Youth Protection program (Boy Scouts of America)

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The Youth Protection program is a set of standards, guidelines and training developed by the Boy Scouts of America to eliminate opportunities for the abuse of youth members. All adults are required to undergo a criminal background check and to complete a Youth Protection Program training before being registered as BSA leaders and they must be re-certified every 2 years. Venture Crew leaders will complete the Venturing Leader Youth Protection training. If a Crew is also associated with a Troop, the adult leaders must complete both Youth Protection training and Venturing Leader Youth Protection training. This is a requirement fulfilling the internet recharter process. When properly implemented, the program also helps to protect adult leaders from any accusations of impropriety.

BSA has made the program available for use by other youth organizations, but the Boy Scouts have done the most in implementing it and have probably instructed more young people and parents in how to recognize and prevent child abuse in any venue. The Boy Scouts of America Youth Protection Plan was cited as a resource that other youth organizations might use in the Center For Disease Control' s publication "Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Youth-serving Organizations: Getting Started on Policies and Procedures" [1]


In response to increasing awareness at the time about sexual abuse in society as a whole, and concerns about the potential of sexual predators using the Boy Scout program to locate victims, BSA developed the Youth Protection program in the late 1980s in conjunction with input from leading law enforcement and psychiatric experts on the subject.

In 2003, criminal background checks were required for all new leaders. Leaders who had registered before 2003 were required to undergo background checks in 2008.[2]

Elements of abuse[edit]

The Youth Protection program recognizes four elements for a child abuser to commit abuse. The abuser must:

  • have the desire and motivation to abuse children.
  • be able to overcome any of their own inhibitions.
  • bypass any protections or barriers that would normally protect the child.
  • overcome the child's natural resistance.

The program also recognizes that the abuser may be a male or female, adult, youth or adolescent.

Leadership selection[edit]

BSA units are chartered by a community organization such as a religious congregation, fraternal group, service club, business, or other local community group. As part of the Youth Protection program, a criminal background check is performed on all adults when they register with the BSA. Adults applying for unit leader positions must be approved by the unit committee chair and the chartered organization representative.[3]

The BSA recognizes that background checks can only identify those with past histories of abuse or criminal record. The unit leadership is expected to screen applicants for past experience and motivations of individuals that a criminal background check would not reveal.

Youth education[edit]

Youth Protection includes programs to educate youth in the "three R's": recognize, resist and report. Youths must recognize situations that might place them at risk must recognize the signs that someone may be an abuser. The youth must also understand that they have the right to resist unwarranted attention and that resisting will stop most attempts. Youth must also understand that they must report any abuse or attempts in order to prevent further abuse to themselves and others.

Training materials for this education include parent's guides included in every handbook plus videos that are shown to each unit's members once a year. An emphasis on training is placed in April, Prevent Child Abuse Month.

The training materials for Scouts include the parent guides in each handbook, the It Happened to Me and A Time to Tell' videos and the Power Pack Pals comic book series. There are also youth protection training guides and videos for teenage girls and boys participating in the Venturing and Sea Scouting programs.

Youth Protection Policies[edit]

BSA adopted the following policies to provide additional barriers to child abuse within Scouting. These policies are primarily for the protection of its youth members; however, they also serve to protect its adult leaders from false accusations of abuse.

  • Two-deep leadership. Two registered adult leaders or one registered leader and a parent of a participant, one of whom must be 21 years of age or older, are required on all trips and outings. The "two-deep" policy requires that a minimum of two adults be present during all activities to minimize the potential for clandestine abuse.[4] The chartered organization is responsible for ensuring that sufficient leadership is provided for all activities.
  • No one-on-one contact. One-on-one contact between adults and youth members is not permitted. 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.
  • Respect of privacy. Adult leaders must respect the privacy of youth members in situations such as changing clothes and taking showers at camp, and intrude only to the extent that health and safety require. Adults must protect their own privacy in similar situations.
  • Separate accommodations. When camping, no youth is permitted to sleep in the tent of an adult other than his 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.
  • Proper preparation for high-adventure activities. Activities with elements of risk should never be undertaken without proper preparation, equipment, clothing, supervision, and safety measures.
  • No secret organizations. The Boy Scouts of America does not recognize any secret organizations as part of its program. All aspects of the Scouting program are open to observation by parents and leaders.
  • Appropriate attire. Proper clothing for activities is required. For example, skinny-dipping is not appropriate as part of Scouting.
  • Constructive discipline. Discipline used in Scouting should be constructive and reflect Scouting's values. Corporal punishment is never permitted.
  • Hazing prohibited. Physical hazing and initiations are prohibited and may not be included as part of any Scouting activity.
  • Junior leader training and supervision. Adult leaders must monitor and guide the leadership techniques used by junior leaders and ensure that BSA policies are followed.

All adult leaders in BSA are required to be trained and follow the above policies. Failing to follow them can result in a leader being removed or a unit having its charter revoked.

Training Materials[edit]

Cub Scouts[edit]

  • Parents guides
  • It Happened to Me training video
  • Power Pack Pals comic book series

Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts[edit]

  • Parents guides
  • A Time to Tell is a youth protection training video aimed at boys aged 11-14. It teaches how to recognize, resist and report sexual abuse.[5]

Venturers and Sea Scouts[edit]

  • Youth Protection: Personal Safety Awareness
  • " Venturing Leader Youth Protection Training"


  • Youth Protection Guidelines for Adult Leaders and Parents


  1. ^ Janet Saul and Natalie C. Audage (2007). "Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Youth-serving Organizations: Getting Started on Policies and Procedures" (PDF). U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. pp. 1–55. Retrieved 2010-11-18. 
  2. ^ "Criminal Background Checks: An Update" (PDF). Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved 2008-04-30. 
  3. ^ "Adult Application" (PDF). Boy Scouts of America. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-16. Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  4. ^ Accessed June 16, 2008.
  5. ^ "A Time to Tell". Google Video. Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved 2007-04-13. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]