Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- On Thursday, about 20,000 pages of formerly secret documents were released by the Boy Scout organization. The documents contained numerous files about scoutmasters and volunteers accused of sexually abusing scouts.
A child advocacy group in Onondaga County is hoping the release of the so-called “Perversion Files,” can act as a “teachable moment” for all of us.
The documents date from 1959 to 1985, detailing failures to report suspected abuse. About 50 of the alleged cases happened here in Central New York.
The McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center in Syracuse wants this to be a lesson to all youth groups.
“Hopefully that these youth organizations, schools, really go look to see if they have policies and procedures in place and if they don’t they need to look at them,” said Julie Cecile, Executive Director of McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center.
The files also showed that in many cases officials from police chiefs to pastors helped cover up the abuse allegations. A spokesperson from Central New York says this is a new era and standards today – and for some time – have been extremely high.
“Everybody, even for a volunteer organization is screened, trained and then re-trained on a regular basis,” said Vice President of Public Affairs for Longhouse Council Scott Armstrong. “As a matter of fact, since those days, the Boy Scouts of America has become the national standard of how to protect youth in a volunteer organization.”
But it can’t stop with volunteers. The Child Advocacy Center says adults, whether mandated or not, have a responsibility to uphold.
“If they really suspect child abuse, they need to pick up the phone. We can’t intervene on a child’s behalf unless they make that phone call,” Cecile said.
To report child abuse in Onondaga County, call the McMahon/Ryan hotline at 422-9701.