Boy Scouts address protections against child sex abuse in newsletter to parents

This comes after a scope of sex abuse in the organization was revealed.

April 25, 2019, 11:53 AM

In the wake of reports about alleged sexual abuse within the storied organization, the Boy Scouts of America emailed a newsletter to parents Wednesday night entirely focused on "Youth Protection."

Earlier this week, it was revealed that there have allegedly been more than 12,254 victims of sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts over the course of seven decades.

Since that number was publicized during a Tuesday news conference held by a lawyer representing victims, Boy Scouts officials have been pointing to safeguards the organization has in place to protect children from predators -- and this newsletter is the latest example of that outreach.

In the top article of the newsletter, Mike Surbaugh, BSA's chief scout executive, acknowledged "painfully, there have been incidents of abuse that occurred in our program, and we sincerely apologize that some despicable individuals used their positions in Scouting to harm children."

The letter goes on to describe the creation of the Boy Scout's volunteer database, which was created "long before there were smart phones, email, fax machines, the internet, criminal databases or other modern methods available to identify or track predators."

Sarbaugh noted, as the BSA stated repeatedly in the past week, that files kept on allegedly offending volunteers were made in an effort to stop them from rejoining the organization after being removed at the first report of misdoings.

The Cushman Watt Scout Center, headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America for the Los Angeles Area Council, is pictured in Los Angeles, Oct. 18, 2012.
Fred Prouser/Reuters, FILE

"I want to be clear – the Boy Scouts of America has never knowingly allowed those who have committed inappropriate acts with children to remain in our program," Sarbaugh wrote.

Other articles highlighted in the newsletter include one about how child safety is the first chapter in scouting handbooks and another about the BSA's call to establish a national volunteer screening database as a way to protect "children go beyond our organization."

The BSA has been calling for a national volunteer database -- modeled in a way similar to the national sex offender registry -- at least for several months.

In December, Sarbaugh sent a letter to Congress about protecting children from abuse where he pushed for the establishment of a volunteer registration and clearing screening process that would help "to reduce the risk that potential abusers can gain access to children by moving across state lines or to other youth serving organizations."