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Sexual Abuse: The Dark Cloud Hanging Over Scouting in America

sad preteen tween mixed asian boy sitting alone in a big chair facing wall depressed

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is one of the most beloved American institutions. It was founded more than 110 years ago as an organization that equipped American youth with the skills and values that allowed them to be “Prepared. For Life.” They learned this through camping and volunteering activities.

In spite of the squeaky clean image they cultivated for more than a century, the BSA was recently revealed to have a dark, disturbing, and decades-long history of child sexual abuse and molestation – a history that the organization has actively tried to hide from the public eye.

According to internal records obtained by the LA Times, around 5,000 men and women were expelled from the Boy Scouts of America between 1947 and 2005 for child sexual abuse. However, none paid for their crimes, Further investigation revealed, however, that some of those accused of carrying out child sexual abuse were eventually allowed to rejoin the organization.

A large chunk of the files in the LA Times report came from the BSA’s “Perversion Files,” a 14,500-page secret document that detailed instances of abuse against scouts over a 26-year period, starting in 1959. These files, authorities have noted, are part of an even larger collection of secret documents that have all been hidden away at the BSA’s Texas headquarters.

As noted in an NBC report, over 84,000 people have filed suit against the BSA for sexual abuse. The organization is expected to settle the cases to the tune of $850 million.

How can we prevent sexual abuse from happening?

Sexual abuse is one of the most widespread crimes in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four girls and one in 13 boys experience sexual abuse at some point in their childhood. 91% of these cases, the CDC said in a report, are perpetrated by adults that the children know and trust.

As widespread as it is, childhood sexual abuse is preventable. Here’s what yu can do:

  • Be more involved in your child’s life
  • Show an interest in their daily activities, know whom their friends are, and study the media they consume. Keep an eye on teachers, coaches, and caregivers, as they will be the adults your child will interact with when they are outside of your home.

  • Teach your child about issues involving their bodies, and the nature of consent and personal boundaries
  • Once they start to understand your words, teach children the accurate names of body parts, as well as the nature of consent appropriate to their age. While it’s important to distinguish “good touch” from “bad touch,” as well as how to say no to unwanted touching, it’s important to empower children by giving them the agency to choose a course of action. For example, ask them if they would rather get a hug or a high-five.

  • Keep an eye on warning signs
  • Signs of sexual abuse may not be immediately apparent. Because of this, you should make an effort to be more observant, especially when you see abrupt changes in a child’s behavior or mood.

  • Be wary of adults who may be demonstrating grooming behavior around your children
  • Grooming is one of the tools that abusers use to take advantage of children. This usually involves showering them with gifts, separating them emotionally from their parents, and then desensitizing them to the idea of sex and physical contact. Because of this, you have to keep an eye out on adults who frequently spend time alone with your children, or those who may be exhibiting overly familiar behavior towards them.

Sexual abuse and molestation, especially if done by a trusted individual or organization, is one of the most painful things a child and parent can experience.

If you have a child who has suffered from sexual abuse while they were a boy scout, you might want to consider taking legal action against the organization in order to make them pay for the pain, suffering, and severe emotional distress that they caused.

While it can be said that a lawsuit by itself cannot take away the trauma caused by the abuser’s actions, it can hold abusers accountable for their actions and give way to the victim’s proper healing.

Consult with Hogue & Belong for legal advice and remedies

If you are planning on pursuing legal action, you can ask San Diego-based law firm Hogue & Belong and our team of top sexual harassment lawyers for help.

A premier law firm based in California, Hogue & Belong can help survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault learn about sexual harassment laws and find justice.

Call us at 619.238.4720 or email us at inquiries(at)hoguebelonglaw(dotted)com to schedule a confidential meeting with our team of top sexual harassment lawyers.