The Main Stream

Oct 18, 2012 9:13 PM by Erika Flores

Boy Scouts of America responds to release of documents revealing abuse

Tucson-Thousands of documents kept by the Boy Scouts of America have been released identifying scout leaders accused of molesting children.

There are 20 cases in Tucson.

With these files now exposed, former scouts are recalling their experiences of abuse.

Henry Bonfield said he was a scout in the ‘50's.

"You ever heard of a belt line?" said Bonfield.

He saw abuse in a Tennessee troop then.

"Boys in the troop would line up with a belt and you'd have to pass between the two lines and you'd get whipped," he said.

He said physical abuse went against the rules even then, so he can only imagine what else went on.

"Sexual abuse is pernicious, and it shouldn't be allowed. It must not be allowed," he said.

So called "ineligible volunteer files," document years of child abuse within Boy Scouts of America.

"We're saddened by the fact that there have been abuses in the past that have occurred with kids," said Scout Executive Ken Tucker.

In Tucson alone, there have been 20 cases since 1956.

The last case shown in the files is 2003.

"That disappoints us," said Tucker.

Tucker said the Boys Scouts of America has been working hard to decrease if not eliminate child abuse cases within their organization.

"I'm confident that it's much much much more difficult for people to take advantage of children," said Tucker.

Some measures Tucker said the organization has taken:"You can't have any one-on-one activities with scouts. No secret organizations. Families are always welcome to participate. We do criminal background checks with everybody that applies to be a leader," he said.

These stricter guidelines began in the ‘90's according to a timeline by the Boy Scouts of America.

The national president of Boy Scouts of America also responded issuing an apology.

"There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong. Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest and sincere apologies to victims and their families.

"While it is difficult to understand or explain individuals' actions from many decades ago, today Scouting is a leader among youth-serving organizations in preventing child abuse. The BSA requires background checks; administers comprehensive training programs for volunteers, staff, youth, and parents; and mandates reporting of even suspected abuse. We have continuously enhanced our multitiered policies and procedures to ensure we are in line with and, where possible, ahead of society's knowledge of abuse and best practices for prevention. The BSA's standards and relentless focus on Youth Protection have been recognized and praised by experts in child protection, including Victor Vieth, a former prosecutor who heads the National Child Protection Training Center.

"Experts have found that the BSA's system of ineligible volunteer files functions well to help protect Scouts by denying entry to potentially dangerous individuals, and Scouting believes they play an important role in our comprehensive Youth Protection system."

- Wayne Perry, National President, Boy Scouts of America


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