If you are under the age of 13, you probably won't be hearing from us.
As much as we'd like to reply, we have a pretty strict (paranoid!) policy
against doing so. Here's why:
- There is a U.S. law called the Children's Online Privacy Protection
Act (or COPPA for short) that lays down a bunch of rules that anyone
who "operates a website" must follow. This law draws the youth/adult
line at 13 years of age. The law explicitly forbids collecting personal
information, and in general discourages communication between "website
operators" and "children" over the internet. It does, however, allow
one-time responses, like answering questions (as long as this doesn't
involve "collecting personal information"). For more information on
The text of the law is at
- Civil liability is another thing altogether. Civil lawsuits can
be filed regardless of whether the COPPA law was violated or not. We
are aware of several examples where innocent communication over the
internet carried unforeseen and unwelcome consequences for the website
Fortunately, there is a much better solution than asking us. It's called
Scouts-L. Scouts-L is a discussion list where Scouters (youth and adults)
ask each other Scouting questions. Anything you email to the list gets forwarded
to about 2000 scouters. Not just anyone can send mail to this list--you
have to join and be a member. Technically, this list isn't a "website",
so it doesn't fall under the COPPA. Although Scouts-L is not affiliated
with BSA, or GSUSA, it is operated by the USSSP, but independent of our
To join Scouts-L, you need to send a message to the unmanned "list server"
software which is on a computer separate from the computer that is used
to operate this
website. There is nobody physically at the list server reading or reviewing
messages...it is all done electronically. In the body of your posting, you
need to only provide one line of information: SUB SCOUTS-L firstname
lastname That's all. You MUST use your REAL first and last name
because the listserver's software is 'trained" not to take "screen names"
or "userids". Send the message line to LISTSERV@SCOUTS-L.COM and you should
receive back two messages. The first one confirms that you do want to become
part of Scouts-L; the second one welcomes you to the "international Roundtable
meeting which NEVER ends!"
If you are under 13, we encourage you to not engage in private e-mail
exchanges with other members. You should only reply to the list where
your conversation is very public. Please do not provide personal information
about yourself such as your school, address or phone number when you
in an online discussion.
If you choose not to become part of Scouts-L, then unfortunately, you
must have a parents, guardian, or some other adult post your question
to us for you. We are more than happy to answer all questions posed to us within
a reasonable amount of time ... given the fact that we are all volunteers
and we do have lives to lead outside of our work with the USSSP!