By Annaleis Smith
Aug 16, 2016

BSA Parent’s Guide to Youth Protection

Youth Protection – How To Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide. That’s the name of the 23-page booklet in the front of every boy’s handbook (Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos and Boy Scout). Each rank has a specific requirement for the boys to complete the exercises listed therein with their parents. There are two versions of this booklet, one for Cub Scouts and one for Boy Scouts. I haven’t compared the two word for word, but in just looking through them both they are very similar.

Youth Protection Parent's Guide

Cub Scout Version

Boy Scout Youth Protection Booklet

Boy Scout Version

I’ll be honest, It has been a while since I’ve looked at this booklet. And it’s been even longer since I went through the exercises with my own son. However, it happens to be one of the things he still needs for his next rank. I guess that’s why I’ve been thinking about youth protection and decided to write about it. I want to help parents understand what’s inside and why you need to help your son complete this requirement. I have seen far too many boys over the years who have completed every requirement for his next rank except this one… somehow it gets left for last and then we as leaders find ourselves badgering the parents to complete it.

Why It’s Required for Every Rank

The best explanation for both why parents don’t want to and why parents do is found on page 2 of this very booklet.  It says:

“Child abuse is something we would rather not talk about or even think about, but we must.  Every offender benefits from our ignorance.  If we fail to do everything we can to keep our children safe, the consequences can be devastating, even deadly.”

Information for Parents

OverwhelmedIt might seem a little scary or overwhelming, but once you understand the importance you just have to dive in. You don’t need to go through the whole thing with your son. The first part (11 1/2 pages) is full of information for the parent to read. In fact, it starts with “Dear Parent” and then has information to help parents understand the problem of abuse. It breaks it down and discusses each issue such as neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse by adults and other youth, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse and bullying and lists some signs that a child might have been abused. It also talks just a little about the internet and social media safety and mentions the requirements for the boys to earn their Cyber Chip. It also gives some tips for speaking with a child who discloses or indicates abuse.

Starting on page 11, the booklet then outlines and explains the BSA’s barriers to abuse—the very policies taught in the Youth Protection Training that all Scout leaders must take and keep current in.  Policies like two-deep leadership, no one-on-one contact, separate accommodations, buddy system, privacy, discipline, appropriate attire, and inappropriate use of smartphones, cameras of other digital devices. It also gives the Scouting-required steps for reporting child abuse.

This is all really good information for both leaders and parents to know. I have found it very helpful when parents are aware of the BSA policies. It makes the policies much easier for the leaders to enforce when the parents are aware. It should also give the parents some comfort knowing what the leaders know what they should do.

Exercises to Complete Together

ExerciseStarting on page 14 is the “Exercises on personal safety awareness” that the parents and boys need to complete together. There are 5 topics to cover and a reminder that “Completing the exercises described within these pages fulfills the requirements for you son to earn his badge or rank and must be completed for each rank he earns.”

The 5 topics with exercises to complete are then listed: Network of Trusted Adults, Check First, Trust your Gut Instinct, Secrets and Surprises, and Talk about Touches and Private Parts. While there is both a Cub Scout and Boy Scout version of this booklet, as I mentioned previously, the suggested exercises and “what-if” scenarios are where the main differences are.  A parent should talk about all these topics with both a younger and older child but would probably go about it a bit differently with each.

No Excuses Now!

No ExcusesNow that I have read through the first part, for the parents, and have familiarized myself with the required exercises, I feel better prepared and ready to help my son complete this part of his next rank requirement (Oh yeah, and he needs to earn his Cyber Chip too). Now I have no excuse, do I? How about you? Have you been putting this off too, like me? Let’s do it!

Annaleis SmithAnnaleis Smith – is a “stay at home” mother of 5 children. She has been a Cub Scout leader for the past 13 years in various positions and is currently a Cubmaster, Unit Commissioner, and the VP of Membership for the Utah National Parks Council (heading up the Lion and Tiger initiative in the UNPC) Cub Scouting is for every boy!

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