Boy Scout Bankruptcy Reveals Similarities with Catholic Church Abuse Scandal
As the true depth of sexual abuse and cover-up within the Boy Scouts of America continues to be revealed, it is impossible to ignore the similarities between the abuse scandal within the BSA and that of the Catholic Church.
According to the BSA’s own records, at least 7,800 scoutmasters abused boys under their care. We are sure that number will grow as this bankruptcy proceeds, given that more than 82,000 cases have been filed and more are likely to come. While these numbers are staggering, it is important to recognize that they are likely not even a full accounting. Due to the fact that many victims never come forward, there is no doubt that the number of children abused in the BSA system is in the hundreds of thousands and the number of abusive scoutmasters in the tens of thousands.
The only reason that these secrets are being made public is because of the brave survivors who have come forward to file lawsuits, which has led to this nationwide bankruptcy. These survivors are to be applauded and commended for their courage and integrity. They were let down by an organization that was supposed to promote their growth and well-being and instead turned a blind eye to the gravest of crimes, not unlike the deplorable behavior of the Catholic Church. By standing up and sharing their stories, these victims are making the BSA safer for generations to come.
However, the environment for children cannot be made safe until the secrecy around sexual abuse is dismantled. The BSA bankruptcy is helping to educate secular society - lawmakers, law enforcement, and parents - about the need for reform. That same reform is needed in the Catholic Church. Instead of state-by-state investigations and diocese-by-diocese bankruptcies, we are asking our national lawmakers - senators, representatives, and the newly-elected executive branch, to lead the way and to institute a nationwide, search warrant and subpoena-empowered investigation into the Catholic Church.
The Church has not undergone a national bankruptcy or a national investigation. The Boy Scouts example is proof that it should. The United States Justice Department has that power and we call on President-Elect Biden to instruct it to open a national investigation – as has been done in the UK, Australia, and Canada – when he assumes office in January.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)