Scouts Canada Demonstrates Commitment to Excellence in Child and Youth Safety
Unveils two reports on Child and Youth Safety
OTTAWA, June 25, 2012 /CNW/ – As part of its 2012 Child and Youth Safety Plan’s implementation, Scouts Canada unveiled today two major documents: the KPMG Review of Scouts Canada Leader Suspension and Termination Files from 1947 to 2011 and the Scouts Canada Child and Youth Safety Update 2012.
“Scouts Canada is committed to showing strong leadership in the area of child and youth safety,” said Steve Kent, Chief Commissioner and Chair of the Board of Governors. “Over the past seven months, we have worked hard and shared a wealth of expertise and experience in Child and Youth Safety with our Child and Youth Protection Advisory Committee and many other experts in the field. They have provided us with recommendations and guidance as we developed or revised our policies and procedures and started the implementation of our Child and Youth Safety Plan.”
Ms. Melodie Bissell, President and CEO, Winning Kids Inc., Ms. Gina M. Haggart, COO and Vice President of Business Development, Winning Kids Inc., Ms. Lisa Evanoff, RespectED National Training Manager, Canadian Red Cross, and Mr. Rod Piukkla, Vice President, Police Services Technologies, BackCheck, attended the announcement this morning.
Scouts Canada’s Child and Youth Protection Advisory Committee is a third-party panel of experts commissioned by Scouts Canada to conduct a complete review of all of its policies and procedures on child and youth safety and make recommendations on additional measures that ensure Scouts Canada’s policies meet current and future needs.
The Committee is composed of leading child and youth protection experts from the Child Welfare League of Canada, Canadian Red Cross, Canadian Society for the Investigation of Child Abuse, Canadian Paediatric Society, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the BC Office of the Representative for Children and Youth.
“Our common goal is to protect kids. We are doing everything we can to make things right. Together, we must raise awareness of the critical issue of child abuse and work on improving cooperation and developing integrated strategies and tools,” said Steve Kent. “We intend to build on the productive relationships that we have developed with many of our child and youth safety partners. We want to work with them towards common strategies to initiate a broader discussion in this country on how to better keep kids safe.”
Since 1907, Scouts Canada has helped 17 million Canadian children and youth discover a world of adventure, outdoor experience, friendship and fun. Nothing is more important to the organization than the safety and wellbeing of the children and youth that are entrusted to its care.
For decades, Scouts Canada has been a leader in Child and Youth Safety. It was one of the first organizations in the nation to institute a comprehensive volunteer screening policy, and the first to adopt the ‘two-leader rule’ whereby at least two adults must be present with children and youth at all times. Scouts Canada has always been known for continuously enhancing its safety procedures.
When questions were recently raised about the organization’s child and youth protection policies and practices, Scouts Canada took an honest, open and transparent approach that confronted both the good and the bad of its history.
“We want parents and the Canadian public to know the full extent of our commitment to providing a safe, secure and nurturing environment for children and youth,” said Kent. “And we are committed to continuously enhance our organization’s safety policies and procedures.”
The KPMG Review of Suspension and Termination Files is a thorough arms-length review of all records held by Scouts Canada related to the suspension and/or termination of volunteer leaders for sexual misconduct against youth from 1947 to 2011. KPMG’s review of the 486 records covering 64 years lasted seven months and identified findings in five specific areas: records management, governance, contact with authorities, suspensions and terminations and other observations. KPMG’s review was delivered to Scouts Canada on Thursday, June 21, 2012.
Of note from the review:
- The review does not identify any systemic intent to cover up or “hide” an individual or abuse incident.
- Prior to 2001, Scouts Canada had no national protocol or process for organizing and maintaining records that were managed and stored in regional offices across Canada. Scouts Canada’s decentralized governance model, in place until 2001, resulted in inconsistent management of important records from office to office, as well as inconsistencies in decisions related to record keeping.
- In 73% of all records, the authorities were aware of incidents of abuse, with either Scouts Canada alerting the authorities or the authorities alerting Scouts Canada. Before 1992, this average was 65%, while post-1992, the average increased to 85%.
- Every one of these records that was linked with potential instances of abuse has been turned over to police authorities as they were brought to Scouts Canada’s attention during the review process. Since all these records are in the hands of police departments, any disclosure of details would be improper in order to allow the police authorities to review these matters as they deem appropriate.
- Regarding suspension, termination and listing on the record of individuals who were banned from or ineligible to join Scouts Canada, KPMG noted that particularly prior to 2002, the organization often fell short of listing suspended individuals within the prescribed time (180 days). The two primary causes of delay appear to have been a) waiting for adequate evidence such as the results of police investigation or court conviction and b) concerns about the organization’s liability related to unproven accusations of abuse.
- The review also showed a list of gaps that occurred in the past in a variety of circumstances mainly because of Scouts Canada’s prior decentralised governance model, lack of a computer-based membership management system or lack of education of parents and kids. Scouts Canada currently employs a centralized model supported by a national membership database and will launch educational programs for children and parents later this year. A resource booklet for parents has also been developed and it can be found at http://www.scouts.ca/cys/forparents.
Child and Youth Safety Update
Scouts Canada also recognizes and intends to learn from errors of the past, and ensure that it does not become complacent now or in the future. To meet today’s expectations and anticipate the needs of tomorrow, Scouts Canada is revitalizing its culture of safety and entrenching it more deeply at every level of the organization and in each of its activities.
To achieve that goal, Scouts Canada launched an extensive review and update of the multiple dimensions of Child and Youth Safety throughout its policies, procedures, programs and activities.
A new Child and Youth Safety Plan was developed and is currently being implemented leading up to the new Scouting year. The plan contains more than 30 action items mainly focusing on historical review, policies and procedures, adult screening and training, child, youth and parent education and communications.
“Scouts Canada will also introduce new educational resources to boost our young members’ knowledge and resiliency. We want to teach them how to stay safe and to open a dialogue about abuse. We will engage young people and their parents through activities that will help empower them, reinforce a culture of safety among members of Scouting, and make sure that vigilance is our watchword,” added Kent. “We are committed to making our communities safer for kids, and we want to work more closely with youth organizations, governments, and other partners in order to address gaps in systems and to make Canada safer for all children and youth.”
There are two fact sheets available that summarize each of the two reports:
- KPMG Review of Suspension and Termination Files – June 2012
- Scouts Canada Child and Youth Safety Update – June 2012
The fact sheets and the reports, as well as our Child and Youth Safety material, are available in PDF format at scouts.ca/child-and-youth-safety-update.
About Scouts Canada
Scouts Canada, the country’s co-ed leading youth organization, has more than 100,000 members nationwide representing every faith and culture. Scouts Canada groups offer programming in more than 19 languages reflecting Canada’s multicultural landscape and communities. Kids in Scouts have fun adventures discovering new things and experiences they wouldn’t discover elsewhere. Along the way, they develop into capable, confident and well-rounded individuals, better prepared for success in the world. For tens of thousands of children and youth across Canada, Scouts is the start of something great. For more information, visit Scouts.ca.
Scouts Canada is a not-for-profit organization (Charitable Registration No. 10776 1694 RR0028) and a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.