Youth Protection

Child abuse is a serious problem in our society, and unfortunately, it can occur anywhere, even in Scouting. Youth safety is Scouting’s No. 1 concern.

Youth safety is Scouting’s No. 1 concern.

Nearly 3 million cases of child abuse are reported each year in the United States, and many more go unreported. The Boy Scouts of America has developed comprehensive Youth Protection policies and training to prepare leaders to prevent child abuse and help children who have been, or are being, abused. Although falsely accusing adult leaders is rare, these policies provide protection for them as well. These policies focus on leadership selection and on placing even greater barriers to abuse than already exist in Scouting.

Youth Protection training is required for all BSA registered volunteers. For more information about BSA Youth Protection policies, go to and select “Youth Protection” from the site menu.

The Leader’s Role in Youth Protection

As Cub Scout leader, you can help make the world safer for children in at least three ways:

1. Increase your knowledge about child abuse so that you will be in a better position to help protect the children in your life—your own sons and daughters, and children in your neighborhood, place of worship, and community. The best way to begin is by maintaining your Youth Protection training, available at

2. Help others learn the steps that help them to protect themselves. You can have a direct effect on the members of your pack and den by helping them learn ways to protect themselves. This includes making sure that the parents/guardians of all Cub Scouts have completed and discussed with their child the information in How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide.

3. Implement the Youth Protection policies and procedures of the BSA within your unit. By implementing these safety policies, you will help the Scouting program continue to be a safe environment for children. The Boy Scouts of America will not tolerate any form of child abuse in its program and will take all necessary steps to remove any offenders from membership in the BSA.

BSA Youth Protection Policies

The BSA Youth Protection policies are based on strengthening the principles of Scouting and avoiding situations that could lead to abuse. Adherence to BSA Youth Protection policies not only strengthens the protection of our membership, but also ensures that the basic values of Scouting are preserved.

If your Cub Scout pack discovers conduct that violates the BSA standards of membership by an applicant, the chartered organization should reject the application. Any questions about membership standards should be discussed with the Scout executive. When an applicant is rejected by the chartered organization, the application should be sent to the Scout executive with a memo explaining the reason for the rejection.


The BSA has a tradition of recruiting quality volunteer leaders. Being a registered leader in the BSA is a privilege, not a right. The quality of the program and the safety of our youth members require that selection of our leaders be taken seriously.

There is no sure way to detect a child molester—or any kind of abuser—in advance of attempted or actual abuse. We can minimize the risk by learning all we can about the adult applicant’s experiences with children. The adult membership application is an important tool for helping to maintain BSA leadership standards. Learn why the applicant wants to be a Cub Scout leader and how the person would handle a discipline situation.

The adult membership application process is an important tool for helping to maintain BSA leadership standards. This process includes the written application, interviews by the committee, personal reference checks, and approval by the head of the chartered organization. Also, all applicants for membership must pass a criminal background check, must complete Youth Protection training, and must follow BSA Youth Protection policies.

Creating Barriers to Abuse

After selection of the best possible leaders, additional protection for children is built into the program. The BSA has adopted the following policies to provide security for youth in Scouting. The policies also provide protection for adult leaders against false allegations of abuse. Policies in this guide are subject to change. For the most current Youth Protection policies, go to

  • Two-Deep Leadership. At minimum, two registered adult leaders are required for all Scouting activities, including meetings. For detailed information on two-deep leadership requirements, visit

  • No One-on-One Contact. One-on-one contact between adults and youth members is not permitted. In situations that require personal conferences, the meeting is to be conducted in view of other adults.

  • Respect of Privacy. Adult leaders must respect the privacy of youth members in situations such as changing clothes or taking showers at camp. Adults should intrude only to the extent that health and safety require. Adults should also protect their own privacy in similar situations.

  • Cameras, Imaging, and Digital Devices. 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.

  • Separate Accommodations. When camping, no youth is permitted to sleep in the tent of an adult other than the youth’s 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 Activities. All activities should consider the capabilities of the participating Cub Scouts. No activity should be undertaken without the proper preparation, equipment, clothing, supervision, and safety measures.

  • No Secret Organizations. The BSA does not recognize any secret organizations as part of its program. All activities are open to observation by parents and leaders.

  • Appropriate Attire. Proper clothing for activities is required.

  • Constructive Discipline. Discipline used in Cub Scouting should be constructive and reflect Scouting’s values. Corporal punishment is never permitted.

  • Hazing Prohibited. Physical hazing and initiations are prohibited and should not be included as part of any Scouting activity.

  • Bullying Prohibited. Verbal, physical, and cyber bullying are prohibited in Scouting.

  • Youth Leadership Training and Supervision. Adult leaders must monitor and guide the leadership techniques used by youth leaders and ensure that BSA policies are followed.

  • Background Checks. Background checks are required for all new leaders, and the adult application form requires that the applicant provide a Social Security number.

Youth Protection Training for Adults

Youth Protection training is a part of every Cub Scout leader’s basic training program and must be completed prior to a leader’s first youth leadership experience (before the first den meeting, for example). This training expands on the material contained in this chapter and reviews the Youth Protection policies of the BSA. Youth Protection training is available in the classroom and through

Youth Protection Training for Youth

Parents are a critical element in educating Cub Scouts about child abuse. The BSA publishes a booklet, How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide, that is inserted in the front of all Cub Scout handbooks. This guide has exercises to be completed by the Cub Scout and their parent or guardian as part of the Bobcat requirements. The exercises are designed to open the lines of communication between the child and the parent or guardian so that the child will be more likely to report any abuse or attempted abuse.

The BSA also has an award-winning video, It Happened to Me, for use by Cub Scout packs and dens. This DVD about child sexual abuse is available from your local council service center, and Cub Scout units should view it annually.