Safeguarding the Health and Well Being of Girls
It is the policy of Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas to provide an environment that is free of child abuse and that safeguards the health and well-being of all girl members of GSUSA. Safety-Wise clearly states that during Girl Scout Troop meetings and small group activities, at least two (2) adults (the Girl Scout Leader, Assistant Leader, or other responsible adult - at least one of which must be female) must be present. Depending on the number and ages of the girls, additional adults are often also needed to provide proper adult supervision and guidance.
Adults in Girl Scout leadership roles should be alert to child abuse or neglect toward the girls with which they interact. Read GSNETX Policies & Procedures below for the procedures on reporting possible child abuse or neglect. You can spot symptoms of abuse and neglect if you know what to look for. A child’s appearance and behavior may be indicative. The parent’s or other adult’s behavior may offer more clues. If you suspect that a child is being mistreated, you must act on the child’s behalf and report your suspicions. Failure to report suspected child abuse and neglect is against the law. Individuals who make reports in good faith are protected by law from liability.
Abuse includes the following acts or omissions by any person:
- mental or emotional injury to a child that results in an observable and material impairment in the child’s growth, development, or psychological functioning;
- causing or permitting the child to be in a situation in which the child sustains a mental or emotional injury that results in an observable and material impairment in the child’s growth, development, or psychological functioning;
- physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm;
- failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent an action by another person that results in physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child;
- sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or sexual conduct, as defined by the State Penal Code, sexual penetration with a foreign object, incest, sexual assault, or sodomy inflicted on or, shown to, or intentionally practiced in the presence of a child if the child is present only to arouse or gratify the sexual desires of any person;
- failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or sexual conduct, as defined by the State Penal Code, sexual penetration with a foreign object, incest, sexual assault, or sodomy being inflicted on or shown to a child by another person, or intentionally practiced in the presence of a child by another person if the child is present only to arouse or gratify the sexual desires of any person;
- compelling or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct; or
- causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing the photographing, filming, or depicting of the child, if the person knew or should have known that the resulting photograph, film, or depiction of the child is obscene (as defined by the State Penal Code) or pornographic.
- the leaving of a child in a situation where the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of harm, without arranging for necessary care for the child, and a demonstration of an intent not to return by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator of the child;
the following acts or omissions by any person:
- placing the child in or failing to remove the child from a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgment or actions beyond the child’s level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities and that results in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate harm to the child;
- the failure to seek, obtain, or follow through with medical care for the child, with the failure resulting in or presenting a substantial risk of death, disfigurement, or bodily injury or with the failure resulting in an observable and material impairment to the growth, development, or functioning of the child; or
- the failure to provide the child with food, clothing, or shelter necessary to sustain the life or health of the child, excluding failure caused primarily by financial inability unless relief services had been offered and refused; or
- the failure by the person responsible for a child’s care, custody, or welfare to permit the child to return to the child’s home without arranging for the necessary care for the child after the child has been absent from the home for any reason, including having been in residential placement or having run away.
The Girl Scout Volunteer Application, selection, and placement process and Girl Scout Service Unit support system are used to help assure that the adults who work with girls in Girl Scouting are committed to safeguarding the health and well-being of those girls. All Girl Scout Adults should consider Safety-Wise guidelines in planning activities. Remember that at least two (2) adults, one being female, should be present during all activities, both for the safeguarding and supervision of the girls and for the protection of the adults.
GSNETX Policies and Procedures Regarding Child Protection
III. Child Protection
It is the policy of the council to provide an environment that is free of child abuse and that safeguards the health and well-being of all girl members of GSUSA, as defined by the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. The following is therefore prohibited by all adults and girls in the program:
- Physical Punishment: Volunteers cannot restrain, spank, or use any other physical engagement to punish a child.
- Physical Abuse: Any action that causes harm or injury to a girl, such as hitting, hazing, kicking, and other inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated.
- Sexual Misconduct: This includes any inappropriate sexual physical contact, lewdness or communication in words, print or images.
- Physical Neglect: This includes failure to give supervision, failure to provide for safety during activities or time of danger, or failure to meet medical needs.
- Emotional Abuse: This includes verbal attacks, anger outbursts, hostility, humiliation, hazing or socially inappropriate language such as cursing.
The council reserves the right to refuse membership endorsement or reappointment, and to dismiss or exclude from affiliation with the council, any volunteer implementing the Girl Scout program who is found guilty of child abuse and neglect or has been convicted of child abuse and/or neglect.
Texas Family Code, Chapter 261, Subchapter B "Report of Abuse or Neglect", Section 261.101 "Persons Required to Report; Time to Report":
"(a) A person having cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person shall immediately make a report as provided by this subchapter." Definitions of abuse and neglect may be found in Texas Family Code 261.001, http://tlo2.tlc.state.tx.us/statutes.
In the state of Texas, reports of abuse or neglect should be made at www.txabusehotline.org. It may take 24 hours to process reports of abuse and neglect made through the Internet. If, as a volunteer you are unsure, contact your local Child Protection Services Agency to describe the situation.
Reports should include:
- The name and address of the child and her/his parents/guardians or person(s) having custody of such child, if known.
- The child’s age and the nature and extent of the child’s injuries, abuse or neglect, including any evidence of previous injuries, abuse or neglect.
- Other information that might help in establishing the cause of the injury, abuse or neglect.
- Record the name of the intake worker who takes the report and note the date that the report is made.
Call Statewide Intake at 1-800-252-5400 if:
- the situation you are reporting is an emergency;
- you prefer to remain anonymous;
- you have insufficient data to complete the required information on the report; or
- you do not want email confirmation of your report.
Call your local law enforcement agency or 911 if the situation is an emergency.
Although reports may be made anonymously, immediately notify Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas of any reports of suspected abuse or neglect involving either adults or youth in Girl Scouting made to your local Child Protection Services Agency or state intake number.
- Provide a written or verbal notification to the Chief Program Officer at Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas at 972-349-2400 or 1-800-442-2260 within 24 hours after making a report.
Do not share this information with anyone other than the local Child Protection Services Agency and the Chief Program Officer at Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas unless instructed by law enforcement.
Click here for a complete list of GSNETX Policies and Procedures.