or involve allegations of sexual misconduct, and death. In short, the really serious stuff that will likely result in an insurance claim or publicity disaster.

 

Not every time an adult walks into a public restroom and there's only one youth there.

 

Get a grip, people! Yeh have to understand the policies. Do yeh really think that the SE wants to hear about every time a female venturer wears what someone feels is an inappropriately revealing bathing suit? That's one of the Youth Protection policies!

 

Yah, yah, da most recent G2SS release had some tom-fool go overbroad on the wording. The last version was much more clear that notifications were for the things I mentioned. I suppose we could all force a change back to more precise wording if we really did report every single YP violation to the SEs, then they'd all be calling up Irving demanding someone do a more responsible job of editing that document. ;) But honestly, that's why it's a guidebook, eh? It's not written to be a policy document, and yeh can't treat it as one. Common sense and good judgment always apply.

 

On my honor I will do my best to keep myself mentally awake.

 

Beavah

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Beavah, I respect your calls for use of good judgment, but I just have to say that here, I think you're way off track. One person's "really serious stuff" is another person's horseplay. A single "minor" incident observed by one person may actually be the latest incident in a pattern of misconduct that provides the final piece of the puzzle for the SE. We don't have the full picture - but we do have the obligation to report.

 

In addition, you ignore the fact that there are MANY more types of abuse than just sexual abuse. There's neglect - emotional abuse - physical abuse. All deserve attention.

 

The G2SS is not the be-all and end-all of policy documents, to be sure. Nor is it always clearly written. However, it does contain several perfectly plain-language directives on this topic - not suggestions, not optional guidelines - that leave no room for interpretation. My comments are bolded in brackets:

 

All persons involved in Scouting shall report to local authorities, as is required under state and federal law, any good faith suspicion or belief [not just an allegation, as you state] that any child is or has been physically or sexually abused, physically or emotionally neglected, exposed to any form of violence or threat, exposed to any form of sexual exploitation including the possession, manufacture, or distribution of child pornography, online solicitation, enticement, or showing of obscene material. [This list is MUCH broader than the narrow category of incidents which you cited, and it is not limited to abuse "in the program."] No person may abdicate this reporting responsibility to any other person.

 

Notify your Scout executive of this report, or of any violation of BSAs Youth Protection policies [this is as clear as crystal], so that he or she may take appropriate action for the safety of our Scouts, make appropriate notifications, and follow-up with investigating agencies.

 

... and, a bit less verbosely:

 

The unit should inform the Scout executive of any violations of the BSAs Youth Protection policies.

 

That's the rule, whether you like it or not. National chose to put those words in that order, and it's not up to us to decide that we like the older version better. The SE gets paid to handle these kinds of things, and sees the big picture while we just stare at a few pixels. If you disagree with the policies, write a letter to Irving. But you can't ignore them.(This message has been edited by shortridge)

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you can't ignore them.

 

Literally? Are you sure? I pretty much think you can. If a leader walks into a public restroom and I know there's only one Scout in there, I'm going to ignore that "rule" and not call the SE. Yep. It's true. You've got me.

 

People ignore this rule all the time. It's not a law. It's some editor's choice of wording.

 

Maybe they didn't want to use the word "serious" because they were worried people would debate what that meant. So instead they went way over to the other side, still knowing that people will only be reporting the serious items, because it turns out that most people actually use some judgment.

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Listen, we've all been trained in the uncompromising language of youth protection policies. And as described, pretty much everyone is going to ignore what we decide are trivial violations of such policies.

 

That insures that in the future when problems arise that BSA and councils will always be able to show clean hands and volunteers will always be found to be dirty, since an investigation will disclose violations that weren't reported.

 

It's a great system. For the council.

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well first you go up to the scoutmaster and you tell em that you saw just him and a scout in the car and you just retook your youth protection training online(cause you want to be sure you have all the wording correct in your mind before you confront him) and that that appears to be a youth protection issue.

 

then listen to his explanation.

Honestly, we had a kid riding with an adult alone that caused a stir, except well, nobody realized that the kid that doesn't look like the adult leader, is in actuality their adopted son. It could be that there was no other way to get all the scouts home in the vehicles provided (perhaps he has a 2 seater vehicle, or even have a seat belt isse--I had a seat belt latch break one time), or the other people loaded up and left him and he never could have caught them in his car without speeding so he proceeded home. We've had a few boys turn 18 recently, and leaders were concerned about the transportation issue, when they rode with adults without other scouts. so that is also a possible explanation.

 

 

or he could say something else that warrants a clarification that the ypt says something different (1 adult, 2+ scouts at all time in a vehicle--doesn't matter if it's on a crowded highway, or that other cars in their group are following them on the freeway).

 

if you do not get a satisfactory answer, I would discuss it privately with the committee chair and at that time consider taking it to the DE/SE.

 

The rules say "Notify your Scout executive of this report, or of any violation of BSAs Youth Protection policies"

talking to the scoutmaster allows you to determine if this was a youth protection violation or a misunderstanding of some kind.

 

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Right or wrong, BSA youth protection training states that we don't "use good judgment" to decide if we should report to the SE or not - we should report it and let the judgment fall with the SE and others.

 

And therein lies the problem. This is similar to a zero tolerance policy. Tossing the baby out with the bath water, so to speak!

 

I don't think anyone is advocating "playing fast and loose" with YP. I think what is being advocated is using common sense. And, in my opinion, "planning to keep my eyes open to how this troop does things" is underhanded.

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The rules say "Notify your Scout executive of this report, or of any violation of BSAs Youth Protection policies"

talking to the scoutmaster allows you to determine if this was a youth protection violation or a misunderstanding of some kind.

 

But if it is a violation, as volunteers, we don't have the latitude to decide that it's a major problem / serious violation / big deal. If it's a violation, of any kind, we have to report. Beavah's statement that only incidents that could trigger an insurance claim or garner publicity should be reported is flat-out wrong.

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Right or wrong, BSA youth protection training states that we don't "use good judgment" to decide if we should report to the SE or not - we should report it and let the judgment fall with the SE and others.

 

Just out of curiosity... why?! The SE and others are human, just like your unit leaders. But, unlike your unit leaders, the SE will have no first hand knowledge of the situation. Wouldn't it make more sense to allow those who are familiar with the situation handle it - especially seeing that it seems to be a relatively minor violation?

 

Remember, this isn't the legal system we're talking about, this is a private organization's internal policies. And by kicking this minor issue up to the SE, you're relinquishing control to an individual whose motivations may not really match that of your unit's leadership. If we were talking about a situation where an adult actually did something illegal, obviously we would notify the authorities and let them deal with it. In a case like that, I would think that notifying the SE is mainly so the council can do some media control.

 

In the specific situation runintherain is talking about here, I really can't see any benefit to involving the SE, unless there is concern that someone actually did or intended to do harm to a child.

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Interesting. The lines being drawn are getting clearer. On one hand, advocates of allowing judgment on each situation locally. On the other hand, strict interpretation of the 'letter' of the policy. A mix of interpretations and opinions based on experience.

What would be REALLY interesting is for everyone to take the second approach and report ALL infractions in accordance to the 'letter'. The SE would, I suspect, quickly see the need for the 'letter' to be worded differently. Or else an opportunity to create an even bigger bureaucracy to handle all the reports. Wouldn't THAT be just great!

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Just out of curiosity... why?! The SE and others are human, just like your unit leaders. But, unlike your unit leaders, the SE will have no first hand knowledge of the situation. Wouldn't it make more sense to allow those who are familiar with the situation handle it - especially seeing that it seems to be a relatively minor violation?

 

For the reason that I articulated earlier - because what may be an isolated, minor incident in the eyes of a lone volunteer may be part of a pattern of activity when viewed by the person at the top who has access to past reports.

 

Under your logic, local vigilantes on the scene should be allowed to handle crimes instead of reporting them to the police. The police have no first hand knowledge of the situation, after all ... just like the SE.

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shortridge - Not at all. There's a clear difference between laws and a private group's internal policies. An SE runs a business. He's not a law enforcement officer, social worker, or investigator. As I said, any concern that a law has been violated should be directed to law enforcement. The SE can then be notified once the immediate danger to the youth's safety has been addressed.

 

Why would the SE be better equiped than the unit leadership to notice a pattern of inappropriate behavior? Except in some rare cases where a problematic individual might be jumping between units, I wouldn't expect that the SE would be much help in identifying patterns of questionable behavior. I would think that the unit leaders and parents that interact with the adult in question regularly through Scouting and through other community settings would be more likely to notice these type of issues.

 

I guess I'm wondering what your goals are in this case? I would say that protecting the safety of our Scouts, protecting good leaders from potential unfounded accusations and liability, and training leaders on appropraite policies would be the priorities, roughly in that order. I personally don't see how involving the SE in this particular case could contribute to any of those goals, so why bother?

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Shortridge, it's not enough to quote da document, eh? Yeh have to understand the document.

 

The bit that I wrote above was a summary of the direct wording of the previous version of G2SS. Do yeh really think that the entire reporting expectation of volunteers in the BSA was changed in da last few months? I know Health & Safety sucks at communication, but yeh would think they'd get somethin' like that out, eh? ;)

 

You are mixing up several very different things, and that's what's causin' you to misjudge.

 

Thing One:Child Abuse and Neglect

Child abuse and neglect, includin' emotional abuse, can generally only be committed by parents or legal guardians (or long-term camps in some states). In most states, professional medical providers and professionals who work with children are obligated to report reasonable suspicion of this to child protective services. Not to law enforcement. Definitely not to the SE (because reporting to anyone other than CPS means they're liable for defamation). The exception is if it happened during a scouting activity where yeh tell the SE because he's the responsible supervisor. That's why YPT has that bit about "scouting context".

 

This stuff varies between states in terms of who is a mandatory reporter and how abuse is defined, but da essence is the same: report suspicion to CPS and no one else.

 

Thing Two: Physical abuse (sexual battery, etc.) within Scouting (at a scout activity, by an adult)

Here in general there is no reporting obligation to CPS, though again this can vary a bit with da circumstances by state. If you believe a crime has been committed, then yeh report to law enforcement (yeh call the cops). You should have evidence of that, eh? Because here there is no protection for you from a civil defamation complaint. This is why in da youth protection training it says that if a child tells you he's been abused, you call the cops. The child telling you is evidence. And, because it happened within scouting, you also must notify the supervisor(s) within scouting: the Scout Executive and/or the Chartered Organization.

 

Now, if yeh just have a vague suspicion, then yeh don't call the cops. Yeh do what you'd do if you thought a coworker might be stealing from da company. You tell the boss. So if yeh have a suspicion of physical abuse (or other really bad thing that hurts kids) within scouting, you tell the appropriate supervisor: the SE, and/or the Chartered Organization. Then it's their responsibility to investigate and take action (includin' calling the cops if they feel that's warranted).

 

Where the line is between just tellin' the CO/SE and callin' the cops yourself is a personal judgment. Depends how sure you are, and whether yeh feel the lad is in immediate danger. Most of us would err on the side of protecting the boy, even at risk of our own financial well being and reputation. At da same time, making a false accusation will destroy another adult's life, eh? Police records are public. So there's a balance.

 

Thing Three: Minor violations of protocol

We have all kinds of guidance and rules in scouting. The CO is supposed to check references on adult applications. Two-deep. No one-on-one. Three hours of paddling instruction before any canoe trip. Yeh should have a road emergency kit in a vehicle. These are internal program guidance, and like the entire G2SS they relate to youth protection. CPS and the cops could care less. For incidental violations, most scouters could care less, as long as da actions were reasonable and thoughtful for da circumstances. Single violations are like your coworker making personal copies on da company machine. Are yeh goin' to report him to your boss for that? Now, if yeh discover that every Saturday he comes in and makes several thousand copies for his own printing business on the side, that's different. But if yeh encourage a corporate culture where everyone reports everyone else's minor violations to the boss, will anyone want to work there? If someone doesn't like you as SM, they report yeh when you used a four-letter-word to the scout who left your iPhone out in the rain after he borrowed it, and that time in da big cabin when the "barrier" between the adult and scout side wasn't fully floor to ceiling, and when... and when...

 

-------

 

The part shortridge excerpted from da current G2SS refers to things 1 and 2, eh? Child abuse, child pornography within scouting and the like. It's not referring to thing three.

 

The G2SS is not policy. That at least they made clear in this revision. It's an internal guidance document to advise scouters. If you're a unit volunteer, only the Chartered Organization can make policy for you. G2SS is good advice. Yeh should pay attention to it and consider it thoughtfully. But you are not "bound" to it like some mindless automaton.

 

Any claim to da contrary is just flat out wrong. ;) And there's a reason for that, eh? Because if yeh follow G2SS and do somethin' that your fellow citizens feel is irresponsible, then you are liable to judgment. Following G2SS does not protect you. You are expected by society and the law to behave as a rational, reasonable, thinking adult human being.

 

Beavah

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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