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31.5.10

Boy Scouts, sex abuse, and privileged ethics

Let's say you're an organization dedicated to helping kids. Your entire mission is focused on ensuring that kids can have fun while growing into healthy, responsible adults. Now let's say you discover that some activities carried out within your organization are doing exactly the opposite -- hurting kids and damaging their growth. Which of the following would be a more sensible reaction?

A: Oh crap, we need to solve this problem so that kids aren't hurt!
B: Oh crap, we need to make sure we're not implicated in this problem!

It seems that if the organization is the Boy Scouts of America, and the problem is sex abuse of scouts, they're going with option B. This is absolutely, unequivocally wrong. The details of the specific cases are somewhat beside the point -- the BSA has clearly taken the liability-minimization approach, rather than the sex-abuse-minimization approach, and that is the wrong way to deal with this situation.

The point of this post is not just to condemn the BSA for violating at least 11 of the 12 points of the Scout Law (they might be able to get the Roman Catholic Church to sign off on covering up pedophilia as being "reverent").

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