The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is trying to be proactive at ending all sex abuse within the organization by educating young kids to speak out if any abusive behavior happens to them or someone they know. Their new method? Through animated videos.
Aimed at Scouts from kindergarten through sixth grade, the BSA is showing six cartoon videos that educate children on what to do when placed in uncomfortable situations. In each video, an animated boy or girl talks to an adult they trust after experiencing abusive behavior and reviews a set of “Protect Yourself Rules” that could allow them to avoid any such situation in the future.
BSA’s youth protection officer, Mike Johnson, said videos had been used in the past but none were animated; they all used real people. He was convinced that the animated videos would work better at educating kids after speaking with parents of Scouts. “The power and magic of animation, and its ability to communicate with kids — I underestimated it,” Johnson admitted.
These animated shorts were originally created by psychologists and experts at the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center in 2015 to 2016 for all children. Since 2017, more than 100 million children all over the world have viewed these videos. The BSA has just recently begun having all of its members view and discuss them in an effort to protect their members from sex abuse. The BSA did not provide any funding for the making of these videos.
Troubled History within the BSA
The Boy Scouts of America has been an institution for more than a century. Currently having almost 2.25 million members, it has been a right of passage for many young boys and past presidents. The BSA has helped develop boys into respectable men for generations, but if one more scandal rears its ugly head in relation to the organization, they may be closing up shop sooner rather than later.
Much like the Catholic church, which has faced its fair share of bad press, BSA has been under fire for sex abuse allegations from past members. According to a Time article by Eliana Dockterman, a child abuse expert hired by the BSA recently determined that 12,254 boys in the Scouts had been sexually abused between 1944 and 2016. Scoutmasters and other adults in the organization were molesting its members as more than 7,800 suspects were identified. Experts say that number is just the beginning as many more victims have never expressed what happened to them because of shame or intimidation.
The BSA issued a statement after the report came out:
“We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support them, and we have paid for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice. Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in Scouting and we are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children.”
Is It All Happening Too Late?
While the severity of the sex abuse issue is finally being addressed, it could all be too little, too late.
The BSA has always kept files confidential from the public, and even a couple of months ago they claimed they never had knowledge of a predator working within their organization and preying on its young members. Obviously, this has been proven not to be the truth.
The Associated Press reported on May 27 that there had been BSA unit leaders in the past who were known predators and continually being placed back in charge of young scouts in the organization. The following day after this news emerged, BSA chief executive Mike Surbaugh admitted they had known all along.
“I have reviewed information that now makes clear to me that decades ago BSA did, in at least some instances, allow individuals to return to Scouting even after credible accusations of sexual abuse,” Surbaugh wrote in a May 28 letter to California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., who was leading a probe into Boy Scout abuse claims. “I am devastated that this ever occurred.”