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Opinion: Scout organization should act

Opinion: Scout organization should act

October 13th, 2012 in News

USA Today wrote Sept. 27 on abuse in the Boy Scouts organization:

Add the Boy Scouts of America to the list of trusted institutions that failed sexually abused children.

The Scouts' past behavior, like that of the Catholic Church and Penn State University, shows how easily child molesters can get away with vicious crimes and how easily respected institutions can convince themselves that keeping crimes a secret is acceptable.

From 1970 to 1991, the Boy Scouts failed to report hundreds of suspected sexual abusers to authorities and in some cases "urged admitted offenders to quietly resign," sending them off with clean recommendations, according to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times of the Scouts' once confidential files. The Scouts' failure meant predators were free to stalk and abuse more innocent children, and some did.

The Scouts say that what matters most are its policies today, not files going back decades. And that's true. ... But since the pre-1992 records were forced into the open as a result of litigation, the Scouts have not released their more recent records or combed through those files to cull and report suspected abusers.

This is troubling because the older records, which came to be known as the "perversion files," teach a timeless lesson. The Scouts, like other institutions, often saw molestation as more of a public relations problem than a crime. These institutions tried to ensure that molesters wouldn't abuse children on their turf but had little compunction about sending them off to abuse others. ...

So why haven't the Scouts gone back through their post-1991 files to bring more abusers to justice? Because, a spokesman says, the files "are an incomplete record set that are not used to track reporting."

That's not much of an excuse for an organization that offers a crime prevention merit badge. ... Until recently, the organization's top leaders would not have qualified to earn it.