Safety Moment | Youth Protection
BSA 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.
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.
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 reduce the risk of accepting a child abuser 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 re-charter, the volunteer will not be re-registered.
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 an abuser.
Respond when someone is doing something that goes against your gut or against the safety guidelines.
Report attempted or actual abuse or any activity that you think is wrong to a parent or other trusted adult.
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.
Steps to Reporting 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 Barriers to Abuse
Scouting’s Barriers to Abuse are published in the Guide to Safe Scouting and the online version is maintained as the most current.
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.
BSA Social Media Guidelines
Although using social media is not a Scouting activity, their use to connect with others interested in Scouting can be a very positive experience. But the creation and maintenance of these channels requires forethought, care, and responsibility.
Uncertain What to Do?
If you come across a situation and you can’t remember the correct procedure or if you are not certain if it is abuse or should be reported, call the BSA Scouts First Helpline: 1-844-SCOUTS1 (1-844-726-8871)