WNY (WKBW) - About eight thousand boys are a part of scouting here in Western New York, and while the recent "perversion files" have left the organization with a black eye, it is still moving forward with strong plans to protect its members
The Greater Niagara Frontier Council is the local sect of the Boy Scouts of America, and following thousands of cases of abuse, 14 in Western New York, they are speaking out about their number one priority.
"Our focus is to make sure that everything we do today ensures that that child is safe in all the programs we provide in scouting," scouting executive Russell Etzenhouser said.
"There's always examples you can find in any organization of problems, but I think that the way it comes out in the paper it makes it seem like that's how the entire organization operates, and that's totally not the case," scout leader and parent Paul Zakrzewski added.
To ensure safety organization leaders say every adult volunteer in scouting has to have a criminal background check and take child abuse protection training. There are also rules in place such as a two adult requirement when dealing with kids.
"Those barriers create a really good climate in which we can ensure that we don't have someone that's trying to do something bad," Etzenhouser said.
On top of that, each scouting manual contains a safety pamphlet regarding child safety that must be read and signed every year by the scouts and their parents.
With training and mandatory reporting to law enforcement, those involved in scouting say despite the terrible news that has surfaced, it doesn't change what the organization is all about.
"I'm 100 percent confident and confident in the leaders around me and the people of our organization," Zakrzewski stated.
For more information on how the Boy Scouts of America protect their youth, check out their website: http://www.scouting.org/Training/YouthProtection.aspx