The Scout movement is a worldwide youth movement with the stated aim of supporting young people in their physical, mental and spiritual development so that they may play constructive roles in society. Scouts Canada bills itself as the country’s leading youth organization.
However a recent independent forensic audit of Scouts Canada’s records has resulted in 129 cases of alleged sexual abuse of children being reported to police. The audit reportamounts to an indictment of Canadian Scouting. The review identified findings in five specific areas: records management, governance, contact with authorities, suspensions and terminations, and other observations.
Particularly damning is that the alleged abuse went on for more than six decades. The audit confirms that sexual abuse remained hidden for just as long. Child youth organizations, like Scouts Canada, have an ethical and legal obligation to protect youth in their care of child predators. Where they have reason to suspect abuse, or know about abuse, they have an obligation to act. For most, this would mean bringing the suspicions or allegations forward to police. However, while the audit found no evidence of a systemic cover-up it showed that even after 1992, when internal rules changed to require that such allegations be reported to the authorities, the information was not always shared.
The review of the organization’s records involved 468 incidents that go back 64 years. It found that about half of the more than 100 cases recently turned over to police were never reported to the police. Scouts Canada’s records were so deficient that in many cases, determinations over whether complaints were brought forward to authorities could not be made.
It is sad how Scouts Canada failed the youth in its care on so many fronts. It failed to comply with its own internal policies (when they came about). It failed in its duty to protectthem. And Scouts failed to comply with the law of the land. Where a person has good reason to suspect child abuse, he or she is obligated to come forward with these concerns.
Systemic negligence, and turning a blind eye to abuse, make Scouts Canada potentially liable for civil claims brought on behalf of the abuse victims. Abuse victims often suffer lifetime emotional damages. Where an organization like Scouts Canada turns a blind eye or fails to report a known abusers (thereby permitting the abuse to continue), it is liable for the harms ultimately suffered.
Wagners Law Firm is actively investigating such claims on behalf of abuse victims.