369 would like to give a special thanks to:
Generally speaking, child abuse is injury of a child by an adult or
older child that might not be intentional, but is not accidental. It
is usually classified as physical abuse, emotional abuse, or sexual
abuse. Harm caused by withholding life's necessities - food clothing,
shelter, medical care, education-is called neglect.
Each child reacts to abuse differently. In physical abuse, injuries
to the child might be evident, but with any kind of abuse, children
often give only behavioral clues. You should be alert to changes in
the child's behavior. Any abrupt change in behavior that is maintained
for a week or longer is a sign that the child is experiencing stress
that could stem from a variety of causes-including child abuse. If you
notice this kind of change in behavior, you should consider seeking
help for the child. Some of the specific signs for each kind of abuse
are listed below:
A child who has been physically abused might exhibit suspicious
injuries. These injuries are different from those normally associated
with childhood "wear and tear."
Boy Scouts Of America
Youth Protection Guidelines
Questions And Answers
Burns Burns that might indicate a child has been abused include
cigarette or cigar burns on the soles of the feet, the palms of the
hands, the back, or the genital areas. Other burns associated with
abuse are friction or tether burns on the wrists, ankles, or around
the neck caused by ropes used to tie the child. Wet burns on the
hands and feet that appear to be glove-like or sock-like are caused by
forcing the child to bathe in water that is too hot. Dry burns leave
distinctive marks in the shape of the instrument used to inflict them.
Commonly, in child abuse cased, these include electric irons, radiator
grates, and stove burners.
Bruises Bruises of different colors, indicating infliction at
different times and in different stages of healing, often indicate
abuse. This is particularly true if the bruises are on the abdomen,
back, or face. Bruises, like burns, also might have distinctive
shapes indicating the weapon used to inflict them.
Lacerations and abrasions Children often have scraped knees,
shins, palms, or elbows-predictable injuries. When children have
lacerations and abrasions in soft tissue areas, such as on the abdomen,
back, backs of arms and legs, or external genitalia, it is a strong
indicator of physical abuse. Human bite marks especially when they
are recurrent and appear to be adult-sized, are also strongly
indicative of abuse.
Fractures Unexplained fractures are cause for concern. A child
with multiple fractures is almost certain to be a victim of abuse.
Other signs include swollen or tender limbs and spiral fractures
caused by jerking of the arms.
Children who have been physically abused also are likely to show signs
of childhood stress. Childhood stress can result from any upsetting
situation in the child's environment such as family disruption, death
of a pet, or even a move to a new neighborhood. It can also be a
result of child abuse. If a child abruptly changes his behavior for
more that a few days in a manner that you feel is inappropriate, you
might want to ask the child if something is wrong or if you can help.
Do not immediately jump to the conclusion that the child has been
The indicators of emotional abuse are hard to detect. Some visible
signs are lagging physical development and habit disorders such as
thumb sucking or rocking.
As with emotional abuse, the signs of neglect are usually very subtle
and hard to detect. A neglected child might show up at Scout meetings
inappropriately dressed, lacking in personal hygiene, and consistently
Perhaps the best evidence that a child has been sexually abused is that
the abuse is witnessed--if not by yourself, then by another individual.
Another excellent indication is that the child says that he has been
abused. Again, oftentimes this information may not come from the child
himself but from another source.
Physical evidence of sexual abuse, if present at all, tends to be
temporary. These signs include difficulty in walking; torn, stained,
or bloody underwear; pain or itching in the genital area; bruises of
bleeding of the external genitalia; and sexually transmitted diseases.
The behavioral signs of sexual abuse are likely to be more conspicuous
and present longer. Specific behaviors related to child sexual abuse
are an age-inappropriate understanding of sex; reluctance to be left
alone with a particular person; persistent and inappropriate sex play
with peers or toys; prostitution; wearing lots of clothing, especially
to bed; drawings of genitalia; fear of touch; abuse of animals;
masturbation in public; nightmares or night terrors; apprehension when
the subject of sexual abuse is brought up; and cross-dressing.
The presence of any of these behaviors indicates a possibility that
sexual abuse has occurred. They are not, in and of themselves,
conclusive evidence that the child has been abused.
First, you should not jump to any conclusions. The signs of child
abuse are often ambiguous; they can mean something other than child
abuse. Consider stating your observations to the child's parents. For
example, you could say, "For the past two weeks, Johnny has been very
disruptive at den meetings. He is very aggressive with the other boys
and uses foul language. This behavior is very unlike him. I hope that
everything is okay." You should not make any accusations to the
parents that the child is being abused. Even if you file a report
with the Scout executive or the authorities because you suspect child
abuse, you should not make accusations or state your suspicions to
others who are not responsible for determining if abuse is occurring.
If you suspect or hear that a child in the Scouting program is being
abused, you must contact your Scout executive. He has already
established contacts with the child protective services and law
enforcement agencies in your area. He will be able to tell you what
you should do. He will also tell you that he must contact the
appropriate authorities and report your suspicions to them. If you
suspect that a child who is not a Scout is being abused, you should
contact your local child abuse hot line. Generally the telephone
number to report child abuse is listed in the white pages under
The law requires only that you have a reasonable suspicion that a
child is being abused. Once a report has been made, the appropriate
agency will investigate and determine if abuse can be substantiated.
Unless you make a report, the child might remain in grave danger.
Child molesters, individuals who sexually abuse children, do not fit
the common stereotypes that we hold, i.e., strangers, dirty old men,
mentally disabled, etc. There is no test or other screening mechanism
that will identify a child molester prior to committing an offense.
Child molesters come from all walks of like, all social and ethnic
groups, and all occupational categories. Child molesters might have
positions of prominence in their communities. The vast majority of
molesters are known by the children they victimize and might have a
position of authority over children, such as a teacher, clergy member,
youth group worker, or police officer.
Child molesters often try to gain access to children through legitimate
means such as becoming involved in youth activities. They use this
access to identify children who they perceive to be vulnerable to
sexual abuse. To protect our children, we must establish and maintain
open lines of communication so that they feel free to report any
inappropriate or worrisome contact with adults or older children.
We also must educate our children to enable them to understand what
abuse is and that they have the right to resist any offensive contact.
The Boy Scouts of America has adopted a number of policies aimed at
eliminating opportunities for abuse within the Scouting program.
These policies focus on leadership selection and on placing barriers
to abuse within the program.
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.
The adult application requests background information that should be
checked by the unit committee of the chartered organization before
accepting an applicant for unit leadership. While no current screening
techniques exist that can identify every potential child molester, we
can reduce the risk of accepting a child molester 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 her or she would use.
The BSA has adopted the following policies to provide additional
security for our members. These policies are primarily for the
protection of our youth members; however, they also serve to protect
our adult leaders from false accusations of abuse.
Two-deep leadership. Two registered adult leaders or one registered
leader and a parent of a participant, one of whom must be 21 years of
age or older, are required on all trips and outings. The chartered
organization is responsible for ensuring that sufficient leadership is
provided for all activities.
No one-on-one contact. One-on-one contact between adults and youth
members is not permitted. In situations that require personal
conferences, such as a Scoutmaster's conference, the meeting is to be
conducted in view of other adults and youths.
Respect of privacy. Adult leaders must respect the privacy of youth
members in situations such as changing clothes and taking shower at
camp, and intrude only to the extent that health and safety require.
Adults must protect their own privacy in similar situations.
Separate accommodations. When camping, no youth is permitted to sleep
in the tent of an adult other than his 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
Proper preparation for high-adventure activities. Activities with
elements of risk should never be undertaken without proper preparation,
equipment, clothing, supervision, and safety measures.
No secret organizations. The Boy Scouts of America 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.
Appropriate attire. Proper clothing for activities is required. For
example, skinny-dipping is not appropriate as part of Scouting.
Constructive discipline. Discipline used in Scouting should be
constructive and reflect Scouting's values. Corporal punishment is
Hazing prohibited. Physical hazing and initiations are prohibited and
may not be included as part of any Scouting activity.
Junior leader training and supervision. Adult leader s must monitor
and guide the leadership techniques used by junior leaders and ensure
that BSA policies are followed.
Parents participate in the protection of their children in a variety
of ways. We have already mentioned the need for open lines of
communication so that children are encouraged to bring any troubles
to their parents for advice and counsel. In addition, parents need
to be involved in their son's Scouting activities. All parents receive
important information concerning the Scouting program as part of their
son's membership applications. This information is provided so that
parents can detect any deviations from the BSA's approved program.
If any deviations are noted, parents should call these to the attention
of the chartered organization of the unit committee. If the problems
persist, parents should contact the local council for assistance.
Parents also need to review the booklet, How to Protect Your Children
from Child Abuse and Drug Abuse: A Parent's Guide, inserted in every
Boy Scout and Cub Scout handbook. The information in this booklet
should be the subject of discussions between Scouts and their parents
prior to joining a troop or receiving the Bobcat badge.
A victim of child sexual abuse is under a great deal of pressure to
keep the abuse secret. In many cases of child molestation, the
molester has threatened to harm the child or a member of the child's
family. The molester might have told the child that he would not be
believe even if the child did tell. Another common situation is that
the molester will tell the child that if the child tells about the
abuse, he will get into trouble. The clear message is given to the
child that if another person finds out, something bad will happen to
the child. This pressure to maintain silence can often be successfully
overcome by establishing open communication between children and adults
through a proper educational program for children.
How an adult responds to a child when he tries to disclose abuse can
influence the outcome of the child's victimization. By maintaining an
apparent calm, the adult can help reassure the child that every thing
is going to be okay. By not criticizing the child, we counteract any
statements the molester made to the victim about the child getting into
trouble. Reassure the child that you are concerned about what happened
to him and that you would like to get him some help. Allegations by a
Scout concerning abuse in the program must be reported to the Scout
executive. Since these reports are required, the child should be told
that you have to tell the proper authorities but that you will not tell
anyone else. It is important that you not tell anyone other then the
Scout executive or the child protective services agency about
allegations of abuse-if the allegations cannot be substantiated, you
could be sued for defamation of character.
Every state, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories have
different reporting requirements. As part of this training, you will
receive reporting instructions for your area and for your council.
People are often concerned about being sued for reporting child abuse.
You are not required to know for certain that a child has been abused.
All that the law requires is that you have a reasonable suspicion and
are reporting in "good faith." When these requirements are met, all
states provide immunity from liability for child abuse reporters.
The BSA produced separate age-appropriate videos for Cub Scout-age and
Boy Scout-age boys to address the problems of sexual abuse. The video
for Cub Scouts, It Happened to. Me, should be used annually by packs
or dens, but only for Cub Scouts accompanied by a parent of other adult
family member. The video for Boy Scout, A Time to Tell, introduces the
"three Rs" of Youth Protection, and should be viewed by troops annually.
The BSA recognizes that many of our leaders feel unprepared to talk to
children about preventing sexual abuse. For this reason, the BSA has
meeting guides for both of the videos produced to be viewed by youths.
The guides address everything from scheduling the meeting, contacting
the police or social services for assistance, and notifying parents
( a sample letter is provided), to questions and answers for discussion
after the video has been viewed.
The "three Rs" of Youth Protection convey a simple message that the
BSA wants its youth members to learn: Recognize situations that place
him at risk of being molested, how child molesters operate, and that
anyone could be a molester. Resist unwanted and inappropriate
attention. Resistance will stop most attempts at molestation.
Report attempted or actual molestation to a parent or other trusted
adult. This prevents further abuse of himself and helps to protect
other children. Let the Scout know he will not be blamed for what