Los Angeles Times
After reports of widespread sexual abuse of children in the late 1980s, several leading youth organizations began conducting criminal-background checks of volunteers and staff members.
Big Brothers Big Sisters ordered the checks for all volunteers starting in 1986. Boys and Girls Clubs of America recommended their use the same year.
One of the nation’s oldest and largest youth groups, however, was opposed — the Boy Scouts of America.
Scouting officials argued that background checks would cost too much, scare away volunteers and provide a false sense of security. They successfully lobbied to kill state legislation that would have mandated FBI fingerprint screening.
While touting their efforts to protect children, the Scouts for years resisted one of the most basic tools for preventing abuse. As a result, the organization let in hundreds of men with criminal histories of child molestation, many of whom went on to abuse more children, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of the Scouts’ confidential abuse files.
Scouting did not require criminal-background checks for all volunteers until 2008 despite calls from parents and staff who said its vetting system didn’t work.
From 1985 to 1991 — when the detailed files obtained by the Times end — the Boy Scouts admitted more than 230 men with previous arrests or convictions for sex crimes against children, the analysis found.
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