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Abuse survivors aim to hold Scouts to account for past failings

A group of survivors are calling for The Scout Association to change its safeguarding practices, saying the organisation is not doing as much as it could to protect children.

16/06/23

Abuse survivors aim to hold Scouts to account for past failings

A campaign run by people with lived experience of child abuse in The Scout Association is calling for better safeguarding procedures to be put in place.

Supported by The Good Law Project, Yours In Scouting believes that the Scouts is not doing as much as it could to protect children, based on reports of attempting to silence victims and ‘amateur’ inquiries into abuse.

Survivors set up the campaign to create space for people to share their experiences of abuse and build a community of people who have experienced abuse in the Scouts to provide peer support for each other. The website currently has 50 submissions of stories of abuse published.

*Please note that many of the submissions are extremely harrowing and triggering.

“I was on summer camp away from home. I guess I was maybe 12. I fell climbing a slope in the woods and cut my knee. I was taken to hospital to get it stitched. The Scout Leader suggested that I should sleep in his tent so he could keep an eye on me. During the night he masturbated me,” one survivor said. “I didn’t really know what was happening at the time and have only disclosed the incident anonymously when participating in CPD relating to sexual abuse.”

“I was groomed and abused by an older scout, […] when I was between 11 and 13 years old,” another survivor wrote. “The grooming included multiple visits to my home and while away on camping trips. The abuse occurred in several locations, including being forced to share a tent with him and another senior scout. There was no apparent concern from scout leaders who never once asked if I was comfortable in this situation.”

The stories published include numerous allegations of grooming, and campaigners are now calling for adult staff and volunteers in uniformed youth organisations to be included in the Position of Trust definition, making it illegal for them to have relationships with 16-17 year olds in their care.

They would like to see the Scouts create a paid Safeguarding Lead position in each county in the UK to be responsible for monitoring the conduct of volunteers and ensuring that the safeguarding escalation pathway doesn’t go via voluntary roles.

They also want to see that The Scout Association and Girl Guiding are subject to an inspection regime, similar to that of Ofsted, and ensure that a Lived Experience board is set up as part of the Scouts’ governance.

A spokesperson for the Scouts pointed to its “robust safeguarding policies, training and procedures” which are now reviewed every other year by the NSPCC, following three in-depth, independent reviews since 2007.

“Any form of abuse is abhorrent, and we are deeply sorry for anyone who has suffered because of the actions of abusers.”

The campaign currently has more than 6,000 signatures. Find out more or sign the petition: https://yoursinscouting.org/petition/

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