Within months of the Oregon judgment, the Scouts announced that all adult volunteers — now numbering 1.1 million — would be required to take child-protection training when they join the Scouts and repeat the training every two years. Last year, the Scouts stipulated that all adult staff are mandated to report suspected child abuse to law enforcement authorities and Scout leaders, even if this would not be required by state law.
Tiapula described the mandatory-reporting policy as excellent but said the Scouts needed to pursue a "massive education process" to ensure that the adult volunteers were knowledgeable about detecting potential abusers.
"There's quite a bit of work that they have to do," Tiapula said. "I think they know that."
Tiapula expressed regret that Thursday's symposium will be closed to the news media.
"It creates a sense there are things in the community that they can't be sharing," she said. "An open meeting conveys to the world they're doing the right thing."
However, Johnson and Haney said the closed-door policy was expected to encourage candid dialogue. Were the meeting to be open, Haney said, attorneys for the youth organizations might counsel participants to be cautious about discussing problems they face with youth-protection.
Symposium topics include the prevalence and prevention of child sexual abuse, the behavior of sex offenders and the growing threat of online predators.
Speakers include David Finkelhor, director of the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center; Victor Vieth, executive director of the National Child Protection Training Center; and Kristen Anderson, executive director of training at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The other participating youth groups are Girls Inc., USA Swimming, Camp Fire, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, the American Youth Soccer Organization and The First Tee.
Conference organizers plan to summarize the conclusions of the meeting for a report that will be made available to other youth-serving organizations that did not participate.
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