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letters | record of abuse in boy scout files

Poor use of words plays into absurd notion that victims share responsibility

RE Boy Scout files reveal legacy of abuse” (Page A1, Oct. 10): I am glad to see extensive reporting being done on sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts. While painful to learn, it is important that the truth be exposed. Hopefully, as a result, the victims will realize that they are not alone, and will seek support; perpetrators will be brought to justice; those who did not report the abuse will be held accountable; and children will be safer when joining the Scouts.

However, in the following passage, the usage of one word troubled me: “The boy protested, but when the Scout leader attempted to scramble onto his bunk, the boy allowed the leader to pull down his underwear and fondle him.” The word “allowed” implies that the boy willingly gave consent. The victim in no way allowed the Scout leader to fondle him. A child is powerless when a trusted adult is performing a sexual act upon them.

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By protesting, the boy in this case made it clear that he did not want this act to take place. However, even if a child does not verbally or physically resist, the child never “allows” the abuse.

Language is very important, particularly regarding such a delicate topic. Sexual abuse victims are often asked why they didn’t just say no, or stop the abuse. Your usage of the word “allowed” in this context feeds into the absurd notion that victims have the power to stop the abuse and hold some responsibility for being abused.

Christine M. Hickey

Everett

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