IPT Book Reviews

Title: Scouts' Honor: Sexual Abuse in Americas' Most Trusted Institution  Positive Review
Author: Patrick Boyle
Publisher: Prima Publishing 1994

Prima Publishing
PO Box 1260 BK
Roclin, CA 95677


The author, a newspaper reporter, interviewed several former Boy Scout leaders, including one who wanted to correct media vilification, and reviewed 200 case records of Boy-Scout leaders who had been removed by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) for child molesting.  In 25 chapters the author tells of his investigation mostly through case histories and the words of some experts, such as Kenneth Lanning, Gene Abel, and David Finkelhor.  No interviews were held with the falsely charged or representatives of groups that defend the innocent.  Also, the author confused child molesting (a crime) with pedophilia (a psychiatric diagnosis).


This book, told through stories of molesters, is an account of one large institution's foot dragging over the subject of "child abuse" in its manuals and training programs.  One Boy Scout leader as early as 1985, recommended that leaders not sleep in the same tents as boys, not touch them and not hold counseling sessions in private.  While these recommendations were impractical, it highlighted a beginning interest by the BSA to solve its problems internally.  As money verdicts against the BSA threatened the organization's life, it was recognized that, although the BSA, like foster homes, day care centers, and churches, was a character-building agency that helped many parents and children, it needed in-house correction of the problem of sexual abuse.  In 1984, the BSA paid $2 million just for insurance premiums (mostly for physical injuries on trips) and charged each Chapter $20.00.  In 1987 BSA hired John Patterson, formerly of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to help design and guide BSA abuse control programs, along with a well-known law firm, "to craft a good defense" (p. 283).  Finally, the BSA issued its own videotape entitled "It's Time to Tell."

Out of 150,000 leaders, the BSA could locate only 68 child molesters per year, at a cost of $200,000 per year.  Since parents select leaders for their children, this cost will be passed on to them.

U.S. President B. Clinton signed an act into law in December 1993 which would allow (not force) youth organizations to submit names and fingerprints of volunteers which would be compared to a Federal data base, thus forcing our government to take responsibility for prevention.  This book may remind us not to "throw the baby out with the bath water."  We need to fix the problem, not the blame.

Reviewed by LeRoy G. Schultz, Professor Emeritus of Social Work, West Virginia University, Morganstown, West Virginia.

Order this book: Paperback

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