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A few years ago, when Scout’s Honor was out of print, I discovered that it was difficult to find even a used copy on the Internet. At one point, a seller listed it as a “rare” book and priced it at $40.
I admit that for a brief moment, I smiled at the thought that my book was rare and was demanding almost double its original price. But I knew better: Being the author of a contemporary book that’s hard to find means not enough people bought it in the first place.
This had me slapping my head in frustration, and not because of pride. Here is what was going on:
Abuse in Scouting
I had gone hunting for my own book because a stranger called asking how to buy one. Again. For the past decade, I’ve gotten an average of a call a month from a victim, journalist or attorney who wanted to talk about abuse in Scouting – they often had new information for me – or wanted a copy of Scout’s Honor.
During this time, I discovered that the problem was worse than I had believed. As part of a lawsuit in Seattle, attorney Tim Kosnoff recently forced the Scouts to turn over documents showing that from 1991 to 2005, the organization banned about approximately 2,500 adults for alleged abuse – nearly one every two days.
Abuse in Youth Groups
We know more and more about the alarming amount of sex abuse in our youth-serving institutions. Almost every day, the electronic news services that send articles about children and youth to my inbox include stories about the arrest of a youth worker for child molesting. The culprit in these stories is a coach, a youth minister, a mentor, a day care worker, a camp counselor, a teacher.
Partly because of the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, the public, the news media and the government are paying more and more attention to abuse in our youth-serving institutions: community youth programs, schools, sports teams, foster homes and juvenile lock-ups, as well as churches. While Scout’s Honor is about the Boy Scouts, the individual and institutional patterns that it describes apply to these other organizations as well.
Our Response to Abuse
The growth of laws that ban convicted sex offenders from living in certain communities or even entire towns, while well-intentioned, is actually hurting our ability to confront the problem. Rather than trying to understand child molesting, we keep trying to hide the molesters.
They do not disappear. We need to understand them. We need to understand their methods, and especially how those methods work so well in youth organizations.
Many people have urged me to write a new edition of Scout’s Honor. Frankly, I don’t think there’s a big commercial market for it. Sadly, I know there is a need for it.
That is why Youth Today has republished Scout’s Honor electronically and made it available for free. I hope it helps.