It may be surprising for some, but the very first section in every Cub Scout and Boy Scout handbook isn’t dedicated to camping or hiking, but to youth protection.
“The safety of children is always our first priority,” said Michael Johnson, Youth Protection Director for the Boy Scouts of America. “It’s required program content for every youth, parent, and guardian.”
Child abuse is something most people would rather not talk about, or even think about, says Johnson, but every offender benefits from that ignorance, and the consequences can be devastating, even deadly.
From the handbook chapter, How to Protect Your Children from Abuse: A Parent’s Guide, to Scouting advancement requirements, the BSA is intentional about including youth protection and safety content throughout its program materials.
And the materials address more than just sexual abuse.
“Most people don’t think about it, but there are many forms of abuse,” said Johnson. “Types of maltreatment like neglect and emotional abuse can be hard to detect and can cause lifelong problems and are known to be a part of more serious abuse of youth later in life.”
“Frankly, parents, volunteers and other children may be the only ones who see the signs and can address it,” Johnson explained. “If our volunteers and parents are aware of the signs, they can make the entire community safer for children and families.”
It’s difficult to defend against every threat to personal safety a child may experience in and out of Scouting, but BSA’s program and training materials offer a wide range of resources that teach volunteers and parents how to identify and prevent numerous forms of abuse.
If you ever have questions, you can always call your local Scout executive, or the SCOUTS FIRST Helpline at 844-726-8871. This helpline is monitored around the clock by trained staff ready to answer any questions you may have about youth protection.
To find out more about the BSA’s Barriers to Abuse, visit www.scouting.org/youthprotection.
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