Scout Safety

The primary goal of all scouting organizations is to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all our scouts. The BSA goes to great lengths to ensure that leaders are screened, trained, and all focused ensuring that not only are our programs fun and engaging for the scouts, but safety of all scouts is everyone’s first priority. Over 100 years of continuing research and development has gone into these programs and policies to ensure that all scouts are safe. Not only that, but everything the BSA does is transparent, documented, and open to any scout’s parent’s review.

BSA Youth Protection Program

To ensure that all scouters are trained on the latest research and program policies, every adult leader must pass through the Youth Protection Training Program every 2 years. True youth protection can be achieved only through the focused commitment of everyone in Scouting. It is the mission of Youth Protection volunteers and professionals to work within the Boy Scouts of America to maintain a culture of Youth Protection awareness and safety at the national, regional, area, council, district, and unit levels.

Youth protection is not only focused on safe scouting activities, but leaders also are trained to recognize signs of abuse, bullying, and other forms of child neglect, and the BSA along with Pack 720 has strict policies ensuring that all incidents, even if only suspect, are reported to the appropriate authorities.

Leaders are also required to re-certify with Youth Protection Training every 2 years, so that they can have the latest information and best practices gathered from the most recent research that the BSA, in conjunction with many external agencies – including law enforcement, counseling groups, and abuse prevention organisations have put together.

Leadership Selection

In addition to ensuring that all leaders are trained and practice the guidelines of safe scouting, the Boy Scouts of America takes great pride in the quality of our adult leadership. Being a leader in the BSA is a privilege, not a right. The quality of the program and the safety of our youth members call for high-quality adult leaders. We work closely with our chartered organizations to help recruit the best possible leaders for their units.

If an adult wishes to become a Uniformed Adult Leader within the program, they must first be interviewed by the committee, to ensure the meet the qualifications and criteria for the leadership role. Next, a formal adult application is filled out by the prospective leader, that not only requires references that are rigorously checked by the unit committee and the chartered organization before they can even consider accepting an application, the application is then sent off to the local council and national organization to perform a rigorous background check and screening process.

In addition to standard background checks normally done by youth organizations, the BSA has increased its rigor in it’s background checks and it’s screen sifts through all 50 states for corrections data, court administrators’ records, the federal fugitive database, BSA internal records, county and state fugitive databases and “watch lists” for known international criminals or terrorists. State sex offender registries also are checked, in addition to reports of “high risk behavior” from the individual in the past. Any adult leader who was removed from their position in the BSA in the past due to misconduct will NOT be allowed to be part of the scouting program.

While no current screening techniques exist that can identify every potential unfit leader, we can reduce the risk of accepting unfit leaders by learning all we can about an applicant for a leadership position—his or her experience with children, why he or she wants to be a Scout leader, and what discipline techniques he or she would use.

Text in above section © 2015 Boy Scouts of America. All Rights Reserved.

Leadership Training

With over 100 years of successful scouting programs, the BSA has a wide range of training that it offers, to ensure that the programs delivered at all levels of scouting meet the aims and goals of the scouting movement. All adult leaders must complete certain training and re-training in order to maintain their position within the Pack.

Required Training

Scouting’s Barriers to Abuse

As part of our commitment to youth safety, the BSA has rigid policies surrounding safety. The following excerpt below lists some of the steps that the BSA has in place to ensure the safety of scouts is paramount. The following was taken from the Youth Protection Policies on the BSA website.

The BSA has adopted the following policies for the safety and well-being of its members. These policies primarily protect youth members; however, they also serve to protect adult leaders. Parents and youth using these safeguards outside the Scouting program further increase the safety of their youth. Those who serve in positions of leadership and supervision with youth outside the Scouting program will find these policies help protect youth in those situations as well.

Two-deep leadership is required on all outings.. A minimum of two registered adult leaders—or one registered leader and a participating Scout’s parent or another adult—is required for all trips and outings. One of these adults must be 21 years of age or older.

Patrol Activities

There are instances, such as patrol activities, when the presence of adult leaders is not required and adult leadership may be limited to patrol leadership training and guidance. With proper training, guidance, and approval by troop leaders, the patrol can conduct day hikes and service projects.

Adult Supervision/Coed Activities

Male and female adult leaders must be present at all overnight coed Scouting trips and outings, even those for parents and children. All male and female adult leaders must be 21 years of age or older, and one must be a registered member of the BSA.

One-on-one contact between adults and youth members is prohibited. . In situations requiring a personal conference, such as a Scoutmaster conference, the meeting is to be conducted with the knowledge and in view of other adults and/or youth.

The policies of two-deep leadership and no one-on-one contact between adults and youth members also apply to digital communication. Leaders may not have one-on-one private online communications or engage one-on-one in other digital activities (games, social media, etc.) with youth members. Leaders should copy a parent and another leader in digital and online communication, ensuring no one-on-one contact takes place in text, social media, or other forms of online or digital communication.

Age-appropriate and separate accommodations for adults and Scouts are required.


No adult may share a tent with a member of the opposite sex unless that person is his or her spouse.

No youth may share a tent with an adult or a person of the opposite sex other than a family member or guardian. Assigning youth members more than two years apart in age to sleep in the same tent should be avoided unless the youth are relatives.

Shower Facilities

Whenever possible, separate shower and latrine facilities should be provided for male and female adults as well as for male and female youth. If separate facilities are not available, separate shower times should be scheduled and posted.

The buddy system should be used at all times. The buddy system is a safety measure for all Scouting activities. Buddies should know and be comfortable with each other. Buddies should be strongly encouraged to select each other, with no more than two years’ age difference and the same level of maturity. When necessary, a buddy team may consist of three Scouts. No youth should be forced into or made to feel uncomfortable in a buddy assignment.

Privacy of youth is respected. Adult leaders and youth must respect each other’s privacy, especially in situations such as changing clothes and taking showers at camp. Adults may enter changing or showering areas for youth only to the extent that health and safety requires. Adults must protect their own privacy in similar situations.

Inappropriate use of smart phones, cameras, imaging, or digital devices is prohibited. Although most Scouts and leaders use cameras and other imaging devices responsibly, it is easy to unintentionally or inadvertently invade the privacy of other individuals with such devices. The use of any device capable of recording or transmitting visual images in or near shower houses, restrooms, or other areas where privacy is expected is inappropriate.

No secret organizations. The BSA 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.

Youth leadership is monitored by adult leaders. Adult leaders must monitor and guide the leadership techniques used by youth leaders and ensure BSA policies are followed.

Discipline must be constructive. Discipline used in Scouting must be constructive and reflect Scouting’s values. Corporal punishment is never permitted. Disciplinary activities involving isolation, humiliation, or ridicule are prohibited. Examples of positive discipline include verbal praise and high fives.

Appropriate attire is required for all activities.

No hazing. Hazing and initiations are prohibited and may not be included as part of any Scouting activity.

No bullying. Verbal, physical, and cyberbullying are prohibited in Scouting.

Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse
All persons involved in Scouting must 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, or exposed to any form of sexual exploitation including the possession, manufacture, or distribution of child pornography, online solicitation, enticement, or showing of obscene material. The reporting duty cannot be delegated to any other person.
Immediately notify the Scout executive of this report, or of any violation of BSA’s Youth Protection policies, so he or she may take appropriate action for the safety of our Scouts, make appropriate notifications, and follow up with investigating agencies.

State-by-state mandatory reporting information: 

All adult leaders and youth members have responsibility. Everyone is responsible for acting in accordance with the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Physical violence, sexual activity, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, unauthorized weapons, hazing, discrimination, harassment, initiation rites, bullying, cyberbullying, theft, verbal insults, drugs, alcohol, and pornography have no place in the Scouting program and may result in revocation of membership. For more information, please see the BSA’s Guide to Safe Scouting and Youth Protection resources.

Units are responsible to enforce Youth Protection policies. Adult leaders in Scouting units are responsible for monitoring the behavior of youth members and other leaders and interceding when necessary. If youth members misbehave, their parents should be informed and asked for assistance.

The following incidents require an immediate report to the Scout executive:

  • Any threat or use of a weapon
  • Any negative behavior associated with race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability
  • Any situation where the BSA’s Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse policy or your state’s mandatory reporting of child abuse laws apply
  • Any abuse of a child that meets state reporting mandates for bullying or harassment
  • Any mention or threats of suicide

If someone is at immediate risk of harm, call 911.

If a Scout is bullied because of race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability, and local help is not working to solve the problem, contact the BSA’s Member Care Contact Center at 972-580-2489, or send an email to 

Your Responsibility

  • Stop the policy violation or abuse.
  • Protect the youth.
  • Separate alleged victim(s) from alleged perpetrator(s).
  • Summon needed assistance (911, EMS, additional leaders, etc.).
  • Notify parents.
  • Notify the appropriate Scouting professional.
Text in above section © 2015 Boy Scouts of America. All Rights Reserved.