IRVING, Texas, April 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- In observance of April as Youth Protection Month, the Boy Scouts of America is working to raise awareness about the dangers and challenges facing youth, and to reiterate the BSA's own policies and procedures to protect youth. This year, Scouting is encouraging local councils and individual Scouting units to focus on two critical areas: effectively recognizing and reporting child abuse, and Internet safety.
"Youth protection is—and has always been—of paramount importance to the BSA, and we continue to enhance our policies and procedures in line with the growing awareness of the dangers and challenges facing youth," said the BSA's Chief Scout Executive, Bob Mazzuca. "Scouting's leadership works throughout the year to ensure we remain at the forefront of these important issues. Youth Protection Month provides an ideal opportunity for all of Scouting—including our volunteers and parents—to review important safety information with the children in our lives and to reaffirm our commitment to protect them."
In July 2010, the BSA appointed Michael Johnson, an internationally recognized expert on child abuse investigation and prevention, as its first full-time Youth Protection director. Johnson and his team will continue to review the BSA's policies, procedures, and training materials and recommend continued enhancements to ensure the BSA remains at the forefront of youth protection. Since last summer, the BSA has made the following enhancements to its youth protection efforts:
- Improved Tools to Encourage Prompt Reporting of Abuse: The BSA's Youth Protection Team has increased and clarified national standards for reporting inappropriate conduct, which were published in the 2011 edition of the Guide to Safe Scouting. Additionally, the BSA is publishing a series of fact sheets to help volunteers recognize various types of abuse and is launching new online tools to encourage prompt reporting.
- Mandatory Training for All Adult Volunteers: Effective June 1, 2010, the BSA required all adult volunteers to complete Youth Protection training every two years in order to maintain their membership. Since that time, approximately 640,000 people have taken the training. Johnson also has led a series of in-person workshops to review safety information and ensure volunteers understand how to recognize and report abuse.
- Social Media Guidelines: In conjunction with Youth Protection Month, the BSA released guidelines for Scouts and Scouting's adult leaders on how to safely use social media. These guidelines are available at: http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/Marketing/Resources/SocialMedia.aspx and are part of the BSA's continuing effort to enhance and expand its youth protection programs.
"Mike Johnson and his support team, made up of people from multiple disciplines, are already having a positive impact on our organization," Mazzuca said. "When it comes to cultivating a safe environment, our message to all adult members is clear, 'Youth protection begins with you.'™"
"The challenges and dangers facing today's youth continue to change and expand," Johnson said. "At all levels of the organization, Scouting takes very seriously its responsibility to adapt to these evolving needs. We are steadfastly committed to the continued advancement of these efforts. The BSA simply refuses to compromise on the safety of youth, and I am proud to be part of this organization."
About the Boy Scouts of America
The Boy Scouts of America prepares young people for life by providing the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. The Scouting organization is composed of 2.7 million youth members between the ages of 7 and 21, and more than a million volunteers, in nearly 300 local councils throughout the United States and its territories. For more information, please visit www.scouting.org.
SOURCE Boy Scouts of America