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  • Insufficient Training

    Speaking as a volunteer with the Scouts: These experiences are real, and I fully support the goals of this campaign.

    “The key problem is that safeguarding relies much on the integrity of the adult involved.” says Abbie Hickson, a solicitor who has represented victims of abuse in Scouts. Indeed. There is a long list of safeguarding rules that leaders are required to follow, but the people that should enforce these rules are the same leaders. It only takes one wicked individual and the inaction of the other few. It is also not enough to only set rules, provide some basic training and expect these rules to be followed. When a rule is broken, volunteers can either confront the offender, the right but brave thing to do, or remain silent. This should be improved by raising awareness, in-person training and creating accountability.

    If a Leader has a safeguarding concern, they are asked to contact the head of their local group. The head of the local group then raises this to the county commissioner. The Leader is not given any specific training on how to deal with a specific safeguarding concern, with the idea that the local head and the county commissioner would know what to do. These local head and the commissioner roles are also volunteers, and are often grudgingly filled as they are seen as mostly administrative roles. It only takes one person of this chain to fail in their duty for the current safeguarding system to abandon a child. None of these people are impartial or well-trained. This is before the matter reaches The Scouts Association. There should be a paid Safeguarding Officer in every county and every Leader should have a direct line of communication to them.

    If a young person or parent/carer needs to raise a safeguarding concern, I don’t even know how they would or should do it. I have not seen any young people or parent/carer be given this information. I am also not aware of any ways within the scout movement for the survivors of abuse to be heard.

    Finally, there is simply no reason why any of these campaign goals cannot be achieved. The Scout Association collects payments from each scout, which can be used to fund the improvements. The Leaders are asked to take a 2-hour training session on how to pick the right insurance policy for each activity; there is time and energy for better training. The resistance will come from those who are more worried about their perception.