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Thread: Whatsapp - rules on communicating with Scouts

  1. #31
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    Whenever we used to send out messages be they text, email or FB (never used whatsapp back then) i always sent to myself & another leader with where possible the YP & parents BCC.

    If group text/FB it was always sent to parents & YP & another leader, i would never 1-2-1 chat/message a YP and any friend requests were politely declined. We also set up a separate FB account for ESL so that posts etc were from that account and our own personal accounts could be kept private.

    I have raised the Whatsapp issue with Tim Kidd and he has passed it on to the Chief Safeguarding Officer and she is consulting with our digital team to see what we need to do in the advice.
    Dave Ralphs
    Yarnton Scout Group (Treasurer)
    DofE Advisor & District Exec Member - Oxford Spires District
    http://yarntonscouts.org.uk/

    I work for O2, any posts are my own personal views & do not represent O2

  2. #32
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    Hmmm...

    This issue has existed for years now, I imagine their advice will be the same as it always was and the only advice they reasonably can give - it'll be in line with WhatsApp rules. WhatsApp know young folk use it, we know they use it, parents know they use it. TSA will put it's head in the sand and pretend they don't.

    Got to be seen to be squeaky clean.

  3. #33
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    There was some advice issued a while ago (2008) - you can tell it was issued a while ago as it mentioned Myspace and Bebo, although it should still be relevant for any personal electronic messaging/sharing system, e that Facebook, email, tik-tok, youtube, whatsapp Snapchat etc etc etc

    https://www.scouts.org.uk/volunteers...e-for-leaders/

    (FS330086) (January 08 Edition no 1) (103815)

    The Internet and mobile phones are changing the way we live. For young people, they offer the opportunity to socialise, communicate and learn. Young people have taken to the technological advances very quickly, and often faster than their older counterparts.

    This sometimes leads to parents and carers being left behind, and unable to appropriately monitor young people’s activity on the Internet and communications through mobile phones. This inability to keep an eye on these communications leaves young people increasingly vulnerable, and therefore more susceptible to being exposed to inappropriate contact and even more serious instances of child abuse.

    As adults in The Scout Association we have a duty to safeguard the welfare of all young people in our care. The guidelines set out in this document are to help Leaders and other adults ensure that we make the best use of new technologies, while protecting both the young people in our care and preventing ourselves from being placed in a vulnerable position.

    All communication should be in a Scouting context. Decide the most appropriate method of communication depending on the message/ information being sent. Gain permission from Parents/Carers to contact the young person and ask them what the most appropriate forms of contact for that young person is.

    Before sending an email or a text, ask yourself “would you be happy to copy in the young person’s parents/carers?” If the answer is ‘no’ then do not send it.

    Arrangements about activities or events for Beaver Scouts and Cub Scouts should always be addressed to the young person’s parent or carer. Information for those in the Scout and Explorer Scout Sections may be sent to the young people themselves if necessary, with copies to their parents or carers.
    Social Networking Sites

    Social Networking sites eg. Facebook, Bebo, Myspace, have become increasingly popular for contacting people, discussing issues and advertising up and coming events. The Scout Association recognises that they canbe useful for specific Scouting projects. Our advice is that Leaders need to be very conscious of the context in which these sites are used and ensure the public cannot view any personal information of our Members.

    Leaders need to be especially careful about those they accept as ‘friends’ on sites such as ‘Facebook’. These sites are essentially designed for peer-to-peer contact. It is vitally important to ask yourself “Is the content of the messages and photographs available to be viewed on my profile suitable for young people (or their parents) in my Section to see?” If the answer is ‘no or even a hesitation then do not put it up.

    See our guidelines on the photographing and video recording of Scout events.
    Emails

    Many young people have email addresses and this can be a cheap and effective way of communicating with youth members. To help ensure that our communications with young people are appropriate, the following are some points for best practice when sending emails to young people.

    Ensure you use appropriate language; try not to include any words or phases that could be misinterpreted.

    Try to have a separate email account for your Scouting communications, this is better than using your personal one as then all e-mails are contained within the same box and can then be accessed by other adults in Scouting as required.

    If you are sending images, make sure they are appropriate.

    Do not forward chain emails to young people.

    Make sure that any hyperlinks you include do not lead to inappropriate content.

    Always copy another adult into your emails.

    Always save a copy of all the e-mails you send.

    Blind copy e-mail addresses to ensure you are not broadcasting peoples contact details.

    If you receive an email from a young person which causes you concern, refer to the ‘Young People First’ code of good practice (yellow card) in the first instance and follow the guidance in it. You should then immediately seek advice from your District Commissioner. If you receive any unsolicited messages from people you do not know which contain obscene or racist images these should be reported to the Internet Watch Foundation.
    Phones and text messages

    Most young people have a mobile phone and most of them will say they can’t do without it. With mobile phones also come text messages. Leaders of Scouts and Explorer Scouts may well find this the best method of sending out quick notices, like asking Members to remember to bring summer camp fees with them or to remind them of the meeting venue and time. When you send a text message or telephone a young person, you should once again try to ensure that the content of the message or call could not be misinterpreted. The following are some points for best practice when sending texts to young people

    Ensure you use appropriate language, try not to include any words or phases that could be misinterpreted i.e
    - Having things in capital letters translates to them being shouted.
    - “LOL” can be translated as “Laughs Out Loud” or “Lots Of Love”.
    - Using a kiss at the end of a text or within a signature may be taken out of context by some recipients and is likely to be seen as inappropriate in virtually every instance.

    Always copy another adult into your text messages.

    Be conscious of the time when sending messages or making calls, avoid late at night and the early hours of the morning.


    If you receive a text message which causes you concern from a young person, refer to the ‘Young People First’ code of good practice (yellow card) in the first instance and follow the guidance in it. You should then immediately seek advice from your District Commissioner.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard T View Post
    Arrangements about activities or events for Beaver Scouts and Cub Scouts should always be addressed to the young personís parent or carer.
    That's interesting,

    I sent out an email for our last f2f meeting (pre lockdown) addressed as "Dear Beavers, Cubs and parents"

    We don't have anyone not living with their parents.

    Was I in breach of TSA guidelines?

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoutgamer View Post
    That's interesting,

    I sent out an email for our last f2f meeting (pre lockdown) addressed as "Dear Beavers, Cubs and parents"

    We don't have anyone not living with their parents.

    Was I in breach of TSA guidelines?
    Think you’re okay - it’s a “should” not a “must” and generally fact sheet advice vs POR follows that principle.
    AESL

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoutgamer View Post
    That's interesting,

    I sent out an email for our last f2f meeting (pre lockdown) addressed as "Dear Beavers, Cubs and parents"

    We don't have anyone not living with their parents.

    Was I in breach of TSA guidelines?
    That bit of the guidance was talking about email addresses. Did you send that email to the Beavers' email addresses or the parents' email addresses?
    John Russell
    ex-CSL now ACSL 1st Pinhoe Exeter Devon
    Cubs don't care how much you know, but they need to know how much you care.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnR View Post
    That bit of the guidance was talking about email addresses. Did you send that email to the Beavers' email addresses or the parents' email addresses?
    I used OSM so both Cubs and parents - we initially set it up with whatever we're given from the parents but they might change the primary address to that of the Cubs (probably not, but I replied because I wanted to flag that the guidance is garbage) and even if the primary address isn't the parents most of my emails go to all of the supplied emails addresses.

    I'm not concerned about my approach, just the way that TSA writes this stuff - I hadn't considered that the fact that patents might add a child's email address to OSM would be a problem.

    For the avoidance of doubt, all my emails are copied to another leader and sent to the parents normally, but the phrasing raised concern with me.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoutgamer View Post
    I used OSM so both Cubs and parents - we initially set it up with whatever we're given from the parents but they might change the primary address to that of the Cubs (probably not, but I replied because I wanted to flag that the guidance is garbage) and even if the primary address isn't the parents most of my emails go to all of the supplied emails addresses.

    I'm not concerned about my approach, just the way that TSA writes this stuff - I hadn't considered that the fact that patents might add a child's email address to OSM would be a problem.

    For the avoidance of doubt, all my emails are copied to another leader and sent to the parents normally, but the phrasing raised concern with me.

    It is all a bit of rolloxs.

    If you communicate with kids face to face, there is no record of what is said, it is a he said, she said scenario, perhaps with a witness, but most of us will, in a hall, or on a hike have had a 1:1 conversation with a youth member absolutely innocently - but there is no record of what is said.

    Even in a bust mall, what a Leader says to a member is not always going to be overheard by anyone.

    However, if you use a telephone, then the call is recorded as a communication between two phones and there is some evidence that a call was made - as there is no evidence as to what the call was about, you raise doubts.

    If you text a young person, the content of the text is there, it cannot be deleted. The conversation is recorded. It is known. There is no doubt about what is said.

    The same applies with almost all digital communication - what is said is recorded, apart from a couple of questionable platforms, and even then, I bet the content is retained by the "provider".

    In all communication, the key is that what you say is said in good faith and is above board. I have communicated with youth members, but their parents have known this was to happen. If a parent said no, then it wouldn't happen - but then, how do you communicate with that young person when you met F2F - the parent lacks trust... what do you do?
    Ewan Scott

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  9. #39
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    We try to teach our explorers to take responsibility for their lives (I consider it part of “maturing”). A simple example is that we ask them to let us know if they are aren’t going to be at a meeting. We tell their parents that we expect the explorer to do it, not the parents. Some will do it via our Facebook group but others will sent a text or use messenger to do so. It will be direct to a leader which I suppose not what we are suppose to do. It is as you say, recorded and available if there are questions. If we want explorers to grow and understand working with others then getting them to communicate is necessary and that will at some point be one to one with a leader.

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    If an accusation of impropriety is made, are your actions auditable to the point where you have a defense? <- without getting paranoid
    I'm still surprised by the number of people who think it can't possibly happen to them or who think that their good name protects them.

  12. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Airobat View Post
    If an accusation of impropriety is made, are your actions auditable to the point where you have a defense? <- without getting paranoid
    I'm still surprised by the number of people who think it can't possibly happen to them or who think that their good name protects them.
    Since TSA is putting in place circumstances which puts leaders firmly in the crosshairs - with rules we can't possibly follow because they're so blurred and woolly - but hey, they protect HQ so...

    Same goes for this, one of the terms often is raised is the 'reasonable parent'. I think it's fair to say we're now operating in unreasonable circumstances.

    It ***** me off that as a leader I've forfeited my right to innocence until proven guilty. Instead we're more and more having to do things which probably end up just making us look bad. (Not to mention the effect it has on meaningful positive contact with young people, or as it used to be called - youth work).

    I can't comment on my good name, but if an allegations is made, you're ****** which ever way it goes - so to me, whether or not there is an audit trail or if you can prove you weren't even there - that stuff sticks. As usual, TSA forgets volunteers at groups level exist in real communities of actual people. We're not just membership numbers on a database.
    Last edited by Richard; 19-11-2020 at 01:25 PM. Reason: Edited for Language

  13. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    Since TSA is putting in place circumstances which puts leaders firmly in the crosshairs - with rules we can't possibly follow because they're so blurred and woolly - but hey, they protect HQ so...

    Same goes for this, one of the terms often is raised is the 'reasonable parent'. I think it's fair to say we're now operating in unreasonable circumstances.

    It ***** me off that as a leader I've forfeited my right to innocence until proven guilty. Instead we're more and more having to do things which probably end up just making us look bad. (Not to mention the effect it has on meaningful positive contact with young people, or as it used to be called - youth work).

    I can't comment on my good name, but if an allegations is made, you're ****** which ever way it goes - so to me, whether or not there is an audit trail or if you can prove you weren't even there - that stuff sticks. As usual, TSA forgets volunteers at groups level exist in real communities of actual people. We're not just membership numbers on a database.
    Just a reminder of our communities rules, thanks

    https://www.escouts.org.uk/forum/thr...gnature-Policy

    You are not allowed to swear on this board in anyway. You are not allowed to mask the word to imply swearing by removing some or most of the characters. I think the easiest way of puting what is acceptable, and what isnt, is by asking yourselves this question. Would the BBC broadcast it in the morning? You could also ask yourself the question,Would I be comfortable saying that in front of a Beaver or Cub?

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  15. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    Since TSA is putting in place circumstances which puts leaders firmly in the crosshairs - with rules we can't possibly follow because they're so blurred and woolly - but hey, they protect HQ so...

    Same goes for this, one of the terms often is raised is the 'reasonable parent'. I think it's fair to say we're now operating in unreasonable circumstances.

    It ***** me off that as a leader I've forfeited my right to innocence until proven guilty. Instead we're more and more having to do things which probably end up just making us look bad. (Not to mention the effect it has on meaningful positive contact with young people, or as it used to be called - youth work).

    I can't comment on my good name, but if an allegations is made, you're ****** which ever way it goes - so to me, whether or not there is an audit trail or if you can prove you weren't even there - that stuff sticks. As usual, TSA forgets volunteers at groups level exist in real communities of actual people. We're not just membership numbers on a database.
    HQ is entitled to protect itself as much as you are. If you don't like the way they do it then go and play somewhere else. No-one is forcing you to be a member of TSA.
    Sadly, I agree with you about allegations. Facts which can be corroborated make no difference within the community which tend to follow the loudest voice but they can make a difference to the outcome of the proceedings. I also think that the way that TSA handles such things is a dogs breakfast.

  16. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Airobat View Post
    HQ is entitled to protect itself as much as you are. If you don't like the way they do it then go and play somewhere else. No-one is forcing you to be a member of TSA.
    Sadly, I agree with you about allegations. Facts which can be corroborated make no difference within the community which tend to follow the loudest voice but they can make a difference to the outcome of the proceedings. I also think that the way that TSA handles such things is a dogs breakfast.
    Just so I understand you correctly. You agree that what's going on is wrong, but because I don't like it (and say so, somewhat more intemperately than usual - apologies about that), I should leave?

    How about we try to change it? Not massively mind, but just rebalance things slightly. Be a wee bit more practical, maybe get back to the reasonable parent position?

    TSA is a curious organisation sometimes, I think the best way to describe it is: painfully reserved. I think it would quietly fold before it decided to stick up for itself. It just wouldn't want to ruffle any feathers or appear impolite...

    Just thinking there, in terms of the topic of this (quite old) thread - is the problem not better described as the rules ignoring our members are real young people? I can't even begin to count the number of times - due to their entirely typical actions and behaviours, that I've had to either break or bend rules and guidance. It's not so much about how we might comport ourselves, (I think we might of our own backs avoid a lot of the situations the yellow card (for example) tells us to avoid), but we find ourselves having to do these thing anyway?

    If the rules and guidance were rolled back a bit, at least they wouldn't put leaders quite so much in the frame when they find they have to bend them. (I'm aware leaders do bend/break the rules/guidance but never admit it. Is it not fair to say, that isn't a great position to be in either?)

  17. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Airobat View Post
    If an accusation of impropriety is made, are your actions auditable to the point where you have a defense? <- without getting paranoid
    I'm still surprised by the number of people who think it can't possibly happen to them or who think that their good name protects them.

    Which is why digital communication with a traceable record is a good way of communicating. Obviously, restricted to specifics and absolutely avoiding subjects that are inapproriate.
    Ewan Scott

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