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Don’t let evil destroy all of the Boy Scouts’ goodness

Millions of American boys, along with millions of others worldwide, became better men because of the Boy Scouts. For them, the more than century-old organization helped build character and taught valuable skills.

We have seen that in our own area year after year. We have seen first-hand Boy Scouts projects that have our parks. We watched Boy Scouts each Memorial Day respectfully place flags on the graves of veterans. We have watched Boy Scouts hold flag retirement ceremonies with the precision of a military unit. So much good is done by this organization. So much character is built by this organization. So many solid, value-oriented foundations forged for the future have been molded by this organization.

But more than 12,000 boys in the Scouts became victims of the adults they and their parents trusted. According to the Boy Scouts of America, that is the number of youths who were molested by about 7,800 abusers within the organization. Now, the BSA has filed for bankruptcy protection. Why? Because of the enormous amount of money being sought in lawsuits filed by some of the victims of abuse. BSA officials filed under Chapter 11 bankruptcy law, meaning that the organization can continue to function but may have to sell off assets to pay victims. The amount needed may top $1 billion.

What does all this mean to boys now and in the future, and to their parents and guardians? One of the victims, Houston resident James Kretschmer, summed it up in a comment to The Associated Press. He said the bankruptcy “is a shame because, at its core and what it was supposed to be, the Boy Scouts is a beautiful organization.” But, he added, “anything can be corrupted.”

Precisely. Sexual predators are nothing new. We have seen this nationwide in our schools, our churches and our youth sporting leagues. Youth gatherings attract perverts. But, until recent years, they were brought to justice relatively rarely. Why that was allowed to be so is a question older Americans need to ask themselves.

In fact, organizations with the most lofty of motives — think the Roman Catholic church and public schools, as well as the Boy Scouts — sometimes are viewed by predators as the best places to find victims.

Some would agree with that. Some would not. What needs to be remembered, however, is that institutions seeking to build character and knowledge are engaged in wonderful work. They are too valuable to be cast aside. Just as youths sports leagues, church groups, etc., should not be cast aside. The predators, those criminals — and that is exactly what they are — absolutely need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Molesting and physically and mentally infringing on a child is among the worst of crimes.

Sadly, there is no quick fix. No instant solutions. Vigilance is critical. Parents and guardians of youngsters involved in activities such as scouting must be ever-watchful to spot, expose and punish these types of disgusting people. Encourage open, honest dialogues with your children and grandchildren. Scouting will recover — we hope. It or something very like it can do great things for many young people. Evil predators should not be allowed to prevent that.

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