Keeping Kids Safe
The Boy Scouts of America places the greatest importance on maintaining the most secure environment possible for our youth members.
Our policies, procedures, and training have evolved to learn from the past while also borrowing from best practices developed by leading experts in this field. Today, the youth protection practices of the Boy Scouts of America are the “gold standard” among youth-serving organizations:
“.. several independent child-protection experts told The Associated Press that the Scouts — though buffeted in the past by many abuse-related lawsuits — are now considered a leader in combatting sexual abuse.
‘The Boy Scouts have the most advanced policies and training,’ said Victor Vieth, a former prosecutor who heads the National Child Protection Training Center in Minnesota. ‘With even slight violations, there’s no debate. Someone who transgresses one of these rules is moved out — you don’t need to give them a second chance.'”
“Major youth groups make headway against sex abuse” by David Crary, Associated Press, published January 19, 2012
As has been the case since our program’s start in 1910, there are many more volunteer leaders and parents than there are professional Scouting employees. It is critical that every adult in our program – whether they are a uniformed leader or a parent of a Scout – knows and follows BSA’s Youth Protection policies; when adults follow these policies, Scouts stay safe. Here’s more on this point from Dr. Michael Bourke, PhD, and Chief Psychologist with the Behavioral Analysis Unit, United States Marshal Service:
Adult-Youth Communications During Covid-19
It’s critical that we all continue to keep youth protection top-of-mind whether our Scouting activities are taking place in person or through a digital platform. Of note, remember that BSA prohibits any one-on-one interaction between an adult leader and a Scout – in person, online, through a web conference, over the phone, via text, or in any other form.
- As it relates to social media, two-deep leadership means there should be no private messages and no one-on-one direct contact through email, Facebook messages, Twitter direct messaging, chats, instant messaging (Google Messenger, AIM, etc.), or other similar messaging features provided through social media sites.
- All communication between adults and youth should take place in a public forum (e.g. the Facebook wall), or at a bare minimum, electronic communication between adults and youth should always include one or more authorized adults openly “copied” (included) on the message or message thread.
See all of BSA’s Social Media Guidelines by visiting this page on the national ScoutingWire page.
Youth Protection Training
Youth Protection training provides parents and leaders with resources for the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Venturing, and Sea Scouting, Exploring, and STEM Scouts programs. The training is done online at my.scouting.org (Not familiar with My.Scouting.org? Visit this page to learn more) and must be renewed every two years or whenever an adult changes leadership positions.
All registered adult members of the Boy Scouts of America must be current in Youth Protection Training.
1. Go to My.Scouting.org (note the “dot” between “my” and “scouting”) and create an account.
2. From My.Scouting.org, click on the Youth Protection Training logo on the right corner of the screen (or select “My Dashboard” from the “Home” navigation in the upper left corner).
3. You should see options to take Youth Protection training. If not, select “YPT” from the menu at the top of the screen.
4. Upon completion, print a certificate of completion and keep with your records.
5. A copy of your certificate of completion is required any time you submit a new membership application.
Handbook – the Cub Scout, Scouts BSA, and Venturing programs require a Scout and their parent/guardian to review information found at the front of each Scout handbook. This information contains age-appropriate content to help Scouts and the adults in their lives talk about child abuse. You may also find this information at the following links:
Cub Scout rank Adventure – the BSA partnered with the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Foundation to develop the Cub Scout rank adventure called “Protect Yourself Rules.” This youth protection adventure uses curriculum that will help children recognize, respond to and report abuse. You can find information and materials to work with your Cub Scout(s) by visiting this page from the Boy Scouts of America.
Cyber Chip – the BSA has teamed with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to provide “Cyber Chip”, a training program to learn about online safety. There are training modules specific to different age groups. Learn more by visiting this page from the Boy Scouts of America.
Report Suspected Abuse
The Boy Scouts of America requires all leaders, volunteers, and staff members nationwide to immediately report any abuse allegation to local law enforcement:
- 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 Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services at 855-452-5437.
- Notify the Scout Executive at (337) 852-9145 or email@example.com.
We actively share and encourage the use of our 24/7 Scouts First Helpline (1-844-726-8871 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org) to report any suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior.
Youth Protection Begins With YOU
Even if you are not a registered Scouting leader or volunteer, it is your responsibility as a parent or guardian to know and understand the Boy Scouts of America’s youth protection guidelines. One of the best ways to do this is to take BSA’s Youth Protection Training. Another is to review the youth protection parent guide included at the front of your son’s or daughter’s Scouting handbook. This knowledge will not only benefit you and your child in Scouting, but also equip you to recognize the behavior of potential abusers in your child’s school, sports teams, house of worship, or other activities.
Scouting’s Barriers to Abuse
Past experience has led the Boy Scouts of America to create and implement the best youth protection procedures among youth-serving organizations nationwide. While one case of child abuse is one too many, the number of abuse cases among Scouts has decreased to less than .00002% of youth members. The reason for this dramatic decrease is the creation and implementation of Scouting’s youth protection training and guidelines nearly 40 years ago. These guidelines include the following rules:
- “Two-deep” leadership – a youth is not allowed to be alone with an adult leader who isn’t his or her parent/guardian during Scouting activities. Additionally, no youth is permitted to sleep in the tent of an adult other than his or her own parent/guardian. We also prohibit one-on-one contact between adults and youth members, including texting and communications on social media.
- Criminal background checks – the BSA has a formal leader-selection process that includes criminal background checks and other screenings.
- 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.
We must have your help to continue making Scouting the safest program for youth. Adults who do not follow these and other youth protection rules will be asked to leave an activity or meeting, and – if a registered adult member – may have their Scouting membership revoked and permanently banned from serving as a Scouting volunteer.
Policy Regarding Registered Sex Offenders
The Boy Scouts of America takes seriously its responsibility to ensure that the program is delivered in a safe, responsible and secure manner. Participation in Scouting is a privilege. In this regard, the Boy Scouts of America and the Evangeline Area Council will determine who will be allowed to participate in the program. Any person who is a Registered Sex Offender or has been convicted of the following offenses will be automatically disqualified from participation in Scouting activities:
- a history of convictions involving abusive conduct including but not limited to abuse, assault, battery, or sex crimes
- felony crimes of violence with or without use of a weapon
- offenses involving the manufacture, distribution, possession with intent to distribute or felony possession of scheduled controlled substances
- offenses involving acts or threats of terrorism
- protective orders or pending petitions
- any person who conceals or fails to disclose convictions for criminal offenses
Any person so disqualified cannot participate in Scouting activities or be present on Scout property.
Anyone who believes they merit an exception to this policy due to the age of the offenses, family relationship to a Scout or like circumstances MUST contact the Scout Executive before participating in any Scout activity or entering any Scout property.
Scout Executive Art Hawkins
Help For Abuse Victims
The Boy Scouts of America expresses our deepest apologies to any person who has been the victim of sexual abuse through their involvement in Scouting. We are profoundly saddened that individuals felt they could use their position in Scouting to harm youth. The Scout promise to be trustworthy has been dishonored by such violations.
Knowing that the effects of childhood sexual abuse can have an enduring impact into adulthood, we want to reach out with support and care to those who are struggling with past abuse. We are grateful to all who have had the courage to report abuse, and we recognize the strength that was needed to do so. Although this is a difficult step, we encourage others to contact us as well.
Online support from 1in6.org
Boy Scouts of America’s partnership with 1in6 helps men who suffered abuse while in Scouting to access vital support when and how they need it, anonymously and at no cost to the user:
Web-Based 24×7 Helpline Chat
The 1in6 Web-Based 24/7 Helpline Chat is a service provided free of charge to male survivors of sexual abuse or assault and those who care about them. The Helpline Chat is staffed by advocates, specially trained to work with male survivors, and provide support, resource, and referral services to survivors.
Clinically Facilitated Online Support Groups
1in6 online support groups allow individuals searching for help to chat in real-time, anonymously, and in small, directed groups. Multiple groups are offered on a scheduled weekly basis for men who have experienced sexual abuse and assault. The 1in6 online support group protocol was developed in partnership with leading clinicians widely recognized for working with male survivors of sexual abuse and assault.
All services provided by 1in6 are anonymous and do not require survivors to share their names or any other identifying information. Information shared through these services is kept strictly confidential by 1in6.
Unlimited professional counseling
The Boy Scouts of America funds in-person counseling for any current or former Scout or member of their family, by a provider of their choice, when they are ready to take that step. To access these services, either call the BSA help line toll free at 1-855-295-1531 or send an email to email@example.com.