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!