Response and Communication after Report of Suspected Criminal Offense against the Sexual Integrity of Minors

Call for proposals: Micro or “rapid response” projects
Priority area: Empowering vulnerable groups
Project duration: 10 October 2023–9 November 2023
Project value: EUR 4,999.99

The Scout Association of Slovenia (hereinafter referred to as SAS) is the national scout association that operates in line with the purpose, principles and methods of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM). We are a voluntary, non-political and non-profit educational movement for young people. We are open to everyone, regardless of their race, gender, belief, social status or other personal circumstances. We are committed to providing comprehensive education that promotes the development of young people into responsible, engaged, autonomous and solidary people.

Our common mission is to bring together independent legal entities – scout associations that we call scout groups. We all strive to achieve our common goals, implement our common approved program, and at the same time abide by our common scouting values, such as tolerance, solidarity, openness, honesty, friendship, principles of spirituality, freedom, equal opportunities, democracy, sustainable development, healthy lifestyle and voluntary work. At the heart of our organizations are volunteers – there are currently around 2,500 active volunteers working for the SAS, and the entire organization has over 6,500 active members, the majority of which are children and young adults.

When our organization learned about the report of suspected criminal offense against the sexual integrity of minors, we were faced with one of the most difficult crisis situations for a youth organization. We wanted to respond professionally and respectfully while protecting and supporting our most vulnerable members. Our guiding principle was informing all key stakeholders and the public as well as maintaining the highest level of protection of the privacy of minor victims, whose identity is specifically protected by Article 287 of the Criminal Code.

In the pursuit of the most professional and professional response possible, we contacted the Urednica company, which specializes in crisis management and communication in situations that are the most difficult for organizations, as well as the Heruka institute, which provides psychological services and training. With the support of these experts, our organization wanted to respond to the crisis in a way that would allow us to present to the public the measures taken upon learning about the suspected criminal offence against the sexual integrity of minors, while at the same time maintaining the highest level of protection of the privacy of minor victims as well as preserving the trust of our members and the general public. At the same time, it is important for us that we provide psychological and social support to all the people involved, strengthen the supporting environment with zero tolerance for violence and clearly put the protection and interests of victims first.

We are aware of the fat that responding in such cases is always difficult and complicated. Nevertheless, we believe that professional crisis management will set new guidelines for dealing with the most difficult crisis situations in (youth) organizations, reinforce the zero tolerance policy for violence and set an example for protecting the identity of victims and preserving the reputation of the organization and trust in it. Only this way – by not running away from problems, but rather addressing them loud and clear – can we protect the victims and establish a truly safe supporting environment with zero tolerance for violence. By providing additional training and education for our coworkers who work with young people, we want to strengthen this awareness, which will in turn also increase the resilience of our organization in cases of critical events.

We want to share our experience with other non-governmental organizations and other organizations working with children and young people. This is because our ultimate goal is to strengthen zero tolerance for violence in society in the long run and to put the protection and interests of victims first.

Contact person: Urška Bratkovič

Project promoter: Scout Association of Slovenia