Youth protection

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The Boy Scouts of America has adopted Youth protection policies to provide additional security for our members. These policies are primarily for the protection of our youth members; however, they also serve to protect our adult leaders from false accusations of abuse.

See: the BSA's official My.Scouting.Org and the Guide to Safe Scouting


The Building Blocks of New Leader Training
Youth Protection Training
Prior to submitting Application
Capstone for Pack Trainers, Scoutmasters, and Chartered Org Reps Image:TrainedPatchSmall_cent.jpg
After completion a leader is Trained
Before the First Meeting Taken Immediately First 30 Days Completed as soon as possible Position Trained Taken when familiar with position

The sources for this entire article can be found at:


Contents

BSA Youth Protection Mission Statement

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.

Leadership Selection

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 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.

Required Training

  • 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.
  • Download the How-To Guide for taking Youth Protection Training Adobe Acrobat PDF

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

  1. Ensure the child is in a safe environment.
  2. 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.
  3. Notify the Scout executive or his/her designee.

Find your local Scout executive.

The Incident Information form can be accessed here. Adobe Acrobat PDF

For more information on incident reporting, click here.

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

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. All parents and caregivers should understand that our leaders are to abide by these safeguards. Parents and youth are strongly encouraged to use these safeguards outside the Scouting program. Registered leaders must follow these guidelines with all Scouting youth outside of Scouting activities.

Registration Requirements

The chartered organization representative, or in their absence the executive officer of the chartered organization, must approve the registration of the unit’s adult leaders.

Registration includes:

  • Completion of application including criminal background check and mandatory Youth Protection training
  • Volunteer Screening Database check

Current Youth Protection training is required for leaders when renewing their registration or at unit charter renewal.

Adult program participants must register as adults and follow Youth Protection policies.

Adult Supervision

Two registered adult leaders 21 years of age or over are required at all Scouting activities, including meetings. There must be a registered female adult leader 21 years of age or over in every unit serving females. A registered female adult leader 21 years of age or over must be present for any activity involving female youth. Notwithstanding the minimum leader requirements, age- and program-appropriate supervision must always be provided. (FAQ’s)

All adults accompanying a Scouting unit who are present at the activity for 72 total hours or more must be registered as leaders. The 72 hours need not be consecutive.

One-on-one contact between adult leaders and youth members is prohibited both inside and outside of Scouting. (Transportation FAQ’s)

  • In situations requiring a personal conference, the meeting is to be conducted with the knowledge and in view of other adults and/or youth.
  • Private online communications (texting, phone calls, chat, IM, etc.) must include another registered leader or parent.
  • Communication by way of social media (Facebook, Snapchat, etc.) must include another registered leader or parent.

Discipline must be constructive.

  • Discipline must reflect Scouting’s values.
  • Corporal punishment is never permitted.
  • Disciplinary activities involving isolation, humiliation, or ridicule are also prohibited.

Responsibility

Leaders must ensure that all participating in Scouting activities abide by the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

Adult leaders and youth members share the responsibility for the safety of all participants in the program, including adherence to Youth Protection and health and safety policies.

  • Adult leaders are responsible for monitoring behavior and intervening when necessary.
  • 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.

All leaders are required to adhere to the Scouter Code of Conduct.

Accommodations

Separate accommodations for adult males and females and youth males and females are required.

Tenting

  • Separate tenting arrangements must be provided for male and female adults as well as for male and female youth.
  • Youth sharing tents must be no more than two years apart in age.
  • In Cub Scouting, parents and guardians may share a tent with their family.
  • In all other programs, youth and adults tent separately. (FAQ)
  • Spouses may share tents.

Lodging/Cabin Accommodations

Whenever possible, separate cabins or lodging should be provided for male and female adults as well as for male and female youth. Where separate accommodations cannot be provided due to group size or limited availability, modifications may be made. Where completely separate accommodations are not available, additional supervision is required. (FAQ)

  • If adults and youth of the same gender occupy single-room accommodations, there must be a minimum of two adults and four youth, with all adults being Youth Protection trained.
  • Physical separation by other means, including temporary barriers or space, should be used only when no other arrangements are possible.
  • These modifications are limited to single-gender accommodations.

Restrooms

Separate shower and latrine facilities should be provided for male and female adults as well as for male and female youth. If separate facilities are not available, separate times should be scheduled and posted.

Privacy of youth is respected.

  • Adults and youth must respect each other’s privacy, especially in situations such as changing clothes and taking showers at camp.
  • Adult leaders should closely monitor these areas but only enter as needed for youth protection or health and safety reasons.

Program Requirements

  • The buddy system should be used.
  • The use of smartphones, cameras, mirrors, drones, etc., in places or situations where privacy is expected is prohibited.
  • All aspects of the Scouting program are open to observation by parents and leaders.
  • The BSA does not recognize any secret organizations as part of its program.
  • Hazing and initiations are prohibited and have no part during any Scouting activity.
  • All forms of bullying and harassment including verbal, physical, and cyberbullying are prohibited.
  • Inappropriate public displays of affection are prohibited.
  • Sexual activity is prohibited.
  • Appropriate attire is required for all activities.

Reporting Requirements

Adult leaders and youth members have a responsibility to recognize, respond to, and report Youth Protection violations and abuse.

Reporting

Youth Protection Policy Violations

  • Serious Youth Protection policy violations or behaviors that put a youth’s safety at risk must be reported to the Scout executive.
  • Alternatively, policy violations may be reported to the Scouts First Helpline when the Scout executive is not available.
  • Online reporting is also available at www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/incident-report/.

Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse

  • All persons participating in Scouting programs are mandated reporters of child abuse.
  • Reports must be made to local law enforcement and child protective services. State law may require additional reporting.
  • This reporting duty cannot be delegated to any other person.
  • Reporting to the Scout executive or Scouts First Helpline ensures that follow-up can occur for the safety of our Scouts. Scout executives and Scouts First coordinate follow-up actions.

Scouts First Helpline

As part of its “Scouts First” approach to the protection and safety of youth, the BSA has established a dedicated 24-hour helpline to receive reports of known or suspected abuse or behavior that might put a youth at risk.

1-844-SCOUTS1 (1-844-726-8871)

When to use it:

  • Anytime you believe a youth has been harmed or their safety and wellbeing is at risk, and you cannot immediately reach your Scout executive or local council.
  • If a Scout is bullied because of race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability, and local help is unable to resolve the problem.

If someone is at immediate risk of harm, always call 911.

BSA Incident Reporting Resources:

www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/incident-report/

Additional Resources:

Digital Privacy

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.

BSA Social Media Guidelines

BSA Social Media Guidelines/

Key Resources

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:

It Happened to Me: Cub Scout Meeting Guide

Video Facilitator Guides. A sample letter to parents and guardians as well as English and Spanish meeting guides for facilitators’ use when showing the age-appropriate sexual abuse prevention video.

A Time to Tell: Troop Meeting Guide

Video Facilitator Guides. English and Spanish meeting guides for facilitators’ use when showing the age-appropriate sexual abuse prevention video.

Personal Safety Awareness Meeting Guide (Venturing Program)

Video Facilitator Guides. A sample letter to parents and guardians as well as English and Spanish meeting guides for facilitators’ use when showing the age-appropriate sexual abuse prevention video.

Cyber Chip

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.

Bullying Awareness

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 Adobe Acrobat PDF

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.

ScoutHelp
Support is available for victims of past abuse.

Youth-on-Youth Training Materials

The Boy Scouts of America places the greatest importance on creating the safest environment possible for our youth members. To that end, BSA’s ScoutingU has created some additional Youth Protection training to professionals, volunteers, and leaders regarding the prevention of youth-on-youth incidents that might occur within the context of Scouting, especially in a camping or overnight setting. It is designed to help prepare adult leaders to prevent and appropriately respond to these incidents.

This informational document with an accompanying PowerPoint presentation for BSA leaders, parents, volunteers, and professionals should be delivered at the council, district, or unit level by a Youth Protection Champion, training chair, district chair, district executive, or other appropriate Scout leader to leaders for camping and overnight activities.

Suggested training opportunities include:

  • Existing facilitator-led Youth Protection training sessions
  • Pre-camp leaders’ meetings for summer camp and first-time leaders’ meetings at all outings
  • Camp schools
  • Scout executives’ and district executives’ trainings on responding to youth protection incidents
  • Other training events that include the “Youth Protection Training for Volunteer Leaders and Parents” DVD

Youth-On-Youth Training Facilitator’s Guide Adobe Acrobat PDF
Youth-On-Youth Training Microsoft PowerPoint PPT document

BSA Policy Updates

BSA Youth Protection Training MANDATORY

BSA Member ID Card.
Youth Protection Training (YPT) is required for ALL registered volunteers.
  • New leaders are required to take Youth Protection Training before they submit their application for registration. The certificate of completion for this training must be submitted at the time application is made and before volunteer service with youth begins.
  • Youth Protection training must be taken every two years, although the new online YPT training (which replaces the previous online YPT training) must be taken by Oct 2018. If a volunteer's Youth Protection training record is not current at the time of recharter, the volunteer will not be reregistered.
  • Volunteers who wish to take the online Youth Protection Training Course in the E-Learning module at My.Scouting.Org may do so at any time — you do not need a member ID to take this course.
– Once you have registered at My.Scouting.Org, click on E-Learning and select Youth Protection Training under the General tab.
– Once you successfully complete the online course, you will receive a printable certificate of completion.
– Print it.
– Go take your paper certificate and register with the Council, filling out the appropriate paperwork as directed by your unit. Afterward, you will receive a Scouting member ID card.
– When you add your member ID to your Profile, the course completion will be electronically updated for your council and you will be able to receive emails about renewing YPT.

Providing you with clear and helpful information is a priority. If you have additional questions, please contact your council or send your questions to mailto:[email protected]. Updates to youth protection policy are posted at https://www.scouting.org/training/youth-protection/.

See also

Online or classroom Leader Training

Youth Protection training (YPT) is required for all BSA registered volunteers and must be retaken every two years. Some councils and units may require more frequent (e.g., annual) retaking of YPT). Check with your local council and unit to find out what their policies are.

In addition to YPT, registered adults should complete the following courses online at https://my.scouting.org:

  • Before the First Meeting
  • First 30 Days
  • Position Trained

Other training opportunities: RoundtableUniversity of ScoutingTeaching EDGEpow wow

Outdoor Leader Training

In addition to fulfilling other requirements, some unit leaders need outdoor-specific training.

Other outdoor-related links

External links

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