Published: Dec 15, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Dec 15, 2012 08:30 PM
I have been involved with the Boy Scouts of America for 33 years and have seen how children benefit from Scouting.
While it is difficult to understand or explain an individuals actions from many decades ago, let me be clear: nothing is more important than the safety of our members. Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, the Boy Scouts of America extends our deepest apologies to victims and their families.
It is important to note that recent media reports have focused on some partial records from many years ago that were used in our application and screening process called the Ineligible Volunteer Files. The sole reason these files exist has been to protect youth by keeping out individuals deemed to be inappropriate leaders. Those records were not intended to be a complete history of each case and because of this, these the files do not always reflect all the details or steps taken in each particular case. The files are essentially a list of people who did not meet BSAs leadership standards because of known or suspected abuse, or other inappropriate conduct, that occurred either inside or outside of Scouting. If a registrants name appears on the list, he or she is not to be permitted to join Scouting.
Recently the BSA released the results of an internal review of the files by Dr. Janet Warren, a professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia. The report shows in some instances the BSA failed to defend Scouts from those who would do them harm but that as part of BSAs broader Youth Protection program, the BSAs system of ineligible volunteer files functions to help protect Scouts.
Dr. Warren found that in 63.1 percent of the IV files made public by an Oregon judge, police were involved, and in 62.4 percent of instances the parents of the alleged victim were aware of the allegations being made against a particular Scouting-involved adult. Finally, this review found that in these 20 years, (Jan. 1, 1965 through June 30, 1984) 175 people attempted to re-enter Scouting and were prevented from doing so because their names appeared in the files.
Throughout the years, society has learned a great deal about child sexual abuse, and the BSA has continuously enhanced its multi-tiered policies and procedures. The BSA now requires background checks for all volunteers and staff, comprehensive training programs, and strict safety policies. In 2010, the BSA hired a full-time youth protection director, a recognized expert on child abuse, who is dedicated to the continued strengthening of Scoutings youth protection programs and policies.
Here are a few important facets of BSAs Youth Protection Program:
• All volunteers are required to complete Youth Protection training and must renew every two years. This training is accessible to the general public online at www.scouting.org.
• No child is left alone with just one adult. Two adults must always be present for all Scouting activities.
• In every Cub Scout and Boy Scout handbook, a pamphlet is provided to help teach parents how to teach their children how to recognize, resist, and report abuse.
• Anyone suspected of inappropriate behavior is immediately removed.
• The Boy Scouts of America has mandated that all volunteers and employees are mandatory reporters of abuse.
The Occoneechee Council and the Boy Scouts of America believe even one instance of abuse is too many. Rest assured, the Boy Scouts of America will never waiver in its ongoing commitment to protect Scouts.