From an editorial published Wednesday in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Surely the temporary and limited difficulty of properly dealing with each allegation that a Boy Scout volunteer had abused a child would have been better for scouting than paying millions of dollars in legal damages and having people pore over internal files to see what might have been hidden.
The latest release of thousands of pages of records from the Boy Scouts of America has renewed questions about trust in the organization. Why over the years did officials sometimes protect the institutions image and the interests of suspected child abusers more than the safety of vulnerable youngsters?
The latest records which the Oregon Supreme Court ordered the BSA to release as a result of a former scouts 2010 lawsuit document sexual abuse allegations against 1,200 Scout leaders, according to news reports.
The revelations follow numerous Los Angeles Times stories based on other files the Scouts kept, supposedly to keep predators out of the organization.
The records show that, in some cases, men were asked to leave the group when they were convicted of abuse.
Other documents show that some adult volunteers preyed on multiple children they met through scouting.
Officials didnt always take abuse allegations to police.
In some cases they kept the dark side of prominent men from becoming public, and sometimes expelled volunteers returned to the organization.
More records eventually could become public through a lawsuit in San Antonio in which a judge ordered files from 1985 to 2011 turned over.
In a statement posted online Thursday, BSA National President Wayne Perry apologized to victims and their families for the times when the groups responses to abuse were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong.
The organizations beefed-up efforts to screen and train volunteers and alert authorities to even suspicions of abuse may provide an example for other institutions entrusted with protecting children. (The Scouts are hosting a National Youth Protection Symposium on Nov. 1-2 in Atlanta.)
But the BSAs worst practices also teach that while guarding individual privacy is important, especially with unproven allegations, adults must continually ask themselves whether they are looking after children or looking after themselves.
The views in U.S. Opinions are not necessarily those of the Observer editorial board.
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