Youth Protection Resources
The Boy Scouts of America places the greatest importance on creating the most secure environment possible for our youth members. To maintain such an environment, the BSA developed numerous procedural and leadership selection policies and provides parents and leaders with resources for the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Venturing programs.
The Boy Scouts of America takes great pride in the quality of our adult leadership. Being a leader in the BSA is a privilege, not a right. The quality of the program and the safety of our youth members call for high-quality adult leaders. We work closely with our 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 molester, we can reduce the risk of accepting a child molester by learning all we can about an applicant for a leadership position—his or her experience with children, why he or she wants to be a Scout leader, and what discipline techniques he or she would use.
- Youth Protection training is required for all BSA registered 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 reregistered.
Youth Protection Reporting Procedures for Volunteers
There are two types of Youth Protection-related reporting procedures all volunteers must follow:
- When you witness or suspect any child has been abused or neglected—See “Mandatory Report of Child Abuse” below.
- When you witness a violation of the BSA’s Youth Protection policies—See “Reporting Violations of BSA Youth Protection Policies” below.
Mandatory Report 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. You may not abdicate this reporting responsibility to any other person.
State-by-state mandatory reporting information: www.childwelfare.gov
Steps to Report Child Abuse
- Ensure the child is in a safe environment.
- In cases of child abuse or medical emergencies, call 911 immediately. In addition, if the suspected abuse is in the Scout’s home or family, you are required to contact the local child abuse hotline.
- Notify the Scout executive or his/her designee.
Reporting Violations of BSA Youth Protection Policies
If you think any of the BSA’s Youth Protection policies have been violated, including those described within Scouting’s Barriers to Abuse, you must notify your local council Scout executive or his/her designee so appropriate action can be taken for the safety of our Scouts.
Scouting’s Barrier to Abuse
The BSA has adopted the following policies for the safety and well-being of its members. These policies primarily protect youth members; however, they also serve to protect adult leaders. Parents and youth using these safeguards outside the Scouting program further increase the safety of their youth. Scout leaders in positions of youth leadership and supervision outside the Scouting program will find these policies help protect youth in those situations as well.
Two-deep leadership on all outings required. A minimum of two registered adult leaders, or one registered leader and a participating Scout’s parent, or another adult is required for all trips and outings. One of these adults must be 21 years of age or older.
- Patrol Activities
There are instances, such as patrol activities, when the presence of adult leaders is not required and adult leadership may be limited to patrol leadership training and guidance. With proper training, guidance, and approval by troop leaders, the patrol can conduct day hikes and service projects.
- Adult Supervision/Coed Activities
Male and female adult leaders must be present for all overnight coed Scouting trips and outings, even those including parent and child. Both male and female adult leaders must be 21 years of age or older, and one must be a registered member of the BSA.
One-on-one contact between adults and youth members is prohibited. In situations requiring a personal conference, such as a Scoutmaster conference, the meeting is to be conducted with the knowledge and in view of other adults and/or youth.
Two-deep leadership and no one-on-one contact between adults and youth members includes digital communication.Leaders may not have one-on-one private online communications or engage one-on-one in other digital activities (games, social media, etc.) with youth members. Leaders should copy a parent and another leader in digital and online communication, ensuring no one-on-one contact exists in text, social media, or other forms of online or digital communication.
Age-appropriate and separate accommodations for adults and Scouts are required.
No adult may share a tent with the opposite sex unless he or she is that adult’s spouse. No youth may share a tent with an adult or a person of the opposite sex other than a family member or guardian. Assigning youth members more than two years apart in age to sleep in the same tent should be avoided unless the youth are relatives.
- Shower Facilities
Whenever possible, separate shower and latrine facilities should be provided for male/female adults and male/female youth. If separate facilities are not available, separate shower times should be scheduled and posted.
The buddy system should be used at all times. The buddy system is a safety measure for all Scouting activities. Buddies should know and be comfortable with each other. Self-selection with no more than two years age or significant differences in maturity should be strongly encouraged. When necessary, a buddy team may consist of three Scouts. No youth should be forced into or made to feel uncomfortable by a buddy assignment.
Privacy of youth is respected. Adult leaders and youth must respect each other’s privacy, especially in situations such as changing clothes and taking showers at camp. Adults may enter youth changing or showering areas only to the extent that health and safety requires. Adults must protect their own privacy in similar situations.
Inappropriate use of smart phones, cameras, imaging, or digital devices is prohibited. Although most Scouts and leaders use cameras and other imaging devices responsibly, it is easy to unintentionally or inadvertently invade the privacy of other individuals with such devices. The use of any device capable of recording or transmitting visual images in or near shower houses, restrooms, or other areas where privacy is expected is inappropriate.
No secret organizations. The BSA 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.
Youth leadership is monitored by adult leaders. Adult leaders must monitor and guide the leadership techniques used by youth leaders and ensure BSA policies are followed.
Discipline must be constructive. Discipline used in Scouting must be constructive and reflect Scouting’s values. Corporal punishment is never permitted. Disciplinary activities involving isolation, humiliation, or ridicule are prohibited. Examples of positive discipline include verbal praise and high fives.
Appropriate attire is required for all activities. Proper clothing for activities is required.
No hazing. Hazing and initiations are prohibited and may not be included as part of any Scouting activity.
No bullying. Verbal, physical, and cyberbullying are prohibited in Scouting.
All adult leaders and youth members have responsibility. Everyone is responsible for acting in accordance with the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Physical violence, sexual activity, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, unauthorized weapons, hazing, discrimination, harassment, initiation rites, bullying, cyberbullying, theft, verbal insults, drugs, alcohol, and pornography have no place in the Scouting program and may result in revocation of membership. For more information, please see the BSA’sGuide to Safe Scouting and Youth Protection resources.
Units are responsible to enforce Youth Protection policies. Adult leaders in Scouting units are responsible for monitoring the behavior of youth members and other leaders and interceding when necessary. If youth members misbehave, their parents should be informed and asked for assistance.
Incidents requiring an immediate report to the Scout executive. The following must be reported to the council Scout executive for action immediately:
- Any threat or use of a weapon
- Any negative behavior associated with race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability
- Any reports to authorities where the BSA’s Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse policy or your state’s mandatory reporting of child abuse laws apply
- Any abuse of a child that meets state reporting mandates for bullying or harassment
- Any mention or threats of suicide
If someone is at immediate risk of harm, call 911.
If a Scout is bullied because of race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability, and local help is not working to solve the problem, contact the BSA’s Member Care Contact Center at 972-580-2489, or send an email to email@example.com .
- Stop the policy violation or abuse.
- Protect the youth.
- Separate alleged victim from alleged perpetrator.
- Summon needed assistance (911, EMS, additional leaders, etc.).
- Notify parents.
- Notify the appropriate Scouting professional.
Chartered Organization Responsibility
The head of the chartered organization or chartered organization representative and their committee chair must approve the registration of the unit’s adult leaders.
A key ingredient for a safe and healthy Scouting experience is the respect for privacy. Advances in technology are enabling new forms of social interaction that extend beyond the appropriate use of cameras or recording devices (see “Scouting’s Barriers to Abuse”). Sending sexually explicit photographs or videos electronically or “sexting” by cell phones is a form of texting being practiced primarily by young adults and children as young as middle-school age. Sexting is neither safe, nor private, nor an approved form of communication and can lead to severe legal consequences for the sender and the receiver. Although most campers and leaders use digital devices responsibly, educating them about the appropriate use of cell phones and cameras would be a good safety and privacy measure. To address cyber-safety education, the BSA has introduced the age- and grade-specific Cyber Chip program, which addresses topics including cyberbullying, cell-phone use, texting, blogging, gaming, and identity theft. Check it out.
The “Three R’s” of Youth Protection
The “three R’s” of Youth Protection convey a simple message for the personal awareness of our youth members:
- Recognize that anyone could be a molester.
- Respond when someone is doing something that goes against your gut or against the safety guidelines.
- Report attempted or actual molestation or any activity that you think is wrong to a parent or other trusted adult.
State Statutes on Child Welfare
Reporting requirements for child abuse differ from state to state. The Child Welfare Information Gateway provides access to information and resources on a variety of topics, including state statutes on child abuse. This site is not operated by the Boy Scouts of America.
Guide To Safe Scouting
The purpose of the Guide to Safe Scouting is to prepare adult leaders to conduct Scouting activities in a safe and prudent manner.
How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide
These booklets are a basic resource to help parents understand how child abuse happens and keep their children safe. Exercises for parents and children are included. Several versions of the booklets are available:
- For Cub Scouts and their parents
- For Cub Scouts and their parents (in Spanish)
- For Boy Scouts and their parents
- For Boy Scouts and their parents (in Spanish)
- For STEM Scouts and their parents
It Happened to Me: Cub Scout Meeting Guide
A Time to Tell: Troop Meeting Guide
Personal Safety Awareness Meeting Guide (Venturing Program)
Youth Protection Training Facilitators Guide
Video Facilitators Guides
To help families and volunteers keep youth safe while online, the BSA introduces the Cyber Chip. The Scouting portal showcasing Cyber Chip resources includes grade-specific videos for each level.
These fact sheets will help with bullying awareness and direct you to resources provided by the BSA and other entities we work with to protect children.
Youth Protection Champions
To address the need for Youth Protection–specific volunteers at all levels, the BSA has implemented its new Youth Protection Champions program. These volunteer champions will be the key drivers of Youth Protection at their assigned levels.
Camp Leadership … A Guide for Camp Staff and Unit Leaders
Brochure for unit leaders and camp staff who are responsible for providing a safe and healthy camp setting where Scouts are free from the worries of child abuse.
Support is available for victims of past abuse.
Youth Protection Mission Statement
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.