GREENVILLE — The following statement is provided by Mark Hancock (pictured below) — CEO, Trail Life USA: “We are deeply saddened that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), a long-standing American institution, is in this unfortunate situation.
“Trail Life USA (www.TrailLifeUSA.org), a Christian boys’ mentoring and discipleship movement, wants to reinforce its commitment to providing a safe experience for all boys, from kindergarten through 12th grade. Our philosophy is derived from the Bible and set in the context of outdoor adventure. Boys are challenged to grow in character, understand their purpose, serve their community, and develop life-long leadership skills.
“Trail Life USA has taken strong steps to ensure the risk of abuse in our program is minimized. All our adult leaders undergo regular background checks, complete youth protection training, and adhere to strict guidelines designed to reduce the potential for abuse.
“Although no program can guarantee total protection, we believe Trail Life USA’s child protection policy is very comprehensive. According to the policy:
- All adults are background-checked regularly, not just once
- All adults must receive a personal recommendation from a church representative, who also represents the troop
- All adults complete youth protection training every two years
- All troops commit to transparency in reporting incidents to authorities; no investigations are conducted only internally at any level
- Commitment to 1-2-3 Protection Guidelines in every troop:
- No one-on-one contact between adult and boy
- Minimum of two registered adults on site
- ‘Buddy groups’ of three boys of the same age to deter boy-on-boy abuse
“In our opinion, the direction BSA has taken over the last five or six years seems to indicate they’ve blurred the lines of sexuality at a time when boys can have a lot of uncertainty and confusion in their lives. This is dangerous and doesn’t protect boys – or girls – from sexual abuse or exploitation.
“Boys especially need an environment that focuses on helping them become confident and stable young men. Without this solid foundation in their lives, boys are vulnerable to mental health issues, substance abuse, violence, and suicide.”
Founded in 2013, Trail Life USA (www.traillifeusa.com) offers a Christian-based, K-12 program centered on outdoor experiences that build young men’s skills and help them grow on a personal level and as role models and leaders for their peers. Through troops chartered by local churches, the organization has more than 800 troops, with members in 50 states, with a total membership of almost 30,000.
CONTACT: Ty Mays, 770-256-8710, [email protected]
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