Santa Barbara Boy Scouts finally hand evidence of the abuse of a child to the police. Joanna Schroeder insists this is five years too late.
Last week, The Los Angeles Times reported about a cover-up within the Boy Scouts of America, in the case of a young boy who was sexually abused by a scout leader. According to the paper, The Boy Scouts of America failed to report the incident to authorities, citing, as the mother of the boy was told, “…that [involving the police] wasn’t necessary, because the Scouts do their own internal investigation.”
A press release was issued today by Dr. Richard Gartner, the chair of MaleSurvivor.org, an online support community for male survivors of abuse, and a group close to GMP, as our own Robert Brown is an important member of the Male Survivor organization.
Dr. Gartner’s statement included the following:
“…If the Boy Scouts handle the matter by stonewalling, denying the reality of the trauma, or coercing him into silence, the injury is severely compounded.
After the scandals at Penn State it is abundantly clear what happens when adults in authority choose to look the other way; protecting themselves and their institutions rather than protecting the young men and boys in their care. Organizations that take responsibility for the welfare of others should not be allowed to place their own interest ahead of the safety of those they have a duty to protect. MaleSurvivor calls on the Boy Scouts of America to publicly acknowledge the mistakes of its past practices and commit to establishing clear standards for reporting accusations of abuse to the proper authorities.”
As a mother of a young boy involved in Cub Scouts, it tears my heart out to imagine first the abuse, and second a different type of abuse at the hands of The Boys Scouts of Santa Barbara in failing to report the crime. I agree with Dr. Gartner’s sentiments that the injury is compounded by the cover-up and the sense that the “whole” is greater than the individual’s safety or security.
The Boy Scouts have a terrible history of abuse, and yes, they have been trying to rectify that. When my son was starting Cub Scouts this year, we read through the handbook which includes a written dialog each parent is required to have with his or her son about abuse. I’ve been talking to my children about abuse, about privacy, about trusting that I will always believe them and take their side and help them in whatever they need, since they were very small.
The dialog in the Cub Scouts handbook was trying to make that dialog clearer for parents, and to “force” them to have the conversation. But putting the responsibility upon the child to say “No” to an abuser is not the way abuse is going to stop in the Boy Scouts. Yes, our children need to know their voices matter and that everyone should respect their personal space, and they should know that there is a safe place to talk about their problems, fears, gut feelings, and experiences. But the responsibility is not, and should not, be on these boys to keep themselves safe.
The choices that the leadership of the Boy Scouts have made are only going to serve to make an organization that often does a lot of good even more damaged. As they say, our secrets keep us sick, and in the case of sexual abuse, our secrets make all of society sick.
If The Boy Scouts of America can’t be trusted to do the bare minimum to protect children by following the law when it comes to abuse, the organization should be dismantled.