Our commitment to safety
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. Protección Juvenil En Español
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.
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has a multilayered adult leader selection process that includes criminal background checks administered by a nationally recognized third party and other screening efforts. Click here for information on the selection process.
- Youth Protection training is required for all BSA registered volunteers and is a joining requirement.
- 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.
- Download the How-To Guide for taking Youth Protection Training
Youth Protection Reporting
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.
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.
Steps to Reporting Child Abuse
- Ensure the child is in a safe environment.
- In cases of child abuse injury or medical emergencies, call 911 immediately.
- In addition, if the suspected abuse occurred in the Scout’s home or family, you are required by state law to immediately report/contact the local child abuse hotline.
- Notify the Scout executive or his/her designee, if he/she cannot be reached call the 24/7 Scouts First Helpline at 1-844-726-8871 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org
What are your Barriers to Abuse?
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
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. Read more about the BSA Social Media Guidelines here.
Youth Protection During COVID: Digital safety and On-Line Scouting Activities:
Guide to Safe Scouting
Single source of information for safe scouting. The guide is designed for adult leaders; topics include Youth Protection, Health and Safety and Reporting information. Frequently-asked questions are also addressed in the Youth Protection and Barriers to Abuse FAQs.
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 Scouts BSA members and their parents
- For Scouts BSA members and their parents (in Spanish)
- For STEM Scouts and their parents
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.