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  • Emotional Abuse

    This is not a story of sexual assault, but I did have an experience of the adults running a troop lying and protecting one another when confronted about their treatment of members of the troop.

    My son’s regular scout leader was very good, but on one occasion when he was away, his daughter, an assistant leader, and another female assistant leader were in charge. Stories started circulating on the school playground the next day about the assistant leaders having been verbally aggressive with our children and calling the boys stupid. I asked my son if this had happened and he confirmed that it had, but that it was directed at slightly older boys in the group, not at him. I know this is in no way as devastating as a sexual assault (though ~I don’t think children really ever recover from being called stupid by an adult), but it was still unacceptable behaviour on the part of the adults in charge. When I raised it with the leader, he asked his daughter (!) and the other assistant leader about it and they denied that they had been verbally aggressive or had called any of the children stupid. I said he had a clear conflict of interest since one of the people who had behaved badly was his own daughter. So a district leader was brought in. She told me no changes would be made in our local scout group and offered to move my son to a different troop. I said that wouldn’t fix the problem in the troop. We declined the transfer and withdrew our son from scouts. I just felt that there was no way to get to the truth of the matter and that the adults would protect one another. I encouraged other parents to report what their sons had told them about that evening, but none of them would for fear of their sons being moved from the troop and away from friends. That made it very easy for the scout leaders to say to me: “But you are the only one complaining.” One parent actually said that she wanted her son to go on the camp so that she and her husband could have a weekend to themselves! So, in this case, I think the parents bear significant responsibility for enabling the troop leaders’ behaviour.

    The dangerous thing in this case was how the adults in charge lied to protect themselves and one another. Anyone with unsavory intentions would have been emboldened.

    I don’t remember the exact year this all happened, but could look it up if required. It was around 2014.