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.
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.
- 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.
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. (Youth Protection and Barriers to Abuse FAQs)
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. (Youth Protection and Barriers to Abuse FAQs)
- 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.
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.
Separate accommodations for adult males and females and youth males and females are required.
- 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. (Youth Protection and Barriers to Abuse FAQs)
- Spouses may share tents.
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. (Youth Protection and Barriers to Abuse FAQs)
- 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.
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.
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.
Adult leaders and youth members have a responsibility to recognize, respond to, and report Youth Protection violations and abuse.
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 Incident Reporting.
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 youth. 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.
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 youth 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: Incident Reporting