*Some of the fondest memories I have of my childhood include time spent as a Girl Scout.
From reading maps and building campfires to selling Girl Scout cookies, I learned countless valuable life skills while spending time with friends outside of school.
If I had children I would want them to be a part of the scout program, based on my experience. The the truth is some children did not have the same happy experience as I did. The truth is parents claim their children were taken advantage of by adults they should have been able to trust.
The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy earlier in 2020 to protect their assets against the hundreds of lawsuits filed against them by families across the United States. At least 12,000 former scouts claim they allegedly were sexually assaulted by their scout masters or assistant scout masters as far back as 1965.
These now middle aged adults claimed when they reported crimes to scout leadership their reports went ignored or the accused were allowed to transfer or leave the organization without being held accountable. Now, more than a half century later these former victims want restitution for the pain and suffering. If you or anyone you know was victimized by their scout leader the deadline to file civil lawsuits is in mid November.
While my scout leaders and other adults in my life were helpful, protective and loving, some children were not as fortunate. As a child of a single mother the extended village that helped to raise me was a blessing for me and for my mother who had to make the money, pay the bills and keep up with my active extra-curricular schedule, all while insuring that I made A’s and B’s on my report cards. If you are a parent or custodian of a child they need all the attention they can get from trusted adults to help them maneuver through this world we live in.
The world is full of adults who experienced neglect or abuse as a child, but they never go the counseling needed to work through their issues. So they’re still dealing with those emotional scars today. It only takes watching an episode of Iyanla, Fix My Life! to realize an emotionally broken adult can’t be the best partner, parent or productive citizen.
Even though I’m not a child psychologist I have worked as a child advocate. There’s more to raising a happy, productive child than to provide food, clothing and shelter. Emotional development is just as important. Make sure you know where and with whom your child is spending time when they’re away from home. Don’t assume they are safe. Ask them questions about their activities and listen to their answers.
The most common red flags that could be indications of child physical or sexual abuse include (1) Unexplained mood swings; (2) Sudden changes in their desire to spend time with certain friends or family members; (3) Bed wetting and self mutilation; and (4) Interest in sex that is not age appropriate.
If you or anyone you know is being or has been victimized the guilty party could be held accountable through criminal prosecution and/or civil liability. Each state has its own statute of limitations on how long someone can be held liable. Start your healing today by getting counseling and legal advice.
Steffanie Rivers is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. Email her at [email protected] with comments, questions or speaking inquiries. Friend her on Facebook/StefanieRivers. Follow her on Twitter @tcbstef and on [email protected]