Re: National Bulletin - Selecting Leaders
Ronald W. Fox (ronfox@MINDSPRING.COM)
Fri, 10 Jul 1998 23:47:04 -0500
At 11:54 AM 7/9/98 -0400, Bob Caron wrote:
>One. Starting this year in Massachusetts, and I would guess in a number of
>other states already and probably more to come, there is a new law regarding
>background checks. Councils are required to run background checks on all
>staff [snip], this seems to be the irreversible trend in all parts of
Seems kind of a jump to extrapolate from action by a single state to an
irreversible trend. Can you cite action by any other states besides the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts which would indicate that this is an
irreversible trend, as opposed to simply being local action in Massachusetts?
>Two. [snip] I find it hard to believe that National, actually
>its insurance providers, (and by extension its Councils) can continue in this
>position while relinquishing the duty of qualifying its volunteers (insureds).
>Are we to lose this coverage and support next?
To state that an entity has relinquished something implies that at one time
that entity had possession or responsibility for that something. This is
not the case. The B.S.A. has never had responsibility for
selecting/qualifying leaders in the first place, so they can't relinquish it.
As far as losing insurance coverage, note that if a volunteer violates
B.S.A. policy, that volunteer is not covered by B.S.A.'s insurance.
Therefore, the B.S.A.'s insurance carriers don't have to worry about paying
out claims based on actions taken by volunteers who turn out to be child
molesters, etc. So, failures to properly qualify a volunteer won't affect
the B.S.A.'s insurance carriers. You can't lose something you never had.
>Three. WE are the volunteers, meaning part-time, spare time. THEY are the
>professionals, meaning full-time, dedicated.
We are the community. We are the people who go to the church, shop in the
stores, run the PTA, give out the snacks and soda after the soccer games,
coach the Little League, run the local small businesses, meet at the Kiwanis
every month, have a beer or two at the VFW. We know who's who in the
community, who's dependable, who drinks too much, whose kid is
uncontrollable. We know who's new in town. They're our kids and we're
careful with them. We're going to be around for a while, and we know that
if we mess up we'll have to live with it.
They are the professionals. These aren't their kids. It's a job. It's a
job that means a lot to them, and they are in it for more than the money,
but they are not part of the community. After a while, they'll be gone.
They don't know anybody in the community when they get here, and all they
know about the people here is what they see in a few meetings. If they mess
up, it's their job, not their life. They have no basis to judge anyone
until well after any damage would have been done.
>But qualification and
>background checks of leader applicants take time, must probably be done during
>the business day, and should be consistent. That seems to me to suggest a
>full-time staff function.
What type of background check are you going to do? If you are going to
check the references written down on the form, there's no reason why the
volunteers shouldn't make those calls, or even go visit them at home. There
very likely will be at least one reference on there that's known to the
people checking them out, anyway. If you are talking about legal checks,
that can be left to the State Police. Here in Illinois, the State cops run
checks for felonies, etc. for about $10 a head. We had to do that for our
leaders because we used to be sponsored by a Park District (a governmental
body), and they required it for every person working with youth. Is there
any other check you'd recommend? The only thing past that is a nationwide
search for every volunteer that signs up, and that's not practical. No
organization does that.
The B.S.A. appears to me to be saying that qualification of leaders must be
primarily based on personal knowledge and experience with the candidate. It
is to be performed by people who are active in a civic endeavor in the
community and are thus familiar with the people and institutions in that
community. The idea is to avoid taking someone new in the area as a leader,
but to actively recruit from people you know. If you don't know the person,
and don't know the references and can't verify them to your satisfaction,
don't select the person as a leader.
Finally, remember: this is nothing new. This has been the way the B.S.A.
has operated throughout it's 86 year history. All this new letter seems to
represent to me is a process, not a new policy.
Scoutmaster, Troop 69, Des Plaines Valley Council (W&SW Chicago Suburbs)
Pachsegink Lodge 246 | >>>------> |
"... and a good old Eagle, too" (C-19-96)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City