“Boy Scouts of America files for Bankruptcy”– Washington Post (02-18-2020)
I am heartbroken after hearing about the bankruptcy filing of the Boy Scouts of America. As an Eagle Scout, I know my life would not be the same without the lessons and experiences I had as a Scout. While I am hopeful that the storied tradition and mission of Scouting will be around for another 100 years, how this situation is handled will determine if that is possible.
HEALING the damage that has occurred and preventing future harm, should be the FIRST PRIORITY.
If that means this organization must come to an end, sadly… that is the way it must be. If they choose to operate in a way that protects or promotes criminal sexual abuse of any form, I would PROUDLY hand my Eagle Scout Badge BACK to the BSA before I would support them, and I believe EVERY Eagle Scout would do the SAME.
We must remember… the ABUSED are not the criminals here, the ABUSERS are. There should be NO TIME LIMIT against coming forward. Their stories help us PREVENT future abuse and we should welcome their stories. We must be focused on making sure it cannot happen again.
My Boy Scout Troop dealt with an experience of sexual abuse while I was an active Scout. During one of our monthly camping trips, our newly elected Scout Leader subjected a group of first year Scouts to an “underwear check”. I didn’t attend that camp out… I can’t remember why. I know at the time it was an important reason, but the events of that weekend seem to have overshadowed everything else around it.
As a youth organization, I believe the BSA must address two issues in order to prevent future abuse:
1.) Why did those boys not know that that situation was unacceptable and should have SPOKEN OUT about it immediately?
2.) Why did that boy believe it was possible for him to subject those Scouts to a situation like that without accountability?
Preventing sexual abuse requires SPEAKING about sexual abuse, which naturally means educating kids about what IS and IS NOT acceptable. At such a pivotal point in their development, the BSA should take a more active role in educating Scouts about these things, and clearly define expectations to actively promote a safe environment for all members… parents, volunteers, and Scouts.
Everyone must feel SAFE, and the BSA must create an atmosphere where Scouts feel comfortable SPEAKING OUT when they are not. The experiences of the Boy Scouts are not an isolated incident. Many organizations are beginning to open their eyes to abuse within their ranks, and we are learning that many lives have been affected. Many people live their entire lives without speaking of it… and some are affected by it everyday.
SILENCE will not fix the problem in the future, and it will not help victims heal.
If the goal truly is to protect CHILDREN, then we must give them the TOOLS necessary to someday do so for themselves… they need KNOWLEDGE.
What better group is there to provide that knowledge than the BSA?