The refusal of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to conduct criminal background checks on all volunteers until 2008 allowed convicted child sex offenders to join the organization and led to a significant amount of alleged sexual abuse of youths, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of confidential BSA files. Full LA Times coverage of recently released BSA files from 1970 to 1991 that document hundreds of allegations of sexual misconduct is available at http://www.latimes.com/news/local/boyscouts.
The LA Times reports that the BSA – one of the oldest and largest youth groups in the United States – admitted more than 230 men to scouting with “previous arrests or convictions for sex crimes against children” who were accused of molesting nearly 400 boys in Scouting from 1985 to 1991. The Times also reported previously expelled men “slipped back into the program” to molest again and that BSA officials “failed to report hundreds of alleged abusers to police” and “often hid allegations from parents and the public.”
While background checks became required for Scouting employees in 1994 and mandatory for all new volunteers in 2004, the BSA refused to conduct checks on current volunteers who were already in the organization until four years later. According to the Times, BSA officials argued background checks “would cost too much, scare away volunteers, and provide a false sense of security.” The BSA also successfully lobbied to kill state legislation that would have mandated FBI fingerprint screening.
A BSA spokesman responding to the LA Times report said: “Numerous independent experts have recognized that our programs for protecting Scouts from abuse are among the best in the youth-serving community.” The BSA website contains a web page ‘Questions and Answers About the BSA’s Youth Protection’ that explains screening policies available at: http://www.scouting.org/sitecore/content/BSAYouthProtection/BSA_Communications/Q_and_A.aspx.
The Times reports the handling of child sexual abuse by the BSA has come under more scrutiny after the court-ordered release of hundreds of previously confidential files, called “perversion files” by BSA officials, dating back decades that the BSA used to track suspected child abusers. According to an analysis of about 1,900 dossiers from 1970 to 1991 obtained by The Times, at least 300 child molesters were caught in the Scouts. A searchable database of these files is available on the LA Times website at http://spreadsheets.latimes.com/boyscouts-cases/.
The Times calls Scouting “a vast, decentralized organization” with 2.7 million youths and 1 million volunteers under the watch of approximately 3,800 paid supervisors. Chartering organizations that operate Scouting units – such as church groups, community centers, and schools – select and screen volunteers and only receive “general guidance from headquarters.” These chartering organizations should realize the importance of screening, according to safe hiring expert Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of background check firm Employment Screening Resources (ESR).
“It is important for any group involved with youth or vulnerable populations to perform background checks and take internal measures to protect children,” says Rosen, author of the updated second edition of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ published in October 2012. Rosen covers the screening of volunteers in Chapter 27 of the book. For more information, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/SafeHiringManual.php.
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check AuthoritySM’ – is a nationwide screening firm accredited by the National Association of Professional background Screeners (NAPBS) that offers automated, paperless, and fully compliant background check services to businesses and organizations. For more information about ESR, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/ or call Toll Free 888.999.4474.
About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):
Founded by safe hiring expert Attorney Les Rosen in 1997, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check AuthoritySM’– provides accurate and actionable information that empowers employers to make informed hiring decisions for the benefit of their organizations, employees, and the public. CEO Rosen literally wrote the book on background checks with “The Safe Hiring Manual” and ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by a small percent of screening firms. Employers choosing ESR know they have selected an agency meeting the highest industry standards. To learn more about ESR, visit http://www.esrcheck.com or call toll free 888.999.4474.
About ESR News:
The Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at firstname.lastname@example.org. To subscribe to the ESR News Blog Feed, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/feed/. To subscribe to the complimentary ESRcheck Report monthly newsletter, please visit http://www.esrcheck.com/Newsletter/.