Youth Protection

100 Years of Youth Protection

Recognizing that youth protection requires sustained vigilance, the BSA continues to be on the forefront of developing youth protection policies to strengthen and enhance efforts to protect youth through clear policies, training of adult volunteers, and effective screening of volunteers.  Following are the steps Scouting has taken throughout the past 100 years in an effort to create a safe environment for its youth:


  • The Boy Scouts of America incorporates on February 8.


  • The BSA institutes character reference checks for Scoutmasters.


  • The BSA begins long-standing collaboration with parents and chartered organizations in selecting Scout leaders.
  • The BSA requires Scoutmasters and Scouts to register in order to participate in Scouting programs.


  • The BSA begins cross-referencing all adult volunteers against a list of “ineligible volunteers” maintained at its national headquarters. This practice of identifying individuals deemed by the BSA as not having the moral, emotional, or character values for membership in the BSA is later discussed in William D. Murray’s 1937 book titled The History of the Boy Scouts of America.


  • The BSA expands adult registration to include every male adult involved in Scouting.


  • Theodore Roosevelt Jr. states that leadership is a sacred trust and discusses the existence and use of the confidential list of ineligible volunteers to protect youth.


  • The BSA begins developing standards for leadership as a guideline for screening adult leaders.


  • Scoutingmagazine runs an advertisement from the National Committee on the Prevention of Child Abuse. (Additional advertisements appear in 1983 and 1984.)


  • Scouting magazine presents the BSA’s position on “Child Abuse and Scouting.”
  • Scouting magazine provides information regarding a governmental publication titled “Child Sexual Abuse Prevention—Tips to Parents.”


  • Boys’ Life magazine, with a circulation of 1.2 million youth and unit leaders, publishes “Wrong Kind of Touching.”
  • Scouting magazine publishes “Child Abuse—Let’s Talk About It” and an article about child abuse by Dr. Walter Menninger of the famed Menninger Clinic.
  • Scouting magazine publishes an extensive article titled “Child Abuse: Let’s Talk About It—A Statement by the Boy Scouts of America on Child Abuse,” which includes “the 12 points of the Child Bill of Rights.”


  • Scouting magazine publishes “Child Sexual Abuse—How to Deal with It” and a letter from the Chief Scout Executive on “Grooming by a Child Abuser.”
  • The BSA develops a camp staff training program, and the two-deep leadership policy, which requires two adult leaders at all Scouting activities, is formally adopted.


  • Scouting magazine includes an article titled “Barriers Against Child Sexual Abuse.”


  • The BSA produces A Time to Tell, a video that teaches 11- to 16-year-olds the three R’s of Youth Protection—how to recognize, resist, and report child abuse. More than 3,500 copies of the video are distributed in the first year.


  • The Boy Scouts of America launches a new version of “Youth Protection Guidelines: Training for Volunteer Leaders and Parents.”
  • The Boy Scout Handbook features an insert titled “How to Protect Your Children,” which includes exercises each new Scout is to complete with his parents when he joins Scouting.
  • The insert titled “How to Protect Your Children” is also added to the Scoutmaster Handbook.


  • The BSA prohibits one-on-one adult and youth activities, and produces It Happened to Me, a video aimed at 7- to 10-year-olds, which is featured in Scouting magazine in an article titled “A Must Film to See.”


  • Representatives from Scouting serve as advisers to the U.S. government through participation on the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect.


  • The Boy Scouts of America hosts the first National Child Abuse Prevention Symposium for educational, religious, and other youth-serving organizations.
  • The BSA’s director of administration testifies before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on the Boy Scouts’ views on the national Child Protection Act of 1993, providing background information on the BSA and its Youth Protection program.


  • The BSA requires criminal background checks for all professionals and staff who work with youth.
  • The BSA updates its Youth Protection Guidelines for Volunteer Leaders and Parents video, addressing how an adult should identify whether a child has been or is being abused, and what the adult should do to protect the child.


  • The BSA is an active member of the National Collaboration for Youth in its publication of “Screening Volunteers to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: A Community Guide for Youth Organizations,” and the BSA’s director of administration is selected as the chair of the National Assembly of National Voluntary Health and Social Welfare Organizations’ Task Force on Child Sexual Abuse.


  • The BSA’s Youth Protection comic book series for Cub Scouts is introduced, with the first issue focusing on bullying.


  • Scouting magazine features an article highlighting the risk of child sexual abuse and proclaims April as “Youth Protection Month.”


  • The BSA begins conducting third-party, computerized criminal background checks on all new adult volunteers and introduces online training: “Youth Protection Guidelines: Training for Adult Leaders and Parents.”


  • The BSA revises the insert in the Boy Scout and Cub Scout handbooks. The organization updates and publishes several age-appropriate training materials and launches a new Adult Leader Application that encourages immediate online training for youth protection and other immediate needs.


  • The BSA updates It Happened to Me and includes the topic of pornography and suicide in “Personal Safety Awareness” training materials aimed at teenagers.


  • The BSA requires all volunteers to go through a full criminal background check.
  • Scouting implements youth protection requirements for youth to advance in rank and addresses bullying and cyber-safety.
  • The BSA produces a video titled Cub Scout and Boy Scout Youth Protection.


  • The BSA addresses the use of cameras, imaging, and digital devices by youth and adults, and updates youth protection materials and guidelines.
  • The BSA updates “How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide.”
  • The Scoutmaster Handbook includes a section on youth protection guidelines referencing BSA youth protection materials, the three R’s of Youth Protection, and BSA policies on youth protection.


  • The BSA hires Michael “Mike” Johnson, an internationally recognized expert on child abuse detection and prevention, as youth protection director.
  • The BSA makes Youth Protection training mandatory for all registered adult members and requires it to be repeated every two years.
  • Parents are advised on the BSA youth membership application that abuse can occur “even in Scouting,” and advises them of Youth Protection training and the two-deep leadership policy.
  • The BSA creates a Mandatory Reporting policy, which says that all persons involved in Scouting shall report to local authorities any good-faith suspicion of belief that a child is being or has been physically or sexually abused.


  • Scouting launches a new campaign called “Youth Protection Begins With You”™, which underscores the fundamental belief that the protection of youth—in Scouting and in local communities—can be best achieved through the shared involvement of parents, volunteers, leaders, and council staff.
  • The BSA establishes an Executive Board–level Youth Protection Committee and names Dr. Jim Wilson chair.


  • The BSA initiates the volunteer-led and volunteer-focused Youth Protection Champions program.
  • The BSA holds the first National Youth Protection Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • An email address ( is established for volunteers to submit questions about youth protection.
  • The BSA, supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Netsmartz division, rolls out the Internet-safety focused Cyber Chip program for four different age groups. An associated website is launched.


  • The BSA holds the second National Youth Protection Symposium in Irving, Texas, with an expanded group of youth protection experts and youth-serving organizations (


  • The anti-bullying Be Kind initiative is launched; campaign materials are provided for use by units, leaders, and youth.