Update from Scout Executive
May 1, 2019
Dear Jersey Shore Council Scouting Family,
By now many of you have seen recent news reports regarding the Boy Scouts of America and child sexual abuse. I am sure that like me, you are outraged that there have been times when individuals have taken advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children. I want to take a moment to address, and hopefully provide clarity to some of these issues.
The Boy Scouts of America was first alerted to an abuse allegation against Mr. Dellomo in late 1986. We suspended him indefinitely and reported the allegation to the child abuse division of the local county prosecutor’s office, so that the appropriate authorities to act upon the information we shared. We firmly believe victims, which is why we removed Mr. Dellomo from Scouting, promptly reported him to law enforcement, and provided them with all the information we had, so they could conduct an investigation and take appropriate actions. Mr. Dellomo was never reinstated in Scouting.
We deeply apologize to Mr. Halvorson and are outraged that Mr. Dellomo took advantage of our program to harm him. We agree with Mr. Halvorson that youth protection policies (even strong ones like those the BSA has implemented throughout our history) are most effective when all youth serving organizations can access and act upon this information. This is why we fully support and advocate for the creation of a national registry of those who are suspected of child abuse or inappropriate behavior with a child, and thus allowing all youth serving organizations to share and access such information.
Throughout our history, the BSA has enacted strong youth protection policies to prevent future abuse. Since the 1920’s, we have maintained a Volunteer Screening Database to prevent individuals accused of abuse or inappropriate behavior from joining or re-entering our programs. Long before smart phones, email, the internet, criminal databases, or Megan’s Law, the BSA took this vital step to help protect children, and to ensure that anyone seen as unfit to be a leader – even those not charged or convicted of a crime, would be removed and banned from our program.
The creation of those files was just the first step in the BSA’s development of a comprehensive set of strategies designed to provide the best possible youth protection system for our children. Over the years we had added other strategies, including:
- Mandatory Youth Protection Training for all registered leaders, as well as educational material to parents and Scouts.
- A formal leader selection process that includes criminal background checks and other screenings.
- A strict “two-deep” leadership policy, which requires that a youth is never alone with an adult leader during Scouting activities. Additionally, no youth is permitted to sleep in the tent of an adult other than his or her own parent/guardian. We also prohibit one-on-one contact between adults and youth members, including texting and communications on social media.
- We actively share and encourage the use of our 24/7 Scouts First Helpline to report any suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior. Further, we mandate that all allegations or suspicions of abuse are reported to authorities. In addition to removing the individual from Scouting, this means if we receive a report regarding suspicious activity or allegations of abuse, our next call is to law enforcement, whose investigation we support unequivocally.
- The BSA promotes a culture of safe Scouting and has a full time National Youth Protection Director, who is highly respected by child advocacy and youth protection experts.
In 2018, there were five known victims of sexual abuse in our Scouting programs, at a time when we have over 2.2 million youth members. The evidence and data suggest that the rate of incidence of reported abuse in Scouting is far less than the rate of incidence in society as a whole. The data further shows that the BSA’s youth protection efforts since the 1980’s have been highly effective in preventing abuse.
That being said, one instance of abuse is one too many, and we are continually improving all our policies to prevent future abuse. Please know that any allegations of abuse are reported immediately to the appropriate authorities. We believe victims, we support them, we pay for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice and we encourage them to come forward.
Here at the Jersey Shore Council we remain committed to our mission of providing a quality program of character, education, and positive achievement to over 5,000 young people. Thank you for your attention, and for your continued support of our local Scouting Programs.
Scout Executive & CEO