On the heels of the sentencing of Jerry Sandusky, the Oregon Supreme Court released reports of apparent sexual abuse of Boy Scouts by 1,200 different Scoutmasters and adult volunteers in 49 states from 1965 to 1985.
The Boy Scouts of America has maintained these "ineligible volunteer" files since the organization's founding in 1910.
Similar to the case at Penn State, leadership of a universally respected institution has tried to avoid scandal by turning a blind eye to instances of child sexual abuse by failing to report it, which enabled at least the potential of repeat offenses.
Once again, abused children have taken second place to preserving the reputation of the institutions that provided a safe haven for abusers. Children have been denied the help they needed to understand that what was done to them was wrong and not the result of their own misconduct or personal imperfections.
Each day, tens of millions of youth participate in activities that could be made safer by systematic prevention activities. All organizations working with children would benefit from stronger child-protection policies, regular self-assessment, and greater efforts to empower staff to keep youth safety in the forefront.
In the long run, the real tragedy of the Sandusky and Boy Scout cases will be measured by how we respond. Child sexual abuse is preventable, and there is a role for each of us. Take time today to find out what each of us can do to create safer environments for all our children.
Shauw Chin Capps
Hope Haven of the Lowcountry