BSA to Launch "Scouts First" Helpline
BSA TO LAUNCH 'SCOUTS FIRST' HELPLINE FOR ABUSE AND YOUTH PROTECTION
The protection of youth is the primary obligation of every individual involved in the Boy Scouts of America — including leaders, parents, members and professionals. The BSA has been and will continue to be vigilant in its efforts to create barriers that help prevent abuse and to recognize and report child abuse regardless of where it occurs.
Nationwide, the BSA requires everyone involved with Scouting to report any known or suspected abuse to local authorities.
Scouts First Helpline Opened March 1: As part of the BSA’s “Scouts First” approach to the protection and safety of youth, the BSA has established a dedicated 24-hour helpline at 844-SCOUTS FIRST (844-726-8871) to receive reports of any known or suspected abuse or significant violations of youth protection policies that might put a youth at risk.
The helpline’s goal is to provide immediate assistance to BSA professionals in the investigation, reporting and dealing with abuse allegations or to ensure that the victim, unit, and council are fully supported and the actions taken are properly documented. The program will initially be implemented with professionals and will be publicized to all in Scouting in June.
Effective March 1, 2017, all known or suspected abuse and significant youth protection policy infractions must be reported to the Scouts First Helpline after mandatory reporting to law enforcement or child protective services. (When the helpline becomes available BSA-wide in June, volunteers and others will be able to call the helpline directly or call the local Scout executive. If reported to the Scout executive, he or she will be responsible for reporting to the Scouts First Helpline.)
Responding to Abuse: When information regarding known or suspected abuse is first discovered, the following steps should immediately be taken by those responding:
- Get the victim medical treatment, if required, and to a place of safety if needed
- Ensure the victim(s) parents are notified as soon as possible
- Notify law enforcement and/or child protective services
- Call the Scouts First Helpline
Reporting Abuse or Youth Protection Violations: Accurate information is critical to an appropriate response; however, a lack of specific information is not a reason to delay a report of known or suspected abuse or significant youth protection policy violations. At a minimum, every effort should be made to have the following information available when reporting to the Scouts First Helpline:
- The name, age, council, and unit of the alleged victim(s)
- The name and phone number of the victim’s parent(s)
- The name, age, council, and unit of any other known or suspected victim(s) and their parents contact information
- The name, position, council, and unit of alleged perpetrator(s)
- The name and phone number of the law enforcement or protective service agency to which the incident was reported
- The name, unit, and council of any known witnesses
- The name and phone number of the reporter
- Details of the incident: who, what, where, and when
The reporter may also be asked to submit the information on a Youth Protection/Membership Incident Information Form (paper or online).
Hours of Operation: The Scouts First Helpline will be answered 24/7. The call may initially be answered by a person who gathers initial information and then escalates the report for further handling.
Questions or Concerns: Questions regarding the Scouts First Helpline and the above procedures should be directed to BSA Membership Standards at 972-580-2365 or 972-580-2007.
NOTE: The Scouts First Helpline is for reporting abuse or significant violations of the BSA’s youth protection policies only. While all youth protection policies must be taken seriously, minor, non-recurring infractions with no indication youth are at risk can be addressed at the unit level. Any other questions should continue to be directed to the BSA’s Member Care team at 972-580-2489.
Scouts First Helpline for Abuse and Youth Protection.pdf