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Scouts with porn on campouts

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  • Scouts with porn on campouts

    Recently had a situation with a scout (Boy Scout), who had porn videos on his phone at a camp out. Boy was disciplined, talk with parents, etc.

    However, now, beginning to rethink if this was handled correctly -- as I read the guidelines, exposure to porn appears to be reportable:

    Mandatory Report of Child Abuse
    All persons involved in Scouting shall report to local authorities any good faith suspicion or belief that any child is or has been physically or sexually abused, physically or emotionally neglected, exposed to any form of violence or threat, exposed to any form of sexual exploitation including the possession, manufacture, or distribution of child pornography, online solicitation, enticement, or showing of obscene material. No person may abdicate this reporting responsibility to any other person.
    Notify your Scout executive of this report, or of any violation of BSAs Youth Protection policies, so that he or she may take appropriate action for the safety of our Scouts, make appropriate notifications, and follow-up with investigating agencies.

    This seems pretty black & white -- exposure to obscene material means informing the police and the district executive.

    Do others read this the same way?

  • #2
    Oh God NO!

    Your interpretation is not within the spirit or intent of which the YPT guidelines were written!!! They are talking about ADULT exploitation, exposure, etc.

    The situation you describe is the equivalent of "The stash of Playboy magazines hidden under a log at camp" brought into 21st century technology. The boys are being boys, nothing more. A discussion of "A Scout Is Clean," and the inappropriateness of bringing such material to a Troop function should suffice, just as it has since 1911. You handled it fine, and I'm sure the SE would agree.


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    • #3
      Another reason why cell phones should be left at home. We are beyond the point where the phone was just a "phone". The "smartphone" is now a computer, TV, phone, GPS, etc. And a direct, unfiltered link to the Internet. Were it my kid, he would not see another phone until he was 18 and could pay for it himself.

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      • #4
        If an adult was distributing the videos, that would be actionable. Not against the boy, but against the purveyor.
        If a scout was sharing with his buddies, that would not. Even if a scout was showing the stuff to younger scouts, it would be a huge mess for you, but not necessarily anything to report up the line. Obviously, the younger boys' parents should be informed.
        If a scout was showing predatory behavior, (e.g., luring younger boys for the purposes of molestation), you're in over your head. Call the SE and police.

        If it's like you describe (boy collecting his own personal stash, brings it to camp, maybe compares notes with his buddy), then you did the right thing.

        If not calling in the authorities, it wouldn't hurt to let your committee chair know you had a situation and how you dealt with it.

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        • #5
          Playing the Devil's Advocate here.

          Where do you guys find the exemption if the person providing the porn is a youth? Do you see a similar exemption for the other actions in the policy such as physical or sexual abuse? If a 17-y.o. sexually abuses an 11-y.o. is it an internal matter or reportable?

          I had two 11-y.o.s get into a tussle waiting for assembly last week. One kid swatted the other with his hat and the second kid punched him in the arm. Is that "exposed to any form of violence"? I gave them a quick lecture and made them shake hands. Should I have called the local sheriff instead?

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          • #6
            I think a case can be made that the YPT guidelines are so broadly written that pretty much anything that could arguably fall within YPT guidelines should be reported.

            If it isn't, the volunteer who didn't report it will always be to blame if something bad happens down the line.

            Of course you will be blamed if you call the dogs over a trivial problem. And you will be blamed if you don't call in the dogs, too.

            It's a great system. For letting others off the hook, BSA and your council in particular.

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            • #7
              Let's pretend that you should actually "report" this to the police and the professional staff... What kind of response would you expect to get from them? What kind of action would you expect the police to take? How about your DE? Who would benefit from this report - and how would that individual benefit?

              It's OK to think beyond the "black and white" guidelines published by a private corporation when deciding whether to call in re-enforcements to deal with the relatively common occurance of a teenage boy looking at porn...

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              • #8
                pretty much everything can and has been construed to be a YP violation in some way. even OA events, and swim checks can be, as others have shown from this board. however in this case if you happen to have an angry parent you can essentially guarantee BSA will do whats best for the BSA (corporation).

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                • #9
                  Well...what you should do is first consider what state you are in.

                  In my state, if a minor provides another minor with pornographic material, he is committing a Class 4 Felony. Yes, it is a sexual offense.

                  Minor is defined as anyone under the age of 21 in this case.

                  (This message has been edited by Engineer61)

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                  • #10
                    Well when a scout was caught by other scouts with porn on his computer at a campout-- the boys handled it pretty well. They took the computer to his parent with the report of what happened, SM was also notified. He was talked to by the SPL and ASPL when it happened and they explained how disapointed in him that they were especially since he did this at scouting where younger boys could have seen it and that would have been illegal. It was a great example of boys in action.

                    Then when OA elections came up, he was the only boy who didn't get half of the votes, the boys didn't think he was worthy. He also didn't get chosen for a position at election time. It took him a whole year before the boys felt he was showing that he was following the scout oath and law and reearned their trust.

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                    • #11
                      I think I've related this story before on this forum - but it has been a few years.

                      When my second son attended summer camp (I was the Scoutmaster) his mother gave him a disposable camera (digital cameras were an expensive item at this time - about 8 years ago?). His instructions were to take pictures and she would get them developed when he got home. My wife knew that to have me responsible for picture taking was a losing proposition - I don't like taking pictures when I've go so much else going on.

                      Well, fast forward a few weeks and she picks them up from the store and is aghast at what she sees. It seems as a joke, a few of the boys stuck the camera down their pants and snapped a photo (it had a built in flash). The vast majority were barely recognizable - out of focus, blurred, etc. Well my son claimed ignorance (not sure what to believe as a father) but mom was upset - mostly because it meant fewer "real" pictures due to a constraint of 24 shots. I was glad my wife or I wasn't accused of child pornography!

                      Any way, I addressed at a follow up troop meeting with the boys. Trying to keep a straight face, I told them what happened and said there was only one way to find out who was involved - match individuals to the photos! This got their attention (I never did share the photos). Needless to say, this was never a problem again.

                      For the case referenced here, I would use my judgment and talk to the Scout involved and privately and discreetly mention the incident to his parents too. I'm not trying to downplay this but not a rare incident amongst adolescent boys.

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                      • #12
                        FrankScout hit the nail on the head. Boys will be boys, and as a leader you should be both understanding and a mentor to these boys as they come to grips with adulthood. I view it as an honor everytime I have to or am asked to mentor a youth. You are becoming a part of the moral fiber of these boys everytime you do and it is a great and rewarding responsibility. To answer the original posters question and some of the follow up comments, your the leader, be the leader and all that comes with it. Scuffles between boys, the proverbial playboy under the tent, and all the other things in that realm are our job. I hope you never never encounter a situation that does require the authorities, but I know you'll know that situation if you are ever faced with it.

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                        • #13
                          2c: Playing the Devil's Advocate here.
                          Where do you guys find the exemption if the person providing the porn is a youth?

                          Let me first make clear that I see no devil needing advocating for in the original post. Boy had obscene material of unspecified provenance. Leader handled it appropriately. That he is second guessing himself shows that he is handling it concienciously.

                          I brought up the scenario to show that the OP was on the "safe" end of the continuum.

                          There is no exemption. Why? Because a young predator could use that in seeking retribution against us for calling the authorities. Or a belligerent youth could use it as a shield to justify his desire for he and his buddies to gawk at someone else's spouse.

                          But there is a common sense understanding that the context in which they occur can lead one to conclude that a behavior is not predatory and need to be dealt with on a leader/parent level. No amount of calling authorities will remedy the situation. The same behavior in a different context (the hair-raising-on-the-back-of-your-neck context) would compel you to call for help, because you know that no troop discipline or parental involvement will be sufficient to prevent great harm.

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                          • #14

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                            • #15
                              When were we trained to distinguish between predatory and non-predatory uses or displays of pornography? Did I miss that somewhere?

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