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BSA CSA: Concealment or Trustworthy, Loyal...?


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On 7/4/2022 at 8:20 AM, ThenNow said:

...  That’s all you’d need to conclude, “Huh. This is a pattern. We might want to let people know.” AND, I’m just talking about the cases I read which were all known by the several Districts, LC and Region. ...

This really begs deeper and deeper analysis.  the Scout's Honor article pointing out that BSA started warning about CSA back in 1986 in the official BSA scouting leader magazine seems telling.  I was not a leader in the 1970s or 1980s.  Outside of individual cases, it seems that actions were occurring.  

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1 hour ago, fred8033 said:

the Scout's Honor article pointing out that BSA started warning about CSA back in 1986 in the official BSA scouting leader magazine seems telling.  I was not a leader in the 1970s or 1980s

In what specific form(s) and substance did that "warning" come down to LCs, COs, Units, volunteers, parents and Scouts? Interested, not poking. I used the excerpts from the book to make a point and launch the discussion. As I've said, there is much I don't know. Thanks. (Sorry I didn't have a chance to respond to you thoughtful, detailed post up yonder.)

One of the topics I brought up when I started speaking up way back when is the issue of the elevation of the SM. I said something to the effect of, "Our SM was set on a pedestal and was larger than life to us." I was summarily slapped down for that. No one has responded to the things that were widely published from the Parent's Handbook (thing) and some of the other key publications. It's neigh on to deification to the point questioning a SM fitness for service and moral purity was clearly verboten. Still curious. That makes it very hard for a Scout to even consider speaking up, maybe even for parents. 

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1 minute ago, ThenNow said:

 

One of the topics I brought up when I started speaking up way back when is the issue of the elevation of the SM. I said something to the effect of, "Our SM was set on a pedestal and was larger than life to us." I was summarily slapped down for that. No one has responded to the things that were widely published from the Parent's Handbook (thing) and some of the other key publications. It's neigh on to deification to the point questioning a SM fitness for service and moral purity was clearly verboten. Still curious. That makes it very hard for a Scout to even consider speaking up, maybe even for parents. 

To me this is the similarity with the abuse cases in the Catholic Church and to a lesser degree other religious denominations. Even more so than other religions, the position of the Catholic priest in a community was revered as above reproach, as was someone who embodied the highest of scouting's ideals, the scoutmaster. For that matter, even at the youth level, rank and file scouts are given a measurable level of higher regard by their community. How many times have we heard something along the lines of, "It will be fine, he's a scout." We still default to it here to this day on this forum, most recently with our pride in the two scout troops who assisted the dying and the injured during the recent train crash in Missouri. Of course they would be heroic, they're scouts. 

This similarity in viewing priests and scoutmasters as being on a higher moral plane than everyone else likely contributed to the abuse scandals in both institutions. Parents couldn't believe such things of the people they held in such high regard, in some cases even questioning the claims of their own children. The community at large also often couldn't comprehend such behavior and was perhaps exceedingly reluctant to act on reports. And we all know how the leadership of each institution reacted to the decades of claims. 

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45 minutes ago, yknot said:

This similarity in viewing priests and scoutmasters as being on a higher moral plane than everyone else likely contributed to the abuse scandals in both institutions. Parents couldn't believe such things of the people they held in such high regard, in some cases even questioning the claims of their own children. The community at large also often couldn't comprehend such behavior and was perhaps exceedingly reluctant to act on reports. And we all know how the leadership of each institution reacted to the decades of claims. 

Forgive the length. This is from a case and is in my POC. For me and others, this type of strong "trust and revere your SM" applied to all volunteers and professionals. (Please forgive any wonky formatting. I'll take assistance if it ends up a hot mess.)

It states in pertinent part as follows:[1]

            BSA has issued various publications available to scouts, parents, and the general public. The Boy Scout Handbook typically contains the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. It also contains a description of troop leaders. The Seventh Edition of the Handbook was copyrighted in 1965 and reprinted in 1967. It states: 

                        First, there’s your Scoutmaster. What a wonderful man he is! He spends hours figuring out how to give you fun and adventure in your troop. He takes special training to learn exciting new things for you to do. He is present at every troop meeting and goes hiking and camping with the troop. He is the friend to whom you can always turn to for advice. He coaches the patrol leaders. Why does he do all this? Because he believes in Scouting, because he likes boys and wants to help them become real men.

            The Seventh Edition also directs scouts to obey their Scoutmasters. “A Scout is Obedient. He obeys his parents, Scoutmaster, patrol leader, and all other duly constituted authorities.”

            The Eighth Edition of the Handbook was copyrighted in 1972 and reprinted in 1973. The Eighth Edition states: 

                        The Scout Oath states “On my honor I will do my best / To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; / To help other people at all times; /To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” The Scout Law states “A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous,  Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.” 

                        “Over there watching things is your Scoutmaster. He’s a great guy. He gives hours of his time to you and the troop. And do you know why? Mostly because he knows Scouting is important to his city and nation. Besides, he is interested in boys.”

            The Ninth Edition of the Handbook, copyrighted and printed in 1979, again states that the scoutmaster “is the friend to whom you can always turn to for advice” and directs scouts to follow the rules of their troop. The Ninth Edition is dedicated to “the American Scoutmaster who makes scouting possible,” and directs scouts to be “loyal” and “true” to their Scout leaders. 

            In 1970, BSA published the “Parent’s Book.” It states that “Scouts benefit immensely from companionship with [their Scoutmaster],” who is a “man of good character.” The Parent’s Book also states that the Scoutmaster is “the kind of guy [scouts] would like to be,” and that the Scoutmaster has “the unique ability to get inside a boy and gain his confidence.” It states that the Scoutmaster has a “profound influence” on boys. Finally,   the Parents Book states that the Scoutmaster is a “mature adult of sound character,” and lists the “desirable qualities” for which a Scoutmaster is selected. 

[1] https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Boy-Scouts-ORDER.pdf

POST SCRIPT: THIS is the standard of the day BSA needed to rise to and above. Not what the Babe Ruth League was doing. I took part in a ton of activities and only BSA and the RCC did this sort of pre-death cannonization. For the RCC, it was deeply engrained and implied, occasionally reinforced, but not codified like the above. 

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Today I watched the BSA sex abuse documentary "Leave no Trace" on Hulu.  While difficult to watch, it is important to do so.  In detail, it outlines how, for decades, BSA protected abusers and allowed them to remain in Scouting and perpetrate more abuse.  While BSA kept records of perversion for many decades, they were internal and only (finally) released by court order.  Abuse claims were almost always settled out of court, to keep the public from knowing.    BSA was aware of the abuse and documented it well.  Then they allowed it to continue, year after year.

And if you have a fond recollection of all those paintings, Norman Rockwell had numerous works rejected by BSA because they didn't fit the BSA narrative.

Of interest legally was that in the time I was involved, BSA was heavily subsidized by the federal government.  That being the case, it would seem there would be federal jurisdiction.  But I'm no attorney.

This is just a sampling of what the program reveals.  Be ready to shout at your tv.

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When I was teaching YP (before online videos), the message was clear.  If you witness or suspect abuse, you are to call the Scout Executive directly on his private number, and NO ONE ELSE.  We were told the SE knew who to call and would handle it.  My spidey-sense was telling me this was wrong.

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9 minutes ago, scoutldr said:

When I was teaching YP (before online videos), the message was clear.  If you witness or suspect abuse, you are to call the Scout Executive directly on his private number, and NO ONE ELSE.  We were told the SE knew who to call and would handle it.  My spidey-sense was telling me this was wrong.

I remember that training.  It was before scout leaders were considered mandatory reporters.  There was some view that a professional was needed to properly handle the reporting.  It did not look weird.  That appearance was far worse than any intension.   ... but then again ... I've seen multiple abuse complains from mothers submitted due to shoe throwing, etc.  ...   So, I could see early opinions that a professional was needed to triage out bickering volunteers.  BUT, yeah it should have always been call the police.  

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3 hours ago, Eagle1970 said:

This is just a sampling of what the program reveals.  Be ready to shout at your tv.

My baby sister texted me while she was watching. My phone was smoking by the time she was several minutes in. I still have the blisters. She's small, but not to be trifled with. She was in an abusive domestic situation for years, to the point my brothers and I were going to extricate her. She then broke free. The guy was loco and heavily into drugs. He died last year and she finally feels safe. In any case, she is a survivor and reacts strongly to any such content. 

Edited by ThenNow
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1 hour ago, scoutldr said:

When I was teaching YP (before online videos), the message was clear.  If you witness or suspect abuse, you are to call the Scout Executive directly on his private number, and NO ONE ELSE.  We were told the SE knew who to call and would handle it.  My spidey-sense was telling me this was wrong.

My early YP training as a rec league baseball coach AND as a CYO coach 20+ years ago had the same directives.  I challenged both orgs on it.  The explanation I received from both was about the same:  law enforcement would only act if there was clear evidence of a crime.  Which jibes with one of my earlier posts about the limitations of a law enforcement approach.  In addition, the authorities wouldn't reach back to the organizations, especially if they didn't investigate or didn't find any criminal activity.  That left the orgs in a tough place without vital information:  someone that's a jerk but not quite a criminal shouldn't be a coach or a scout leader 

So this was likely not so sinister, just best, or at least common, practices for a while in the earlier days of widespread formal YPT.  I gave feedback to both orgs that it should be both not either/or.  Within a couple years the directives had changed, even before volunteers were designated mandatory reporters.

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2 hours ago, scoutldr said:

When I was teaching YP (before online videos), the message was clear.  If you witness or suspect abuse, you are to call the Scout Executive directly on his private number, and NO ONE ELSE.  We were told the SE knew who to call and would handle it.  My spidey-sense was telling me this was wrong.

This helps me understand the tenor of the communications in the IVF I've mentioned several times. As I've gone over it 20 or so times, I can almost see people sneaking into the next guy up the chain's office with a sealed envelope in a lead box. "NO PUBLICITY" reads one page. "Quickly man, don't delay! Deliver the package to Mr. Ernst immediately! Do not kiss your wife or tell her where you're going. The Keeper of the Vault knows what to do. Speak to no one. Allow no one to read it. Be sure no one follows you. Your mission Jim, if you will accept it..."  

Edited by ThenNow
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3 hours ago, scoutldr said:

My spidey-sense was telling me this was wrong.

As I understand it now, an ASM reached out to the SE, concerned that I was being abused. The ASM was told everything was ok (not sure on what basis). I know my parents weren’t contacted because they were/are upset when they found this out. 

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On 7/5/2022 at 2:33 PM, ThenNow said:

POST SCRIPT: THIS is the standard of the day BSA needed to rise to and above. Not what the Babe Ruth League was doing. I took part in a ton of activities and only BSA and the RCC did this sort of pre-death cannonization. For the RCC, it was deeply engrained and implied, occasionally reinforced, but not codified like the above. 

Would anyone like to comment on this? It seems to me that when it comes to expectations for transparency (reveal v conceal), the way an organization characterizes its level of integrity and moral rectitude has significant bearing on the standard to which it should be held? No? If you played Babe Ruth or Pop Warner in the day, you knew the coach may be a hard-nosed, unpleasant, hard driving, used to be a jock type person. With such people, especially in my town where men were gruff and loved to tease and taunt, you knew what you were getting. Suit up. Step up. Put up. Shut up or sit down. In BSA, the promise of purity of heart, highest integrity and absolute best intentions got plastered literally from sea to shining sea and everywhere an ad or poster could be pinned. I suggest an organizationally established (and oft stated) high bar of moral integrity raises the bar across the board for all interactions, especially when the primary subjects of the elevation are male adult leaders being placed in intimate and trusting contact with young boys. 

As per the above and my own retelling of how I perceived Scouters, it strikes me that we were strongly directed to honor, obey, trust, turn to in times of need, allow into one's confidence and basically do what our leaders said. Period. It's not far from a profession of fealty. I know of no other such statements from any YSO of the day. Is there a reciprocal pledge somewhere from Scouters to Scouts? It is, of course, implied that BSA and Scouters live by the Oath and Law, and that lived commitment should apply to Scouts. Is a fictitious entity, like a corporation, held to the same standard as its constituent parts? Does being in a board room apart from day to day interactions with Scouts cleanse one from the pledges? SMs (and others) were men elevated to pedestals. BSA pointed to those anointed and invited, no adjured parents and kids to yield an incredible level of trust to the organization and those men. Exhibit A: "You can 100% trust us. This man is of the highest repute. No spot, blemish, or wrinkle. He knows how to make boys into men under the watchful eye of Scouting, the Oath and Law, and God himself. Have no fear..." Exhibit B: “BSA did the best it could and may have even done better than others. It’s unfair to expect more sitting here in 2022. That was then, this is now.” Do those statements square with each other? I can’t help concluding that falling back on the standards of the day argument to explain/justify any acts or omissions that clearly jeopardized kids brought deep into a trusting relationship with men is a two-legged stool.

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You could make similar comparisons to many others of the day, and even today.  In theory, the Y in its various states over more than a century would likely be held in similar esteem; Young Mens' Christian Association (and women's); or the various youth clubs that were common prior to organized youth sport, or any of the religiously connected groups, and of course the educational boards and schools with their members.  All of them had/have some kind of "expectation" of higher moral values.  Yet, all of them have examples of not meeting those expectations, and as noted in numerous past comments, many of them were far more likely to fall short based on what we know.  The main point is that society, in theory, has these expectations, but often the wolf leers and lurks waiting for the shepherd or the guard dog to lose their focus and even their protective nature.  BSA is really and always has been just another element of the larger society, and overall met that higher standard, though failing badly in some instances.  Those failures, though few statistically in relation to the membership, should not have happened or should have had better responses.  They have admitted these failures and also have over time made efforts to try to combat that societal weakness, often doing it with little support beyond themselves over the eras.  It is still the truth that the failures lie at the feet of not just BSA, but many elements of society, including too often family and close associations other than BSA.  And no amount of continued beating of the horse will change history.

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16 minutes ago, skeptic said:

You could make similar comparisons to many others of the day, and even today.  In theory, the Y in its various states over more than a century would likely be held in similar esteem; Young Mens' Christian Association (and women's); or the various youth clubs that were common prior to organized youth sport, or any of the religiously connected groups, and of course the educational boards and schools with their members.  All of them had/have some kind of "expectation" of higher moral values. 

Yup. "Esteem" and "expectations." Do you have any similar documentation going to the incredible elevation of leaders in those organizations, which elevation was used to attract and build membership, however well-motivated? I am making (or trying to make) a very specific and narrow point. Serious question and not a poke.

16 minutes ago, skeptic said:

And no amount of continued beating of the horse will change history.

That is the subtitle of this thread.

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9 minutes ago, skeptic said:

You could make similar comparisons to many others of the day, and even today.  In theory, the Y in its various states over more than a century would likely be held in similar esteem; Young Mens' Christian Association (and women's); or the various youth clubs that were common prior to organized youth sport, or any of the religiously connected groups, and of course the educational boards and schools with their members.  All of them had/have some kind of "expectation" of higher moral values.  Yet, all of them have examples of not meeting those expectations, and as noted in numerous past comments, many of them were far more likely to fall short based on what we know.  The main point is that society, in theory, has these expectations, but often the wolf leers and lurks waiting for the shepherd or the guard dog to lose their focus and even their protective nature.  BSA is really and always has been just another element of the larger society, and overall met that higher standard, though failing badly in some instances.  Those failures, though few statistically in relation to the membership, should not have happened or should have had better responses.  They have admitted these failures and also have over time made efforts to try to combat that societal weakness, often doing it with little support beyond themselves over the eras.  It is still the truth that the failures lie at the feet of not just BSA, but many elements of society, including too often family and close associations other than BSA.  And no amount of continued beating of the horse will change history.

I don't think it's honest to say that an organization that can produce and still to this day perpetuate and protect a situation like Mic-O-Say isn't outside of the norm and doesn't foster, closed, cultlike subsocieties and mentalities. I'm not aware that the Y's of the world or the Little League have anything even remotely comparable. If BSA can close ranks around something as ... I'll be nice and call it questionable ... as Mic-O-Say, who could trust that it wouldn't have closed ranks around anything else it deemed inconvenient to acknowledge? 

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