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Boy Scouts defend procedures to protect youth

(CBS News) The head of the Boy Scouts of America has published an open letter to parents defending his organization's procedures aimed at protecting youth from child predators.

The letter comes in the wake of a Los Angeles Times report published Sunday that said the Scouts failed to report hundreds of suspected child sex abusers to authorities, and often helped cover up the accusations over two decades.

The paper said a review of 1,600 of the organization's confidential "perversion" files dating from 1970 to 1991 revealed that leaders often helped suspected molesters push the allegations under the rug.

The newspaper also found that in about 400 cases, there was no record of the Scouts reporting cases to police after parents, boys and staff members notified Scout leaders.

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In his letter posted online on Monday, Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock said the organization has expanded its "youth protection" measures in recent decades. He also outlined the Scouts' efforts to screen volunteers, including criminal background checks, and to train volunteers in Youth Protection practices.

Brock also defined Scouting's "two-deep leadership" policy, which requires at least two adults to be present at all Scouting activities. "No youth should ever be alone with a Scout leader for any reason," he said.

Brock also wrote, "Anyone suspected of inappropriate behavior will be immediately and permanently banned from Scouting. If you ever have any concerns about your child's safety, please contact the BSA immediately through your local council."

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