According to today's NY Times, Boy Scout officials are ramping up their public relations efforts on child sexual abuse before the release of more damning documents about child sex crimes and cover-ups in the weeks ahead. (Story here).
At best, it's reckless to assume that recently-enacted abuse policies in scouting are making any impact. At worst, such claims are disingenuous.
It is important to remember that in the early 1990s virtually every US Catholic diocese similarly tried to reassure the public about predators by touting similar policies, programs and procedures. But of course, there is vast difference between printed words and actual behavior.
The new youth protection policies the Scouts are talking up look good. But remember how new many of these new policies actually are:
- Their mandatory reporting policy became effective in 2010.
- Youth Protection Training only became required in 2010.
- Background checks for volunteers only became policy in 2008.
We encourage Scouting families to hold out for real change, not superficial public relations moves. When it comes to kids' safety, we urge Scouting families to be skeptical, not trusting, and vigilant, not complacent.