Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan supports and maintains environments that are free of child abuse and neglect. The Michigan Child Abuse and Neglect Act ("CANPA") defines "child abuse" as "harm or threatened harm to a child's health or welfare by a person responsible for the child's health or welfare, which harm occurs or is threatened through nonaccidental physical or mental injury; [or] sexual abuse." It defines "neglect" as "harm to a child's health or welfare by a person responsible for the child's health or welfare which occurs through negligent treatment, including the failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care."
Further, the Michigan Child Protection Act ("CPA") includes sexual abuse and sexual exploitation in its definition of child abuse. "Sexual abuse" is defined by the CPA as "engaging in sexual contact or sexual penetration as those terms are defined in section 520a of the Michigan penal code, with a child." "Sexual exploitation" is defined as "allowing, permitting or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution, or allowing, permitting, encouraging, or engaging in the photographing, filming, or depicting of a child engaged in a listed sexual act as defined in section 145c of the Michigan penal code."
Child abuse and neglect are unlawful acts. It is against Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan’s policy for any volunteer, male or female, to physically, sexually, or mentally abuse or neglect any girl member.
All states require certain professionals and institutions to report suspected child abuse. Failure to report suspected child abuse can result in criminal and civil liability. All states require the report to be made to some type of law enforcement authority or child protection agency. Reporting to a parent or relative will not satisfy the reporter's legal duty under the statutes.
In accordance with this policy, Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan will neither condone nor tolerate:
Infliction of physically abusive behavior or bodily injury upon girl members;
Physical neglect of girl members, including failure to provide adequate safety measures, care and supervision in relation to Girl Scout activities;
Emotional maltreatment of girl members, including verbal abuse and/or verbal attacks; or
Any volunteer who suspects that any of the above named situations exist or who suspects that a member has been subjected to abusive conduct or neglect, either within or outside the council, should make a report to his or her immediate supervisor, the CEO or the CEO's designee. A telephone report will be made to the Department of Health and Human Services/Child Protective Services and a follow-up written report will be filed if requested by that agency.
Following a timely and thorough investigation of any allegations of child abuse, the offending volunteer may be subject to disciplinary action that can include dismissal. Local laws that are more stringent than Girl Scout policies always supersede these policies.