Skip to main content

Advice for leaders

Advice for leaders

All adults in Scouts must follow the procedures in the Young People First – Safeguarding Code of Practice (Yellow Card)

It’s important that young people have access to information to help and support them through their physical, emotional and moral development. Scouts has a key role to play in the development of young people, and there may be times when young people come to you as leaders looking for advice and support. We want them to have the confidence and self-esteem to understand their attitude towards sex and relationships, so that they can make responsible and informed decisions about their own well-being.

Advice for Leaders: Beaver Scout and Cub Scout Sections

Whilst it is unlikely that Leaders within these Sections will need to take positive action to deal with sexual health issues, it is important that they consider the needs of any Young Leaders working with them. Adults in this position should consult the guidance for Explorer Scout Leaders.

Advice for Leaders: Scout Section


Leaders in the Scout Section will need to consider what activities and advice should be included in their programme to ensure young people have the knowledge to make safe and informed decisions. It is important that Leaders consider any Young Leaders operating in their Section. Leaders in this position should consult the guidance for Explorer Scout Leaders. Here are some examples of information and advice that a Leader in the Scout Section may provide: If you are asked where a young person should go to access local sexual health services, you should direct them to the provision provided by your local authority. There may also be facilities offered locally by Brook which is the young people’s sexual health charity that provides information on relationships, sexual  page 2 of 7 health, sex and sexuality. Contact details of Brook and other agencies are available in the Sexual health directory


If you are asked about contraceptive methods or other sexual health matters, you should try to provide relevant information. This information could include the details of local contraceptive services and the location of local sexual health clinics. If you are asked about pregnancy testing, you should refer the young person to local health professionals, such as their GP. You should highlight the benefits of involving the young person’s parents or carers. If you suspect that a young person is being coerced, abused or exploited you should advise them that you have to pass this information on. You must take this action, even in circumstances where the young person is reluctant to co-operate with this course of action or specifically asks you not to. You must follow the procedures laid down in the Young People First Code of Practice (Yellow Card.

Advice for Leaders: Explorer Scout Section

Leaders in the Explorer Scout Section should consider how their programme can support young people in making good, safe and informed decisions regarding their sexual health. They should also consider what advice and information should be provided to Explorer Scouts.

Explorer Scout Leaders involved in the support of Young Leaders should be mindful of the needs of these young people to access this information and support.

Explorer Scout Leaders should be prepared to offer appropriate information to their Explorer Scouts. The Explorer Scout Section provides an opportunity to convey a clear message to resist peer pressure to have early sex, it also gives a forum in which to promote good sexual health.

The programme of the Explorer Scout Section gives young people the opportunity to discuss issues with their peer group that may not be so easily discussed elsewhere. There is programme material on Programmes Online for Leaders who want to approach the subject with their section. Suggested programme ideas can be found on www.scouts.org.uk/pol and in the My Body, My Choice resource pack which helps adults who want to explore the topic with young people, most often as a response to their questions and requests. It reflects Scouts values and offers a range of programme material.

There are a wide variety of situations that may occur as an Explorer Scout Leader. Here are some examples that may assist Leaders in making decisions: If you are asked by an Explorer Scout about local contraceptive and sexual health services, you should try to direct them to the provision of your local authority. There may also be facilities offered locally by Brook which is the young people’s sexual health charity that provides information on relationships, sexual health, sex and sexuality. Contact details of Brook and other agencies are available in the Sexual health directory.

Because of the nature of a Leader’s relationship with their Explorer Scouts, it is possible that personal issues will be discussed. If asked, you should encourage young people to resist pressure to have early sex.

Leaders are encouraged to have leaflets with information about local contraceptive services (including telephone numbers, location details and opening hours) alongside those that may be kept regarding drugs or bullying. If you are asked, you could stress the confidential nature of these services.

It may be possible to arrange a Unit visit to, or by, a local contraceptive and sexual health clinic. This will help to break illusions of what these services are and improve the uptake of advice. Any Leader planning page 3 of 7 such a visit should inform the Explorer Scouts’ parents or carers of this plan – however, there is no need to seek their written permission.

Leaders should not provide advice on the suitability of particular contraceptive methods, as this is the responsibility of health professionals. However, Leaders can provide general information about contraceptives and sexual health using leaflets provided by their local statutory services or other organisations such as Brook.

In responding to enquiries from young people, Leaders should be prepared to find the details of local emergency contraception provision and agencies that offer advice and support. More information and links to agencies can be found in the Sexual health directory.

If you are asked about pregnancy testing, you should refer the young person to local health professionals, such as their GP. You should also highlight the benefits of involving the young person’s parents or carers.

If you suspect that a young person is being coerced, abused or exploited you should advise them that you have to pass this information on. You must take this action, even in circumstances where the young person is reluctant to co-operate with this course of action or specifically asks you not to. You must follow the procedures laid down on the Young People First Code of Practice (Yellow Card).

Advice for Leaders: Scout Network Section


Due to the age of the Scout Network there are no legal issues surrounding the giving of advice or contraception. However, the advice given for Explorer Scout Leaders (please see above) may be of interest to you and would be relevant if dealing with members under 18. The provision of programmes relating to sexual health may be of use to Scout Network Members, these can be found on Programmes Online www.scouts.org.uk/pol or by contacting an external agency who can offer assistance, see the Sexual health directory. 

Scout and Explorer Scout residential events without adults present


Where an event has no adults present, advice should be given to participants before the event to ensure that the sleeping arrangements are in accordance with the Association’s guidance and that everyone is aware of the arrangements. The Association’s guidelines state that separate accommodation should be provided for male and female members. Variations to these guidelines can only be made in exceptional circumstances

Religious and cultural issues


As adults in Scouting, it is important that, regardless of our own faith and values, we offer appropriate guidance to young people. Personal interpretations of faith range from the liberal to the strictly traditional. Every religion has its own teachings regarding relationships and contraception and it is important to respect the right of young people to make the choices that they feel are right for them. All young people are entitled to information and advice to allow them to make informed choices.

Young people’s religious, cultural and personal views will need to be considered before providing specific advice to the individual, remembering some young people will view abstinence as a positive decision and others will want advice and guidance.

Whilst some Scout Groups are sponsored by religious bodies this should not be a barrier to providing appropriate advice, information and guidance to young people in line with Scout Association policies.

Yellow Card

Our code of practice (also known as the Yellow card) sets out guidance for all adults in Scouts

Read the Yellow Card