Child sexual abuse continues to be a significant topic of our national conversation, and here are three important messages on that subject to know and share:
- Child sexual abuse is a societal issue that extends beyond any one institution or organization. The statistics are startling! According to the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys experience child sexual abuse at some point in childhood. Locally, the MN Department of Human Services' “Minnesota’s Child Maltreatment Report, 2019" states that there were 5,620 reports of child sexual abuse, a 1% increase over 2018; Northern Star Scouting had zero reports. The MNDHS also found "Parents, unmarried partners of parents, and step-parents had the highest rate of being determined to have maltreated a child."
- Scouting is committed to being part of the solution and we are in a position to help. Child safety experts have repeatedly called Scouting’s youth protection policies and practices the “gold standard” for youth-serving organizations. Nationally and locally, Scouting shares its expertise with a wide variety of other organizations. Scout leaders and parents make all kids safer as they apply our youth protection training and practices in other parts of our community.
- Kids are safe in Scouting. We have always had a strong record compared to the larger community, but since the implementation of two-deep leadership in 1987, sexual abuse has been practically eliminated in Scouting. We work diligently toward its total elimination by ensuring that our programs incorporate the latest and best youth protection practices.
No harm to a child is ever acceptable anywhere in our community. Scouting is playing a leading role in combating child sexual abuse, but we all need to work together to deal with what is indisputably an unacceptable public health and safety problem.
This page is designed to provide training, information and resources to help eliminate child abuse.
Scouting’s updated, online youth protection training course includes cutting-edge research from top experts in the field of child abuse prevention, covering topics of bullying, neglect, exposure to violence, physical and emotional abuse, and child sexual abuse. These experts help present the content and the course will take about an hour to complete.
This training is required for all Scouting volunteers but is applicable for everyone who works with children. There is no charge and you do not have to be a Scouting volunteer or parent to take the course. You simply create a login at MyScouting.org, which can be for a one-time use.
Michael Johnson, the BSA’s director of Youth Protection, describes the course this way: “There is no substitute for hearing directly from experts who have spent their careers studying child predators and abusers. They shine a new light on the challenge we all face in protecting kids and how parents and volunteers can put barriers in place to keep them away.”
Visit: My.Scouting.org and create an account. Click “Menu” then “My Dashboard” from the menu list. The “My Training” page displays to take Youth Protection training. There are three modules followed by a test for each to complete the training. These can be taken in a single or in multiple sessions (you must keep your account login information to return for multiple sessions).
Training for youth members focuses on the “three R’s” of youth protection:
- Recognize that anyone could be an abuser.
- Respond when someone is doing something that goes against your gut or against the safety guidelines.
- Report attempted or actual abuse or any activity that you think is wrong to a parent or other trusted adult.
These are taught through video and online training courses explained and accessed below.
Creating a Safe Environment - Additional Information for BSA Members and Leaders
What is Youth Protection Training (YPT)?
Youth Protection Training is split into two groups, one for adults and the other for youth.
Adult training is REQUIRED for all volunteers! This training reviews the policies and procedures that registered adult leaders and parents in Scouting must know and enforce during any Scouting activity. Training also covers what to do if a youth protection incident occurs and how to report the incident to local authorities and Scouting officials. Adult leaders take this training in addition to their position specific training to be considered basic trained. Parents (non-leaders) are encouraged to take the training, too. Youth Protection Training is to be renewed at a minimum of every two years.
Youth training covers a bunch of topics that are age-appropriate. The key takeaway is for youth to "Recognize, Respond, and Report" any situation that is inappropriate when interacting with an adult or another youth member. Scouting's buddy system is emphasized as a method to keep youth safe. For example, youth are taught to never walk off alone, they should always have a friend with them.
How do I take the Adult Training?
We have two ways for adults to take Youth Protection training:
In person - Your district will typically hold a few in person trainings throughout the year. Youth Protection Trainings are also listed in our Training Wizard on the Training page.
Online - The most popular and easy to access. To get started, go to the my.scouting website and create an account. You don't have to be a registered adult leader to take the training. If you are, you'll want to link your BSA member ID number with your my.Scouting account. Your BSA member ID number is on your wallet size membership card, the official Scouting unit roster, or your can call a council registrar to get your ID number at 612-261-2364. Linking your BSA member ID will ensure your official training record contains the current status of your YPT.
Browse to the e-learning area after logging in and you'll see Youth Protection Training, as well as other online courses you can take. Most people can finish the online YPT in 60-90 minutes and you can stop anytime, save your progress, and continue later.
Log On To my.Scouting
How do I Train our Scouting Youth?
Scouting has an age-appropriate training for each of our programs which can be accessed using the links below. These were developed in partnership with the subject matter experts of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Foundation.
Cub Scouts: Protect Yourself Rules Preview Adventure
These may be used as an elective adventure OR they may be earned in place of the Cyber Chip requirement for the Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos, and Arrow of Light badges of rank.
Scouts BSA: Personal Awareness Safety Series
The materials are designed to educate Scouts about what to do if they experience abusive behavior, educate them about safe and unsafe touches, and encourage them to go to a parent or another trusted adult for help
This Personal Safety Awareness may be used in place of the Cyber Chip requirement for the Scout and Star rank.
Venturing: Personal Awareness Safety Series for Venturers ages 14 - 17
These are tailored to educate older teens about what to do if they experience abusive behavior, educate them about safe and unsafe touches, and encourage them to go to a parent or another trusted adult for help.
New Youth on Youth Training Materials
Scouting keeps kids safe through a multi-layered process of safeguards. A complete list is found on the National BSA Youth Protection website but here are some key elements:
Two-Deep Leadership Policy – Requires two adults present with youth at all times and prohibits one-on-one situations between adults and youth in person or electronically, within or outside of our program.
Mandatory Reporting - All persons involved in Scouting must report to local authorities any good-faith suspicion or belief that any youth is being, or has been, physically or sexually abused.
Policy Barriers to Abuse – Strict requirements for parents, leaders and youth including: registration of adult leaders, adult supervision, constructive discipline, accommodations (separate tenting arrangements for males and females, youth sharing tents must be within two years of age, youth and adults tent separately, except in Cub Scout family camping) and program (use of buddy system, respect for privacy, all aspects open to observation, prohibition of hazing and initiations plus many other safely measures).
Formal Leadership Selection Process - Including criminal background checks and other screening efforts.
Volunteer Screening Database - A tool the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends for all youth-serving organizations, to prevent individuals that were removed from their organization from re-registering (Scouting has had this in place since the 1920’s).
Youth Protection Training – Mandatory for all volunteers with educational materials for parents and Scouts featured in handbooks and integrated into programs. 12,200 volunteers were trained in 2018. These policies and procedures are recommended by youth protection experts and can be applied to all organizations.
Reporting Abuse or Concerns - Definitions and Directions
“Mandatory reporting” for everyone involved in Scouting is defined as “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 possession, manufacture, or distribution of child pornography, online solicitation, enticement, or showing or obscene material. You may not abdicate this reporting responsibility to any other person.”
Further, any youth protection policy violations must also be reported to the appropriate Scouting officials.
Complete details on reporting procedures and contacts are found on this related page
National BSA Resources
Scouting has developed extensive materials to help protect children. Below are some quick links to several. All these and more are accessible via the National Youth Protection Website: https://www.scouting.org/training/youth-protection/
"How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide" – Booklets by program levels to offer basic resources to help parents understand how child abuse happens and to keep their children safe
How the Boy Scouts of America Keeps Kids Safe Today - By Michael Johnson, National Youth Protection Director
Cyber Chip Online Safety - To help families and volunteers keep youth safe while online, developed with content expert NetSmartz®, part of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children®.
Bullying Awareness - Fact sheets and resources to protect children.
Social Media Guidelines
Guide to Safe Scouting - Comprehensive guide to Scouting policies and procedures, including youth protection, aquatics, camping, sports, activity planning and more.
ScoutHelp - The BSA offers assistance with counseling to any Scout, former Scout, or family member of any Scout who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting. Individuals can email [email protected] or call toll free at 855-295-1531.
External Resources and Information
Governmental Reports and Information
MN Department of Human Services Child Protection Resources and Reports
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Administration for Children, Youth and Families “Child Maltreatment 2017”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect
Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Youth-serving Organizations: Getting Started on Policies and Procedures
Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center - The Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center and Boy Scouts of America have formally announced a partnership that will introduce the “Protect Yourself Rules” program to more than 1.2 million Cub Scouts nationwide. Through animated videos and ancillary learning material developed specifically for younger audiences, the program aims to educate children about how to recognize inappropriate behavior, including how to distinguish between safe and unsafe touches, and what to do when confronted with abusive behavior.
It is also a good source for Child Sexual Abuse Myths & Facts.
Third Party Review
Warren Report Summary, Third Party Review of BSA's Ineligible Volunteer Files
Questions and Answers Regarding Youth Protection in Scouting
1. Why is this topic in the news now?
A: The decision in New York state to suspend the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse claims has led to plaintiff’s attorneys issuing press releases and seeking media coverage that will raise awareness among potential clients. Since New York is a national media center, such stories become national news.
2. What are these Ineligible Volunteer/Screening Files?
A: These are records collected nationwide since the early days of Scouting (1920s) of individuals who have been dismissed from Scouting, and kept as a barrier to their re‐entry. The files predate the modern database technology. The keeping of such information is a best practice as defined by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their 2007 report on youth protection.
3. Why were they confidential?
A: The files were confidential to encourage prompt reporting and protect the identity of any victims. To be proactive in protecting children, Scouting dismisses volunteers immediately at the allegation of misconduct, rather than waiting for proof of guilt. The files may contain names of individuals who were wrongly accused or cannot be prosecuted with available evidence. If crimes are prosecutable, the criminal records are public.
4. Why have some been made public?
A: Files from 1965 to 1985 were introduced into evidence in a 2012 State of Oregon Court case. Subsequently, media successfully sued for their release, and they became public regardless of provable guilt.
5. Have all individuals in the files been reported to law enforcement?
A: It is BSA policy that all incidents of suspected abuse are reported to law enforcement. In 2011, after a review of files in the Volunteer Screening Database, the BSA launched an initiative to help ensure that past allegations of potential child abuse were reported to law enforcement. For files identified as containing allegations of potential child abuse that did not clearly indicate that law enforcement was aware of the allegations, the BSA reported those files to law enforcement.
6. What is different today?
A: Society as a whole treats reports of abuse much differently than in the past when abuse often went unreported or was intentionally kept quiet. In Scouting today, all reports of abuse are immediately conveyed to law enforcement, even if victims or their families wished that such reports be kept confidential. Scouting’s policies, procedures and programs have all been updated to reflect best practices in prevention and we will continue to do so.
7. How common is abuse in Scouting?
It is extremely rare, especially since a two-deep leadership requirement was instituted in 1987, sexual abuse has been practically eliminated in Scouting.
8. Where does the BSA stand on advocacy to enable youth-serving organizations to share information?
The BSA fully supports and advocates 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 abuse or inappropriate behavior with a child, thereby allowing all youth-serving organizations to share and access such information. We call upon Congress and other youth-serving organizations to support this initiative.