Youth Protection Guidelines
Craig Bond (CraigB1051@AOL.COM)
Tue, 21 Mar 1995 17:28:50 -0500
You folks are scaring me. I'm sorry, but I disagree with my
colleagues in Cleveland and Watchung AC and NCAC, as I understand
your posts. Vehemently, I disagree. Paul Brown, John Weinmann,
Earl Needham...perhaps more by the time this makes the rounds.
There are two possibilities where the Youth Protection Guidelines
(YPG) can come into play: where the suspected abuser *is* a
registered Scouter and the child is or is not a registered youth,
and where the suspected abuser *is not*, but the child is a
registered youth. In *neither* case does a call to a BSA
representative relieve you of your *responsibility under law*,
where such responsibility exists, to report your suspicions *in
good faith* to the civil/criminal authorities. Furthermore, it
will not end it since in virtually all cases the civil authorities
want to interview the primary witness -- you, not the SE or DE.
The responsibility to report your suspicions to the SE/DE is
*secondary* to the civil responsibility. When I have been called
(and regrettably, I have), I have urged the individual immediately
to call the civil authorities.
The procedure Istrouma Area Council provides with our training is
not as clearly written as it should be in this respect, I will
admit, but our oral presentation clarifies the point: calling me
is for information and internal BSA action. I am not a criminal
investigator and have no arrest powers. Calling the civil
authorities (youth services, sheriff, city or state police) is for
action against the suspected offender...or a decision only to
investigate, or a decision that this is not abuse.
Y'know, calling the police does not automatically provoke even an
investigation, if the interviewing officer or official decides that
the facts as you have presented them do not warrant.
I am fearful of three things.
First, that anyone would not report suspected abuse because they
are afraid of having misinterpreted the facts and falsely accused
someone. There are state and national child abuse hotlines which
you can call to discuss your suspicions; youth services and police
will question you in great detail before they begin a formal
investigation. This presumes, of course, that the abuse has not
been witnessed directly.
Second, that anyone would believe that a report to the SE/DE
would not result in followup with civil authorities. Or that it
would not. Little could harm our movement quicker than hiding an
abuser, and I *absolutely* believe that the national policy forbids
such action -- indeed, everything I have seen from National says we
will not tolerate abuse in our program.
Third, that anyone -- myself included as I work with youth --will
be falsely accused and have failed to follow the guidelines to
protect ourselves against such false accusation. These guidelines
have been called, by one of my very distinguished Scouters, *YOU*
Protection Guidelines. Indeed, they are set up to protect me and
you against a situation where a false accusation could have
credibility, or where a solid alibi witness was not present.
I have had an instance of false accusation in my district and the
failure of the leader to follow the guidelines regarding two-deep
leadership delayed his vindication to a sufficient degree as to
embarrass him and his family. I lost an excellent cubmaster and
day camp director (his wife), a very good den leader, and three
great kids from the program -- eventually the entire pack --
because a little boy was mad about having been yelled at by his den
leader, his mother first too busy to listen to the den leader's
request to discuss a "situation" in the den meeting and then over-
reacting to a difficult family situation....and the second adult
witness was absent.
I beseech you, if you do nothing else by the book, do youth
protection by the book, go to the training, insist that every one
of your leaders go to the training, and ask for an independent
legal opinion today on your *obligations* under law to report to
civil authority if you suspect child abuse in or out of BSA.
If I sound passionate about this, I am.
If I sound overly-protective, I cannot; I want all of my friends
in Scouting to enjoy this program every minute of every day, for
the rest of their natural lives.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City