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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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  • Sexual Abuse

    This is a hard story to tell, from when I was an Explorer between 2006 and 2008.
    I was aged between 16 and 18 at the time and the leader was in their early 30s.

    There was no Facebook or Instagram back then, MySpace was what eveyone was on – but MSN messaging was still king. You would log on each evening on the shared family computer and chat to your friends from school, or like me, Explorers. Many of us had our Explorer leader on chat too – and we didn’t think anything strange of it.

    But I, like othersin my unit was groomed by the leader.

    At the time I was sexually assaulted in 2008 I had turned 18. I felt at the time and for a long time after that it was a mistake that I had made. Due to the technicality I was ‘over 18’ I thought it was something he was allowed to do and that it wasn’t something I could report.

    How did it start? From the age of 16 I used to attend weekly kayaking pool sessions which were additional to the regular Explorer Night. We used the local pool but Scouts were the only people there. Adults and young people would share communal changing rooms, – and this leader would find satisfaction in banter and body shaming young people.

    To this day I am not sure why but our parents would often drop us off at his house so we could help load up and transport group kit from his garage. Coming from a Scouting family it was just accepted this was an OK thing to do, but several male members of our unit were being groomed. I don’t fully know the extent as we don’t even talk about it anymore.

    I was sexually assaulted once in the back of his range rover style car as after turning 18 as that’s where he told us would be sleeping as we were not allowed to share the accommodation building with the under 18s. There were 4 of us sleeping in the car and I woke up to find him with his hands down my trousers. I got out of the car at 5am and hid in the toilets until eveyone else got up for breakfast.

    I was assaulted a few years later after a night out back in our home town which ended up back at their house.

    This leader is no longer involved in Scouting, I don’t know the circumstances they left in as people don’t talk about it and it didn’t involve me, and I had moved away for University.

    This leader was insecure with their own sexuality and would prey on the sexuality of gay young people who were not out to their parents and used this to manipulate them.

  • Post 2014

    I have been a leader for 30 years. I have seen attitudes change, and practices considered normal 30 years ago are nowadays, quite rightly, frowned upon.

    I reported a Leader through the Scout Safeguarding process, I specifically requested that they made sure a certain Police Officer was not part of the investigation. The day after I made the complaint, the subject called me out for making the complaint. Nothing happened. He still involved, and I am aware of other accusations made against him.

    I had an issue with a Scout with a mental health issue. We were abroad at the time. I followed the Scout Association procedure to the letter. On returning home, I found that I had to speak to one of the parents as there had been no contact from Social Services, and the subject could/ should not have gone back home without his mother being aware of the issue.

    I have since made a couple of reports, and I would say to anyone in Scouts or Guides, if you have any concerns about the safeguarding of a child at the hands of a Leader, make your complaint through the NSPCC, do not use the Scout process.

    The Scout Safeguarding system can be misused, and Leaders can and do close ranks because no one wants to think of their friend as an abuser.

    When I left Scouts, I was inundated with messages from other leaders who had been subject to bullying and intimidation. My message to anyone is that bullying and intimidation and any form of abuse have no place in society, never mind Scouts.

  • Sexual Abuse

    In cubs in the mid-70s there was a regular outing by train to a seaside resort on the south coast. In those days trains had individual compartments, and our group of perhaps 6 to 8 boys was in one with our akela. We played a game where when you made a mistake you had to lay across his lap and have your bottom smacked with a slipper. At the same time he would grab and squeeze your testicles.

  • Sexual Abuse

    I went from cubs to scouts and aged about 11 enrolled for my first aid badge. Me and another scout arrived at the equipment storage area where the scoutmaster asked me to remove my trousers and underwear. He then proceeded to put a bandage around the top of my leg close to my groin. I was mortified especially as the girl guides were meeting in the attached hall with no obvious lock on the door and some could have come in at anytime for equipment which, maybe, our Skip was hoping for..

  • Sexual Abuse

    I remember several of us Scouts being invited into the kit storeroom by an Assistant Scout Leader (in the mid-1960s). Once we were in there he closed the door and revealed his penis and testicles, inviting us to touch them. We were all severely taken aback and frightened, so we made a rapid exit. There was no follow up. Later I learnt that this ASL had written letters to several of the individual Scouts. He had then very rapidly thought better of this move and persuaded the Scout Leader to drive him to the homes of those Scouts so he could retrieve the letters before they were opened. I don’t know what the content of the letters was. Later this ASL tried to take his own life, failed, and later went on to study at university.

  • Post 2014

    I was a scout between 2010 and 2014, in 2011 I went on a scout trip to Europe, on that trip if we got in trouble they would take the money we had been given to us by our parents/ guardians, and they would dock it.

    I remember being accused of lying by this one scout leader, they deducted money from me despite no evidence i had lied. It was a combined trip between us and another scout group, the leader of the other scout group was particularly horrible. I was 11 years old at the time, from my memory we were called Bitches by a scout leader and bullying from older kids wasn’t taken seriously. When myself and two friends got left in a shop in a city we didn’t know, we got in trouble for staying at the shop and not trying to go find the group, and money was deducted from us. I remember complaining of being made to do the washing up more than the older boys and us being told off for complaining and made to wash up in the dark late in to the night. My memory is hazy but I remember older kids bullying us and nothing being done , scout leaders joining in calling us cry babies.

    There was definite favouritism to the older boys. I remember going up a mountain in the mini van with like 3 people on one chair. I remember rumours about sexist and racist language being used by leaders.

    This was an ongoing theme through out my experience of scouts, I remember being told that I couldn’t be a patrol leader cos they already had one “girl” leader. I remember cruel games to trick us and a kid being made to run around a field in the middle of the night because they were being noisy. I remember bullying and sexual harrasment from other scouts and little education or support.. I remember being told off by scout leaders for wearing too short shorts and being told that if we dressed certain way it make us sluts.

  • Sexual Abuse

    I joined the scouts at 11 years old, quickly I developed a friendship with one of the group leaders. Over the years he nurtured this friendship, talking to me most evenings on social media, texting and picking me for ‘special projects’ he encouraged me to become a young leader so we were able to see each other more often. By 15 (Around 2010) we were in a full relationship, though only a handful of people knew (no adults in scouting had been informed) however leaders regularly left us both alone in the scout premises, or arrived to groups and seeing that both of us had been there for a while before their arrival – would say nothing and not question it.

    Despite my age and being a young leader, leaders would often regard how close we were yet not challenge or question his behaviour or why we were so close, we would travel together to events, leaders would leave us both to stay up late on camps despite knowing it was just the two of us. I believe that because of this negligence he was able to start a sexual relationship with me. With all sexual conduct happening on scout premises and grounds.

    At 16 I ended the relationship and quickly became uncomfortable by his presence, leaders and friends noticed my change in behaviour towards him and noticed I was visibly uncomfortable by his presence. One leader contacted me on social media and questioned why I was so uncomfortable, I decided to tell this leader about the relationship and what had happened in person. I also explained that I was concerned he was grooming another young person now. This leader said they would deal with it but didn’t tell me what they would do, months later nothing had changed, and I found out that the leader I had reported it too was also dating a 15 year old boy and his friends/family who were also scout leaders were all aware. I suspect this is why he protected him.

    Five years later, as an adult, I realised how inappropriate the relationship had been, the negligence from other leaders and decided to lodge a complaint with the Scout Association. After notifying them of the instances that had occurred and that the leader was still working as a cub leader, I was told they wouldn’t do anything unless I reported it to the Police. After reporting it to the police the scout association continued to refuse to do anything. After asking for assistance from a county scout leader, who took the issue seriously, I was told my The Scout Associations safeguarding team that the leader would be put in front of a panel of scout leaders and they would likely side with him (denying what happened) so suggested I dropped the accusations. Eventually I sent conclusive evidence (images, screenshots) of the relationship and due to pressure from the county leader I had involved, they interviewed the leader and suggested he resigned. The safeguarding officer contacted me to notify me that he and his family were incredibly upset and was I sure I wanted to continue. I insisted they continued, but instead of removing him they suggested he resigned, which he did.

    I asked for support with counselling after the process, which had taken around 6 months and been mentally challenging, and was told this was not possible and to speak to my GP.

    The entire process was re-traumatising, I wasn’t listened to and the matter was not taken seriously.

    On reflection of my time in scouting, other than this incident I was personally aware of almost 10 inappropriate relationships (over 18’s grooming and having relationships with under 16’s) and was involved in five other instances with leaders sending me and friends inappropriate images, messages e.t.c. For these reasons I believe their is a systemic issue within scouting.

  • Post 2014

    I was bullied ruthlessly by other kids in my scout group, starting almost immediately after I moved up from cubs.

    The inciting incident was that I turned down an older boys advances. I was 11 and he was 13. At first it was just uncomfortable to be around him, but soon I was being ostracised by the entire pack. Insults and name calling soon turned physical with me being pushed into a ditch and tripped into a nettle patch on a camp.

    There was no adult supervision in my scout group. Adult leaders left the older children in charge while they chatted and drank coffee in another room. Occasionally a few explorers would join for a meet, meaning I was being ganged up on not only by the older children but some young adults too.

    One explorer was hideously cruel to me. Making fun of my weight and glasses, mimicking the way I talked and encouraging the scouts to do the same. We were in the same group, but I also had to share a space with her in gang show and on camps too. It was horrible.

    I spoke to the adult leaders about what was happening many times. Even begging my parents to get involved on my behalf. I was told I had to put up with it, as these kids had better leadership qualities than me and the request that it be ensured that an adult be in the room with the children the whole 2 hour meet was unreasonable.

    My parents were told that I was dramatic and unlikeable and the way I was being treated was inevitable because I was different and socially awkward. They were convinced by the scout leaders that the bullying issue was very small series of spats between me and a few same age girls, and that I was gaining a lot more from being in scouts than I was losing.

    When I was 13 the older boy whose advances I turned down 2 years prior was now an explorer himself. He was still attending the scout meet every week with increased responsibilities. On a blended scouts and explorers camp he joined us.

    On that trip he touched me inappropriately without my consent. He also entered my tent without my knowledge and went through my luggage pack.

    Not knowing what to do I kept it to myself, thinking that nobody knew, but I was wrong. An 18 year old explorer girl was privy to all the information I wanted to keep to myself, and rather than reporting the incident to an adult leader, she discussed it with the scouts and explorers as if it were a joke.

    Ashamed I begged my parents to not send me to scouts anymore, but I couldn’t tell them why. Thankfully I didn’t have to. 3 weeks after the camp a scout told their parents about the gossip, who reached out to the scout leaders who told my mum everything but the boys name.

    I took 4 months off from scouting after that traumatic event and decided at 14 to age into explorers at a different group. The group I moved into were lovely. A well organised and a welcoming bunch.

    It took a long time, but the heavy weight of my old scout group had been weighing on me started lifting and slowly I began to feel lighter. I became a brighter, happier person. I had that sick dread feeling in my stomach for so long I didn’t even realise I’d been carrying it arouns till it was gone.

    I left scouting entirely at 15, mostly because as much as I liked my new group, it felt like a chapter in my life that I had to close.

    Out and about I’ve seen some of the people I knew from that first scout group in my adulthood. Mostly I get treated like they don’t know who I am. Maybe as a 20 year old I just look completely unrecognisable to what I did when I was 14, I’m not sure that’s the reason why though.

  • Sexual Abuse

    As part of a Gangshow (it’s a variety show run and performed by Scouts) – I was in the cast under the age of 14.

    I was sexually assaulted multiple times by a male member of the cast, including when I was on stage singing as part of a bigger group of people.

    I told people about this behaviour (older friends, but in earshot of adults), and was told that ‘oh that’s just what he is like’.

    This behaviour attempted to continue in future years, including when I moved to backstage Crew at the age of 14, in part to move away from this boy. Friends of a similar age to me would make up jobs this boy had been asked to do to keep him away from me.

    Years later, he’s part of the emergency services (I believe an ambulance driver), and provides first aid during the show.

  • Sexual Abuse

    1973-1976 Assistant scout leader took advantage of me being physically abused by my father, took it upon himself to make it look like he was saving me by having an an inappropriate relationship with a minor. And I know he was at it with at least 2 others, his seedy workmates were in on it, and his son would turn a blind eye.
    I did try and report it to the police but I was made out to be a troublemaker