BLACKFOOT – Although youth are 35 times safer when participating in scouting activities, according to one study, the Boy Scouts of America is discussing ways to further protect youth.
The national organization held conferences across the nation over the weekend to train leaders in seeing the warning signs of sexual abuse. Locally, that conference was held in Blackfoot on Saturday.
Grand Teton Council President Jeffrey Wheeler said nearly one million volunteer leaders working with the organization would be required to undergo a background check and youth protection training. That protection training must be taken every two years, according to the Boy Scouts of America Web site.
A University of Virginia study found youth involved in the Boy Scouts of America program are 35 times safer at scouting activities than in the general population.
The study found that abuse occurred to approximately two youth per 100,000 versus the general population where 70 youth are abused per 100,000.
The Boys Scouts has come under fire after being court ordered to release the “perversion files” – lists of men banned from volunteering with the organization because of reports of sexual abuse between 1965 and 1985.
In some of the cases, banned Scoutmasters were later readmitted into the program and allowed to work with youth in the organization. In Caldwell, one scout leader admitted to committing sex acts on Boy Scouts. Over 16 former Scouts were interviewed, but the scout leader received a suspended sentence and 10-year probation.
According to a database compiled by the Los Angeles Times, there were at least 16 reported cases of child sex abuse in the Boy Scout organization in East Idaho from 1947 to January 2005, although many files were purged before the 1990s.
Victor Vieth, director of the National Child Protection Training Center, was quoted as saying, “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.”
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
Stephan Rockefeller, EastIdahoNews.com