YOUTH SAFETY

Our Ongoing Commitment to Keeping Kids Safe

The safety of children in our programs is the most important priority of the Boy Scouts of America. 

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. 

View our Youth Safety Infographic 

Mandatory Reporting to Law Enforcement

The BSA mandates that everyone in the organization reports any known or suspected abuse to law enforcement. BSA policy also removes individuals from the organization based on even an allegation of abuse.

Volunteer Screening Database

The BSA’s Volunteer Screening Database is a tool the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends for all youth-serving organizations. Its purpose is to prevent individuals who should not work with youth from registering for Scouting.

Experts Agree

The BSA is one of the safest places for kids.

Dr. Michael Bourke, PhD

Chief Psychologist
Behavioral Analysis Unit, United States Marshal Service

 

The BSA’s policies work in Scouting and beyond.

Dr. Barbara Knox, MD

Medical Director
University of Wisconsin, Child Protection Program

 

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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.

Misconceptions

Myth #1:

State and federal laws require youth-serving organizations to have standard youth safety policies in place.

FACTS:

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.  

View some of the BSA’s barriers to abuse.

See the child welfare laws in your state.

Myth #2:

Child sexual abuse is an isolated problem that only impacts certain organizations.

FACTS:

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.  

Learn More

Myth #3:

The BSA does not support victims.

FACTS:

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. 

The BSA has partnered with 1in6, a trusted national resource for male survivors, to expand their services so that victims of abuse are able to anonymously access vital support from trained advocates when and how they need it. Victims can access these services at www.1in6.org/BSA. This is a multi-year commitment, which we feel is an important component of the support we provide on an ongoing basis.

In addition, the BSA continues to fund in-person counseling for any current or former Scout, or member of their family, by a provider of their choice.

Our Commitment to be Part of a Broader Solution

The creation of a shared volunteer screening database for all youth-serving organizations 

We steadfastly believe that one incident of abuse is one too many, which is precisely why we continually improve all of our policies. In addition, we advocate for universal measures that would help keep kids safe in all organizations.

We strongly support and advocate for the development and utilization of a national database, under the auspices of a government entity, that all youth-serving organizations – including schools, athletic clubs, faith-based youth groups, and Scouting – could contribute to and use to screen volunteers. Our goal is for all organizations to use a common database so that people removed from any one institution for inappropriate conduct cannot join another down the street, in a different state, or across the country. 

We call upon Congress and other youth-serving organizations to support this initiative.

How to Report Abuse

For assistance reporting suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior call the 24/7 Scouts First Helpline at 1-844-SCOUTS1 or 1-844-726-8871, or email scouts1st@scouting.org.