A Scout is kind, so let’s make sure the BSA remains a safe place for all

Jim Wilson, a volunteer, is chairman of the National Youth Protection Support Committee.

This guest post was written by Jim Wilson, national Youth Protection chairman.

I’d like to remind all our Scouting parents and leaders that a Scout is kind.

With all the issues young people face today, it’s more important than ever for all of us to be vigilant about bullying prevention. We must remind and reteach our Scouts the concept of “a Scout is kind.”

The idea that a Scout should treat others as he or she wants to be treated is woven throughout the programs and literature of the Boy Scouts of America. When a Scout follows the principles of the Scout Oath and Law, bullying and hazing situations should never occur.

However, as Scouting leaders and parents, we may feel uncertain about how to handle bullying when we see or hear it happening in or out of Scouting.

Because of this, we may respond in ways that don’t make the best use of the opportunity to teach a Scout the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. We all acknowledge that bullying among children is inappropriate. It is aggressive behavior that is intentional, and involves an imbalance of power and strength. This makes it important that we handle bullying appropriately.

Scouts, Scouters and parents must not stand by during instances of bullying. Sadly, this happens too often because of a lack of understanding of the subject.

There’s good news, however. The BSA has a number of recommended and required practices, policies and procedures. A significant amount of information on the subject continues to be developed and made available.

We’re working with several nationally recognized experts and organizations to make sure that our focus on bullying prevention is clear and visible in all that we say, do and practice.

To that end, the 13th edition of the Boy Scout Handbook now includes a specific chapter on Personal Safety Awareness. The chapter, which starts on page 394, addresses bullying and hazing from both sides of the issue.

Please pick up a nearby Handbook and review this chapter. I challenge you, as leaders, to help our youth understand what “a Scout is kind” means.

Thanks for helping the BSA be the safe place that our parents expect and our youth deserve.

– Jim

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