A Message from the Key 3 Concerning the Scripps Media/WMAR News Regarding Scouting's Youth Protection Policy
Our individual and collective Scouting experiences began as youth members in various Troops where each of us grew up in Maryland, Massachusetts or New Jersey. Since then, we have been involved in Scouting with the Boy Scouts of America for 30+ years. We now have the honor of serving as the Key 3 of the Baltimore Area Council.
Through our work with the BSA, we have seen firsthand how children benefit from the variety of experiences and opportunities that are made possible through Scouting. We also know that as parents, our most important duty is keeping our children safe. As you are probably aware, the BSA has recently received a significant amount of media attention (including anticipated media coverage beginning Sunday evening on WMAR ABC2) and we want to take this opportunity to address those issues and assure you that the BSA takes its role in protecting youth members very seriously.
It is important to note that recent media reports have focused on some partial records from 1960-1985 that were used in our application and screening process. These records, known as the Ineligible Volunteer Files, were ordered to be released by the Oregon Supreme Court. The sole reason these files exist is to protect youth by keeping out individuals deemed to be inappropriate leaders. Those records were not intended to be a complete history of each case. Rather, they were essentially a list of people who did not meet BSA’s leadership standards because of known or suspected abuse or other inappropriate conduct that occurred either inside or outside of Scouting. If a registrant’s name appears on the list, he or she is not to be permitted to join Scouting.
We would also like to highlight the fact that these files are not—and have never been—secret. They have been reported extensively in the media going back to the New York Times in 1935 and included in books on Scouting throughout our history. Further, our volunteers are aware of the files, because joining the organization requires they be cross-checked against this list. While not secret, the files are confidential because experts agree that confidentiality is a key component of effective government and private-sector reporting programs.
Recently the BSA released the results of a third party review of the Ineligible Volunteer files conducted by Dr. Janet Warren, a professor of psychiatry and neuro-behavioral sciences at the University of Virginia. Her report is attached to this letter. Among other qualifications and professional credentials, Warren is the University of Virginia’s liaison to the FBI Behavioral Sciences Unit and sits on the Research Advisory Board of the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime. The report shows that in some instances the BSA failed to identify all those individuals who could do harm to the Scouts. The report also states that as part of BSA’s broader Youth Protection program, the BSA’s system of ineligible volunteer files functions to help protect Scouts. Make no mistake. These files have created a barrier that has prevented dangerous individuals from joining Scouting.
The BSA fully recognizes the responsibility it has when parents entrust the development and safety of their children to Scouting. This is why BSA policies have consistently evolved along with increased knowledge and best practices, and BSA is committed to ongoing enhancement of these policies. The BSA requires criminal background checks for all volunteers and staff, comprehensive training programs and strict safety policies. In 2010, the BSA hired a full-time Youth Protection Director, a recognized expert on child abuse, dedicated to the continued strengthening of Scouting’s youth protection programs and policies.
Today, numerous experts have recognized the BSA as a leader among youth-serving organizations in combating child sexual abuse. Here are a few important facets of BSA’s Youth Protection Program:
- All volunteers are required to complete Youth Protection training and must renew every two years. This training is accessible to the general public online at www.scouting.org.
- No child is left alone with just one adult. Two adults must always be present for all Scouting activities.
- In every Cub Scout and Boy Scout handbook, a pamphlet is provided to help educate parents how to teach their children to recognize, resist, and report abuse.
- Anyone suspected of inappropriate behavior is immediately removed.
- The Boy Scouts of America has mandated that all volunteers and employees are mandatory reporters of abuse.
We are proud to work with the Baltimore Area Council, Boy Scout of America and we are thankful to be a part of an organization that works across Central Maryland communities to deliver programs that foster character development, citizenship and the moral, mental and physical fitness of young people. The Baltimore Area Council does this through traditional programs, such as Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and through innovative outreach programs that serve urban youth and youth with disabilities. We are also confident in the Boy Scouts of America’s dedication to youth protection.
The Boy Scouts of America will never waiver in its ongoing commitment to protect children. The BSA exists to help youth. Keeping them safe is fundamental to our purpose.
Barry F. Williams, Chairman of the Board
Trey Shupert, Commissioner
Ethan Draddy, Scout Executive & CEO
Valuable Links for Youth Protection Information