Position Statement: BSA Netflix Documentary ”Scouts Honor”

Dear fellow Scouting members,

On the 6th of September a Netflix documentary called “Scouts Honor” focused on cases of sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will be released. The documentary reflects on past events that took place and includes testimonies from victims and legal representatives.

Considering the large outreach of the platform, we know that each of you will likely face questions from your families, friends, and Scouting networks about these reports. As the South African Scout Movement, we reiterate how saddened, shocked, and outraged we were to learn about these abuses. The pain, trauma, and suffering endured by survivors of these horrific acts is truly unconscionable and heartbreaking. In Scouting, we will always side with the victims, and our commitment to making Scouting safe for all is unwavering.

These historic cases of abuse led to significant changes at BSA, including implementing an advanced child safety and protection system in addition to filing and emerging from a bankruptcy procedure to restructure the organisation and create a compensation fund for their victims. BSA is an independent National Scout Organisation (NSO) and a member of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM). WOSM is affiliated to 174 NSOs worldwide. Each NSO is an independent association that operates within a specific country.

SCOUTS South Africa is one of the NSO’s within the international network of independent associations and operates as a locally registered NPO with its own constitution, organisational structures, finances, policies, and procedures, including a comprehensive Safe From Harm Framework.

Over the years, SCOUTS South Africa has made significant strides in enhancing safety measures across all aspects of Scouting by adopting a comprehensive Safe from Harm Framework. More recently, SCOUTS South Africa amended its Constitution, declaring Safe from Harm standards as a fundamental membership requirement. The adoption of this inclusion sends a strong message of our commitment to ensure that Scouting is a safe and inclusive environment free of harm and abuse for children, young people and adult volunteers involved at all levels of the Movement.

The Safe from Harm Framework includes the Child Protection Policy, Safe Scouting Policy, Adult Support Policy, Member Code of Conduct, and the requirement to submit Police/Criminal Clearance Certificates when applying for adult membership within the SA Scout Movement. The Association continues to vet its adult volunteers against the National Child Protection Database, in accordance with The Children’s Act (No.38 of 2005).

SCOUTS South Africa is a value-based organisation that prioritizes safety for all the youth and volunteers involved in Scouting in South Africa. To this end, an integral part of our youth programme is to educate our youth members in the specifics of their rights and responsibilities and the ways that they can seek protection from any form of abuse.

Any allegation, when brought to the Association’s attention, is immediately addressed in the most serious light, and can include the reporting of the allegation to the relevant authorities for legal investigation and action as merited. The specifics of the process that is followed is laid out in the Association’s Child Protection Policy which can be found here.

Keeping our young people safe is a responsibility of every member! We all need to be aware of the dangers and stay alert as to be able to identify and act on any such risk. It is only by working together as a family that care for every one of our young people, that we as SCOUTS South Africa will continue to offer a safe, inclusive, and supportive environment for young people to reach their full potential.

If you receive questions and are unsure of how to respond, please don’t hesitate to contact pr@scouts.org.za and we will assist you in responding promptly and accurately.

We encourage all media inquiries about the documentary to be directed to the National Office – pr@scouts.org.za –  who will then address them and forward them to BSA and WOSM to manage directly.

Khonzaphi Mdaka, Chief Scout
Wayne du Plessis,  Chief Executive Officer