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'Carry out criminal checks on youth leaders'

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08:45 CEST+02:00
The head of Sweden's Scout movement has called for volunteers who want to work with children to be subjected to criminal record checks. Children must be protected from paedophiles who try to infiltrate youth groups, he argued.

The call by the Scouts' General Secretary Johan Strid coincides with the a major Swedish Scout jamboree and the Gothia Cup football tournament. He argues that leaders of children's and youth groups are society's heroes, but that a small minority of them have sought out youth organizations in order to abuse children.

Writing in Dagens Nyheter together with Carin Grundberg-Sandell, a project leader in the Scouts, Strid cites the ongoing prosecution of a scout leader suspected of sexual abuse of children. The suspect had previously been convicted of sexual abuse of children ten years ago.

"If the voluntary sector had been able to carry out checks against criminal records then he would never have become a Scout leader," the pair write.

At present, criminal record checks must be carried out on people who want to work with children in schools and in professional childcare. The Scouts said the government should look into whether this requirement should be extended to the voluntary sector. They emphasised that such controls must be shaped so as not to deter well-intentioned people from becoming youth leaders.

The call for criminal record checks has previously been made by Sweden's Children's Ombudsman.

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