The Personal Safety Awareness Series main goal is to educate teens about what to do if they experience abusive behavior, educate them about safe and unsafe touches, and encourage them to go to a parent or another trusted adult for help.
Before starting this series you should review Scouting’s Barriers to Abuse since the Personal Safety Awareness Series is intended to complement our many existing youth-protection measures.
These Personal Safety Awareness videos may be used in place of the Cyber Chip requirement for the Scout and Star ranks. If used in place of the Cyber Chip requirement for a rank, Scouts are encouraged to inform their Parent or Guardian and unit leader of the replacement prior to viewing the videos. For the Scout rank, you must view Digital Safety, Bullying, Abuse, and Youth Protection Policies. For the Star rank, you must view those four videos again, plus Persistence for Pictures, Grooming and Sexual Abuse, Sexual abuse in the Family, and Friends should never look the other way.
Please visit this link for the most current videos and instructions. NOTE: parents may wish to preview the video content first, as some of it may be more appropriate to older scouts.
Today’s youth are spending more time than ever using digital media for education, research, socializing, and fun. To help families and volunteers keep youth safe while online, the BSA expects scouts to hold a current Cyber Chip for their grade level. After completing the requirements for their current grade level, the BSA expects Scouts to “recharge” their Cyber Chip annually (approx. 5-10 minutes).
NOTE: Three Fires Council (dates announced through late spring 2023) has been offering a monthly remote version of Cyber Chip (once for Cub Scout aged scouts, once for Scouts BSA aged scouts). Their Cyber Chip registration page also says they offer customized programs for troops. Please contact them directly for details.
What is Cyber Chip?
In addition to being a best practice and a component of the BSA’s Youth Protection program, Cyber Chip is a pre-requisite for digital merit badges (e.g., Programming, Digital Technology, and Photography). Cyber Chip is also part of a rank requirement for the Scout and Star ranks, and may be required by Councils/Counselors as a pre-requisite for participation in virtual scouting programs.
Requirement #6 for the Scout and Star rank reads as follows: “With your parent or guardian, complete the exercises in the pamphlet How to Protect Your Children from Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide and earn the Cyber Chip Award for your grade.” [Emphasis added] The BSA recognizes that older scouts may be exposed to different dangers online as their online activity and engagement with new adults as they get older. So scouts are expected to repeat this exercise, with additional age-appropriate content, to help keep them safe online and in person.
By following these instructions and participating in the troop Cyber Chip program, your scout will complete the “earn the Cyber Chip Award” component of this requirement but will also still need to complete the “Child Abuse” component with a parent to complete the Scout or Star rank requirement.
Scouts who have successfully completed Cyber Chip will receive a pocket patch, paper certificate, and their award will be part of their official BSA record in Scoutbook.
View any two videos from the videos below or from the Netsmartz video website to recharge your Cyber Chip. Let the Advancement Chair know which videos you’ve watched and the date completed to update your Cyber Chip date in Scoutbook.
Scouts in Grades 6-12 all must complete the following requirement:
Write and sign a personalized contract with your parent or guardian that outlines rules for using the computer and mobile devices, including what you can download, what you can post, and consequences for inappropriate use.
The best contracts are personalized to your family. However, not every family has the time or interest to create custom contracts. If you would like to adopt a pre-existing template that is “good enough,” here are a few that cover some of the most important/common areas:
Creating a good contract is not easy. And expecting parents and teens to read each other’s minds to anticipate the most important elements is unreasonable. If you’d like to write your own contract, but don’t know where to start, here is a “cut and paste” Word document with suggestions from over a dozen contracts found online. It is roughly categorized by topic. There are clearly too many options available in this document, and some are redundant (worded slightly differently in ways that might suit your family better or not). You are welcome to use it as a launching pad to cover the points most important to your family.
Some characteristics of a good family electronics usage contract:
Created jointly by parents and children, in agreement
Age appropriate and addresses the matters most important to your family
All Cyber Chips will expire annually. Scouts who have already completed the Cyber Chip for their current grade will need to “recharge” the chip by going back to the Netsmartz site and completing activities. Moreover, the BSA recognizes that older scouts may be exposed to different dangers online as their online activity and engagement with new adults changes as they get older. As such, scouts are expected to repeat this exercise at least once in their scouting career to achieve Scout and Star ranks, along with the exercises from How to Protect Your Children from Child Abuse).