Scoutbook email reply system for enhanced youth protection

Currently, Scoutbook makes it very easy for Scouts and leaders to communicate without following youth protection guidelines. The first message sent from Scoutbook to a Scout is always compliant, but whether any replies do is dependent on whether a Scout knows that he’s supposed to Reply All instead of just Reply—and it’s not the Scout’s responsibility to make sure he does so. And then the adult he replies to must remember to check, with every communication, that the parents are copied.

There’s a better way. It would be quite possible for email replies to go through Scoutbook, and automatically copy the parents. Just set the Reply-to address to [something]@Scoutbook.com, and route the resulting email where it needs to go using the “something" portion of the email address. I acknowledge that this would not be simple to implement, but it’s quite possible, and would be a giant step forward in youth protection.

@JSyler - what you would be looking for is an email host system… much like an MS Exchange cluster… please do price that out. having built email and sql clusters it will not be inexpensive.

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That’s not difficult, and you don’t need specifically to copy the parents; you can copy any other YPT-trained leader and still comply with YPT requirements.

When a Scout contacts me without copying their parent, I add the parent; if I don’t have the parents’ contact info, I copy the Scoutmaster. It’s not nearly as complicated as you’re making it out to be.

There has to be some personal responsibility on the part of the Scout and parents. When I reply to a Scout’s email where the parents are not copied I address the email to the Scout and parents, and include an admonition about always copying parents on every email sent to any adult leader.

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No, it doesn’t need to be a host system, at all (though Scoutbook currently implies that it already is such a system, with the “Inbox” item on the Dashboard…). This is only an email redirect system. The system generates a code (like !h7ZCFtNWj7@scoutbook.com), which is then associated in a database with the recipients of the original message. When you email anything to that address, it goes to all those recipients. There’s no email storage or management involved.

It’s been made clear that we are not allowed to hold the Scout accountable for such things.

A solution like this has been previously suggested and rejected by the BSA. The BSA has started the current Scoutbook implementation meets youth protection requirements.

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I suggest you review requirements for the Cyber Chip | Boy Scouts of America. Specifically those addressing the personalized contract with your (the Scout’s) parent or guardian, and discussions with your unit leader regarding acceptable standards and practices.

All I know is that I’ve been told, here, that "A Scout can never get in trouble for not copying a parent when communicating with a leader. It is up to the leader to ensure he/she always copies a second adult when communicating with a Scout.” Automatic copying of parents when Scouts message a leader - #6 by edavignon

Clearly, we are not allowed to hold Scouts accountable for their behavior in this manner, because “in trouble” presumably includes a pointed talking-to, indicating that they didn’t do things correctly.

Think of it this way. An adult who violates YPT can be suspended, removed from a position or permanently banned from serving with the BSA. This includes communicating one on one with a Scout. A Scout will not be punished for communicating with an adult one on one.

It is up to the adult, not the Scout, to ensure there is no one on one communication. This is why if I ever get an e-mail from a Scout without another adult on copy, I immediately reply to the Scout reminding them to always copy a 2nd adult. That reply either has the Scout’s parent or another leader on copy.

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I think there’s a difference between punitive actions and reminding someone of the rules. As @edavignon noted, there is potential for punitive actions against adults who violate BSA rules. That, to me, is very different than the idea of punitive action against an adult if a scout sends them an email/text that doesn’t include a second adult. @edavignon’s approach of responding with a reminder that a second adult needs to be included on all communications (and including a second adult on that reminder) seems like the best response feasible given the circumstances. I don’t see how to absolutely prevent youth from erroneously omitting a second adult on communications.

I’ve generally had best success with:

  • If I am emailing just a scout and their parent (via Scoutbook), turning off bcc so that Reply-All includes the parent.
  • If I am emailing the unit/subunit at large via Scoutbook, I include a reminder that any email including scouts should include at least two adults, but leave bcc on.
  • Reminding the scouts when they fail to include at least a second adult that the rules require us to have at least two adults in the communication, and ask that they assist us in complying with those rules by always cc’ing at least one other adult, like their parent or another registered scouter.
  • Responding to messages that omit a second adult, adding a second adult, and generally responding to the question if it’s feasible. If the question is too involved, I let them know I’ll send a more detailed response later, and as that they please use Reply-All so that we keep the second adult in the loop. I try to select a second adult based on relevance if that applies (e.g. QM adviser if it’s a question about troop gear) or the scout’s parent as a general fallback.

ETA: Actually, thinking more about it, I generally include the parent even if I add another scouter, just to get another voice on the family side “reminding” the scout about avoiding one-on-one contact. Visibly complying with the rules (and reminding others to do so) can sometimes be beneficial as well.

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Lest we are carried away by my use of the word admonition in my first post, my intention was to make clear to the Scout that all emails between a Scout and an adult leader must include at least one parent. This expectation is established during Cyber Chip training in discussion of acceptable practices.

When receiving an email from a Scout not copied to a parent I reply in a manner described by CharleyHamilton. It happens infrequently and is usually not repeated.

Copying the parents has the additional benefit of keeping them apprised of their Scout’s activities.

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