September 18, 2012
Dear Scouting Parent,
We recognize you have entrusted to Scouting the development and safety of your child. We are honored by your faith in Scouting and want you to know these are top priorities. In this period of heightened awareness about youth safety, we want to share with you Scouting’s many important programs, policies, and procedures that help protect our members.
We are committed to consistently strengthening and enhancing our Youth Protection measures, and in recent decades, have expanded our programs significantly as more information and new techniques and technologies have become available to us. While we continuously evaluate and strengthen our Youth Protection programs, we recognize that abuse can happen anywhere, even in Scouting. You may have heard recent news surrounding the release of certain Ineligible Volunteer Files. BSA Ineligible Volunteer Files are still in use today. They help keep people deemed to be unfit leaders out of Scouting.
This past week, the media has run several stories regarding volunteers that have been removed from Scouting and in particular, one prominent pediatrician and member of the Milwaukee community. It is important that you know that despite what may be being portrayed in the media today, 25 years ago, Scouting officials notified law enforcement officials and the District Attorney’s office. In addition, the Board of Medical Examiners was also notified. There was no cover up. Scouting officials worked openly with law enforcement officials and the families of the boys involved in the incident and removed the volunteer from Scouting.
Recently, experts in youth safety and the media have acknowledged the strength of our Youth Protection programs in place today:
- The Boy Scouts of America is one group advocates say has gone farthest to institute such measures to safeguard kids.” (MSNBC, November 2011)
- “The Scouts’ current prevention policies are considered state of the art and 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 combating 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.” (Associated Press, January 2012.)
Still, we believe constant vigilance is the best protection. In Scouting, we tell everyone involved with our programs that “Youth protection begins with you.”™ That means that each of us has a role to play in keeping kids safe. We want to ensure that you are aware of our Youth Protection programs, policies, and procedures, so you know what to expect of our organization.
Our safeguards include the following:
- All volunteers must complete a rigorous application and screening process before joining Scouting. As part of this requirement, applicants must provide references and submit to a national criminal background check. We also verify that our organization has not received any prior allegations of misconduct on the volunteer’s part by checking names in our Ineligible Volunteer Files. Our goal is to ensure that all adult volunteers represent the values and character outlined in the Scout Oath and Scout Law and are good leaders for your child.
- All volunteers are required to complete Youth Protection training and must renew the training every two years. This training is accessible to the general public online at www.Scouting.org, under the Youth Protection tab. Please review the training, as it provides important information about detecting and preventing abuse, no matter where it may occur.
- Scouting’s two-deep leadership policy requires at least two adults to be present for all Scouting activities. No youth should ever be alone with a Scout leader for any reason.
- Every Boy Scout and Cub Scout handbook includes a pamphlet to help parents teach their children how to recognize, resist, and report abuse. If you haven’t done so already, please immediately review and discuss this information with your child. A copy of the pamphlet and other youth-oriented literature is available under the Youth Protection tab at www.Scouting.org.
- All Scouting activities are open to parents, and we encourage families to enjoy Scouting together.
- Anyone suspected of inappropriate behavior will be immediately and permanently banned from Scouting. If you ever have any concerns about your child’s safety, please contact me immediately. You can find my contact information on our website at www.ThreeHarborsScouting.org where you can find additional information on our youth protection policies as well.
These measures are by no means the full extent of our efforts, but given the media attention youth-serving organizations including Scouting have recently received, we wanted to share some of the most important aspects of our program. Additional information and resources can be accessed by visiting www.Scouting.org and clicking on the Youth Protection tab.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thanks for all you do to support Scouting and help us keep kids safe.
Ed Brandon Boy Scouts of America
Three Harbors Council
The Boy Scouts of America places the greatest importance on creating the most secure environment possible for our youth members. To maintain such an environment, the BSA developed numerous procedural and leadership selection policies and provides parents and leaders with resources for the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Venturing programs.
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. We work closely with our chartered organizations to help recruit the best possible leaders for their units.
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 molester, we can reduce the risk of accepting a child molester 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.
- Youth Protection training is required for all BSA registered volunteers.
- 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 reregistered.
Youth Protection Reporting Procedures for Volunteers
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.
Steps to Reporting Child Abuse
- 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 local child abuse hotline.
- Notify the Scout executive or his/her designee.
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.
Scouting's Barriers to Abuse
The BSA has adopted the following policies to provide additional security for our members. These policies are primarily for the protection of our youth members; however, they also serve to protect our adult leaders from false accusations of abuse.
- Two-deep leadership is required on all outings. Two registered adult leaders or one registered leader and a parent of a participant, or other adult, one of whom must be 21 years of age or older, are required on all trips and outings. The chartered organization is responsible for ensuring that sufficient leadership is provided for all Scouting activities. There are a few instances, such as patrol activities, when the presence of adult leaders is not required and adult leadership may be limited to training and guidance of the patrol leadership. With the proper training, guidance, and approval by the troop leaders, the patrol can conduct day hikes and service projects. Appropriate adult leadership must be present for all overnight Scouting activities; coed overnight activities—even those including parent and child—require male and female adult leaders, both of whom must be 21 years of age or older, and one of whom must be a registered member of the BSA. The chartered organization is responsible for ensuring that sufficient leadership is provided for all activities.
- One-on-one contact between adults and Scouts is prohibited. In situations that require personal conferences, such as a Scoutmaster's conference, the meeting is to be conducted in view of other adults and youths.
- Separate accommodations for adults and Scouts are required. When camping, no youth is permitted to sleep in the tent of an adult other than his or her own parent or guardian. Councils are strongly encouraged to have separate shower and latrine facilities for females. When separate facilities are not available, separate times for male and female use should be scheduled and posted for showers. Likewise, youth and adults must shower at different times.
- Privacy of youth is respected. Adult leaders must respect the privacy of youth members in situations such as changing clothes and taking showers at camp, intruding only to the extent that health and safety require. Adults must protect their own privacy in similar situations.
- Inappropriate use of cameras, imaging, and digital devices is prohibited. While most campers and leaders use cameras and other imaging devices responsibly, it has become very easy to invade the privacy of individuals. It is inappropriate to use any device capable of recording or transmitting visual images in shower houses, restrooms, or other areas where privacy is expected by participants.
- No secret organizations. The Boy Scouts of America does not allow any secret organizations as part of its program. All aspects of the Scouting program are open to observation by parents and leaders.
- No hazing. Physical hazing and initiations are prohibited and may not be included as part of any Scouting activity.
- No bullying. Verbal, physical, and cyber bullying are prohibited in Scouting.
- Youth leadership is monitored by adult leaders. Adult leaders must monitor and guide the leadership techniques used by youth leaders and ensure that BSA policies are followed.
- Discipline must be constructive. Discipline used in Scouting should be constructive and reflect Scouting’s values. Corporal punishment is never permitted.
- Appropriate attire for all activities. Proper clothing for activities is required. For example, skinny-dipping or revealing bathing suits are not appropriate as part of Scouting.
- Members are responsible to act according to the Scout Oath and Scout Law. All members of the Boy Scouts of America are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the principles set forth in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Physical violence, theft, verbal insults, drugs, and alcohol have no place in the Scouting program and may result in the revocation of a Scout’s membership.
- Units are responsible to enforce Youth Protection policies. The head of the chartered organization or chartered organization representative and the local council must approve the registration of the unit’s adult leader. Adult leaders of Scouting units are responsible for monitoring the behavior of youth members and interceding when necessary. Parents of members who misbehave should be informed and asked for assistance. Any violations of the BSA’s Youth Protection policies must immediately be reported to the Scout executive.
For more information on Digital Privacy and Social Media guidelines or other key resources, please visit http://www.Scouting.org/Training/YouthProtection.aspx.