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Brad Bechtel: Boy Scouts committed to safety

  • Published Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, at 6:41 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, at 6:52 p.m.

As a representative of the Quivira Council, I would like to extend our deepest and sincere sympathies to the victims of Gerald V. Ashworth and to the families of his victims. The crimes committed by that man were deplorable.

I would like to make it very clear that when the Boy Scouts of America learned of Ashworth’s arrest in 1968 for crimes committed outside of Scouting, we removed him from Scouting, created an “ineligible volunteer” file on him and did not allow him to re-enter Scouting when he requested to do so.

Unfortunately, a Nov. 11 Eagle article inaccurately portrayed the BSA’s file as having a possible impact on Ashworth’s 1992 assault on a young girl. The BSA’s knowledge of Ashworth’s crimes, and subsequent removal from the program, came from his arrest by law enforcement, which was public record. Any other organization, including The Eagle, could have accessed the same information that was in the BSA files.

During the 1960s, there was no database in which the BSA could register Ashworth to be referred to by other organizations. In 1993, when Congress passed the National Child Protection Act and opened the FBI’s national criminal records, schools, day-care facilities and youth-serving organizations finally had an avenue for screening out individuals who might pose a risk to children.

Today the BSA has been recognized by numerous experts as a leader in combating child sexual abuse among youth-serving organizations. Here are a few important facets of BSA’s youth-protection program:

•  All volunteers are required to complete youth-protection training and must renew every two years. This training is accessible to the general public online at www.scouting.org.

•  No child is left alone with just one adult. Two adults must always be present for all Scouting activities.

•  In every Cub Scout and Boy Scout handbook, a pamphlet is provided to help teach youths and their parents how to recognize, resist and report abuse.

•  Age-appropriate youth-protection training materials and videos are also available.

•  Anyone suspected of inappropriate behavior is immediately removed.

•  The Boy Scouts of America has mandated that all volunteers and employees are mandatory reporters of abuse.

I am proud to volunteer with the Quivira Council of the Boy Scouts of America. I am thankful to be a part of an organization that serves thousands of young people across 30 Kansas counties to help them grow in physical fitness, character, citizenship and leadership skills.

Rest assured, the BSA will never waver in its ongoing commitment to protect Scouts. Keeping them safe is fundamental to our purpose and always foremost in our minds.

Brad Bechtel is president of the Quivira Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

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