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With BSA’s new Cyber Chip, online safety’s the point

The patch comes in blue for Cub Scouts and green for Boy Scouts, Venturers, Varsity Scouts, and Sea Scouts.

Kids spend more than 7.5 hours a day using some kind of electronic device, according to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study.

In other words, if they’re awake and not at school, they’re probably online.

Whatever their reason for logging on — school project, merit badge research, socializing, games — safety is never guaranteed.

That’s why the Boy Scouts of America’s new Cyber Chip, announced last week, is a big step in the right direction in the effort to keep kids safe online. And because June is National Internet Safety Month, the timing couldn’t be better.

In developing this new Youth Protection tool, the BSA teamed up with content expert NetSmartz, part of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as well as training experts for different law enforcement agencies.

The Cyber Chip joins the Totin’ Chip and Whittling Chip as important safety tools your Scouts should earn and carry with them. Bonus: The pocket patch they get, designed to look like a smartphone, is unlike any official BSA patch I’ve ever seen.

Have your Scouts earn their Cyber Chip ASAP. Here’s how:

The Cyber Chip

  1. Visit the BSA Cyber Chip Web site to find requirements organized by grade (1-3, 4-5, 6-8, and 9-12)
  2. Visit the NetSmartz Cyber Chip portal, designed specifically for the BSA
  3. Order the cards and patches from ScoutStuff or at your local Scout Shop:
    • Cyber Chip pocket card (grades 1-5)
    • Cyber Chip pocket card (grades 6-12)
    • Cyber Chip patch (grades 1-5)
    • Cyber Chip patch (grades 6-12)
    • Power Pack Pals (bullying), No. 33979
    • Power Pack Pals (bullying; Spanish), No. 33980
    • Power Pack Pals (Internet safety), No. 33981
    • Power Pack Pals (Internet safety; Spanish), No. 34464
  4. Tailor the requirements to your own unit rules. Complete the Cyber Chip as a unit at a regular meeting, then hand out the cards and patches on the spot.
  5. Review the resources available on the website, including teaching materials, an implementation guide, and more.
  6. All Cyber Chips expire annually. Each Scout will need to “recharge” the chip by going back to the NetSmartz Recharge area.
  7. Download a print-ready PDF summarizing the Cyber Chip.

Related blog post

Read about how other Scouters set their unit’s electronics policy.

What do you think?

How can the appropriate use of technology by Scouts make the Scouting program better? Leave your thought below.

29 Comments on With BSA’s new Cyber Chip, online safety’s the point

  1. This is very cool! But I don’t see the patches or cards available online anywhere. What do they cost? Am I missing them?

  2. The patches and cards are available through Scout Shops(tm). It may take a few weeks for them to be added to ScoutStuff.org (the BSA’s Supply Group’s online shop).

  3. Why is Scouting forcing its volunteer leaders to become the front-line of child abuse prevention? I’m all for protecting our Scouts, but this is getting absurd. First the “A Time to Tell” video, which we leaders receive virtually no training on, and have virtually no background knowledge in. Next came the “mandatory” your protection training every two years because, for some reason, it somehow became necessary to tell adults not to abuse children, and then to tell us over, and over, and over again (Evidently we forget every 24 months?). Then came the addition of abuse requirements in the Scouting ranks, which presumes parents are comfortable with their sons being exposed to that level of information. And now this? When does it end?

    Has anyone ever thought that the resources should be made available to the PARENTS to implement or utilize as they see fit? Why the persistent urge to make adult leaders teach these things? Why must everything child-abuse related be incorporate into the Scouting program? Some parents don’t want their kids exposed to this stuff, and Scouting should respect those decisions. It’s not our place to condone or condemn parental decisions on such topics.

    • Hi Aaron!!
      You wrote and asked basically “why the BSA’s volunteers? Why must we be involved in something that should be up to parents to discuss and train?”

      The basic answer is that “the parents are not doing it, and as a result, programs like Scouting suffer from youth being abused — inside and outside the program. Part of what Scouting is about is teaching young people — boys especially — how to conduct themselves around others; how to protect others from harm (which starts with identification, alerting and then protecting); and how to report instances of child abuse and neglect. This isn’t an issue which is restricted to the “inner cities” or the “big towns” but something unfortunately, has made its way into even small communities all over the nation.

      As responsible adults, we need to be coached so that we can coach young people we come in contact with. As part of the process, we need also to set the positive example; hence, the screening and the training (yes, every two years. In some areas, people are exposed to training *every year* because thanks to technology and culture, life changes and we have to “roll with the changes”).

      When we were all younger, such training and coaching was not needed. Parents took care of and watched over ALL kids they came in contact with — theirs, their neighbors’ kids and even kids they have never seen before. We knew who “belonged” in our areas, and who we should question. Parents and others who abused children were known — to other parents and adults as well as the police and child protective services. Today, with many parents not present around the home; with work — and we have to work harder, longer, and in many cases away from home; and again with technology and “crafty preditors”, we adults need to be in a position to protect and shield young people from the negative influnces in our communities.

      In short, Aaron, because parents are not there like before — and even when they are there, they may not have the skill set to instruct, coach and be there for their youth. Scouting is one “safe place” for many youth. It’s getting better — and you and I and all other volunteers who take the Youth Protection training and followups — are a great big part of deterrence and protection. It really starts with you!

      • Sean A, Brentwood CA // November 24, 2013 at 2:16 pm // Reply

        In our den/patrol we get the parents involved by having them come to important meetings, and most are already involved to know what is going on. For those parents who do not attend, we make every efforts to tell them through our e-mail alerts what is going on and what they are being taught, and what achievements are being made.

        I also agree that scout leaders should meter what information gets presented to the kids. We make every effort to have the parents involved. In fact, the child abuse, politics and religion sections are required home activities that we only touch on during den/patrol meetings.

    • As an adult leader AND a mother, I am glad that the scouting organization takes keeping our children safe very seriously. Parents are encouraged to review the material ahead of time and can opt out their child should they so choose. I am all for the trainings!

  4. Howie Barnes // June 4, 2012 at 9:47 pm // Reply

    awesome….

    Most scout leaders are parents, and it usually get to parents. but just like knives or fire most parents don’t have the tools to teach how to use them, leaders do. This is very much the same thing.

  5. Reblogged this on Lewis and Clark District Committee.

  6. oliver howells // June 7, 2012 at 2:25 pm // Reply

    Just did the grade 1-3 program with my son today and it is appalingly bad. The animationis v jerky like watching a dvd with a scratch on it. The main messagess are being conveyed by a rapping robot. it seems the grade 4-5 program has a rapping dog.

    at the end of stage 3 and start of stage 4 of the game yr mouse icon disappears.

    when you get to the final stage the first progress arrow on the bottom toolbar is hidden and the necessary item is completely hidden behind the cola bottle.

    the ‘ deliver to webster’ recharge page i tried to look at was not functioning at all.

    registration is based solely upon an easily forgettable username so if yr kid forgets that you have to start all over again.

    Frankly this is on a par with the unreliable online advancement system and the bug prone new Tour and activity plan system.

    Basically an utter fiasco it is a disgrace people receive pay to produce such poor online sytems that frustrate volunteers and disappoint children especially when its purpose then seems to be the purchase of cards and temporary patches with a 200% markup

    • My recommendation is to wait a few months and go back to it to see if it performs better. Geezo, the program *just got rolled out last week*. Like *anything absolutely brand new*, there’s gonna be some “kinks” and “drags” in the operation. Before declaring it a total failure, how about giving them some time to fix and improve upon your and other’s comments before abandoning it.

      As an aside, you can always use the U.S. Scouting Service Project’s Internet Patch program (http://www.usscouts.org/internet_patch.asp)
      as a quick alternative.

  7. oliver howells // June 7, 2012 at 9:04 pm // Reply

    Hi Mile thks for brilliant comments.your link had this response

    ‘The page cannot be found’

    People are sponging off charitable donations putting out this untested material again and again there appears to be no accountablilty whatsoever. In the world of the internet a ‘ few months ‘ is an entire product life cycle. Kinks and drags should be resolved in beta testing not failures during general release. Your remarks demonstrate profound ignorance.

    As Teco Perez says either its worth doing properly or don’t do it at all because poor performance just brings the BSA into disrepute.

    This wouldn’t pass muster as an Eagle scout project so why accept this from paid employees.

    This in the third example of this in the last 15 months. This wastes volunteers time and turns off new members. Anyone with an understanding of social commerce or internet marketing realises that is a serious problem.

    Stop making excuses and start hiring some decent IT professionals.

    • Oliver: My apologies for the bad link. It should be:
      http://usscouts.org/InternetScoutPatch.asp

      I stand by everything else I wrote earlier; only adding that the BSA contracted with an outside firm to develop the CyberChip program.

      • oliver howells // June 8, 2012 at 9:26 am // Reply

        Mike that link is for a non BSA endorsed scouting program that even if approved is not appropriate for cubscouts. Furthermore the award itself is qualified with the following statement

        ‘Though it should go without saying, the patch is NOT an official award or emblem of the BSA’.

        if there was an appropriate alternative the BSA would be foolish in wasting its money paying external contractors to duplicate something that already existed rather than partnering with the current organization promoting internet safety.

        As it is the BSA has simply paid for a bad product that now has its own Logo attached to it. Like i said no accountability!

        • Oliver: I didn’t say that the USSSP’s Internet Scout Patch program was endorsed or supported by the BSA — but it can be used. Just like allowing Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers to go hiking on trails not approved or sanctioned by the BSA. Just like working on awards like the American Heritage program which is not santioned nor approved by the BSA….

          If there’s an issue with the Cub Scout portion of the Internet Scout Patch, please post me at settummanque@yahoo.com and let me know. I co-wrote it.

          The BSA did it’s best with partnering with a firm to provide a good program. Again, I am sorry that it didn’t meet up to your expectations, and encourage you to go back and try it again in a few weeks or a couple of months when those fixes are complete; and to express your dissatifaction to the BSA and offer ways that it can be fixed.

  8. Mike,

    Thanks for the answers to the questions. I am sure all of the kinks will work out eventually.

    As for the negativity on here, lighten up a bit people! If folks are this uptight about bugs in a Scout training system or kids game, wait until they get a job…probably have a stroke the first day!

  9. I’m looking forward to working on this requirement with some of the youth in my troop. I’m ok with most of the requirements but think that the Requirement to “LIKE” the Boy Scouts of America page on Facebook is a little much. Not everyone wants to be on Facebook, and a couple of kids in my troop that seem interested don’t have an account or have deleted it. Does that mean they can’t earn a Cyber Chip?

    Or maybe we could substitute the requirement with: “Discuss the dangers of social networking sites, and how to avoid them, with your counselor. Or with your parent’s permission, “like” the Boy Scouts of America page on Facebook.”

    • Hi Matthew!!

      Please keep in mind that the way that the requirements for the CyberChip is set up, allows for your unit to alter/adjust/modify the requirements to fit your unit and/or chartered partner needs. At least that’s the way I read the written requirments when it was introduced. No, “not liking” the BSA’s official Facebook page won’t keep them from earning the CyberChip. I believe that the intent is to have the Scout to experience “friending” or “liking” and a safe place of course is the BSA’s official Facebook page!

      What I would recommend to those Scouts who have deleted or do not have a Facebook account is to perhaps get a Scout who does have a Facebook page and “like” the Philmont or National Jamboree pages (or some other Scouting-related page like the U.S. Scouting Service Project’s Facebook page) so that they have the experience in knowing what “happens” when one “friends” or “likes” a particular page request.

      (Disclaimer: I had no hand in writing the BSA’s CyberChip program; I did co-write the USSSP’s Internet Scouting patch program and base what I’ve posted above on participating in a session during the recent BSA National Meeting in Florida and asking similiar questions to the Cyber Scouting task force team during that meeting.)

  10. Where can the sample personal contract be found for the grade 6 to 8 requirement? It says an example is available on the BSA website but nothing is there

    Want to work in this with the boys

    • I just found this “contract”, printed it off for us to use. I think it clearly defines all the safety issues. It lacks the “consequences” a parent might use, should the youth break a rule. We just added them to the contract before we signed.

      • I forgot to post the link :} http://www.safekids.com/contract_kid.htm

        • Thanks for posting…I have been searching for an exaple.

  11. The boys in our troop decided to make this their program feature for next month and the PLC would like to work on planning this but noted that when you go to scouting’s website it says to visit the netsmartz site. When you go to that site it says requirement #1 is to read and agree to the Level II internet safety pledge with a link that takes you…back to the scouting.org overview page. Hoping this will get fixed quickly so that boys can access the materials needed to earn the award.

  12. Maybe I am missing it reading through all the past responses. Where and how do you work it into your den meeting? I see this as a ‘do at home online’. How do you go through the game and video at a meeting? I am not finding any leader guide to this. It looks great and I want to have my kids work on it, however, not all of my families are able to complete it or they just won’t. Is there some paperwork to go off of or something like that for the leaders?

  13. Where is the appropriate place to put this badge when earned? It is described as a “pocket” patch but seems like it would be on the vest not the uniform.

    • The Cyper Chip patch is a temorary BSA patch which may be worn on the right pocket of class A uniform. It comes with a hanging loop to hang from the right pocket button. However, the patch may be attached to a vest, blanket or put into a patch collection etc. Temporary patches are not to be confused with rank/uniform insignia, which is worn at all times on the Class A uniform.

  14. I have the same concerns as someone posted back in July…for grades 1-3, the first requirement states:
    1.Read, commit to, and sign the Level I Internet Safety Pledge. (BSA Cyber Chip blue card)

    On the blue card it states, _____ has read the internet safety rules at scouting.org/cyberchip…there are no rules there…. It is an endless circle….if the rules are on the back of the card, then why doesn’t the front state ‘read the rules on the back of this card’?

  15. Where can I find the download for the card? I keep getting routed to the main site and I can’t seem to find the cyber chip card anywhere to download.

  16. Also having trouble finding the Blue Card to download. Would be nice to have the material to review, before buying the card to award. Seems odd that you would have to buy the award, before you complete the course.

  17. The Cyber Chip requirements (all levels) and the Internet Safety Rules (both Levels) are on this web page: http://usscouts.org/usscouts/advance/cyberchip.asp, and on the workbooks available at the bottom pf that page.

8 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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