We recently wrapped up our 2nd National Youth Protection Symposium. The common goal expressed by everyone: Keep kids safe from those who might do them harm.
Scouting Magazine Senior Editor Bryan Wendell did a nice wrap-up of the two-day event in his blog, so I encourage you to read his October 16th posting. Click “read more” for my thoughts to supplement his observations.
- I was very impressed by the commitment that all the agencies and speakers have to keeping youth safe so that they can live productive and meaningful lives. But it must be a joint effort if we are to be effective and having a meaningful, lasting impact on youth safety.
- It is not enough that each agency succeeds individually; rather, it is only by working together that we can eliminate child abuse in America.
- It is also important to keep in mind that child abuse comes in many forms: physical, mental, neglect, and verbal, among others.
- Criminal background checks and screening are necessary, but they have their limits. Nothing will ever replace vigilance on the part of volunteers.
- While personal safety training awareness of our youth will continue, there are still current and ever-emerging threats to youth safety that exist online and in social media.
- Education is a key to preventing abuse. It’s important to create a culture where child abuse is addressed, discussed and prevented. We will continue our collaboration with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to provide information to keep Scouts and all young people safe.
As one of the 20 Youth Service Organizations in attendance representing over 20 million youth, we realize our commitment and advocacy to the development of youth in our programs and re-commit to not only the safety of Scouts, but all youth in our communities.
My hope is that open discussions like this will help us all take youth protection to new levels across our nation. What efforts are you making to help keep youth protection a top goal at your organization? I welcome you to share those ideas here and open up a healthy dialogue.
One final note: In addition to the great job by BSA’s Director of Youth Protection, Mike Johnson, and his team in pulling together this important forum, I would also like to express my thanks to our sponsor, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and our co-hosts – The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, and the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center – for all their support.
Well done, everyone.