How the Boy Scouts of America uses Scouting programs to develop character and responsibility in young people
Parents are increasingly concerned about the messages children are receiving from television, music, the Internet, video games and the pervasive “anything goes” mentality that exists in our society.
Unfortunately, no one is born with good character and strong values; these are learned from friends, peers, mentors and religious leaders. While character building is primarily the role of parents, society should care about the state of American youth and help them understand that good character is the foundation of a happy and successful life.
As adults, parents and community leaders, we have a duty to teach our children the importance of values and responsibility – not just right from wrong, but values such as fairness, courage, honor and respect for others with different points of view.
Since 1910, words like “trustworthy, loyal, brave, clean and respectful” of Scout Law have come to embody what the Boy Scouts of America has stood for. Over the past 110 years, parents have learned that Scouting helps build character in our young people.
The Boy Scouts of America has helped lay the foundation for the future of more than 160 million alumni and members. In fact, independent studies show that adults who participated in Scouting in their youth are more likely to put the needs of others before themselves; make honest and not easy decisions; and promoting education and the environment.
Today, the BSA’s liability is no different. We reach out to young people from all economic, ethnic and religious backgrounds who share our values. America’s youth are too important to the future of our nation to ignore character development. That’s why the BSA knows that investing in America’s youth will pay dividends today and tomorrow.
In fact, Dr. Richard M. Lerner, a psychologist and youth specialist at Tufts University, and his team measured the character attributes of nearly 1,800 Cubs and nearly 400 non-Scouts.
“As a former Cub Scout myself, I’ve always shared the belief that Scouting has beneficial effects on the character of children, but as researchers we have to be rigorous and give it a fair test,” says Lerner. “We did, and the results are surprisingly positive. After three years, Scouts reported significant increases in cheerfulness, helpfulness, kindness, obedience, reliability, and hopeful future expectations.
At first, the group of children had no statistically significant differences in the character traits measured. At five different times over the course of two years, young people were asked to describe themselves in terms of situations such as kindness, dependability, hopeful future expectations and helpfulness.
The Scout group reported significant increases in character attributes, while the non-Scouts showed no significant increases. Scouts were also more likely than non-Scouts to say that ‘helping others’ or ‘doing the right thing’ was more important to them than ‘being smart’ or ‘being the best’.
“Now the organization can go beyond the stories and show how Scouting helps build character in children,” says Lerner. “If I was a parent and wanted to enroll my youngster in a program that leads to hope, trust and help, the answer is Scouting.”
“Every day we see the positive impact Scouting has on the lives of young people,” says Sam Thompson, Scouting Executive/CEO of Circle Ten Council. “And while we weren’t surprised by the study results, it’s great to be able to quantify the impact of the program and show parents the value of participation.”
All young people (boys and girls, kindergarten to 18) are invited to join the Circle Ten Council today. Visit YourAdventureStartsHere.org to find a unit near you or call 214-902-6700.
About the Circle Ten Council, BSA
Circle Ten Council, Boy Scouts of America is made up of 24 counties in North Texas and Oklahoma. More than 56,000 young people participate in the council’s Scouting program on an annual basis and nearly 12,000 adult volunteers devote their time and energy to making the program a success. Scouting units are chartered by approximately 800 community organizations. Scouts today are learning lessons about life and the value of being a person of character and integrity. When you stop and think about it, Scouting is unlike any other youth program. Scouting promotes the development of the whole person and offers young people the opportunity to participate in activities that will help them embark on a successful life journey.