Boy Scouts Canada kept a secret list of scout leaders and volunteers who had been convicted of, or accused of sexual abuse according to an investigative report by CBC’s Fifth Estate.
Secret List of Abusers
According to media reports the Boy Scouts of America have long maintained a list of scout leaders and volunteers who had been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with children.
The investigation in Canada indicates that Boy Scouts Canada maintain a similar list.
The spokesperson for Boy Scouts Canada claims Scouts Canada has never maintained a list of scout leaders and volunteers who have been accused of abuse.
Safety Requires a List
It is not surprising to me that an institution like the Boy Scouts, where volunteers are in a position of authority over young vulnerable children, would maintain a list of volunteers who had been found to have acted inappropriately.
In fact, I think it would be prudent for any organization involved with children to maintain such a list. I would go so far as to say that it would be negligent for Scouts Canada not to maintain this kind of a list. What raises concerns is the fact that these lists (if they exist at all) were secret.
Secrecy Protects the Abusers
Child abuse is a crime of secrecy. Pedophiles use their influence and authority to prey upon vulnerable children. They threaten, intimidate or cajole their victims into maintaining their silence which enables pedophiles to continue their predations.
Reporting Abuse is the Law
The fact that children who are being abused may not be in a position to report what is happening to them is what lead the governments of every province to enacted legislation requiring persons in authority to report suspected cases of child abuse.
Unfortunately, there are some institutions that believe that the reputation of the institution is more important than protecting children. Therefore, persons in authority within the institution fail to notify authorities when an adult within their ranks is found to have committed inappropriate acts with children.
Churchs Fail to Report
We have seen this time and time again with religious institutions, particularly the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church is perhaps unique in that the Code of Canon Law requires the Bishop of each diocese to maintain a “secret archive” of any accusations of inappropriate conduct made against priests. Canon 1719
Litigation against Catholic Churches throughout North America has uncovered many examples of instances where the bishops or officials from the Vatican have sought to interfere the obligation to report to the authorities.
See for example:
Different Players – Same Script
Unfortunately, it appears from the Fifth Estate Investigation that the Boy Scouts of America and Boy Scouts Canada felt that it was more important to protect the reputation of the Scout movement than it was to protect the children who were being preyed upon by pedophile scout leaders.
Silence Protects Abusers
Sexual abuse is a crime of secrecy. Pedophiles can only commit their offences when they are protected by the shadows of secrecy. It is only when pedophiles are exposed by the glaring light of public disclosure that they can be held accountable.
That is why I say to abuse survivors” If you have been sexually abused tell someone!”
Be it a family member, a friend, a health professional or a counselor. The best way to get help and to prevent the abuse from happening to others is to disclose what happened.
As a public service we have prepared a directory of professionals who provide counseling services to abuse survivors in the Atlantic Provinces. If you would like to receive a copy of the directory, at no charge, please feel free to contact me through this blog.