March 6, 2020

Video Shows BSA Placed Burden on Children to Report Sexual Abuse, Not Scouting Leaders

A video produced by the Boy Scouts of America shows the burden of protecting themselves from sexual predators in the Scouts fell on the shoulders of young children, not the Scouting leaders themselves.  The video, A Time to Tell, was released by the BSA in 1989 as a means to prevent the continuation of sexual abuse through education. But, the BSA’s method of “educating” children about abuse was shifting all the weight of protecting themselves from abuse onto the children, not the Scouting leaders sworn to protect Boy Scouts.

 At the time of the A Time to Tell’s release, 22% of Americans had fallen victim to sexual abuse with one-third of them never telling anyone at the time of the abuse. This statistic is ominously displayed at the beginning of the film, a fact pulled from a Los Angeles Times survey from 1985.

President Ronald Regan opens A Time to Tell by declaring the film is meant to help young Scouts recognize, resist, and report sexual abuse if they ever see or encounter it. However, the video fails to address Scouting leaders’ duty to follow those “three R’s,” as well. Throughout the film, the BSA places the weight of recognizing abuse, resisting abuse, and reporting abuse lies on the shoulders of adolescent victims.

“Education is the first step to substantially reducing the problem,” Reagan states at the beginning of the movie.

But, the BSA failed to take responsibility for their own part in the problem by protecting Boy Scouts from pedophiles in their own organization.  

Several clients of Abused in Scouting remember watching this film as a young Boy Scout, often times with their abuser in the room with them or sitting next to them during the film. Our clients were terrified to say anything about their molestation, especially since they did not know who to trust after a Scouting leader, a person who Scouts were instructed to respect, broke that confidence.

A Time to Tell depicts three staged scenarios where young boys are targeted by pedophiles, such as an abusive stepfather, an overly personal family friend, and a teenager who preys on younger boys. The boys act out the stages of identifying the wrongness of the situation and attempted abuse, refusing their predator’s advances, and reporting the abuse or attempted abuse to their parents and the police.

Not once does the movie address the Boy Scouts of America’s personal responsibility of ensuring they are taking measures to protect children and screen their own members and volunteers for traits of child molesters.

We Demand Change for Scouting Abuse Survivors

We at Abused in Scouting believe that it is the BSA’s responsibility, not a child’s, to protect children from sexual predators in the Scouts. For decades the BSA knew that sexual predators were in their midst and actively hid them from the public and failed to ensure Boy Scouts were being looked over by trusted adults. That is why we are demanding change.

Now that the Boy Scouts of America has declared bankruptcy, we hope this will move the BSA to enforce better policies and procedures to protect children.

If you were abused while in the Boy Scouts of America, we encourage you to come forward now and share your story. We want the BSA to realize that protecting children from abusers in the Scouts is their responsibility, not children’s, and to take active steps toward protecting future children in the Scouts from harm.

If you were abused as a child while in the Boy Scouts, contact us today to see if you may be eligible to file a claim against the BSA for abuse. We legal professionals standing by who are here to listen to your story and ensure your voice is heard.


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