Scouting’s Barriers to Abuse

BSA’s Commitment to Safety

BSA’s Commitment to Safety. The safety of our youth, volunteers, staff and employees is the top priority of the Scouting experience. Youth develop traits of citizenship, character, fitness and leadership during age-appropriate events when challenged to move beyond their normal comfort level and when they discover their abilities. This is appropriate when risks are identified and mitigated.

The Scouting program, as contained in our handbooks and literature, integrates many safety features. However, no policy or procedure will replace the review and vigilance of trusted adults at the point of program execution. Commit yourself to creating a safe and healthy environment by:

  • Knowing and executing the BSA program as contained in our publications
  • Planning tours, activities and events with vigilance using the tools provided
  • Setting the example for safe behavior and equipment use during program
  • Engaging and educating all participants in discussions about hazards and risks
  • Reporting incidents in a timely manner

Barriers to Abuse

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. All parents and caregivers should understand that our leaders are to abide by these safeguards. Registered leaders must follow these guidelines with all Scouting youth outside of Scouting activities.

  • The chartered organization representative, or in their absence the executive officer of the chartered organization, must approve the registration of the unit’s adult leaders.
  • Youth Protection training is required for leaders when renewing their registration or at unit charter renewal.
  • Adult program participants must register as adults and follow Youth Protection policies.
  • Two registered adult leaders 21 years of age or over are required at all Scouting activities, including meetings. There must be a registered female adult leader 21 years of age or over in every unit serving females. A registered female adult leader 21 years of age or over must be present for any activity involving female youth. Notwithstanding the minimum leader requirements, age- and program-appropriate supervision must always be provided.
  • One-on-one contact between adult leaders and youth members is prohibited both inside and outside of Scouting.
  • Discipline must be constructive.
  • Leaders must ensure that all participating in Scouting abide by the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
  • Adult leaders and youth members share the responsibility for the safety of all participants in the program, including adherence to Youth Protection and health and safety policies.
  • All leaders are required to adhere to the Scouter Code of Conduct.
  • Whenever possible, separate cabins or lodging should be provided for male and female adults as well as for male and female youth. Where separate accommodations cannot be provided due to group size or limited availability, modifications may be made. Where completely separate accommodations are not available, additional supervision is required.
  • Separate shower and latrine facilities should be provided for male and female adults as well as for male and female youth.
  • The buddy system should be used.
  • The use of smartphones, cameras, mirrors, drones, etc., in places or situations where privacy is expected is prohibited.
  • All aspects of the Scouting program are open to observation by parents and leaders.
  • The BSA does not recognize any secret organizations as part of its program.
  • Hazing and initiations are prohibited and have no part during any Scouting activity.
  • All forms of bullying and harassment including verbal, physical and cyberbullying are prohibited.
  • Inappropriate public displays of affection are prohibited.
  • Sexual activity is prohibited.
  • Appropriate attire is required for all activities.
  • Adult leaders and youth members have a responsibility to recognize, respond to, and report Youth Protection violations and abuse.


Helpful Resources

The Boy Scouts of America have developed a number of helpful resources to encourage Safe Scouting including: