SALT LAKE CITY — Four men have filed a lawsuit against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America claiming they were sexually abused by Scout leaders — but what do the Scouting policies do to protect Scouts and leaders?
Since the men were in Scouting, between 28 and 41 years ago, leaders say society has learned a lot more about sexual abuse and taken appropriate steps to avoid such acts happening during Scouting events.
The newest edition of the BSA's Youth Protection Guidelines Handbook states that the quality of the program, and the safety of youth, start with the selection of leaders. The Boy Scouts organization works closely with chartered organizations to recruit the best possible leadership for its units and performs background checks on potential leaders.
But selection of the best leaders isn't the end of the process to protect the Scouts. The following six policies are in place to provide additional security in the program.
Two leaders — at least one registered leader and a parent of a participating Scout or another adult — must be present at every trip and outing. One must be 21 years of age or older.
No one-on-one contact
Scout leaders and Scout participants may not hold private conferences. There must always be a third party present.
Respect privacy of youth
Adult leaders are also instructed to respect the privacy of youth members in situations such as changing into swimming suits or taking showers at camp. Leaders may only enter those private spaces in the event of an emergency.
They are also instructed to change in privacy.
Likewise, taking photographs and video taping is prohibited during these private times.
When camping, no youth is permitted to sleep in the tent of an adult other than his own parent or guardian.
The BSA advises that, when possible, males and females have separate bathroom facilities. Leaders are instructed to take showers at a separate time from youth.
No secret organizations
All aspects of the Scouting program are required to be open to observation by parents.
These policies are designed to create barriers to prevent any misconduct within the Scouting program, BSA said. They also serve to protect adult leadership from situations where they are vulnerable to allegations of abuse.
The Youth Protection Guidelines state that Scouts are to report improper behavior in order to identify offenders quickly, and the BSA will swiftly remove those involved and report the incident.