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Boy Scouts training works in preventing abuse

The Abilene Reporter-News logo The Abilene Reporter-News 10/25/2020 Carl Kieke, Special to the Reporter-News

There have been numerous advertisements on radio and TV lately asking men who were abused while in Boy Scouts as boys to come forward and join a lawsuit against Scouting.

Part of the message may escape the general public: Most of the cases they are dealing with occurred 20 or more years ago.

Even then, they were rare; it’s just that they got all the publicity because they were so awful. I won’t say such things don’t happen anymore, but they are even less frequent.

A dozen or more years ago, Boy Scouts of America started Youth Protection Training. This is a training course on how to keep the youth (and the adults) safe. Any adult signing up in Boy Scouts at any level must take the course and present a certificate of completion with their application to register. And all adults must complete the course again every two years as a refresher.

The course is available online or in face-to-face training sessions. At the end, a test is administered. Failing the test on the material presented means the person cannot continue as an adult Scout leader.

Some things YPT emphasizes:

  • No private, one-to-one contact between adults and youths
  • Two adult leaders (minimum), at least one over age 21, must be present for all activities
  • No hazing or initiation rites
  • Separate sleeping areas for youth and adults; and a limit on age range between youths sharing a tent
  • Identifying signs of abuse, and procedures for reporting suspected incidents
  • Guidelines for appropriate discipline

Immediate family members don’t have to abide by these items, but every other adult must.

More recently, a section on recognizing and dealing with bullying, including online bullying, has been added.

If these media reports have been a barrier for your child to enroll in Scouting, please be assured that such incidents are even rarer today than in the past. In every recent incident, it has been discovered that it occurred because these guidelines were not followed. Scouting is as safe for your child as is humanly possible.

Closings/cancellations

  • Girl Scout office in Brownwood, and all Girl Scout activities in Girl Scouts of Central Texas, involving more than 10 people closed/cancelled through Jan. 3, 2021. Events with 10 or less may proceed. Curbside service now available at council offices. www.gsctx.org/contactus or 800-733-0011.
  • Girl Scout office in Abilene, and all Texas Oklahoma Plains council facilities closed until further notice. Curbside pickup available. customercare@gs-top.org or 800-582-7272.

Deadlines

  • Friday for Boy Scout Show ‘n’ Sell popcorn money to be turned in to council office. 325-677-2688.
  • Saturday for discount 4-H fees for coming year. $25; goes to $30 after this date.

Upcoming events

  • Wood Badge (Boy Scout adult leader training) Week II, Friday-Sunday, Camp Tonkawa. 325-677-2688.
  • Learn about Girl Scouts and how to join each Thursday at 7 p.m. Join virtually at gs-top.org. Click on “Advanced search”, then the “Virtual join events” tab. Registration information is under “Join events for girls.” 
  • Girl Scout Animal Dance Party or Robot Building Party, two virtual activities, available at gs-top.org (under Virtual Join Events) or gsctx.org (under the Join tab).
  • Tot Spot, for children ages 3-5 (and an adult), 9:30 a.m. first Thursday and Friday of each month, The Grace Museum, 102 Cypress St. (Check at www.thegracemuseum.org under “Events and classes” for holiday scheduling.) Free for museum members, $5 for non-members. Reservations required; 325-673-4587 or thegracemuseum.org. 

Contact Carl Kieke at 325-673-3552; or kiekec@suddenlink.net. Deadline is Monday for publication the following Monday.

This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Boy Scouts training works in preventing abuse

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