The problem with today’s society is not knives and guns but the people who wield them, said Jere Ratcliffe, chief scout executive of Boy Scouts of America, in a recent speech delivered to Boy Scouts of Nippon in Tokyo.
“I don’t think the knife is what’s dangerous, it’s the attitude of the person with the knife,” he said.
Considering the recent rash of knife attacks by young Japanese as well as increasing violence in American schools, Ratcliffe said Boy Scouts must continue to teach members about the proper use of guns and knives, with an emphasis on safety.
Ratcliffe is in Japan to launch an exchange program between American and Japanese Boy Scouts.
Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto suggested the program to U.S. President Bill Clinton during his visit to the United States in April 1996, Ratcliffe said.
The Scout leader met with Hashimoto last week to discuss today’s youth and present him with the Silver World Award for outstanding contributions to young people on an international level.
Scouting, which emphasizes qualities such as leadership, self-reliance and responsibility, is more important today than ever, Ratcliffe said.
In the U.S., he said, the Boy Scouts “is one of the few programs that still focuses on values, and values seem to be a quality many of our young people lack today.”
Scouting can have significant social benefits by providing guidance to children whose schools and families may have failed to notice their needs, Ratcliffe said.
Boy Scouts of America has 4.5 million members, making it one of the largest youth-serving organizations in the U.S.
There are currently 246,000 members in Boy Scouts of Nippon.