All you need to know about safety and safeguarding
The first night away from home. The first hike. The first trip abroad.
All of these moments are great for developing young people’s confidence, but we know how daunting it can be the one packing their overnight bag and waving them off at the gates. And we know it doesn’t necessarily get easier as they grow.
Young people thrive in secure surroundings, at home and away. Wherever we go, we’re serious about keeping them safe.
As a parent or carer, you’re bound to have questions about how we do this. Read on to find out more.
Who are Scout Volunteers? How are they appointed and trained?
All our volunteers give their time freely to help young people thrive. Some volunteers lead their group week in and week out. Others call in occasionally to share a specific skill, or provide an extra pair of hands – whether they’re abseiling down mountains, or helping a group of eight year olds build a robot, or expertly remembering how everyone takes their tea.
All of our leaders are interviewed locally and asked to provide references. They undergo the mandatory training they need to be the best they can be, including basic first aid and child protection. Special training is provided for those taking young people away on residential events like camps and sleepovers.
Everyone who works with young people also has to undertake a disclosure check (also known as a ‘police check’).
Are there a ‘set of rules’ volunteers follow?
Yes. As Scouts, we have a clear code of behaviour we expect everyone to abide by, known as the ‘Yellow Card’. This code is shared with all adults who interact with young people – regardless of their role – and is included in the training leaders receive.
If you volunteer to help out with an activity, you’ll be given your own yellow card to keep on hand and refer back to. You can see a digital copy of the Yellow Card here, or call us on 0345 300 1818 to discuss it. You can also view our safety policies – which relate to how our leaders run adventurous activities responsibly – in chapter two of POR.
Our Child Protection and Safety Policies
Child protection and safety are two of our key policies that anyone involved in Scouts must work to. You can see the full policies in our Policy, Organisation and Rules section:
How is Scouts managed locally?
Each Scout Group is comprised of different ‘sections’ – which may include a
- Beaver Colony (for 6-8 year olds),
- Cub Pack (for 8-10 ½ year olds),
- Scout Troop (for 10 ½-14 year olds),
- Explorer Unit (for 14-18 year olds) and
- Scout Network group (for 18-25 year olds).
A Group Scout Leader (GSL), who is responsible for overseeing and supporting volunteers in each section, should manage the Scout Group.
In Explorer Scout Units, a District Explorer Scout Commissioner (DESC) takes on this role.
Both Group Scout Leaders and District Explorer Scout Commissioners are responsible to a District Commissioner (DC).
This is the volunteer manager responsible for a wider geographical area – such as a town or area of a larger city or county.
If you’d like to contact your GSL, DESC or DC, ask your local leader for their contact details or speak to the Scout Information Centre on 0345 300 1818.
Can we raise any concerns or comment on activities?
If you’re unhappy with anything relating to your child’s time in The Scouts, you should raise it immediately with your local leaders, no matter how trivial it may seem.
If you’d rather speak to someone else, contact the Scout Information Centre on 0345 300 1818.
What are the arrangements for outings or camps?
All leaders taking young people away will give you notice, ask for your permission and provide you with a way of contacting the group while they’re away.
All residential activities (such as camps and sleepovers) are required to have at least two adults present, unless the young people involved are participating in an expedition or event where adults are not expected to attend at all. We’ll always tell you if there is to be no adult presence for a particular activity, and we’ll never ask to take individual young people away on their own.
No young people under the age of 18 are allowed to consume alcohol while they’re taking part in Scout activities.
How can I communicate the importance of staying safe to my children?
The world is constantly changing. Technology is constantly evolving. Society puts pressure on young people to experience new things, but that can also make them feel vulnerable and unsure about the world around them.
Our STAY SAFE leaflets contain information for young people about how to stay safe online and in the real world, and gives them all the age-specific information they need to report anything that makes them feel worried, scared or upset. They’re available from local Scout Shops free of charge, or to download digitally below.
- Stay Safe (Beavers, aged 6-8)
- Stay Safe (Cubs, aged 8 to 10 ½)
- Stay Safe (Scouts, aged 10 ½ to 14)
- Stay Safe (Explorers, aged 14 to 18)
We’ve also put together some videos on safeguarding for Beavers and Cubs, and for Scouts and Explorers.
What should parents and carers be aware of?
The NSPCC advises parents and carers to be wary of
- Activities where parents are discouraged from staying to watch or become involved.
- Activities or behaviour that encourage rough play, sexual innuendo or humiliating punishments.
- Individuals who take charge and operate independently of organisational guidelines.
- Individuals who show favouritism or personally reward specific children.
- Encouragement of inappropriate physical contact.
- Poor communication and lack of parental involvement, leaving you feeling uneasy.
- Children who drop out or stop going for no apparent reason
- Invitations for children to spend time alone with staff or volunteers (or even to visit their home).
We agree wholeheartedly with the NSPCC and would not expect any of this behaviour to occur in The Scouts.
As always, if you have any concerns, please raise them immediately with your child’s leaders, or – if you’d rather speak to someone else –
contact the Scout Information Centre on 0345 300 1818.