The Harbinger Online

Boy Scouts of America Face Public Scrutiny

[media-credit id=653 align=”alignleft” width=”199″][/media-credit]Troop 919 goes through the scout law and oath at a typical meeting. Troop Leader Jeff Perkins goes through the agenda with the young Boy Scouts who range from fifth grade up to seniors in high school. After taking the troop through what merit badges they will work on for the next hour, Perkins switches to a graver subject. It is an issue that has been covered nationwide. According to the New York Times multiple hidden cases of alleged sex abuse by the Scout leaders from 1970-1991 have been revealed.

“We talk to the Scouts and their parents to educate them on how to detect sexual abuse and make them aware of what is currently going on,” Perkins said.

The New York Times said that in more than 500 instances of alleged molestation by its leaders, “the Scouts learned about it from boys, parents, staff members, or anonymous tips. In about 400 of those cases — 80 percent — there are no record of Scouting officials reporting the allegations to police. In more than 100 of the cases, officials actively sought to conceal the alleged abuse or allowed the suspects to hide it….” The reports were not specific to one area.

“I think the scandal will just kind of smudge the name,” junior Boy Scout Alex Mayfield said. “There are so many positives that you get from the whole experience that an incident can be overseen fairly easily.”

Officials with the BSA responded to a Los Angeles Times article that they have “always cooperated fully with any request from law enforcement and today require our members to report even suspicion of abuse directly to their local authorities.” It has been discovered that in the past the BSA has even helped offenders cover up their tracks and “regretfully resign” from their positions as Scout leaders in order to keep up their prestigious reputations in their communities.

“The reason they covered up the events in the beginning was to protect the reputation of the BSA,” Watkins said. “So I imagine they will work to restore its good reputation.”

Scouts at the highest ranking of the organization like senior Chris Watkins aren’t fully aware of the situation at hand. “My troop never addressed this issue because we never faced any problems pertaining to it,” Eagle Scout, Watkins said. “I think many troops have not even come close to having problems like this, so I do not believe it will impact local communities as much.”

Since the 1960s, there have been on average, 4 million youth scouts and more than a million leaders and volunteers actively participating in the program each year. With that many participants, the BSA has had to handle pedophiles and molesters making it through their screening process when selecting Scout leaders.

Starting in 1990, there were more precautions added to the application process in order to prevent offenders from slipping through, and even more have been added now since the BSA’s history was let out to the public.The new rules consist of requiring at least two adults present at all scouting events. Scout leaders and volunteers must also enter into a criminal background check and attend a training course on protecting youth from abuse before participating in any activities.

“In the last few years, our troop has formed new rules against leaders and scouts sleeping in the same area or tent when we go to summer camp, camp outs or weekly outings,” Mayfield said.

Along with educating the Scout leaders and volunteers, the BSA has used this scandal to prolong and back up their reasoning for banning homosexual men and women from holding leadership positions within the organization. Originally, this rule was made because the BSA worried that homosexuals could teach their children the wrong values and would allow for a greater chance of abuse, even though they were aware of the sexual abuse going on at the time. They also argue that according to the Boy Scout Oath, it is required that all group members, as well as the leaders, are “morally straight.”

“For the past couple of years there have been more rules added to help prevent any sexual abuse,” Perkins said. “All of the leaders undergo training to ensure the Scouts will have a good, safe experience.”

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