We’re cautiously encouraged that Scout officials now finally say they’ll give information about abusive Scout leaders to law enforcement. But we’ll believe it when we see it happening and it must start happening immediately.
Every day Scout officials delay in turning over their "perversion" files to police, kids will be in danger and child molesters are given even more chances to destroy evidence, intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, discredit whistleblowers, fabricate alibis and flee to other states or countries.
We apologize for being so graphic, but it takes just seconds for a sex offender to shove his hands into a boy’s pants or his tongue in a girl’s mouth, so days and hours matter. Having kept tens of thousands of pages about thousands of potential child molesters secret for decade, Scouts must act promptly now.
Right now, we suspect, current or former Scout leaders and volunteers who committed or concealed heinous crimes are “covering their tracks,” shredding documents, deleting emails, and taking other steps to ensure they’ll keep evading the law.
Remember that many of these men are proven, admitted and credibly accused serial criminals, usually with a strong – if not overpowering – deeply rooted psychological compulsion to assault kids. They aren’t guys who engaged in a few “youthful indiscretions” but “turned their lives around.” They aren’t one-time shoplifters who acted on a dare from peers or purse snatchers who acted out of temporary financial need. Most likely, most of them hurt several or many kids. And most likely, many are hurting kids right now. Time is of the essence.
For many, especially parents whose kids are in Scouting now, it will be tempting to say "Scout officials are mending their reckless, secretive ways." Not so fast.
It’s important to remember why Scout officials are taking this step now. It’s clearly in response to tremendous external pressure; brought on largely by brave victims who are bringing lawsuit to expose and prevent more crimes and cover ups. And it’s because of intense media coverage of decades of wrongdoing.
Kids keep getting assaulted when adults prematurely assume child sex crimes are cover ups are “being handled better.” Every adult should pledge to withhold judgment about Scout officials’ latest moves and motivations until alleged reforms continue to consistently happen over years and years.
Finally, the burden of keeping kids safe and investigating abuse reports doesn't end with the Scouts. Others must step up and act quickly too, including victims, witnesses, whistleblowers and law enforcement. And everyone must fight the assumption that older child sex crimes are too difficult or impossible to investigate or that older child molesters have perhaps stopped hurting kids and somehow been magically "cured" by the mere passage of time. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What is true is this: every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes but stays silent helps predators and hurts kids. So every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes must find the courage to speak up, and speak up quickly, so that others might be spared devastating betrayals with life-long shattering effects.