Youth Protection in Scouting
The Boy Scouts of America places the greatest importance on creating the most secure environment possible for its youth members. To maintain such an environment, the BSA has developed numerous procedural and leadership selection policies, and provides parents and leaders the following online and print resources for the Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, and Venturing programs. BSA Youth Protection Training online is here.
Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse
All persons involved in Scouting shall report to local authorities any good faith suspicion or belief that any child is or has been physically or sexually abused, physically or emotionally neglected, exposed to any form of violence or threat, exposed to any form of sexual exploitation including the possession, manufacture, or distribution of child pornography, online solicitation, enticement, or showing of obscene material. No person may abdicate this reporting responsibility to any other person.
Notify your Scout executive of this report, or of any violation of BSA’s Youth Protection policies, so that he or she may take appropriate action for the safety of our Scouts, make appropriate notifications, and follow-up with investigating agencies.
How does the BSA help prevent child abuse in Scouting?
The Boy Scouts of America has adopted a number of policies aimed at eliminating opportunities for abuse within the Scouting program. These policies focus on leadership selection and on placing even greater barriers to abuse than already exist today in Scouting.
New leaders are required to take Youth Protection training before submitting an application for registration.
The BSA’s Youth Protection training has been in existence long enough for it to be understood and accepted as a mandated training for ALL registered and new BSA adult volunteers.
Youth Protection training must be taken every two years. If a volunteer’s Youth Protection training record is not current at the time of recharter, the volunteer will not be re-registered.
The Boy Scouts of America takes great pride in the quality of its adult leadership. Being a leader in the BSA is a privilege, not a right. The quality of the program and the safety of youth members call for high-quality adult leaders. We work closely with chartered organizations to help recruit the best possible leaders for their units.
The adult application requests background information that should be checked by the unit committee or the chartered organization before accepting an applicant for unit leadership. While no current screening techniques exist that can identify every potential child abuser, we can help reduce the risk of accepting a child abuser by learning all we can about an applicant for a leadership position—including his or her experience working with children and why he or she wants to be a Scout leader.
Youth safety is of paramount importance to the Boy Scouts of America. It is important to implement this training at all levels of the organization. BSA continually seeks to increase awareness of this societal problem and to create even greater barriers to abuse than already exist today in Scouting to provide the most secure environment possible for its youth members.
Scouting's Barrier to Abuse
The BSA has adopted the following policies for the safety and well-being of its members. These policies are primarily for the protection of its youth members; however, they also serve to protect adult leaders.
Two-deep leadership on all outings required. Two registered adult leaders, or one registered leader and a parent of a participating Scout or other adult, one of whom must be 21 years of age or older, are required for all trips and outings. There are a few instances, such as patrol activities, when the presence of adult leaders is not required and adult leadership may be limited to training and guidance of the patrol leadership. With the proper training, guidance, and approval by the troop leaders, the patrol can conduct day hikes and service projects. Appropriate adult leadership must be present for all overnight Scouting activities; coed overnight activities—even those including parent and child—require male and female adult leaders, both of whom must be 21 years of age or older, and one of whom must be a registered member of the BSA. The chartered organization is responsible for ensuring that sufficient leadership is provided for all activities.
One-on-one contact between adults and Scouts prohibited. One-on-one contact between adults and youth members is not permitted. In situations that require personal conferences, such as a Scoutmaster’s conference, the meeting is to be conducted in view of other adults and youths.
Separate accommodations for adults and Scouts required. When camping, no youth is permitted to sleep in the tent of an adult other than his or her own parent or guardian. Councils are strongly encouraged to have separate shower and latrine facilities for females. When separate facilities are not available, separate times for male and female use should be scheduled and posted for showers. Likewise, youth and adults must shower at different times.
Privacy of youth respected. Adult leaders must respect the privacy of youth members in situations such as changing clothes and taking showers at camp, and intrude only to the extent that health and safety require. Adults must protect their own privacy in similar situations.
Inappropriate use of cameras, imaging, or digital devices prohibited. While most campers and leaders use cameras and other imaging devices responsibly, it has become very easy to invade the privacy of individuals. It is inappropriate to use any device capable of recording or transmitting visual images in shower houses, restrooms, or other areas where privacy is expected by participants.
No secret organizations. The Boy Scouts of America does not recognize any secret organizations as part of its program. All aspects of the Scouting program are open to observation by parents and leaders.
No hazing. Physical hazing and initiations are prohibited and may not be included as part of any Scouting activity.
No bullying. Verbal, physical, and cyber bullying are prohibited in Scouting.
Youth leadership monitored by adult leaders. Adult leaders must monitor and guide the leadership techniques used by youth leaders and ensure that BSA policies are followed.
Discipline must be constructive. Discipline used in Scouting should be constructive and reflect Scouting’s values. Corporal punishment is never permitted.
Appropriate attire for all activities. Proper clothing for activities is required. For example, skinny-dipping or revealing bathing suits are not appropriate in Scouting.
Members are responsible for acting in accordance with the Scout Oath and Scout Law. All members of the Boy Scouts of America are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the principles set forth in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Physical violence, theft, verbal insults, drugs, and alcohol have no place in the Scouting program and may result in the revocation of a Scout’s membership.
Units are responsible for enforcing Youth Protection policies. The head of the chartered organization or chartered organization representative and the local council must approve the registration of the unit’s adult leader. Adult leaders of Scouting units are responsible for monitoring the behavior of youth members and interceding when necessary. Parents of youth members who misbehave should be informed and asked for assistance. Any violations of the BSA’s Youth Protection policies must immediately be reported to the Scout executive.
True youth protection can be achieved only through the focused commitment of everyone in Scouting. It is the mission of Youth Protection volunteers and professionals to work within the Boy Scouts of America to maintain a culture of Youth Protection awareness and safety at the national, regional, area, council, district, and unit levels.