Thursday, June 7, 2012

Events in Ashburnham serve to remind us of our responsibilities

By now many of you have seen print and television news reporting that the longtime Scoutmaster of Troop 18 in Ashburnham was arrested on child pornography charges.  You have doubtless noticed that the majority of the coverage is not focused on the accused but on the fact that he was a adult volunteer with the Boy Scouts.  Until convicted all acquisitions are just that, accusations, and as such do not deserve uninformed speculation or gossip.  The focus of this email is on the situation as it impacts the Boy Scout and Cub Scout programs and your children.

You are all aware that I am constantly requesting increasing levels of participation from our parents.  One of the primary reasons is for the ongoing protection of our children.  The BSA requires a minimum of two deep leadership at all times, registered adult volunteer take the Youth Protection Training, and all such volunteers undergo a CORI check as required by Massachusetts State Law.  A CORI check is when an employer or organization requests of the Massachusetts Criminal History Systems Board a copy of an individuals criminal record.  Having a CORI check done does not guarantee that every person that may pose risk to a child will be screened out.  This is why we have two deep leadership and why all of our adult volunteers are trained in youth protection.  Our youth protection program covers youth protection policies, kinds of abuse, signs of abuse, how to respond to disclosure of abuse, and proper reporting procedures. It does so by taking you through situations that require choices and produce consequences. Successful completion of this course requires an 80 percent or higher score.  This program helps protect our children and helps protect our leaders.  Dad's, next time I ask you to stand inside the bathroom with me, another leader, or another father to "supervise hand washing" until every boy has left the bathroom you will understand the true meaning of my request.

Every Den meeting has multiple adults and my constant nagging for assistants is not just to ease the programming responsibilities of the Den Leaders.  Pack Meetings are covered even deeper by adult volunteers and parents.  Youth protection is also one of the reasons we encourage full family participation in our monthly meetings and trips.  I am approaching 40 years of scouting but I have also been a father for twenty years with six children from four months to twenty years old.  As you know young boys, and girls for that matter can be pretty high maintenance. Tying shoes, wiping noses, drying tears, picking up a fallen child, tucking in a shirt, holding a Tiger up to the sink to wash his hands or to the water fountain to take a drink are all things we as parents do instinctively.  Unfortunately in this day and age they are also things that could be misconstrued. This is why we insist on two deep leadership. Our youth protection program is designed to protect youth and adults. 

For those parents who have Webelos moving up to Boy Scouts please feel confident that my colleagues in Troop 33 take youth protection as seriously as I do.  If you have occasion to visit a troop meeting you will notice adults everywhere.  Boy Scouts is a youth run program but you will always see the adult leaders actively observing from the sidelines.  Like the Cub Scouts the Boy Scout youth will always move in two's in an enforced buddy system and even small patrol meetings will have two deep adult leadership in place. 

The events in Ashburnham yesterday will cast a pall over the BSA for a short time.  Detractors will use this incident to levy accusations that the BSA is a haven for those tending towards nefarious behavior.  This is not true.  Any organization that has millions of members will unfortunately have its share of bad apples.  We, the leaders and parents of scouting in Westminster, will use this incident as a reminder of our responsibilities to our children and our charges and the vigilance they deserve.   When we march in the Memorial Day parade Monday we will do so with pride and confidence in the Scouting program in Westminster.  And when I ask for the Popsicle stick with your child's name on it before I release them to parent, grandparent, or loved one you will understand why the Cubmaster has all these pain in the butt rules.

I remain ever in Scouting, in your service,

1 comment:

  1. How true. Good job stating what should be the norm.


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