After years of victims of child sexual abuse coming forward to speak against the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), the organization has declared bankruptcy. The filing is a result of multiple class-action lawsuits against the organization for failing to protect the young boys in their care, turning a blind eye to the abuse of an estimated 12,000 victims. But is bankruptcy enough for the victims?
What does chapter 11 bankruptcy mean?
When a business files for chapter 11 bankruptcy they are admitting that they are unable to sustain their business with their current trends. For the BSA, this means that they are unable to continue covering the damages and payouts to the sexual abuse victims suing them. Businesses going through chapter 11 bankruptcy are making a statement that they plan to reorganize their finances in order to repay their debts.
Bankruptcy court demands statements of assets, liabilities, and important aspects of the business to be released. It also means that the organization will halt operations until its finances are sufficiently reorganized.
This also means that there is now a deadline for victims to come forward. This has received strong criticism, since forcing victims to come forward before they are ready often leads to victims never coming forward at all. It could also reduce the amount available for compensation for individual victims who do come forward.
How are victims responding?
Sexual abuse has a unique impact on each individual victim, which presents in different reactions. A large number of victims who have come forward see the filing as a success; proof that the BSA knows it did something wrong and is going to pay for it. Some victims don’t care about the compensation and only care that the world knows about the scope of the problem. This group believes that even if it means each individual gets less of a payout, it’s worth it if more people come forward.
Another group sees the filing as a cop-out. Reducing the number of victims that are willing to come forward drastically reduces the amount the organization will have to owe. It will also limit the scope of the problem visible to the public.
How will this affect local troops?
Due to the financial independence of district-level troops, local troops are unlikely to be shut down. It is still unclear how operations will change at the national level, but the organization is sure to go through a change.
How has the BSA changed its policies relating to adult volunteers?
Adult members of the BSA are required to undergo training, review, and criminal background checks. Beyond this, a greater number of certified adults are being required to attend events and activities to ensure safety procedures are being followed.