Scout Safety Badge

“Every lesson, suggestion, demand, example, idea, and belief

was burned into the fires

he created, fed, and cooked us upon.”   ~Heath Stocks

I am one of the thousands of child sexual abuse survivors abused by a Boy Scout Leader as a cub to eagle scout. The grooming and abuse were the polar opposite of all that the Boy Scouts was intended to offer boys, and one need only look at the Scout Motto, Law, and Oath to know that truth.  For those that have never been in the Boy Scouts, I want to share these with you and offer context as to why these abuses are so devastating and far-reaching.

The Scout Motto: “Be Prepared.”

How can a boy be prepared for a predator that will use the structure, information, position, and isolation to target their vulnerabilities?

The Boy Scouts is an institution that was meant to prepare boys and young men, who lacked mentorship and opportunity, to develop into Godly men who would be leaders in the world. The difference between a boy scout, that is morally shaped or abused, is defined clearly by the moto.

Be prepared.”

One is prepared to face threats, armed with tools to overcome and lead others to safety, but the abused huddle in fear; lost, broken, and riddled with self-doubt.

The Scout Law: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

As a boy under the leadership of a Boy Scout Master, one can expect to be shaped through a mentorship program that develops one’s talents, strengths, and enables one to be aware of God, world, others, and self. The bond between boy and man, leader and follower, is transformative and powerful in a way that reflects the spiritual relationship of father and son, and what God intended between He and mankind.

The Scout Law lays out the character qualities that a Scout should possess, act upon, and live by to ensure that he is mentally, spiritually, and physically healthy. A Boy Scout Leader can supplement a boy’s fatherly influence, offer a safe place to grow and learn, and a man that may offer a model of integrity and honor that can be admired and emulated.

An abusive Scout Master perverts every aspect of what I just shared and, instead of supplementing and enabling the further enrichment of a promising leader of tomorrow, he subverts. The grooming and abuse are meant to fill the sexual needs of a lost man, one who is sexually attracted to innocent and malleable boys and, in his hands, can be shaped to submit, serve, and be used.

…..and so I ask:

How can a boy trust when his leader isn’t trustworthy? Is a helpful man one that introduces a boy on a path to defeat and addiction? Does being friendly really mean sharing dirty pictures, and touching when they arouse? Can you be courteous when refusing to do what one is asked? Is a leader kind when he demands something against your values? What does one do when being obedience to Scout Law conflict with being obedient to the Scout Master? How can one be cheerful knowing campouts are places of abuse? Can one be thrifty, or prosperous, by taking gifts that the leader says I deserve? Why does the Scout leader say that trying new things, even if we are afraid, part of becoming brave? How can one be clean, inside or out, after what has been done to me or made me to do? If being reverent is about honoring God, where is God when these things happen in my tent?

The Scout Law is a moral code, a guide for living and being, but what does that mean when one has been exposed to things that go against Scout Law and God’s Law?

If I am to follow this man, whom my parents entrusted me to, who claims to know God, what do the things he does to me mean about my parents and God? Who am I that I deserve what this man is doing to me? You see, the grooming and abuse go against the very foundation of Scouting, and when a boy finds that everything is called into question where can he find the compass to travel and live by? If drinking, smoking, looking at porn, masturbation, and sex is part of growing up and being a man, then why do those things erode at one’s sense of identity, character, self-confidence, and belief?  I remember doubting it all, believing it all a lie, and seeing it as just another means of being abused by an adult that I had tried to love and trust.

The Scout Oath:

On my honor, I will do my best; to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

Growing up in a domestically abusive environment, I had come to believe that I was unlovable, broken, an embarrassment, a failure, dirty, and a shame to my father. I was learning disabled, had IBS, and several development issues that brought out fatherly rage, not unconditional love.

When my father handed me over to my abuser, a man that promoted himself as a difficult boy mentor, I was threatened to do as I was told or else. That “or else” had marked me most of my life at that point, and I had this fleeting hope that away from home offered that I could prove that I had some redeemable qualities. My Boy Scout leader saw in me everything that my father did not, confided in me what a disappointment dad said I was and, in the years to come, used the need for affirmation, love, praise, and nurturing to abuse and use me in every way.

How does one have honor, when you have been so dishonored? What is my best when I exist to be used, abused, and exploited? What is my duty to God and country, when a community and church leader violated me to my core? What is the Scout Law to a boy exposed to addiction, riddled with shame, will subverted, and sexually used in ways he lacks the words to describe? How can I help others when I can’t even protect myself? How can I help others when my abuser uses us in front of one another or forces us to do things to one another? Can I be strong, awake, or straight after what he did to me? What does what happened to me say about who and what I am or ever will be?

My abuser told me that it was our secret, that he loved me, my body’s response was evidence that I enjoyed it, that men were supposed to teach boys about their body and pleasure, and it was fine to sexualize every relationship.

Every lesson, suggestion, demand, example, idea, and belief was burned into the fires

he created, fed, and cooked us upon.

All that had gone into who we were, every influence and source, was questioned or exposed as false and painful. Boy Scouts was meant to develop in me the very things God created me with to be unique, special, talented, and purposeful. Instead, I sit inside a cell, incarcerated for life, as an Eagle Scout that tried to help an abused cub scout escape the pain.

Now that I have shared the inspiration for this blog, it is my hope that I can start a cause worth supporting by every Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Eagle Scout, Boy Scout Master, and now Girl Scouts. I personally believe that the introduction of girls into the Boy Scouts will serve to empower victims to come forward, and as #metoo enabled millions to share their fights, girls may now help boys develop in ways that Scouting can’t. Girls are taught from an early age to express their emotions, talk about what they are feeling, and be in touch with who they are. Boys are taught not to cry, feeling is for the weak, and it is better to act than to talk. Yet, when boys are subjected to abuse like I was, lacking the skills and words to share, all that remained was to withdraw inside and endure. It is my prayer and hope that these girls will help boys learn in different ways, and in those interactions learn to both cherish young girls for their differences as they learn to better communicate.

Boy Scouts can become the place where leaders of tomorrow are shaped, molded, and formed into greatness. Or, the Boy Scouts can continue to churn out abused, broken, hurt, and misguided young men that will only add to those that are cast away, adrift, into the institutions of outcasts.

My goal with the American Eagle Scout project is to encourage every scout, leader, and troop to encourage young minds to form projects that create an understanding of the threats by predators of the two-legged kind. We are taught to survive in the wild, identify plants and animals, navigate and lead, and see the natural world through educated eyes, an informed mind, and understanding heart.

It is time that there be a badge for Scout Safety

….and it be a group effort that teaches the vulnerable to identify, expose, and protect themselves against human predators.

Pedophiles are finding ways to groom institutions, organizations, companies, and other positions of power that allow them to identify, groom, manipulate, and abuse those under their influence. Not only can informed Scouts protect one another, help protect the community, but they can also serve those churches that have sponsored troops in their moral development.

A scout goes out before the group, knows danger and the enemy, and he can lead those that follow to safety. Please share this with all that you can, call on your elected officials to help fix the flaws in the Boy Scout organization, and ask your church leaders to pay attention to anyone over children who doesn’t consistently display the character that someone of God should possess. Pay attention to what is going on, the signs and symptoms are always there, and a victim will only share in a place of safety and love.

Thank you for listening, sharing, and wanting to help make the difference in a child’s life that has yet to have their life altered by child sexual abuse.

On my honor,

Heath Stocks

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