2nd In Series on Bigotry Against Boy Scouts
Why Isn’t Sexual Abuse of Boy Scouts A Valid Concern?

Rape of Massachusetts Girls Is Important, But Rape of Boys Isn’t?

By Amy Contrada
February 15, 2001

Although many people have valid concerns about the rape of boys in the Boy Scouts, there is little mention in Massachusetts media about it.

This causes many to wonder: Why is the rape of a girl very important but the rape of a boy is hardly noticed?

One incident a month ago was about a boy who was raped by a Scout leader in a Marshfield troop. It was totally ignored by the Boston Globe and the Herald. Only the Patriot Ledger reported that Jonathan Ralton, 21, a former Eagle Scout and an assistant Boy Scout leader was given a suspended sentence and 10 years of probation after “pleading guilty to raping a 13-year-old boy of his troop” although the lawyer claimed that it was consensual. The District Attorney had recommended a 2˝-year jail sentence, with six months to be served. The boy’s mother “told the judge that she had seen her child hurt and needed to see justice.”

In Somerville last year, the Boston Globe reported that two families sued the Boy Scouts for a million dollars, “charging that more should have been done to protect their sons from molestation by their troop leader.” But how were the Scouts to do this without provoking the ire of the homosexual activists and their allies? The case is pending. The perpetrator was convicted and is now serving time. The pending lawsuit complains that the Scout Council fired him only after he was indicted on multiple counts.

In Stoneham, a minor boy and his family settled a case this past year with the Boy Scouts in Middlesex Superior Court, according to court records.

Reports of such incidents around the country abound. Many more probably go unreported in the media.

The answer that is obvious to many parents is that homosexuals should not be allowed to be leaders in the troop anymore than they heterosexual men are allowed to be girl scout leaders. Parents don't have a problem telling heterosexual men that they don't want to risk entrusting their girls to them. Why should parents feel bad about telling homosexual men that they don't want to take a chance with their boys?

Abuse of Boys Is Unacknowledged
Sexual abuse of boys in Scouting appears to be the unacknowledged “elephant” at the core of the controversy. No one will touch the issue for fear of being labeled a “bigot” or “homophobe.”

The failure to protect boys in Massachusetts is revealed in the fact that even some Boy Scout Council executives and individual troop leaders are trying to distance themselves from the Scouts’ national policy of excluding openly homosexual leaders. Some go so far as to openly state that they are not in agreement with the policy.

In Belmont, three troop leaders signed a letter to the Belmont Citizen-Herald in October saying, “Troop 304’s committee believes that sexual orientation has nothing to do with the qualities that make a good leader….The Committee will continue to choose leaders of excellent character who can make contributions to Scouting. Sexual orientation is irrelevant to this decision.” The national policy “will have no impact in Belmont.”

Executive director Richard Stritzinger of the Great Trails Council told the Pioneer Valley Gazette (12/14/00), “I think we can satisfy organizations concerned about discrimination. There is a fine line we walk.”

Executive of the Minuteman Council, Brock Bigsby, told the Globe last year that James Dale (the homosexual assistant scoutmaster in the U.S. Supreme Court case) probably wouldn’t have been fired in Boston: “I can’t picture that it would play out the same way….We wouldn’t have taken any action. We don’t inquire. Frankly, it doesn’t even enter into the equation. I would suspect pretty much that our scouting membership represents a cross-section of the society as a whole.”

Executive director Lawrence Bystran of the Pioneer Valley Council told the Valley Advocate that the whole conflict over Scout policy is just a big misunderstanding. He wrote the Southwick-Tolland school superintendent that the Scouts actually “embrace diversity” and do not “inquire into the sexual orientation of youth or adult volunteers applying for membership.”

In Carlisle, the local newspaper reported that scoutmaster Bob Stone objected to the national organization’s policy, saying, “It is unfortunate that the Scouts took that position -- confusing homosexuality with pedophilia. It sends the wrong message to the boys.” He thinks that homosexual Scout leaders would be fine. David Dockterman, Carlisle School Committee member and assistant Cub packmaster, thought that “the local Scouts would be willing to say that they disagree with the national policy and would not discriminate, but he was unsure about how the national leadership would respond.”

Apparently, the national Scout leadership will not tolerate such statements by local troops. In Oak Park, Illinois, this tactic was tried by seven local Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops. But the national organization has recently instructed them to disband by February 28 unless they drop their opposition to the homosexual exclusion rule

Is the Carlisle scoutmaster correct that the national Boy Scout organization “confuses” homosexuality with pedophilia? Or are the Scouts simply dealing with reality? Although he would never dream of letting a young girl go on overnight camping trips with male club leaders, the Carlisle man seems to have no problem with placing young boys in similar situations. Professing to see no problem with homosexual Scout leaders, he refuses to see that the national Boy Scout organization is simply trying to enforce a policy meant to protect young boys.

Sexual Abuse of Minors Applies to Boys Too
Despite the fact that we are strenuously warned about protecting children from the threat of pedophilia, few of us are applying what we “know” to the reality of the Boy Scouts.

The Boy Scout Handbook includes a pamphlet, “How to Protect Your Children from Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide.” It has a section the boy is required to learn with his parents before he can join the Scouts. It includes the “3R’s of Youth Protection: Recognize, Resist, Report.” Clearly, this pamphlet is needed.

Most parents appear to agree with the statement of Robert H. Knight of the Family Research Council. “At the heart of Boy Scouting is the trust that parents place in Scout leaders to take their young, impressionable sons on overnight camping trips…. They cannot open their ranks to men or boys who are sexually attracted to males.”

Sadly, pedophiles have flooded the organization, probably since its inception. A book by Patrick Boyle, Scouts Honor: Sexual Abuse in America’s Most Trusted Institution, tells of hundreds of pedophiles that had to be rooted out of the Scouts over the past several decades.

The organization “Prevent Child Abuse America” states in its fact sheet on sexual abuse of boys:

“[It] is common, underreported, under-recognized, and under-treated. Sexual abuse of girls has been widely studied, leading to awareness of the risk factors and prevalence. Unfortunately, there have been relatively fewer studies done on sexual abuse of boys, leading to inadequate knowledge about the facts…. Though rates are likely to underestimate the actual number of sexual abuse cases in boys, approximately one in six boys is sexually abused before age 16….

“Sexual abusers of boys tend to be males who are known by the victim, but unrelated to the victim. They tend to abuse the child outside the home, repeat the abuse, and involve some form of penetration….

“Although boys are more likely to be physically injured than girls during a sexual assault, physical signs of abuse may not exist and are usually only found within a short time period after the incident…Silence about this type of abuse is very common…. It seems that the experience of sexual abuse has more severe and complex consequences for boys than for girls in respect to emotional and behavioral problems …”

This same organization also reports that child abuse bucks the U.S. crime trends and continues to rise. “Although the nation’s overall crime rate fell more than 21 percent from 1993 to 1997, reports of child abuse and neglect grew by 8 percent and confirmed cases increased 4 percent during this same period.”

Why Does Massachusetts Treat This Lightly?
Might the refusal by the Massachusetts media to deal with this aspect of the Boy Scout story fit into the undercurrent in our culture, of growing acceptance first of homosexuality, then of pedophilia?

In Massachusetts, lighter sentencing for sexual abusers of minors also fits into this phenomenon of “defining pedophilia down.” As the Boston Herald reported in January, “Defendants in child sex or assault cases routinely get light treatment by state judges -- often never seeing the inside of a cell.”

Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley said, “We know that there’s a tendency for judges to hand down softer sentences for crimes against children,” and she added that the crimes aren’t taken seriously enough.

This shocking story confirms what many have long suspected: that for all the talk about “protecting our children,” those in charge of our legal system do anything but. According to the report in the Herald:

Almost 20% of all people convicted of raping a child in 1999 were never sentenced to one day of jail or prison time,

Over 30% of those convicted of indecent assault and battery against a child walked away free,

60% of perpetrators convicted of assault and battery and injuring a child got probation.

The turmoil surrounding the Boy Scouts of America must be seen in this context of sexual abuse of minors. It is also a story about our institutions letting us down. Whether we look at local Scout Councils, professional mental health associations, our court system, the media, or even some parents themselves -- our young boys are not being given the protection they deserve.

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