Mythbusting part 1
I was reflecting the other day on Scouting’s safeguarding arrangements, partly prompted by an email I had received whilst away. John had written to me expressing concerns that risks in this area might be putting off volunteers, and he also wondered if the Association was doing enough to protect its leaders.
Safeguarding arrangements have always been very important to us all … even before society at large became more aware of need for stringent child protection measures but it is also one of those areas we are reluctant to discuss, and in which there are many misperceptions.
For me, it is one of those delicate areas that we should be a little more open in discussing and dealing with. Striking the balance between the various, often conflicting issues,of making the task of volunteers easy whilst also safeguarding our young people is not easy but cannot be ignored.
The simplest precaution we can all take of course is by following the steps set out in the "Yellow Card", which protects adults as much as it safeguards young people. It may surprise you to know that the ‘Yellow Card’ … is fifteen years old this year ... and now in its third edition. Personally, I find it a fantastic tool to ensure that we have the essential information about child protection to hand and regularly remind ourselves of what it says.
The ever widening awareness of safeguarding issues in the community brings a heightened responsibility to ensure that we continue to ‘do our best’. Research has repeatedly shown that Scouting is trusted highly by parents and the wider community. Parents trust us with their children and need reassurance that this trust is well founded.
Young people trust their Leaders and often discuss with them a wide range of issues about their lives. Adults in Scouting play an important role in the lives of young people and it is our duty to respond appropriately and in accordance with the ‘Yellow Card’.
On the other hand, there is a perception, I believe to be wrong, that volunteering to work with young people is somehow "questionable" and too risky. It absolutely isn’t and we need to be more open in busting this myth. There is no evidence to support it and the Association has been at the forefront for over 15 years now in developing simple guidance to members to help protect young people and themselves even further.
Over the next few months you can also expect to see some new resources to further explain our safeguarding arrangements to parents and to encourage young people to stay safe. This is all part of our aim to keep Scouting safe and fun.
So like me … find a moment to re-read your own ‘Yellow Card’ and let’s start combating some of those myths that surround safeguarding.