In Scouting, respect, honesty, and leadership are among the values we teach through the Scout Oath and Scout Law. We teach the importance of helping other people at all times, and how a Scout is helpful, friendly, courteous and kind.
Though these Scouting values have stood the test of time for more than a century, they often are challenged by those who choose to bully rather than be friendly and courteous to others. While Scouting alone can’t completely stamp out bullying and we must continue our efforts to address this serious issue, there are signs that show this behavior in young people may be changing, and for the better.
A recent study by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) revealed that in 2013, the percentage of students who reported being bullied at school was the lowest rate since the USDE started collecting the data in 2005.
Why is this happening? The USDE is crediting the many anti-bullying campaigns and programs to help raise awareness, and I think we can all applaud those efforts. We know that bringing attention to this issue can really help and this data helps to prove that.
I’d like to think that our movement is also contributing to the changing behaviors of today’s young people as we continue to inspire youth to respect others through the methods of Scouting.
We place great importance on giving unit leaders the tools, training and support needed to deliver the kind of life-changing experiences Scouting is capable of providing to young people. An important component of this training is our Youth Protection program, designed to help stop bullying in its tracks before it escalates, offer guidance on how to be more accepting and courteous, and give bullied young people more confidence and self-esteem.
You can find out more about the definition of bullying, risk factors for bullying, and bullying prevention at stopbullying.gov, a site sponsored by the Department of Education and other federal agencies to provide resources on bullying to school administrators, teachers, parents, and children.
I hope this downward trend for bullying in our country continues. Meanwhile, I urge you to make use of the resources available to you to help confront and discourage bullying.
Our future as a nation depends on our ability to shape confident young people of good character as leaders, without the negative aspects of bullying to impede their progress.