Industry News, criminal background checks

Boy Scouts and Background Checks

Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is facing a higher-than-expected number of sexual abuse claims from former members. The mounting claims could have major implications for BSA’s future, from the organization’s redress to abuse survivors to the question of its continued existence.

The organization has faced considerable tumult in recent years as abuse allegations—many of them decades old—have come to light. Similar to the rampant sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, mostly at the hands of priests, BSA has been implicated in systemic sexual abuse of members, most of it committed by troop leaders.

Files released by BSA in 2012 documented 1,200 sexual abuse allegations from 1965 to 1985. Now, it appears that the actual number of sexual abuse incidents in the organization’s history is much higher.

In February, BSA sought bankruptcy protection. The organization’s financial situation has taken a turn for the worst over the past 10 years as it has faced new sexual abuse lawsuits brought by former members. When BSA filed for bankruptcy, a spokesperson for the organization stated that there were “two key objectives” for the Chapter 11 filing. The first of those objectives was to “equitably compensate” victims who were harmed by troop leaders or others involved in the scouting program. The second was finding a path forward for BSA so that the organization could continue to exist.

As part of the bankruptcy process—and to ensure that the first objective is achievable—the bankruptcy court set a November 16, 2020 deadline for past BSA members to come forward and submit any relevant abuse claims. This record of claims will help the bankruptcy court and BSA create a compensation fund to pay settlements to abuse survivors.

Based on a report from NBC News, 88,500 claims have been filed against BSA as part of the bankruptcy process—a number far higher than expected, according to the lawyers charged with signing up claimants. BSA has issued a statement saying that it is “devastated by the number of lives impacted by past abuse in Scouting.”

Most of the claims against the organization date to the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, which NBC News notes was before BSA started requiring criminal background checks for its troop leaders. The documents released by BSA in 2012 revealed, among other things, that the organization had failed to prevent repeat offenders from jumping from troop to troop or finding other ways to continue abusing Boy Scout members.

At, we help a wide range of organizations—from nonprofits and volunteer organizations to religious entities to youth sports organizations—to design and execute effective policies for criminal background checks. BSA shows how far-reaching the implications can be when youth-serving organizations fail to conduct proper background checks. Contact us for help making sure that your organization is prepared to offer a safe environment for all.

Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

I am part Marketing Technologist, Product Owner and Innovation Accelerator. I can help organisations with two challenges:

  1. How to move from an organically grown martech stack and a loose set of innovation initiatives to a state which synchronizes a customer focused strategy with a well thought out governance structure and strategy for marketing technology and innovation initiatives. I specialize in predicting which technology trends will more quickly than expected pass the peak of inflated expectations and provide opportunity for value creation and competitive differentiation.
  2. How to define the right organizational structure like a lab, Center of Excellence or Shared Service Center for enterprise wide Personalization, Next Best Action, Customer Engagement or Marketing Automation programs and select teams and technologies to scale such programs more rapidly.

I am experienced in managing traditional and agile marketing and software development teams as well as running user experience, design thinking, conversion rate optimization, experimentation and digital innovation and transformation programs.

Both on the agency and client side I have led product teams through functional site enhancements, site redesigns, software selection, martech platform introductions, and software re-platforming exercises.


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