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Boy Scouts File for Bankruptcy to Compensate Sexual Abuse Survivors

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

In the face of thousands of potential lawsuits from former Boy Scouts who were sexually abused, Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy to create a victim’s compensation fund.

On Tuesday, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in response to an expected onslaught of lawsuits from former Boy Scouts who were sexually abused by scoutmasters or leaders. According to the Associated Press (AP), court documents reveal at least 12,000 boys were molested by nearly 8,000 abusers since the 1920s while participating in Boy Scouts.

While girls are at higher risk for sexual abuse as children, a significant portion of boys also experiences childhood sexual abuse. One in six boys will be sexually assaulted before they turn 18, and according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, nearly 28% of boys are 10 or younger at the time of their first abuse. Significantly fewer boys report their abuse as a child — about 60% of females tell someone about their abuse compared to around 30% of males.

Research suggests that male survivors of childhood sexual abuse have a higher risk for suicide, addiction or substance use issues, aggression or acting out, and mental health issues. They are more likely to internalize their abuse and can experience higher levels of shame. Male survivors may also face more stigma or isolation if they report abuse because men are often socialized to be “tough.”

Boy Scouts of America hopes by filing for bankruptcy, it will be able to survive lawsuits from an estimated 1,000 to 5,000 survivors who will seek compensation. Many of the suits date back to the 1960s to ’80s, prior to required background checks for scout leaders. The organization cited the uptick in new lawsuits to state law changes loosening or removing the statute of limitations for survivors to file a lawsuit in New York, Arizona, New Jersey and California.

“We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children,” Roger Mosby, the Boy Scouts’ president and CEO, said, according to AP, adding:

While we know nothing can undo the tragic abuse that victims suffered, we believe the Chapter 11 process, with the proposed trust structure, will provide equitable compensation to all victims while maintaining the BSA’s important mission.

Today, the national organization of the Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to equitably compensate…

Posted by Boy Scouts of America on Monday, February 17, 2020

Header image via wissanu_phiphithaphong/Getty Images

Originally published: February 18, 2020
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