Scouts Canada report is a good first step, but more needs to be done

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Daily Brew

Scouts Canada was widely commended Monday for undertaking an internal audit and presenting, to the public, a report about how the organization handled allegations of sexual abuse by its Scout leaders and volunteers since 1941.

The self-commissioned arms-length audit, prepared by KPMG, didn't show any evidence of an organized attempt to cover up abuse allegations.

It did, however, indicate a very disorganized and inconsistent response to accusations of molestation or sexual assault.

In the most damning finding, the audit confirmed at least 65 cases weren't shared with authorities — either at the request of the victim or due to procedural failings. More troubling is that thirteen of the 65 incidents came to the Scouts' attention after 1992, when it became mandatory to report everything suspicious to police.

As a result of the forensic review, Scouts Canada unveiled an updated framework for child and youth protection on Monday.

[ Related: Scouts Canada says it must fix problems in procedures for handling abuse cases ]

Elements include new policies on bullying, abuse reporting and screening of volunteers. The organization said one of the steps it will take is to flag anyone who doesn't complete its volunteer screening in its central database so that they can't partake in any scouting activities.

While the Scouts deserve credit for taking these steps, several questions remain.

Primarily — what took them so long to conduct the audit and implement these new, seemingly obvious procedures?

According to CBC News, Scouts Canada only ordered the audit following CBC's Fifth Estate investigation into how the organization dealt with past cases of sexual abuse.

Why did they wait until then?

Another question that needs to be asked is what Scouts Canada intends to do for the victims.

"What's going to happen ... to these boys — who are now men — who have (allegedly) been abused?" Rick Goodwin, executive director of The Men's Project, which provides services for male survivors of sexual abuse, asked the Ottawa Sun.

"It's like the (Penn State football coach Jerry) Sandusky case. We want to know the right and wrong, but we always seem to forget the victims."

Godwin adds that he would like to see the Scouts supply resources for these victims who are often left to their own devices to find help.

Scouts Canada took a step in healing wounds Monday, but there's still a ways to go.