An open letter to victims from the Boy Scouts of America

18 Feb 2020 | 05:41

    Any incident of child abuse is one too many.

    As a father, a former Scout, and the National Chair of the Boy Scouts of America, I am truly heartbroken that you were harmed during your time in Scouting and that you carry unfathomable pain.

    I am outraged that individuals took advantage of our programs to commit these heinous acts.

    I am also outraged that there were times when volunteers and employees ignored our procedures or forgave transgressions that are unforgivable. In some cases, this led to tragic acts of abuse.

    While those instances were limited, they mean we didn’t do enough to protect the children in our care – to protect you.

    On behalf of myself and the entire Scouting community: I am sorry.

    I am devastated that there were times in the past when we failed the very children we were supposed to protect.

    Please know we have worked consistently over many years to implement multilayered policies to keep kids safe.

    As knowledge on child sexual abuse prevention has advanced, so have our expert-informed policies, including mandatory background checks and trainings, a ban on one-on-one interactions between youth and adults, and mandatory reporting of any suspicion of abuse to law enforcement.

    Today, we believe the BSA’s youth safety measures are the strongest and most effective policies found in any youth-serving organization.

    I regret that these measures weren’t always in place or weren’t always enough.

    The fact is that predators harmed innocent children in Scouting programs, and for this I am deeply sorry.

    The BSA cannot undo what happened to you, but we are committed to supporting you and to doing everything in our power to prevent it from happening to others.

    It is a social and moral responsibility that I and the entire organization take extremely seriously.

    We believe that all victims should receive our support and compensation – and we have taken decisive action to make that possible.

    Specifically, the national organization of the Boy Scouts of America has initiated a voluntary financial restructuring to ensure we can equitably compensate all victims of past abuse in our programs, through a proposed Victim’s Compensation Trust.

    I encourage you, and all victims to come forward and file claims so you can receive compensation from this Trust.

    We will provide clear notices about how to do so.

    I want you to know that we believe you, we believe in compensating you, and we have programs in place to pay for counseling for you and your family by a provider of your choice.

    We have also partnered with 1in6, a trusted national resource for male survivors, to expand their services so that you are able to anonymously access vital support from trained advocates when and how you need it.

    You can access these services at www.1in6.org/BSA.

    The abuse you suffered weighs on us all every day.

    But your courage also motivates us to do more for the children we are entrusted to protect.

    We will do better – for you, for kids today, and for kids tomorrow.

    Jim Turley,

    National Chair, Boy Scouts of America