April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, which makes it an appropriate time to plan a Scout meeting to work on the child abuse prevention related elements incorporated into the BSA curriculum.
Like the Child Protection-themed booklets that must be read by parents and Scouts of all ages, the Protection Rules Overview Adventure (for Cubs), and Personal Safety Awareness Programs (for BSA Scouts Members, Venturers and Sea Scouts) cover topics that are essential to keeping our young people safe and well-being.
As with all skills children learn in Scouting, these requirements provide tools and knowledge that will remain vital for young people as they continue their journey into adulthood.
In addition to plenty of material to read and discuss, the BSA – in partnership with the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Foundation – also offers a series of age-appropriate videos that can be shown at unit meetings or at the home of the Scout.
We recommend that you share your meeting plans on these topics with parents prior to the meeting date.
For the Cubs…
We already know that the Cub Scout adventure works: 93% of parents whose children have taken this program say it has helped them have that important conversation with their children.
Because the Protection Rules Preview Adventures are so broad when it comes to protecting children, they can be earned instead of the Cyber Chip requirement for Tiger rank badges at Arrow of Light .
If you want to work on these adventures in a lair meeting, the BSA offers separate plans for Lion, Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos, and Arrow of Light meetings. Although this adventure can also be used as a pack program, leaders should still divide dens by rank, as each program has content aimed at specific age groups.
Links to videos for each program are available here.
For young BSA Scouts members…
Personal safety advancement requirements for Scout, Tenderfoot, and First Class grades in Scouts BSA broaden the discussion for older children. The requirement to earn the rank of Scout is to review the Proper Parent’s Guide to Protecting Your Children from Child Abuse.
In order to earn the Tenderfoot rank, Scouts must be able to “explain the importance of protecting themselves by using the buddy system on outings and in your neighborhood and demonstrate the buddy system by using it on a troop or patrol outing”.
And for the second class, the requirements expand even further, covering the “three Rs” of personal safety (recognize, respond and report) while addressing the topic of how to respond to bullying.
And again, there are videos to show at unit meetings that can be used in place of the Cyber Chip requirement for Scout and Star ranks.
For Adventurers, Sea Scouts and former BSA Scouts…
It may be helpful for adult leaders and parents to show the teen-focused videos to older BSA youth (even if they have seen them before) and use them as a starting point for further discussion about topics such as recognizing abuse, responding to abuse, reporting abuse, and ending bullying and hazing.
This is a great opportunity for our older youth to understand the valuable role they play in leading by example in their unit.
Young Leaders — think Assistant Patrol Leaders, Senior Patrol Leaders, Team Chairs, etc. — don’t just lead by teaching young Scouts how to tie knots and pitch tents. They lead by treating others well, including those who are younger, smaller, or less able than themselves.
Lead by example
If an older Scout sees someone being confused or bullied, they should be encouraged to stand up for what is right by standing up for that person, using the Scout Oath and Law as a guide. Scouts can set an example at home, at school and in Scouting by being honest. (Being an honest man is even highlighted in personal safety awareness videos.)
In many cases, it is the older children who define the culture of an entire unit. If they look away when they see bullying, then the bullying becomes acceptable to the rest of the Scouts.
But this culture does not develop by accident. Most often it is the result of open and honest conversations with parents and adult leaders about what is expected of Scouts.
Such conversations greatly increase the chances of having a group of Scouts who look out for each other and are ready to protect themselves, whether it’s remembering to tighten their life jackets and secure their helmets or speak up when they see someone not behaving like a Scout should.