Youth Protection Champions: Who they are, and why you should care

youth-protectionHave a Youth Protection question you’re not comfortable asking some stranger at the council or national level? Ever feel like Youth Protection is “too national” and doesn’t directly apply to your unit?

I hear you. And so does the BSA’s National Youth Protection committee.

Check out the new Youth Protection Champions program, debuting later this year. Starting with the unit-level Champion and going all the way down to the volunteer who chairs the national YP committee, the program is designed to keep Youth Protection on everyone’s mind by embedding key barriers to abuse into every aspect of the program and every unit in Scouting.

A unit-level Champion’s job is about more than just making sure everyone is Youth Protection trained. (By the way, if your training isn’t up-to-date, fix that immediately.) The Champions fill in that two-year gap between trainings to promote new initiatives, increase awareness, distribute materials, and monitor the unit’s Youth Protection strategy.

The timing’s perfect, because April is Youth Protection Month. Follow the jump for a first look at this important new program, including the Champion’s roles and how someone like you can become a Champion.

The Inverted Pyramid

inverted-pyramidJim Wilson, chairman of the National Executive Board’s Youth Protection committee, has an out-of-the-box way to look at Youth Protection. He sees it as an upside-down pyramid.

The Scouts and Venturers, who everyone agrees are our most-important groups, are the largest and sit at the top of the pyramid. Then comes the unit-level Champions, who are as important as they are numerous.

Next, we’ve got the district Champions, then the council Champions, the area Champions, region Champions, and the national YP committee — that little point way at the bottom.

Approaching Youth Protection this way underlines the importance of Scouts and Scout leaders in making Youth Protection a top priority. The slogan “Youth Protection Begins With You” encapsulates this mindset.

Keep the inverted pyramid visual in mind when you consider your unit’s approach to Youth Protection.

What Does a Unit-Level Champion Do?

cyber-chipLots. Here are a few of the key responsibilities:

Youth Protection Training: The initial focus of unit Champions will be to get 100 percent of the unit Youth Protection trained. In some units, that’s already happening. In others, someone needs to be that bug in the ears of volunteers  telling them to get trained as soon as possible. That message is a lot more effective coming from a fellow unit leader than someone at the district or council, I think, and that’s why a unit Champion has so much value. But training is just the beginning …

Awareness: When the BSA rolls out Youth Protection-related material, such as the popular Cyber Chip, the unit Champion can bring that information directly to his or her pack, troop, team, or crew. Champions will also be instrumental in communicating news about the BSA’s upcoming anti-bullying initiative.

Monitoring: The Champion isn’t a Youth Protection police officer, per se. Instead, he or she is responsible for developing and monitoring the unit’s strategy for delivering Youth Protection training and following its core principles. But vigilance is part of it, too. If the unit isn’t following BSA Youth Protection policies and procedures, the Champion should alert the Scoutmaster and committee chairman right away.

Reporting: A unit Champion should provide feedback to his or her committee about any impediments to volunteers and parents taking YP training. A Champion should make sure activities and events are consistent with BSA policies and procedures — ensuring there will be enough adults and separate restroom facilities at an upcoming event, for example. The unit Champion can be in contact with his or her district Champion to offer feedback about the BSA’s Youth Protection strategy.

How Do I Become a Champion?

yp-patchThis isn’t something you volunteer for. Unit-level Champions are appointed by the unit committee, which reports the person’s name to the council. Stay tuned for more information as the program rolls out (see below for more details).

In the meantime, here are the desired qualifications for the position. Keyword is desired, because not every unit-level Champion will have everything on the list:

  • Youth-protection oriented volunteer, probably a committee member
  • Expertise in social services, law enforcement, criminal justice, abuse prevention, investigation, intervention, policy creation, sex-offender treatment, child-abuse therapy, children’s advocacy, victim advocacy, or forensics
  • Educational or professional background in child abuse, with knowledge of youth victimization

Someone with these skills would be well-equipped to answer sensitive questions a unit leader might have but might not want to take to his or her council just yet. Of course, any time you suspect something illegal is going on, especially involving children, call the police right away.

The plan is for Youth Protection Champions to receive special-edition patches that will be easily recognizable by others — especially helpful when someone has a Youth Protection question out in the field and isn’t sure whom to ask.

Tentative Rollout Plans

Wilson, the national committee chairman, says he hopes every council will have a council-level Champion by the end of 2013. So look for more information about unit-level Champions late this year or early next.

Stay tuned. While the Champion program details are being finalized, nothing is stopping you from championing Youth Protection in your unit.

Hassle all your volunteers until you have 100 percent of them trained. Make sure your Scouts are staying safe online by bringing the Cyber Chip program to your unit. And most of all, remember that “Youth Protection Begins With You.”

Photo from Flickr:  Some rights reserved by Preston Kemp

19 thoughts on “Youth Protection Champions: Who they are, and why you should care

  1. Thank you. I was wondering where to next take a couple of issues with the YPT training video:

    1) the clearly erroneous position that all “discipline” is to handled by adults (contrary to the BSHB, PLHB, SMHB, and G2SS [“Trek Safely”]); and

    2) the statement that if a Scout is seen walking away from a toilet holding a camera-like device (The only facts given.) he “clearly” has taken improper pictures and the device is to be “confiscated” by the Scouter (Value over or under felony limits for theft?)

    At a minimum, there needs to be communication between the “bubbles” in which policy decisions are being made and rules issued in order that Scouting remain coherent..

    “Trust should be the basis for all our moral training.” BP

    • I agree with your two statements being confusing. As a Pack Trainer and Roundtable staffmember using this video to train other leaders, I have both of these issues come up every time.

      I agree that a scout in a leadership position should be the first in line with discipline, supervised by an adult leader. If the Senior Patrol leader cannot discipline, how does he keep the attention of the scouts?

      The cell phone issue is a great big can of worms. First, everyone’s answer is to not allow cell phones on scouting events. That doesn’t work when the unit beside you allows cell phones. Scouts are very smart and know how to hide them from you. Second, how is a parent going to react when I’m standing there with Junior’s phone and he’s yelling give it back? Am I really going to get a chance to state why I’m holding his phone? In the video, there are scouts yelling from inside the showers, and the scout is grinning, looking at his phone as he runs out, so I feel pretty safe in assuming he’s taken some inappropriate pictures. But do I have the right to take his phone because he looks guilty? Isn’t that profiling?

      I hope we can get better standards on these issues, but since every scout is different, and every situation is different, I guess we should rely on what we know to be right and think before we act. We teach the scouts to think before they act, maybe we should practice what we preach.

    • The biggest issue with the taking of the camera or phone is that the adult should delete the photo. I dont think that is a good idea if it is found that they youth has taken improper photos. It could be considered destroying or tampering with evidence.

    • I think you’re overthinking #2. The vignette is a dramatization for example, the message comes across clear. If you don’t feel comfortable confiscating a phone from a scout in your own troop, you’re a weak leader; if you don’t want to confiscate a phone from a scout in another troop (which is understandable) simply get his troop number and go to camp leadership.

  2. I am a big fan of YPT, but another volunteer position to fill?? Please, I am not saying this is bad, it’s just that couldn’t this just be responsibility of the Pack Trainer??

  3. I think this is a great idea. On a side note — is the “Youth Protection Begins With You” patch pictured here available for purchase somewhere? I have seen the picture but have never found it. As a District Trainer, I would like to present it to the folks in my District who are Youth Protection Trained. (For some parents, a little bling goes a long way in encouraging them to take the training!)

  4. So, we hope that every council will have a council-level Champion by the end of 2013. In that case, I will continue to hope that training chairs, health and safety, chartered organizations, committee chairs, unit leaders, all registered adults and commissioners at every level will adhere to the YPT policy today.

  5. Brian.

    Any chance this will replace the Texas Specific YPT?

    Secondary, rumor had it when JTE rolled out that – and I’m paraphrasing – “those w/o training” would be dropped from the charter. Would this new position negate that?

      • The state of Texas no longer accepts BSA online YPT as compliant with state rules. Those of us in Texas who want to attend a state-licensed camp (cub scout day camp, winter camp, summer camp) must take a classroom version of YPT. We watch a DVD and take a written test. We have heard a rumor that BSA will update the online YPT to meet Texas standards and we can go back to online YPT.
        Online YPT is still sufficient for recharter, weekend campouts, etc, and anywhere else BSA requires YPT. It’s just a nuisance for the thousands of us who volunteer at day camps and resident camps every year.

  6. I have a question. How does two deep leadership work when you have both boys and girls in a cub scout pack or boy scout troop Can boys and girls share a tent? What if you have three girls in your troop (an odd number) . I know there is a policy about the buddy system so girls cannot sleep alone. So where does the third girl sleep? Is it ok for her to share a tent with a boy? I know at least one troop/pack in America admits girls, so that is why I am asking. Thanks.

    • There was a Learning for Life Pack that was featured in a national article…Mostly Latino membership, .If that is what your refering to LFL is coed.

    • there is absolutely nothing wrong with sleeping alone. if they choose to every single person may camp in their own individual tent. most people at the younger ages do like a tent buddy if only for the companionship.

  7. If you have a unit champion then Youth Protection is His job.

    Youth Protection is EVERYBODY’S JOB

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s