Youth Protection Month? I prefer to think of it as a Youth Protection Year.
In other words, Youth Protection — the BSA’s barriers to abuse in Scouting — is something we Scouters should have on our minds January through December.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t use the excuse of Youth Protection Month every April to spread the word about how to protect young people from abuse.
With that in mind, here’s a look at seven ways to recognize Youth Protection month.
1. See the revamped Youth Protection content in the new Boy Scout Handbook.
Chapter 13, called “Personal Safety Awareness,” includes new, useful information on a number of different topics, including child abuse and neglect, bullying and hazing, and staying safe online. Get your new Boy Scout Handbook here.
2. Check out the improved Parent’s Guide to protecting children.
These guides, updated in 2015, are available in versions for Cub Scout and Boy Scout parents and are found in a Scout’s Handbook. Be sure to complete the “Exercises on Personal Safety Awareness” with your child.
Youth Protection works best when it begins as a conversation between the parent and child about staying safe.
3. Read how the Cyber Chip is now required for rank advancement.
The BSA wants to help young people be safe online. To prove it, the BSA has made earning the Cyber Chip a requirement for earning the Scout and Star ranks.
See all the 2016 Boy Scout requirements at this link.
4. Learn the BSA’s updated Barriers to Abuse.
Take time to review the Barriers to Abuse section on this page. Remind yourself about the rules on two-deep leadership, age-appropriate accommodations and more.
Veteran Scouters who have taken Youth Protection training several times, take note: Some of the BSA’s Barriers to Abuse have been updated, so be sure to get a refresher.
5. Join the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s June 8 webinar.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), creators of the educational site NetSmartz, will host a webinar for the BSA on June 8.
June, turns out, is Internet Safety Month, so NCMEC will guide Scouters through a discussion on the challenging, ever-changing world of internet safety.
Watch this space (and the NetSmartz site) for more information about the free webinar.
6. Learn about Youth Protection Champions at Philmont this summer.
It’s a pretty powerful two-for-one offer: Learn more about keeping young people safe and spend a week at Philmont.
Youth Protection Champions Week at Philmont Training Center is July 31 to Aug. 6, 2016. You’ll learn about the Champions program, share best practices and discover resources.
7. Hold a local awareness event.
The saying “Youth Protection Begins With You” speaks to the role volunteers like you play in increasing Youth Protection awareness.
Some councils even conduct an annual Youth Protection Symposium, including presentations and workshops on Youth Protection topics and collaboration with community partners such as child advocacy centers, law enforcement agencies and other youth-serving groups.
Youth Protection needs everyone in Scouting; we all have a critical role in keeping youth safe. Thanks for doing your part.