In Series on Bigotry Against Boy Scouts
Why Isn’t Sexual Abuse of Boy
Scouts A Valid Concern?
Massachusetts Girls Is Important, But Rape of Boys Isn’t?
February 15, 2001
many people have valid concerns about the rape of boys in the
Boy Scouts, there is little mention in Massachusetts media about
causes many to wonder: Why is the rape of a girl very important
but the rape of a boy is hardly noticed?
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.”
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.
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.
of such incidents around the country abound. Many more probably
go unreported in the media.
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
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.”
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
organization “Prevent Child Abuse America” states in its fact
sheet on sexual abuse of boys:
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….
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….
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
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.”
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
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.”
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
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
20% of all people convicted of raping a child in 1999 were never
sentenced to one day of jail or prison time,
30% of those convicted of indecent assault and battery against
a child walked away free,
of perpetrators convicted of assault and battery and injuring
a child got probation.
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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