IRVING, TX: Boy Scouts of America is promoting its youth safety procedures following media reports that its leaders failed to notify authorities and the public of alleged child molesters within the organization.
Boy Scouts of America issued an open letter this week to parents from chief scout executive Wayne Brock that outlined its youth protection programs. The letter, posted on the main website as well as some chapter sites, says volunteers complete a rigorous application process and training; two adults must be present at activities; and volunteers suspected of inappropriate behavior are “immediately and permanently banned from scouting.”
The Los Angeles Times published a report Sunday saying that BSA kept hundreds of child-abuse allegations under wraps. In 80% of the cases, reviewed from the organization's confidential “ineligible files,” or blacklist of alleged child molesters, BSA officials failed to report the allegations to police, according to the Times report. Many of the expelled men reportedly reentered the organization and were accused of molestation again.
On Tuesday, BSA representatives responded to media inquiries by providing details of its youth protection programs, including a timeline and infographic, along with information on the history of child abuse awareness and protection in the US. In one document, responding to criticism that the BSA failed to protect children from sexual abuse, the organization says it updated its policies as it learned more about keeping youth safe, and that parents “play a critical role in making scouting a safe place for youth.”
“We regret there have been times when, despite the BSA's best efforts to protect children, scouts were abused, and for that we are very sorry and extend our deepest sympathies to victims… Recent media reports looked at a subset of the BSA's ineligible volunteer files from approximately 40 years ago, when the BSA served approximately 5 million young people each year,” the BSA said in a statement, which a spokesperson attributed to Deron Smith, director of PR.
Fleishman-Hillard has served as BSA's AOR since 2008. Edelman previously worked with the organization on crisis communications, but that relationship ended more than a year ago, according to an agency representative.