Several weeks after Scouts Canada CEO Janet Yale resigned, the organization seems to have taken a turn in a different direction with regards to the alleged confidential files on pedophile scout leaders. Yesterday, Scouts Canada Chief Commissioner Steve Kent released a YouTube video apologizing for the abuse former scouts suffered. He also announced some key actions the organization is taking to deal with the issue.
In addition to the apology to “any and all former Scouts who suffered harm,” Kent explained the approach that Scouts Canada has taken to reporting any allegations of abuse.
Scouts Canada has a very strict policy with regards to reporting allegations of abuse. We suspend the leader in question immediately to ensure there is no further contact with children and youth. We refer the matter in full to police and to child protection services. We cooperate completely with the police in their investigations. Any information Scouts Canada obtains with regards to abuse violations is reported to police. To our knowledge, there has not been deviation from this policy by Scouts Canada.
However, the investigation by the CBC demonstrates that there were obvious lapses in the implementation of those policies that were further buried through confidential settlements with victims.
In order to address this gap, Scouts Canada made several promises. It has retained the services of KPMG’s forensic group to conduct a full review of records held by Scouts Canada to ensure that there were no exceptions to its policy and that all cases have been reported to the authorities as they should have been. Scouts Canada has committed to making the results of the KPMG review public. Scouts Canada has also asked Peter Dutton, CEO of the Child Welfare League of Canada to lead an expert panel review of all of Scouts Canada’s policies and procedures regarding child and youth protection. Dutton and his panel are expected to make recommendations on any necessary changes to policies, training, and in the field implementation that could improve the safety and security of Scouts.
While Scouts Canada cannot change the abuse that happened in the past, its apology combined with clear actions intended to uncover past lapses and avoid future risks to children and youth appears to be a step in the right direction. After almost two months of denial and silence on the issue, this is certainly a positive development.
Image credit: Screen capture from Scouts Canada apology video.