Keeping Children Safe
Northern Star Council Information on Recent Civil Suits
Our heart goes out to any child who has been harmed by anyone, ever. We encourage anyone who feels that they were harmed at any time to contact us. Recent civil suits, all based on reported abuse from 36 to 53 years ago, involve former volunteers who were removed at the time any allegations became known. Those identified were entered into the BSA's database of ineligible volunteers to block them from reentry anywhere in the country. These events occurred before nationwide law enforcement databases, but the BSA database was accessible by Scouting leadership everywhere. All reports are in the possession of law enforcement.
Today's child protection environment is much more advanced, as law enforcement has better systems and technology has improved. The BSA also constantly strengthens its safeguards and systems and as a result, Scouting was and is one of the safest places for children in our community.
Our program is based on rigorously screening volunteers including criminal background checks; extensive and required training for youth members, parents and leaders; maintaining and establishing abuse barriers, such as requiring at least two adults at all activities; and clear, immediate reporting procedures. Current court proceedings in the larger community reinforce the importance of our rigorous youth protection policies and procedures, which are designed to keep young people safe.
Leadership involvement, parent engagement, youth and adult training, law enforcement reporting and ongoing conversations between parents and their children on what’s appropriate help create a community that is safer for all young people.
Reports of any kind of abuse are extremely rare, but a report of abuse triggers three immediate actions:
- Immediate notification of law enforcement authorities
- Immediate removal of the leader
- Ongoing communication with families and other affected parties to enforce policies and accountability as well as provide support
The safety of young people in our programs is a top priority. Third-party professionals consider us to be a leader in youth protection, and refer to our policies, practices and training as the most advanced. Northern Star Council participates in a consortium of local and national groups working to prevent child abuse. We share our materials with other non-profits and the public. We believe through training our youth and adult members, making the training and materials available to all, and working collaboratively with other agencies, we can help find additional solutions to protect all children.
Additional Information - Supporting the Safety of All Children
We are concerned about the safety of all children; those involved in our programs and in the entire community.
Statistics illustrate why. There were 2,334 reports of sexual abuse in the latest “Minnesota’s Child Welfare Report 2014 – Report to the 2015 Minnesota Legislature”. In seventy seven percent of the overall 72,022 maltreatment reports the alleged offenders were biological parents.
The training our leaders, parents and youth members receive helps to keep members and those around them safer by being better able to recognize, resist and report abuse. Kids being maltreated need a trusted adult to get help. The Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center estimates that “for every adult educated on child abuse, ten children are made safer” and with more than 15,000 volunteers annually using curricula developed with youth protection experts, Scouting leaders can have an impact.