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Local area Boy Scout leaders talk youth protection

Last month, the Boy Scouts of America released 20 years worth of files on men suspected of child sex abuse.

The so-called “perversion files” identify scout leaders and volunteers banned from the group after being accused of sexual or inappropriate conduct with boys.

Saturday, local Boy Scout leaders met to discuss ways to protect the youth their organization is based on.

“We failed kids and we’re profoundly sorry for that,” said Wayne Perry, Boy Scouts of America National President.

Nearly one month after internal records depicting inappropriate activity within the organization were released, scout leaders said protecting their kids is the top priority.

“We’ve gotten a lot better over the years. A lot better on how to protect kids,” said Perry. “For example, we have ‘two-deep’ leadership. You’re never allowed to be alone with a kid.”

Perry said the one million volunteers that work with the Boy Scouts of America must undergo youth protection training and renew their certification every two years.

“A background check is made on every application. Absolutely,” said Jeffrey Wheeler, Grand Teton Council President. “Youth protection training is something we’ve dedicated ourselves to being better at.”

One of the criticisms the BSA face, is that in the past, credible complaints from scouts were never passed on to the authorities. Under Idaho law, religious counselors are not required to report suspected child abuse like teachers are.

“We have a mandatory policy that you must report suspected child abuse to the council executive, who must then report it to the police,” said Perry. “So we’re ahead of all 50 states on this. We decided to fill in the gaps of state law.”

Today, the Boy Scouts of America serve over two million boys and girls. It’s considered the largest youth organization in the country.

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