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New BSA Social Media Guidelines!?

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Twocub, the issue is not you giving a word of encouragement to your scout, or me texting my venturer which bus gets him from his school to the night's meeting place. Parents are generally aware that we do a lot of that "on the fly", and are grateful for it.


The issue is a young ASM or crew advisor "just being a friend" by having repeated "deep conversations" with a youth and letting it happen over social media completely unaware of how it can be blown out of context. That casual conversation that would get completely forgotten at the campfire winds up logged somewhere for "the rest of the world" to judge.


The co-advisor who is always in a sidebar with the same venturer of the opposite sex on every campout is going to hear from me (if the crew president doesn't get there first). Even an ASM can get coached in one direction or another if you're camping together. But that "hair on the back of your neck" kind of feeling is attenuated when much of the back-conversation happens in messages that you never see until a concerned parent is waving the call log in your face.


So, yeah, training that says "never do this" is going to be ridiculous and unenforceable. Training that teaches folks the ideal use for each tool and what some boundaries *may* be, will better prepare us for the next big thing.


Well it's getting about time for that weekly touch-base call to my crew president. For some reason, I feel like using the land line ...

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How can I explain this? If we were sitting at a campfire and I were to tell you that every word we said (less voice inflections or hand motions or any of that other things that let us now this is a "safe" conversation) would be recorded and maid available for review ... would you change what you would say?


Probably at our age, the answer would be "no." We've been burned enough by saying or writing things in a way that got everyone we care about riled up that we've learned to be more constant in our choice of words.


Younger adults ... not so much. Yet they treat their electronic devices as if they offered them the confidentiality that a cafe` table provides. That simply isn't the case.

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Just like the written word here on these forums gets picked apart, disected, turned inside out and tone is lost in the delivery, the same is true for emails and other electronic communication. by email you can't tell intent, you can't see the joking raised eyebrows and hear the chuckle under the breath when someone isn't being serious. so words may get twisted and exaggerated. In person you can sit and talk to someone, if you walk off they have an opportunity to still try to get your attention (even if it's with yelling). with electronic communication if you get upset you can delete, block, or just turn off the machine--so something that could be dealt with quickly in person, blows up out of proportion electronically.


It's a powerful way to communicate but it does have it's hazards, that teens truly do not seem to understand. Heck, the amount of intimate details posted on people's facebook pages out in the open leads me to believe that not many adults see the potential hazards of online communications.



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Create a Troop mail list! Include everyone in the unit including the adults. When you are sending general unit communications out, use the list!


Common sense should prevail, folks, and that is one thing National seems to be lacking.

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Right now the troop uses scoutlander website

and sends most emails out thru there, which does not keep an archive of what is sent.


A troop email address could be used to send copies and auto archive,

and for those without login status to the troop email account, they could just cc to the troop email address so there is always someone else on the email and it can be archived.


That's what I'll recommend. I'm mention to the troop the it looks like BSA is trying to make a social media guideline and that youth protection is their concern(2 deep, no 1 on 1 contact) and suggest that the adults just think about keeping things more public than private. If they want to read the link I'll send it to them. It will probably make their heads turn around and around and around.


As it is, they sign boys up for a scoutlander account, and enter the boy's personal info, without an express parenting permission slip for website use, and they don't necessarily follow the guides of the FCC for minor's use of websites. but that's another subject for another thread.

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I must have missed this thread.


I agree with TwoCubDad and others, this is not a good thing, not well-thought-out and could cause more problems than it solves.


I do not use Facebook or any other "social media" sites, and really don't know much about them. But I do know about email, I have been using it for 20 years. In my role as troop advancement coordinator, I have been using email to communicate with the boys about the scheduling of BOR's. I have actually encouraged them to email me when they are ready for a BOR (assuming they don't see me at a troop meeting) so that I can set up the BOR. Based on what I see in this "policy", them emailing me is probably ok; it is my response that is the issue. When I reply to the Scouts' email, I have NOT been copying the parents. I do not necessarily know the parents' email address and even if I look at a recent "announcement" email that has everybody's email address on it, not everybody's email address indicates their real name. (I'll see names like, just to make one up, "FireCoGuy," which could describe about 10 different adults in our troop.) Depending on what I am saying back to the Scout, I MAY cc the other members of the committee who I want to alert about the BOR, but not always. If the message from the Scout indicates that he has not yet finished his requirements but wants to schedule a BOR, I do not necessarily need to copy the committee members on my response. But I guess I will now make sure I email some other adult, even if there really isn't a need to do so.

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NJ - It's probably a good idea to copy those E-mails to whoever you are training as your backup committee chair!


Do you save your E-mails? You could put them all in a folder and say to some third party "here. please review for YP purposes", and you've fulfilled the policy.


Have you made the boys any safer? Not a wit. Why? Your correspondence is largely administrative the person getting them would tune them out. And, if you were a predator, you'd send lots of inocuous E-mail's with cc's until you've picked out the boy who is willing to correspond on more than "strictly business". You will set up a bogus cc that looks like the adult's in the troop so the boy doesn't suspect anything. Eventually once you were sure you had your mark you could remove the cc knowing he wouldn't rat you out. THEN you'd start being outright evil. All along, you would be sending hundreds of messages with cc's under the pretence of being accountable. You'd even encourage everyone else to do it because it helps you fly under the radar!


In short, there's no way I could be sure my youth were safe from you if I did or did not get copied on your E-mails.



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