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Boy Scouts Prepare for Threats in the Internet Wilderness

Andrea Smardon
Former First Lady of Utah and founder of iKeepSafe with boy scouts at the Great Salt Lake Scout Council offices

A new project aims to train Boy Scouts on how to respond when they encounter pornography or violence online.

Former First Lady of Utah Jacalyn Leavitt is founder and chair of the Internet Keep Safe Coalition. She says children need help navigating online content. That’s why she’s helping launch a new pilot program with the Boy Scouts called “Wise Tech Choices”.

“We’re talking about violent content, pornography, and frankly, parents have to be proactive in addressing this,” Leavitt says.

iKeepSafe provides books, videos, and training materials so that scout leaders and parents can talk to children about how to respond when they encounter a pornographic video for instance.

“Be prepared is our motto,” says Mark Griffin, Scout Executive for the Great Salt Lake Council, which serves more than 70,000 youth a year. “Our scouts have the benefits and the power of a very connected world, but without giving guidance regarding cyberspace and healthy teen choices and things like that, they don’t have the necessary proactive skills to navigate through that.”

Anne Marie McDonald is the mother of a boy scout, and she’s grateful for the guidance.

“Whether it be seeing pornographic pictures or keeping them safe online, or the bullying that continues to happen constantly, I want my boys to be able to - and my daughters – have those tools so they know what to do when they see something that is alarming,” McDonald says.

Organizers say they hope to expand the program to all scouts in Utah and across the nation.

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