I was a Boy Scout for a while when I was a kid. (I quit because I started increasingly to disagree with the moral principles the Scouts defended.) Fortunately, nothing horrible ever happened to me as part of the Scouts. I'm sure that's true for a lot of people who went through the program, hopefully most. As a result of a court order in Oregon, the Boy Scouts' Ineligible Volunteer Files -- known within the system as the Perversion Files -- have been released to the public, and they highlight the problem with letting institutions police themselves.
The 14,500 pages of newly released records offer details on about 15 cases of alleged sex abuse by Washington area Boy Scout volunteers from the mid-1960s to 1984, including the names of the alleged perpetrators. Many of them have involved criminal prosecutions, but whether future criminal prosecutions might result from the records is not clear.
Thursday’s release of records follows a series of stories by the Los Angeles Times describing a decades-long culture of secrecy within the Boy Scouts in its handling of sex-abuse complaints against adult volunteers.
[...T]he newspaper cited hundreds of incidents of alleged sexual abuse since the 1960s, many of which apparently were not reported to police by Boy Scout officials.
Adults accused of molesting boys were often compelled to leave the Boy Scouts under the guise of being too busy with jobs or other activities to continue as volunteers, according to the Times. Many volunteers who were expelled for suspected sex abuse were able to slip back into the program, the newspaper reported.
On the not so completely dark side, the Boy Scouts' chain of command are recognizing this as a massive wrong, and have had a policy of reporting sexual abuse directly to the police since 2010. That gives it a leg up over other well-respected institutions, such as the Catholic Church, but it's still well below the threshold of remotely okay.
I wonder how long pedophilia has been this reviled as a broader cultural phenomenon. Of course, it was always horrible. But I hope that we're hitting a point, as a civilization, where it's too visible, and too hated, to be possible on any sort of scale.