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Safety of Premier Importance for 92nd Anniversary of Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts launches national survey on girls' emotional safety and sponsors partners in safety, a Utah statewide safety awareness campaign.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 10, 2004

CONTACT:
Girl Scout of the USA
Ellen Christie
(212) 852-6570
echristeach@girlscouts.org
Michele Riggio
(212) 852-8578
mlandariggio@girlscouts.org

Sheila Green
Girl Scouts of Utah
(801) 265-8472

New York, N.Y.—Girl Scouts of the USA will celebrate Girl Scouts' 92nd birthday on March 12 by launching the findings of their latest survey Feeling Safe: What Girls Say and a Utah statewide partnership called Partners in Safety. The Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) survey, which was conducted with Harris Interactive, Inc., examines the feelings and perceptions about safety of more than 2,000 Girl Scouts and non-Girl Scouts ages 8-17.

Locally, Girl Scouts of Utah will sponsor Partners in Safety, a statewide safety awareness campaign. Ed and Lois Smart, the Utah couple whose daughter was kidnapped and then miraculously returned to them, have agreed to co-chair the campaign. Other participants will include r.a.d. KIDS, Kindervision, local government and law enforcement agencies, as well as community members of all ages.

For Girls Scouts, March 12, 2004, signifies an ongoing focus on safety rather than a one-day event. Findings in the Girl Scout study reveal that emotional and physical safety are very important issues for girls—and when they do not feel safe, their overall quality of life is impacted. In response to these findings, last week Girl Scout leadership asked congressional members to "commit to a girl." By visiting every member of Congress on March 3, Girl Scout council representatives took a step toward a national dialogue that brings together girls and families, school systems, communities, youth-serving organizations, and governmental agencies.

"To girls, 'safety' means feeling both emotionally and physically safe. Negative aspects of feeling unsafe include having lower grades in school, feeling sad and unhappy, having lower self-confidence, and enjoying fewer social supports. The Girl Scout Research Institute survey found that teens may seem less worried, but are, in fact, more concerned about safety. It is very important that emotional danger, such as teasing, bullying, and gossiping not be seen as 'normal' because these behaviors can have serious detrimental effects," said Kathy Cloninger, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA.

In Utah, parents, grandparents, teachers, mentors, coaches, troop leaders, church leaders—anyone and everyone dedicated to safety—are being asked to visit a participating public safety/law enforcement agency on March 12, 2004, for their community open house from 5:00p.m - 7:00p.m. Girl Scouts of Utah updates the list of agencies committed to this partnership daily on the Web site www.gsutah.org.

"If we can help prevent a family from experiencing the emotional wreck our family endured, this is well worth every moment of our time and energy," said Ed Smart. "It's not about the words we use in the message—it's the message itself—repeatedly. Our children need to hear it at home, school, from their leaders, coaches, mentors, law enforcement from every corner, every day," said Smart.

Girl Scouts of the USA hopes Partners in Safety will be beneficial for Utah's children and provide a model for partnerships across the country. Find out more about Feeling Safe: What Girls Say and got tips on how to help girls cope with feeling unsafe.

About Girl Scouts of the USA

Girl Scouts of the USA is the world's preeminent organization for girls, with a membership of more than 3.8 million girls and adults. Now in its 92st year, GSUSA continues to help cultivate values, social conscience, and self-esteem in young girls, while also teaching them critical life skills that will enable them to succeed as adults. In Girl Scouting—and its special girls-only environment—girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. 92 Years. Girl Scouts. Still Growing Strong. Visit us at www.girlscouts.org.

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