BSA has taken steps recently to ensure that all registered leaders receive training in youth protection.
After a century developing the nation’s premier youth program, finally there are provisions to help ensure that many of the adults who deal with youth know the rules that we are expected to follow to keep our children safe from abuse.
Up until a few years ago, youth-protection training was an afterthought, something that was not always easy to obtain, and something that most leaders viewed as an unnecessary extra that tied up a free evening. It was offered by district training teams, but there were usually only one or two trainers who were able to conduct the training, and it was offered infrequently.
In our district, YPT was conducted roughly once a year. The session I first attended several years ago atttracted many Scouters, but took over three hours. I found it to be very worthwhile; however, the barriers to receiving the training were insurmountable by most of the other leaders in my unit.
This all changed a few years ago when BSA finally started offering youth-protection training online. It was now possible for anyone to conveniently receive this critical training session. Although most of us involved in training felt it was still better to take it in person because of the interaction within the class and with the instructor, online training was viewed as a step in the right direction.
Youth-protection training later became mandatory for those leaders listed as a tour leader on a tour permit. It also became required for a leader to be considered Trained, and with the requirement that all direct leaders be basic trained by the end of 2012, it appeared that all direct leaders would eventually be youth-protection trained.
Now, BSA has taken the bold move of requiring YPT for all adult leaders – regardless of whether they deal with youth.
- New adult applicants must provide evidence of having completed YPT before their applications will be accepted.
- Existing leaders who have not taken YPT within the last two years must do so immediately. If they have not done so by the next unit recharter, they will be removed from the charter.
- All leaders must repeat YPT every two years.
While taking YPT is no assurance that child abuse will not occur while youth are in our care, it raises awareness among all leaders and improves the chance that abusive practices will be noticed, reported and stopped.
My troop takes youth protection seriously. We have required YPT of all leaders for a couple years now. We also require it of any adult who has contact with youth, registered or not – including parents who help with campouts, or drive scouts to and from camp. We also conduct a child-abuse prevention session for all our scouts each year, presenting the video A Time to Tell and holding a facilitated discussion for the boys and their parents. The one-two punch of YPT combined with ATTT increases awareness on both sides and greatly reduces the risk of abuse, outside the troop as well as within.