Jump to content

New BSA Social Media Guidelines!?

Recommended Posts

Oh I'm certain BSA really doesn't need to get involved in this at the unit level.


But since BSA thinks they need to be involved, it would be nice to give them a heads up to rachet down the panic level a bit, and to give a few guidelines for safer internet behavior from the ADULT point of view. most internet safety hints are aimed at kids or scouts-- don't give out your name and address and don't talk to strangers, and be careful what you post online, and info about the dangers of sexting.

But honestly, there are some adults that should be more aware of what they say and who they say it to online.


there are two trains of thought, put everything in your real name, own up to what you say, don't delete anything and just be who you really are online. Or put everything in an assumed user name, be careful where you post personal and private info and sort of keep a cloak of mystery about yourself online. The first may seem like a good idea, but the 2nd is what we recommend for kids for the most part to help keep them safe from predators and stalkers online.


The first seems to be what bsa wanted on the my scouting forums--user name could only be your real name for instance, and all your contact info out there for everyone by default. Maybe that's why the myscouting forums didn't take off, too many people not really sure they wanted that much of their personal info sitting there looking at them every time they posted their opinion. that and BSA didn't have good/fast enough servers to make it a useful service.


as an adult I'm not comfortable with the first level of public openness online. I often am home alone when all my boys go off to summer camp, or my husband travels for work and I live in a rural area surrounded by the 5th largest city in the US.

I don't really want everyone to know where I live and what is all going on in my life. I filter things a bit to at least give myself the illusion of safety. I go by a user name online, I don't have all my info hung out to dry on the internet.


Sure there are things adults need to be reminded of--basically that anything you say online will come back to haunt you, that nothing is really safe online(not even private websites) and be careful with the subjects you share with minors about your personal life--- but not being able to answer an email from a scout without also emailing their parent isn't going to keep anyone any safer.


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 37
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

This is just mind boggling. I've commented before that when comparing and contrasting various BSA publications, it is as if they were written by different folks who have never spoken to one another. This passage confirms that impression:


As it relates to social media, two-deep leadership means there should be no private messages and no one-on-one direct contact through email, Facebook messages, Twitter direct messaging, chats, instant messaging (Google Messenger, AIM, etc.), or other similar messaging features provided through social media sites. All communication between adults and youth should take place in a public forum (e.g. the Facebook wall), or at a bare minimum, electronic communication between adults and youth should always include one or more authorized adults openly copied (included) on the message or message thread.

This certainly "sounds" like a youth protection provision, but it is found on a marketing page. I can find no reference to a "rule" like this in the actual YP or G2SS.  So what is this? A recommendation? A Rule? A policy? If I become aware of of a violation am I obligated to report it to the SE? It says all communication; wouldn't this include phone? Last night, my son's PL called to talk to him about the upcoming campout. He wasn't home and I relayed a message. No one else was on the line. Should I be worried?

Link to post
Share on other sites

What guidelines would I like to see from BSA? If this is an example of what we can expect, then NONE.


But if the are really serious about integrating technology into the program IN A WAY WHICH SUPPORTS AND BENEFITS THE PROGRAM, then here's my suggestion:


Buy this site, USSSP, MeritBadge.com, Troop/PackMaster, ScoutTrack and maybe a couple more of the smaller market-share scouting software companies. Roll them in with ScoutNet, Scouting.com and MyScouting. Even something like SnapFish. Spin them all off into their own enterprise group, like Supply Division, and tell them to go make money. With a profit motive behind them, I guarantee they will get things figured out.


I would really like our troop to have an integrated network which combines all of those above sites and software into one package which is secure and limits access on a need-to-know basis. A virtural troop meeting. Youth protection considerations could be built into the network. If everything needs to be public -- public meaning open to everyone in our troop -- fine. If all communications needs to be archived, fine. Make it automatic. Based on registered position (youth, adult, parent) there could be different levels of sharing.


In otherwords, solve all my IT problems so I can go work with the Scouts. They have everything they need to do it -- names, addressed, unit info, emails. I should be able to flip a switch and have a default unit network come online.


Would a FB-like feature on such a network catch on with the Scout? Who knows? I rather doubt the boys would hang out and chat the same way they use FB, but I bet my guys would use it for troop business. One of the problems we have with the boys trying to manage communications among themselves is there is no common platform everyone has access to. By the time the boys are in high school, they are all hooked up with text/phones, FB and email. But it's very spotty with the younger boys. Not all parents allow the younger boys access to this.


I don't know why the BSA network didn't work. My hunch is, like a lot of stuff, it was done half-a**ed (like this policy) without any real concern for how it would be used within the program. My observation is that it was just a cheesy, "me too" rip-off of FB. It's like the Lucky Strike pocket on the shirts. Seemed like a "hip" idea, but no one really researched it or thought how it was integrated with the progam. Someone just thought it was cool.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had to deal with the electronic YP allegation scenario. Of course it was 18 vs. 13 y.o. But the issue wasn't so much the medium, but the content that would be tolerated between two boys or between two men, but is unacceptable between a "man" and a "boy". It got swept under the rug for a year which made things worse.


These guidelines aren't extreme, but they aren't easy to follow either.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Gotta love it! Two-deep leadership now applies to on-line communication? Well, as long as another adult is in your home when you are using on-line communication with a Scout you are covered! Or if you are using a public library computer you are covered! This has more holes than Swiss cheese!


It appears common sense is no longer considered. Instead, we need nine million guidelines so we can type a text message! Totally absurd!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Let me rephrase my last line ...


Consistent adult-to-youth (emphasis on the singular) communication via electronic media with can be construed as direct contact.


But, is impossible to prevent EVERY such transaction. Transactions that are logged at least leave a trail, but that's no guarantee of accountability. It's necessarily at the leaders discretion as to how he/she should operate electronic media to assure youth protection.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The explosion of Social media has brought about problems that were never thought about in the past.

Lots of organizations are trying to come up with rules and guidelines.

My employer came up with a new policy on Social Media a couple of months back.

Most of the policy's that come out are well written and don't allow any wiggle room, this new one wasn't so.

Things have changed.

I never worried about phoning a Scout in the past.

As a rule I called him on his family phone and if a parent answered I'd ask to talk to him or leave a message.

Today everyone has their own phone and some families no longer have a land-line phone.

Young people, more so than old codgers like myself seem to have lots of email addresses.

I know that my son had at least six, all password protected and as a parent I wasn't able to get into them or see them without him allowing me to do so. Not that I really wanted to as I trust him, that and the fact he was older when all this social media stuff really hit the fan.

Parents today have a very hard time knowing what their kids are getting into.

My sister has a daughter who had a Face Book page when she was only eleven years old without my sister knowing and against my sisters expressed wishes.

I'm very much for parents teaching their kids the dangers that are out there.

I do however think that the people who intend to do harm to others are not going to stop just because there are guidelines in place.

Still as youth leaders we need to ensure that we are not in any way helping these sick people, by posting details that open the door for them.

I'd be very much for the BSA having a training that would help old folks like myself better understand all the dangers that our kids now face.

Maybe with some luck it might be put together better than this guideline?



Link to post
Share on other sites

What I've learned


1. Whatever forms of communication that you decide to use, the majority will use something else. Facebook? Twitter? Yeah right, most of my scouts use X-box Live and text messaging.


2. No common electronic communication mode will emerge. If it's digital, it will be proprietary. Remember when you read the written word on any paper or listen to any AM station on just about any radio - free.


3. Whatever you post online or transmit, it will not be read. (Yeah okay, this is a holdover from handouts)


4. The common communication mode of the majority ...drum roll.. will remain face-to-face, as it should be, in order to keep everyone "courteous".


5. Facebook sucks. Oops, can't say that with these guidelines, it is a privacy nightmare no matter what settings you select, as Facebook can unilaterally change their "agreement".


6. The only productive thing that Twitter did was get Betty White on SNL.


7. Google, Facebook, Microsoft,..."agreements" are only binding on us not them and can be changed anytime.


8. Best you can do is teach internet safety.


My $0.01 for rambling

Link to post
Share on other sites

So, earlier this week, when we held our Board of Review with our firebug from the other thread, I pulled the Scout aside and gave him a few private words of encouragement before the meeting. That was prohibited one-on-one contact?


What's the theory here? What is this trying to prevent? If I can phone, text or email a message to a Scout making a threat, soliciting sex or futhering some abusive relationship, why can't I do that in a face-to-face private conversation conducted in plain view of others? So if private, one-on-one electronic communication is problematic, why is private, face-to-face (but within current YP guidlines) okay?


Before the board of review, I could have just as easily been telling the Scout, "you tell what really happened and I'll kill your dog." Who is to know?


Classic bureaucratic scope creep. They are taking a policy which was written for one situation (adults and youth being alone in the same physical space) and applying it to another -- communications where physical contact isn't an issue. Perhaps, as Qwarze writes, communications can be construed as contact, but in this situation, it should not be. If BSA is going to regulate communications, it needs a totally new paradigm than the existing YP rules.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am torn on the issue. I usually already copy the parent when I email a boy or if a boy emails me on a MB question. I would want the same with my boy. So this does not impose a new burden on me. We also have had some cases of cyber-bulling so I know it exists.


On the other hand the guidelines scream BSA-CYA and I live in dread of another mandated online training course.

Link to post
Share on other sites


I tend to agree with you.

Still I'm willing to say that things have changed.

Back when the world was young and I was a little fellow, we didn't pay much attention to name calling and that sort of thing.

I remember adults saying "Sticks and stones..."

Today we see this as bullying and cyberbullying (sp?) when it's on line.

We have young kids being placed on sex offender lists for Sexting. Often for what they see as some sort of a prank.

Employers are checking out Face Book pages to see what their employees are doing.

All too often parents are unable to police or even know what their kids are up to.


For us as youth leaders, I'm OK with me using my own common sense. There have been times when for the good of a Lad I have not followed the guidelines.

Sure I know that I'm leaving myself open to made up accusations, but I take a risk every time I cross the road or drive my car.

Just as I look both ways and wear my seatbelt to minimize that risk, I do whenever and wherever possible follow the YP guidelines.

The bad thing about some of this stuff is that we have people who seem to want to make every thing into a YP issue and get great joy bashing others over the head with the rule book.


Link to post
Share on other sites

Trying to decide if I should bring this up in committee meeting Monday night

or if I should sit on it and wait to see if BSA clarifies the policy. since it mentions youth protection policy, it seems as if it would apply to all adult leaders....


In the short term, it may be best to NOT collect all the scout's personal email addresses (a project that has just been started in the troop)

and to start using a troop common email address for most email communication so a copy is archived at gmail.


Link to post
Share on other sites

Almost all social media, including email, have an age limit to set up an account.


When you sign up for an account the sites generally ask for your birthdate and age and will deny you an account if you are under age. Their terms of use specifically prohibit use by anyone under the age of 13.


So, if a Scout is under the age of 13 he is violating their terms of service when he signs up for the account and is continuing to violate it every time he uses the site. He had to lie to get the account. He is therefore also violating the Scout Oath and Law. And by knowing that he is under the age of 13 you are contributing to his lie if you use those accounts to communicate with him.


In my opinion you should only communicate with the Scouts who are under the age of 13 through their parents accounts. And this would also be a topic of conversation with a Scout in a Scoutmaster conference or Board of Review as well as a possible word to the parent to be sure they are aware of the account and the Terms of Service age limits.

Link to post
Share on other sites

In the short term, it may be best to NOT collect all the scout's personal email addresses (a project that has just been started in the troop) and to start using a troop common email address for most email communication so a copy is archived at gmail.


It certainly is convenient to have messages that apply to all troop members go to a common email address - "troopXXX@yahoogroups.com" - or something like that. However, you still need a way to reach individual Scouts. I'll say that Scout email addresses have proven to be pretty unreliable for us - much better to contact them on Facebook or via text. You can always copy the parents on emails, but it is entirely reasonable to have a way to reach a Scout directly without having to have his parent relay the message for him.


Trying to decide if I should bring this up in committee meeting Monday night


If you want to do it for your own amusement, go right ahead. I wouldn't expect it to be an entirely productive discussion :-) and it is not clear that this is really any type of "policy" - since it's not covered in any youth protection education or in the Guide to Safe Scouting.

Link to post
Share on other sites

No matter what policy the BSA finally comes up with concerning this problem, somehow, some way some individual will find a way to use the internet to cause a problem.


What is National going to do, make a rule stating no communications between scout leaders and scouts online? What happens to the leaders who do send email updates to their troop is National going to blackball them out of the BSA?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...