The Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the USA are two separate organizations that work towards similar goals. They help young boys and girls build character, learn the importance of participating in their community, and develop personal skills and fitness. By instilling the values of the organization, the hope is that these children will learn to make positive moral and ethical choices as adults. There are more than 5 million Scouts in America, and Scouting troops typically recruit in their neighborhoods and local schools.
However, there is a dark side to Scouting. Thousands of cases of sexual abuse have surfaced in the Boy Scouts alone. The organization has been around for more than 100 years; but unfortunately, its lack of action in ignoring the sexual abuse problem has allowed predators to continue preying on young boys and has had a serious impact on the organization’s reputation.
There has been a recent push for the implementation of protection programs and policies; however, similar policies were not enforced in the past and, in some cases, sexual abuse was actively hidden in order to protect the organization’s image. It has come to light that the Boy Scouts had a list since the early 1970s of individuals accused of sexual abuse.
Unfortunately, once these abuse allegations surfaced, the abuse did not end. Between the years 1970 and 1991, when the first abuse case was publicly revealed, there have been more than 1,200 allegations and 125 criminal and civil cases filed across the country accusing men of sexually abusing young Scouts.
A review of these files found the following:
- First, predators were able to get into the Boy Scout program by providing false information or skipping over the registration process.
- Other predators jumped from troop to troop all across the country due to computer glitches, clerical errors, or simple failure to check files.
- In some cases, the sexual abuse was not documented at all, which meant the predators were able to remain in the Scouts until another case occurred.
- Many abusers were simply suspended or were allowed to continue working with the kids while on probation.
- In at least 50 cases, the abusers were actually expelled, only to be able to rejoin the organization later and, again, be accused of sexual abuse.
Thousands of Boy Scouts have been sexually assaulted by trusted leaders over the years. This abuse occurs in the leaders’ homes, at scouting events, during camping trips, and during sleepovers. Predators often prey on vulnerable children, although sexual abuse can happen to anyone. Oftentimes predators will form a special relationship with the child before the sexual abuse occurs so that the child will trust them and feel a sense of loyalty, which can prevent the child from speaking out.
It is important to watch for signs of sexual abuse in your child. Signs can include promiscuity, excessive masturbation, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, intense emotions, and discomfort in certain situations or around certain adults. Keep an open dialogue with your child about what s/he can do when uncomfortable, how and when to say no, and what to do if s/he is sexually abused. Many victims blame themselves, so it is important that your child know that sexual abuse is never the fault of the victim, no matter the circumstances.
If you or a loved one has been sexually abused by a Boy or Girl Scout leader, or anyone else, first seek emergency medical attention, and then call the police. There are many resources to help you and your child recover including sexual abuse hotlines, sexual abuse victim advocates, counselors, lawyers, and support groups. You and your child are not alone, and with the proper help, recovery is possible.
The attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm understand that sexual abuse victims in the scouts are traumatized by the attack and take every step necessary to ensure absolute confidentiality regarding the events and course of treatment.
Experts in the complexities of proving sexual abuse and substantiating damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other injuries, our attorneys enable victims to pay for the medical treatment and counseling necessary for long term recovery without making them relive the pain through unnecessary testimony or face-to-face encounters with their attackers.