Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Scouting materials help children ‘recognize, resist, report’ abuse
by Father Terence Tully, for the Inland Register
(From the April 11, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)
It is hard to count the number of events that have not happened because they were prevented. In the past several months we have been shocked by the actual numbers of children sexually abused. But I keep wondering how much greater the total would be if the Boy Scouts of America had not taught thousands of Scouts how to resist this evil.
With a pamphlet included in the Boy Scout Handbook, with videotapes for Scouts to watch, and with rules regulating the activities of adult leaders, much effort has been made to safeguard the Scouts and still enable them to enjoy the fun, adventure and service of Scouting.
Recognize, resist, report — the Three Rs
Because the sexual abuser is often a “nice guy” with a good reputation in the neighborhood, a Scout may respect him and trust him. But Scout training warns the Scout to beware of unwanted touches and any violation of his personal and bodily privacy. If such invasion occurs the Scout should not feel bound to be polite and respectful. He should resist. He should yell, make a scene, run away, do whatever it takes to resist the abuser. Finally, the Scout should report the abuse whether attempted or actually done. The report should be made to a reliable adult. The report will likely be relayed to the police. If the abuser says the report is false and the Scout is lying, the Scout, with the help of parents and other adults, tells the complete true story to the proper authorities. In this way the Scout will have done all three of the Three Rs: Recognize the evil, resist it, and report it.
Entry of a boy into Scouting now includes the requirement, found on page 11 of the Handbook, “Complete the pamphlet exercises with parent or guardian.” The pamphlet, titled “How to Protect Your Children from Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide,” is a remarkable 21-page bit of literature, putting into words the advice difficult for parents to speak. There is a fine summary found on pages 378-9 of the Handbook.
Another help on this subject is the 35-minute videotape, “Time to Tell,” produced by the Boy Scouts of America, in which child actors and adults present in specific but not graphic ways how to recognize, resist and report sexual abuse. The tape is designed to instruct youth from 11-14 years of age. An introduction recommends that parents review the tape before the youth see it. I have a copy.
In the last few months newspapers, magazines, television stations have reported disturbing cases of priests guilty of sexual abuse of children. Some people have wondered why priest abusers have been singled out with no mention of statistics on the abuse of children by laity. In a twisted way this is a compliment to the priesthood, because priest guilt is unusual enough to be news, while the offenses of lay persons are apparently so routine that they are not news. Still, I wish we had comparative statistics.
Other factors are victims of abuse speaking up after years of silence, priests treated for this addition and judged to be recovered, and reluctance on the part of bishops to banish priests from priestly work. Our bishop practices zero tolerance. He dismisses from priestly ministry any priest with a record of child abuse.
• Catholic Camporee (Scout Retreat), Sept. 13-14, Camp Cowles, Diamond Lake.
For information on the Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting and its activities, contact:
• Father Terence Tully, diocesan Scout chaplain, 221 E. Rockwood Blvd., Apt. 308, Spokane, WA 99207-1200; phone (509) 458-7674; or
• Joe Schmitz, chairperson, Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting, 400 S. Jefferson, Suite 112, Spokane, WA 99204; (509) 747-7499.
Click here for the web site of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting!
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