Nothing is more important to the BSA than the safety of our youth members. We believe that even one instance of child abuse is unacceptable, and we are outraged there have been times when our best efforts to protect youth were not enough and Scouts were abused. We sincerely apologize to victims and their families.
Our comprehensive youth protection program comprises four key components:
- A multi-layered volunteer application and screening process, including local selection and screening, national criminal background checks, and a verification from the Volunteer Screening database that the applicant has received no prior allegations of inappropriate conduct.
- Extensive training programs designed specifically to teach Scouts, parents, and adult volunteers how to recognize and prevent abuse, including mandatory completion of the BSA’s Youth Protection training, which is required for adult volunteers every two years. Parents and Scouts are also required to review the BSA’s Youth Protection materials.
- Clear policies that create barriers to abuse of youth members, including “two-deep” leadership and safeguards for Scouts’ and adult volunteers’ privacy.
- Mandatory, prompt reporting of any reasonable suspicions of inappropriate conduct with youth to law enforcement.
All units, adult leaders, and youth members have a responsibility to enforce youth protection program policies. Scouts are required to complete Youth Protection training before entering the program, and as a requirement for rank advancement. The BSA teaches the “three R’s” of youth protection, which convey an important message in a clear manner, easily understood by youth members:
- Recognize situations that place them at risk, how child molesters operate, and that anyone could be a molester.
- Respond to suspected, attempted or actual abuse, as well as policy violations that may prevent the full use of the barriers of abuse. If a peer is affected, reassure them that they are not to blame and encourage them to seek help.
- Report suspected, attempted or actual abuse to a parent, trusted adult or law enforcement. This prevents further abuse and helps protect other children. Understand that you will not be blamed for what occurred.
The Boy Scouts of America has a dedicated, 24-hour Scouts First Hotline (1-844-SCOUTS1 or 1-844-726-8871) available to report any suspected inappropriate activity.
We are committed to continuous improvement in our youth protection policies and procedures. We constantly evaluate and reinvest resources where needed to strengthen our policies and ensure they are in line with and, where possible, ahead of society’s knowledge of abuse and best practices for prevention. We also regularly consult with experts from law enforcement, child safety, psychology, and other relevant fields.
The BSA believes that even one instance of child abuse is unacceptable, and we deeply regret the times when our best efforts to protect youth were not enough. We are committed to providing ongoing support to victims and their families, including counseling. We want to help victims heal, on their own terms. Support is available to anyone currently or previously involved in the Boy Scouts of America through our dedicated 24/7 Scouts First Hotline:
1-844-SCOUTS1 or 1-844-726-8871