NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, Ark. (KNWA) – The Boy Scouts of America files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy amid hundreds of sex abuse claims.
The organization is hoping to compensate the thousands of victims claiming they were harmed by scout leaders decades ago. The victims, including one from Arkansas, are now able to sue due to recent changes in their states’ statute-of-limitations laws.
“The easiest way to put it is we are a franchise of the national organization,” Chris Daughtrey said.
Chris Daughtrey is the Scout Executive of Westark Area Council – which includes troops in our area. He says those troops will not be directly impacted by the file for bankruptcy.
“We have our own executive board,” Daughtrey said. “We have our own local programs and local funding.”
Daughtrey says adult leaders must pass a criminal background check every three years and go through youth protection training. Since 1981, the national organization prohibits a leader to be alone with a child that isn’t theirs
“If anyone has ever been convicted of a crime, especially any crime related to (abusing) children or drug use, they actually can’t be an adult leader in scouting,” Daughtrey said.
Daughtrey says it’s not just the adults that are being educated on how to report abuse it’s the children too, through their youth protection guide. It requires parents to talk to their kids about how to protect themselves, what suspicious behaviors to look for and how to report it.
“To know that there are agencies that are recognizing the prevalence of child sexual abuse and physical abuse and say this is what our role is in that and how we prevent it here – that’s great to know,” Natalie Tibbs said.
Natalie Tibbs is the Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County.
“The statistics show that over 90% of the time the offender is someone known to the child,” Tibbs said.
She says parents and community leaders need to make children feel comfortable about reporting abuse so that investigators can step in and advocates like Tibbs can help. Their website offers a list of resources and books that teaches parents how to that conversation with their children.
“We don’t find a case to be true or not true we’re just here to support them through that process,” Tibbs said.
Lawyers say there is still time to come forward and join a lawsuit if you are a victim.