The safety of children in our programs is the most important priority of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The BSA’s safeguards highlighted below are key parts of our multilayered approach to help keep kids safe. These measures were informed by respected experts in the fields of child safety, law enforcement, and child psychology, and are among the strongest safeguards found in any youth-serving organization.
The BSA is one of the safest places for kids.
Dr. Michael Bourke, PhD
Behavioral Analysis Unit, United States Marshal Service
The BSA’s policies work in Scouting and beyond.
Dr. Barbara Knox, MD
University of Wisconsin, Child Protection Program
The Boy Scouts of America mandates that all volunteers complete our youth-protection training, developed by prominent child-safety experts, prior to any interaction with children in a BSA program. All volunteers must take the latest version of this training every two years.
The training, which is regularly updated to include the latest strategies for recognizing, responding to and preventing abuse, covers multiple types of abuse including emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. The training is available and free to the public.
State and federal laws require youth-serving organizations to have standard youth safety policies in place.
Unfortunately, there is no national standard or set of requirements that youth-serving organizations must follow regarding abuse prevention, and state laws around child welfare differ throughout the country. As a result, youth safety policies vary widely among youth-serving organizations.
The Boy Scouts of America’s youth protection policies are in line with – and sometimes even ahead of – society’s knowledge of abuse and best practices for prevention and we regularly consult experts from law enforcement, child safety, child psychology, and other relevant fields to ensure our policies always reflect best practices to prevent and respond to abuse.
Additionally, the BSA hosts youth protection symposiums that bring together experts to discuss best practices and prevention techniques to help ensure our kids are kept safe.
Child sexual abuse is an isolated problem that only impacts certain organizations.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in six boys and one in four girls will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. This is an unacceptable public health and safety problem throughout society that must be addressed, and the BSA seeks to be part of the solution together with all other youth-serving organizations.
This is precisely why we fully support and advocate for the creation of a national registry overseen by a governmental entity, similar to the national sex offender registry, of those who are suspected of child abuse or inappropriate behavior with a child, thus allowing all youth-serving organizations to share and access such information.
The BSA does not support victims.
First and foremost, we care deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward.
Furthermore, we advocate for measures that would help prevent child abuse and efforts to ensure that anyone who commits sexual abuse is held accountable and serves their full sentence.
Our Commitment to be Part of a Broader Solution
Child abuse in any form is unacceptable, and we believe it is the responsibility of us all to keep children safe. The BSA seeks to be part of the solution to the public health and safety problem of child abuse and we strongly advocate for the following:
The Creation of a shared Volunteer Screening Database for all youth-serving organizations
The BSA advocates for holistic measures to help keep children safe, including the development and utilization of a national database that all youth-serving organizations – including schools, athletic clubs, faith-based youth groups, and Scouting – should contribute to and utilize to screen volunteers so that people removed from any one institution cannot join another one down the street, in a different state, or across the country.
Individuals who should not work with youth don’t always have a criminal background and therefore could pass a criminal background check.
A shared Volunteer Screening Database would enable organizations to add individuals to the database who have been removed from their program for alleged inappropriate conduct – even if the individuals have not been arrested or convicted – to prevent potential abusers from joining a different organization.