What If Public Schools Were Held Liable For Sex Abuse Cases In The Same Way As The Boy Scouts?

Chris Menahan
Feb. 19, 2020

Changes in liability laws that opened the Boy Scouts up to lawsuits from abuse cases over 30 years ago appears to have had more to do with the organization's bankruptcy than their recent embrace of liberal values.

According to USA Today, "about 90%" of sex abuse cases the Boy Scouts are being sued over "took place more than 30 years ago."

From USA Today, "Boy Scouts bankruptcy: What we know about victims, assets and the future of scouting":
Having already paid more than $150 million in settlements and legal costs between 2017 and 2019, the Boy Scouts hopes†to contain the financial damage of the abuse scandal and emerge as a more sustainable organization.

[...] More than 130 million Americans and more than 35 million volunteers have participated in the Boy Scouts since it was chartered by Congress in 1916.

[...] How many abuse victims are there?

That's hard to say. The Boy Scouts currently faces 275 lawsuits. Victims' attorneys have notified the group of another 1,400 claims likely to be filed, according to a court document.†

That doesn't mean there are that many victims, however. Multiple victims can join together in one lawsuit.†

The bankruptcy petition lists 25 law firms with the largest number of clients with abuse claims. Abused in Scouting, one group within that list, says it has nearly 2,000 clients alone.†

And then there are the victims who have not come forward.†

When did the abuse take place?

About 90% took place more than 30 years ago, before the organization improved its process to screen volunteers, according to the Boy Scouts.

Since 2002, about 17 states have adopted laws allowing sexual abuse victims to pursue lawsuits that would have been outside the statute of limitations. Those laws have†opened the door for many cases to be brought against the Boy Scouts.
Was the abuse in the Boy Scouts disproportionate? I can't find much on it as the number of victims are not public.

Catholics, who have been ensnared in similar sex abuse scandals, often claim the level of sex abuse in their Church is similar to other major institutions.

Regardless, if you opened up our nation's public schools to liability for abuse cases over the past century and subjected them to the same rules as the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church, our public school system would likely have to be shut down.

From The Children's Center for Psychiatry, Psychology, & Related Services, Jul 2017, "Sexual Abuse by Teachers is on the Rise":
Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct & Exploitation (SESAME) is an organization that describes itself as a national voice for prevention of abuse by educators and other school employees. It has compiled alarming statistics on the incidences of sexual abuse in schools nationwide, reporting that just under 500 educators were arrested in 2015 (2016 statistics were unavailable as of this writing):

- Of children in 8th through 11th grade, about 3.5 million students (nearly 7%) surveyed reported having had physical sexual contact from an adult (most often a teacher or coach). The type of physical contact ranged from unwanted touching of their body, all the way up to sexual intercourse.

- This statistic increases to about 4.5 million children (10%) when it takes other types of sexual misconduct into consideration, such as being shown pornography or being subjected to sexually explicit language or exhibitionism.

- Very often, other teachers "thought there might be something going on", but were afraid to report a fellow educator if they were wrong. They didn't want to be responsible for "ruining a person's life," although that is exactly what they are doing to the child if they don't speak up, thus allowing the abuse to continue.
From The Chicago Sun-Times, Aug 2018, "CPS 'failed' to realize extent of sex abuse, let predators go unpunished: report":
A damning new report says Chicago Public Schools failed at nearly every level at preventing, responding to and tracking hundreds of cases of sexual misconduct in recent years.

The report, released Friday and sent to parents and staff throughout the district, detailed the shortcomings in CPS' handling of sexual misconduct allegations after the Chicago Tribune revealed widespread abuse throughout the district.

"We found systemic deficiencies in training, reporting, aggregating data, tracking trends, and comprehending the extent of the sexual misconduct facing CPS children," the preliminary report by Maggie Hickey, a former federal prosecutor and Illinois Executive Inspector General, states. "These deficiencies occurred at all levels: in the schools, the networks, the Central Office, and the Chicago Board of Education."

The report said the district had investigated more than 450 allegations of adult sexual misconduct against students. Misconduct was found in nearly half of those cases.

But since there was no systematic effort to track the problem, officials didnít even know how bad things were.

"CPS failed to recognize the extent of the problem," the report said. "It is no surprise then that many of the employees we interviewed expressed shock about the reported extent of sexual misconduct against CPS students."

Even worse, the problem is likely even more widespread than thought ó as many abusers werenít caught. The report concluded that CPS failed to conduct adequate background checks or alert other schools when someone was fired for sexual misconduct.

"Some predators went undetected or unpunished throughout this time, and some serious offenders were able to get jobs in other school districts," the report states.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Think of how many stories there are in the news every day about teachers sexually abusing students.

Whereas the sexual abuse scandals in the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church are still making headlines, the rampant sexual abuse in our nation's public schools isn't even a story and victims struggle to hold anyone accountable!

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