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Stories

Read and try and understand other people’s experiences and stories from abuse in the Scouts. If there’s anything here that is triggering, know that there are people who can help. If you feel inspired or confident enough, please share your story.

 

75 stories submitted so far.
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  • Post 2014

    Recently I had to make a referral to the LADO about beavers group that I had attended as a helper with my children. I raised several concerns about the inappropriate comments, behaviour, comments, and practice of the adults who were facilitating a group of children aged 5-7 years. I initially had reported my concerns to the Safeguarding Team of this organisation and was surprised that my concerns were referred to a volunteer to deal with. The response I received from this individual was defensive, dismissive, and rude. Moreover, this heightened my concerns as this person stated that children make things up and said it was my word against the leader. To say as a parent that I was alarmed and disturbed is an understatement. I should add that I am a qualified social worker and pointed this out to the deputy commissioner who told me I was just a member of the public. This was only last month and I have removed my children. The LADO made them investigate but they still have these concening volunteers in place misusing their position.

  • Post 2014

    My son (8) and his fellow cubs have been bullied and humilated at meetings and at camp, while at ******************. There have also been Safeguarding issues when 2 cubs were left on their own at an unscheduled trip out. I was an parent leader. When I complained to the Safeguarding team of the repeated poor treatment of the children. They returned it to the local team who brushed it under the carpet siting they would just offer more training, but were unable to say when this would take place. They also banned parent leaders. I have also complained about the outcome of the complaint but have been ignored and now myself and my son have been kicked out of the cub group.

  • Sexual Abuse

    My ex husband was a Cub Scout leader in the late 60’s and early 70’s in a pack while he was serving in the xxx in xxx. I discovered later that the xxx had dealt with him 4 times for peadophilia with boys around 8+. Prior to being a cub leader in mid 60’s while stationed in Location 1, in Location 2 in the 60’s after that, again in Location 3 whilst a cub leader, which he suddenly resigned from, and again, not then a cub leader, in the 70’s in Location 4. The latter because by then I’d got my suspicions and reported him to the civilian police. Who again merely warned him off. He had always been violent towards me, but I couldn’t deal with what I suspected, correctly, he was up to. I was in real fear of my life when I reported him, but like a lot of bullies he then ran away abroad. I’d got two young children, I was always concerned that he would assault my son. Fortunately there was no further contact with him and I divorced him. I have no doubt that he would have continued with his behaviour and I always felt frustrated that he was getting away with it time and time again, but there was nothing else I could do after reporting him to the police.

  • Sexual Abuse

    What an amazing project. Thank you for this. My own story is from the 1960s or maybe early 1970s. A time that people say was ‘different’…turns out not so different. I was a cub scout in the ****** troop. It was well run with a kind akela. However, there was an odd man who seemed to be senior to everyone else, we only knew him as ‘*****’. He wore a tan scout uniform, mostly shorts, I remember his bare legs. He had a position of authority but none of us knew why or who he was. He would always appear at camps, but never seemed to have a role.
    One camp, a friend and I came out in a rash. Akela thought it was a heat rash and would go away. ***** said it might be more serious, infectious even, and we should spend the night in his tent, just in case. My friend and I slept in a seperate ‘room’ in the tent. It was full of books and toys.
    In the morning, ****** came into our ‘room’ with a washing up bowl full of water and a flannel. He said it was time for our morning wash. We stripped naked. I said I didn’t want a wash. ***** took my friend into a different compartment in the tent, and told me to read a book. I remember staring at the pages, unable to take anything in. I felt helpless, that something wrong might be going on, but I didn’t know what, and didn’t know what to do.
    Many years later, this came back to me, in murky images and sensations. I don’t know if anything happened to me. But I do know I’m haunted by guilt, that I did nothing to help my friend. I have tried to find him online, but I can’t. I wanted to apologise and to ask him if anything had happened to me as well.
    I was always terrified of camps after that. In those days we’d be sent away regularly in the holidays, to ‘adventure camps’ or cub camps. I hated every second, and would often just try to stay in my bed.
    Years later, I contacted the Scouts about the incident. I got a placatory email saying that they cared and would look into it. I heard nothing. I’ve contacted them half a dozen times. I get an apology or a note saying there’s been a staffing change and the new team would look into it for me. But they just seem to be giving me the brush off. They did contact me and say they had no record of anyone called ***** ever having existed at all. For a moment I thought I’d dreamed the whole thing. But I didn’t.

  • Sexual Abuse

    I was a scout at ****** between 1981 – 87. My abuser became a scout leader to solely groom boys some years younger than him, he was some 10 years older than myself & my contemporaries.

    Leader X was a larger than life bear of a man, slightly intimidating to a 10 year old. My best mate & his family lived a couple streets from me, this where me & mum met Leader X in a social setting. Some several years previously I had been sexually abused at a holiday camp in Bognor Regis. Thankfully another survivor of the holiday camp abuser spoke out to their parents, he was arrested & jailed. I hadn’t spoken to anyone about this abuse until one night the Police knocked on the front door, I was watching Bucks Fizz ‘Land of make believe’ on Top of the Pops with my older brother. I’m telling you this as my mum was sharing this with my best mate’s family & Leader X became privvy to this secret of mine as he later mention knowing & offered friendship, mentorship & care. Very twisted insidious grooming.

    With this knowledge Leader X went on to proposition me & my best mate, my best mate told his parents. Leader X was warned about his behaviour, I have no idea how he passed off the allegations to my mates dad but he had been warned. So now he picked out the vulnerable one, me.

    Leader X joined the scouts as a leader, he even volunteered to help coach at my school rugby team. I couldn’t get away from him. He’d gained my mum’s trust which looking back I can’t understand as she was told by my best mates parents he’d propositioned me & my mate. Maybe she was vulnerable too being a single mother with two sons. I’m tired now & emotional while I write down this memories.

    The physical & psychology abuse happened daily but the start of it was when I was trying to achieve a scout badge restoring a piece of furniture in his woodworking shed. He conveniently left porno mags out for me to browse, he then asked me to sit on his knee & encouraged me to touch myself & he touched also, I was frozen reverting to the mindframe of the smaller 6 year old at the holiday camp.

    I can’t carry on right now but Leader X persued me at every opportunity to abuse me, after scout evenings, on scout trips, sleeping in our tents & touching me. After school he’d pick me & friends up drop them off 1st & then take me to his house. It was all the time until at 16 I moved to be with my Aunt & Uncle in Cornwall.

    I know I wasn’t the only boy, in the early 2000’s I contacted ****** Police Station to report his actions. The end result was that CPS felt it was my word against his, although my best mate could testify to his behaviour & his also. But as time had past my mates parents were deceased. I don’t think he was the only abuser at my group, Leader Y was into photography & once asked another mate to take in shirt off for some photos but my mate declined & left.

    I hope I feel some peace of mind some day but after 40 odd years I still struggle.

  • Adult Leader

     

    When I was 8-9, between 1977-1979 while a cub scout at the ***************, my friend and I used to go swimming with a small group of other cubs, and our cub scout Akela. We loved sport and wanted to get our level 3 swimming badges. He was a fun and kind leader who would make us laugh and not so strict. He was a large man, like a giant teddy bear, and in the swimming pool he would let us sit on his shoulders and climb all over him. I think he was playing the role we would have wanted our fathers to have played. As a child of a single mother, this was something I was very drawn too. He later would let us sit on his knee while he leaned against the wall in the shallow end. Then later we would play games swimming under him, and brushing against his bottom and his testicles in his tight swim suit. My friend and I sensed he liked this, so we went further and would sit under his testicles and up close blow bubbles on them to excite him. We would ask him if he liked this, and he said he did, and at no time did he ask us to stop. This went on several times. A little while later my friend and I arrived at the village hall that hosted the cub meetings to find he was no longer there, or part of the pack, or organisation. I think the new Akela told us he had been kicked out or had left. We were devastated and angry because the new Akela was way too strict. After the meeting, and seeing our parents were late to pick us up, my friend and I ran to his house, which was up the street – I can’t remember how we knew where he lived, but I know I had been there to look at some of his native american artefacts collection. He opened the door, and he seemed angry, but told us straight up that he was not allowed to talk to us, or see us again. He closed the door, and that was the last we heard of him, and the last he was talked about in the pack or anywhere. I realise now that the behaviour towards us would qualify as grooming. I know too that it was neither me or my friend who had complained about him – which suggests another child had, and he had been fired as Akela as a result, and likely put under some kind of restraining order. I have lived with immense confusion, and guilt about the whole situation for most of my life. I am 53 now, and know that while there were other traumatic experiences in my life this contributed immensely to the confusion I have experienced about my sexual identity, and my capacity to experience intimacy and fulfilment in relationships; it also led to an inability to notice predators as an adult. For a long time I felt guilty that nothing worse had happened, and in not knowing how he was removed from the group, imagined that whoever reported him for inappropriate behaviour did experience worse. However, I know now that the contact I had with him qualifies as sexual abuse – no child of any age has any business being that close to a grown mans testicles for his pleasure. He used his power and authority over me and my friend to derive sexual gratification. I refuse to marginalise or minimalise it any further. The Scout Association just like most UK public schools who have been subject to historical sex abuse inquiries have simply gone through the motions through a well oiled public relations strategy to acknowledge past wrongs, pay some compensation to a few survivors and put in place new safe guarding and pastoral care guidelines to show they are now a trauma and abuse informed organisation – and then they want to Move On… leaving many still with stories untold, and present students and members reliant on their word they are implimenting said safeguarding . I am grateful for Yours In Scouting for providing this forum and agree with its aims to hold the Scout Association accountable. I wish everyone who was directly exposed to harm or risk while in the Scouts comfort and healing.

  • Pre 2014

    I was in my second year at scouts doing badges and applied for my first aid badge. The scout master invited me and another boy to the church where we met and took us to the stock room where all the gear was stored. He made me take off my trousers and pants and started to apply a bandage to the very top of my leg while making me face the door to the main hall where the girl guides were meeting that evening. He didn’t touch me particularly inappropriately but left me in the state of undress for what seemed like quite a while. After a few minutes (which seemed like ages) the door to the main hall opened and a girl guide aged about 12 or 13 came into the stockroom, presumably to fetch something. I remember her face very clearly – her eyes going down to look and then her mumbling ‘sorry’ as she backed out of the stockroom while still looking. I was very embarrassed! I came to realise that the scout master wasn’t into boys but was clearly hoping that what happened with the girl guide was his ‘get off’ as he made it appear to be an accidental happening. After the girl left the room, he removed the bandage making quite a point about the girl seeing me naked from the waist down – my T shirt only covered down to just below my belly button.
    I got my badge but threw it away on my way home. I have never shared this with anyone except my brother later in life.
    However, a few weeks later at a scout and guide camp fire, I plucked up the courage to approach the girl and apologise (as if it were my fault!). She actually apologised to me, giggling as she spoke so clearly no harm done…
    It made me very self conscious – going into toilets on the beach to get changed while all other boys and most girls just put a towel around themselves.
    Also when I got interested in girls aged about 17, when a girl friend clearly wanted visuals and touching, I backed off, often to their getting upset – probably feeling unwanted and insecure in their looks and appeal which was never the case.
    Even now, later in life, I am extra careful getting changed on or near a beach and always being very aware of young girls whose faces show a natural curiosity when a guy is getting changed close by.

  • Post 2014

    This is a current/ongoing example of scouts poor child protection and safeguarding abilities in 2023 and their desire to sweep things under the rug and pretend it’s not happening while putting other children at risk

    Four weeks ago our son age 12 was sexually assaulted but another 12 year old boy. While in the hall at the start of scouts, he was talking to two friends when another scout (also 12) came over, physically turned him around to face the wall, said “I’m going to finger you” while pushing his fingers into his bottom. My son’s friend commented to the boy that this was disgusting. My son’s bottom hurt all evening but the leaders did not see the incident and he didn’t tell them. He told me and my husband when he got home.

    I informed the scout leader immediately that evening via email. I also informed the police the following day. At first the response was good. Scouts referred to their safeguarding team in London and the police offered counselling and made arrangements to visit. But since then it has been nothing but victim blaming, minimising and poor practice. It is now 4, weeks post the assault and the police have still failed to visit the perpetrator.

    Scouts safeguarding said they would follow the police lead. All my son wants is to return to scouts (because he has nice friends there) but scouts have said although the boy won’t be there while the incident is investigated they can’t guarantee he will never be allowed to return. Following the police visiting my son it became clear the boy had displayed highly sexualised behaviours at scouts on several occasions and to many children. Touching them and talking about pornography and specific sexual acts. When I emailed the leader to suggest we hold a meeting with other parents to inform them what has happened and give them the opportunity to establish if their child has been effected it was met with silence/no response.

    The next time the scouts met following the assault I was told by the safe guarding lead that it was safe for my son to attend as the boy has been told not to attend but that the only leader who knows about the incident would not be attending that evening. How is that safe?? And why had the other leaders not been told what had occured? How can they keep other children safe if they aren’t information sharing which is the principle of safeguarding??

    In a bid to keep other children safe my husband and I attended the scouts session and spoke to parents in the car park (away from their children) to inform them an incident had occured and provide them with the incident number from the police incase their child had been affected or seen anything. The parents were so supportive and shocked scouts had not informed them. I returned at the end of the session to speak to the other three leaders who had not been informed. When I got there and asked the three grown men for a quiet word the village ‘head of scouts’ was there and practically pushed myself and my husband into a kitchen, shutting all the doors and hatches telling us we can’t speak about it or tell them what has happened!! In her attempt to silence us she admitted to not having a great knowledge of safe guarding, expressed worry for her position in scouting as she is “the face of scouts in the village” and worried that now I had told other parents she and the other leaders would face questions! Further to this she attempted to shift responsibility by suggesting the incident happened in the cloak room (which it didn’t) not in the main hall and that the scouts aren’t responsible for the young people until they are in the main hall. This is something that has never been communicated but none the less is not true.

    As a result of my safe guarding action where the police and scouting failed another witness came forward. This angered the police who (week three after the incident still hadn’t done anything except spoken to my son). They also couldn’t offer counselling as they said because of my son’s age and the sexual nature of the crime the service they referred to wouldn’t take him. They made it clear they wouldn’t arrest the boy at it would be ‘too traumatic’ for him to go to custody and when I questioned this made attempts to intimidate us by asking “how I would feel if the boy made a counter claim and they came and arrested my son.”

    When I asked about the support we would need once they spoke to the perpetrator and his family, fearing reprisals the police told me they could remove police support if I was worried about this!

    Police told us scouts had referred us to social care. Then yesterday I had a call from a social worker who was disgusted to have only received the referral two days ago (three and a half weeks after the incident). And the referral had come from police not scouts. It then came to light that the police had failed to complete the referral correctly as they didn’t ask my husband’s date of birth which is required for referral until three weeks into the ‘investigation’.

    It is four weeks on now and the police have not been to see two witnesses or the perpetrator. Scouts are still unable to reassure me the boy won’t return to scouts as they are awaiting the police investigation, which we have told them there will be no significant outcome from as they won’t bring criminal action or even interview him due to his age. The local leaders who are ment to ‘look after’ my son and care for him as a member of their scouting community have made no attempt to support my son or ask how he is. Even as a human being, even if you feel you can’t talk about the incident as it’s being investigated you could show the young person and their family that you care about what they are going through.

    The sexual intention of this boys action is clear. There is no grey area here but clearly scouts thinks it is reasonable. Their lack of ability to safeguard other children is what I find most shocking. What other information is scout safeguarding ‘sitting’ on without informing parents and other agencies? It is in these shadows if inaction and silence that perpetrators of these crimes against children are allowed to hide and flourish.

    Although my son is desperate to return I honestly don’t think the scouts organisations safeguarding is fit for purpose. But as the victim of sexual assult my son should not be the one to leave the organisation. Furthermore I will ensure that boy is not allowed back for the sake of the other children. I can’t believe that as it stands they are telling me and my son there is a chance he will have to be in the same room as his perpetrator?! What world do they live in?? I will never leave my son unattended with any member of scouting ever again as they are incompetent as an organisation and are more interested in their reputation as an association than keeping young people safe. Their safeguarding procedures seem to be hide everything, don’t talk about anything and stop the victims and their parent speaking. I can’t believe we are in 2023 and this is still the case!

  • Emotional Abuse

    I briefly joined the scouts for 2 years to take part in a DOFE program and almost as soon as i joined a boy started bullying me simply because he could.The leader who was in charge of the program was fully aware of this and actively watched it happen.

    At the time i didnt want to say anything to him because i was scared of him and thought reporting jt would make it worse.

    On the Expedition i was in a group with him. I had to spend many hours a day in a boat with him and he made my life a living hell for thoes days. The leader also witnessed this and did nothing.

    To this day i havent went back to scouts or DOFE he ruined it for me and i hate him for it.

  • Sexual Abuse

    I wasn’t in scouts but I was in girl guides. However we did go to camps where we would be sharing the site with others, sometimes other guides and sometimes scouts. We were on a camp with a few other groups there, I can’t remember how many but most of them were scouts. I remember one of the scout leaders chatting to our guide leader asking if anyone wanted to do flags in the morning just normal chat and I was standing with her. He asked my name and age. I told him I was 11 and he made a comment about how young I looked for my age. This wasn’t abnormal everyone said it because I looked significantly younger than all the others in our group. we went to bed and i remember waking up and needing to go to the toilet. The toilets were at the other side of the site so I got up and put my wellies on and walked over. I entered the bathroom and I had been followed in. I just remember being pushed and held down against the sinks. I don’t know how long it lasted but it probably was a lot shorter than i remember. He told me if I told me that it was my fault for walking in the dark at night on my own and I should have brought someone with me. I walked back to the tent and got into my sleeping bag and I was in so much pain and felt so ill. I don’t remember sleeping but in the morning I didn’t want to get out of the tent. My leader came to speak to me and when she got me out of my sleeping bag she thought I had started my period because of the blood on my pyjamas. I didn’t know her very well because I had just moved up to this guides from brownies and I just didn’t say anything. The scouts left the camp site before us and I just felt numb the rest of the time. I moved to a different guide group after to the leaders that ran my brownies I was close with. I didn’t want to go to camps were we were with other groups and I hated wearing the uniform.