Conference Offers Strategies for Protecting the Child From Sexual Abuse and Rooting Out the Predator

Organizations that serve youth must overlap their defenses against sexual predators, say experts at a youth protection conference organized by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). “The first problem we have in the country is that most people most of the time won’t report abuse, no matter how clear the evidence is … even when they walk in on a child being sexually abused,” declared Victor Vieth, executive director of the National Child Protection Training Center at Minnesota’s Winona State University. “It’s not a close question,” he said, referring to decades of research.  “People tell researchers, ‘I don’t report because I’m not quite sure.’”

In 2012 alone, personnel in the Roman Catholic Church, the BSA and Penn State University, to name a few big organizations, have all been accused or convicted of complicity in ignoring child sexual abuse, in some cases, for decades. That’s part of what’s fueled new public attention to child sex abuse in places where kids go to worship, learn and play. As a response, the BSA organized the two-day Atlanta conference, where some 40 leaders of youth-serving organizations, other non-profits, and advocates gathered to hear from leading child abuse prevention researchers.

More Than 1,200 Boy Scout Files on Alleged Molesters Released Online

Earlier today, some 1,247 Confidential Files on people banned from the Boy Scouts of America for alleged sexual misconduct with children from 1965-85 were put online in fulfillment of a court order in Oregon. Their release comes a week after a Seattle attorney released a database that describes nearly 2,000 abuse cases in the BSA from 1971-91. For complete coverage and analysis, visit Youth Today, featuring in-depth reporting from Patrick Boyle, the author of Scouts’ Honor: Sexual Abuse in America’s Most Trusted Institution and a former editor of Youth Today.

What the Sandusky Case Has Taught Us: Six Keys to Creating an Effective Child Protection Policy

The Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse case has shone a harsh light on the limitations of the child protection policies put in place by youth-serving organizations. Sandusky, who served for years under Joe Paterno as Penn State’s assistant football coach, is currently on trial, facing 52 counts of sexually abusing young boys. “Based on our 12 years of working with youth-serving organizations, it’s clear that most aren’t doing enough,” said Cindy McElhinney, director of programs for Darkness to Light, a national nonprofit dedicated to preventing child abuse. “And this is evidenced by the stories playing out in the media right now, including the Sandusky case. Some organizations take it very seriously and are doing a great job, but many still act like it won’t happen to them, that the children they serve aren’t vulnerable.”

A state-of-the-art abuse prevention policy is not only critical to protecting the youth you serve, but also your organization from liability, McElhinney said.