Vigilance: the only protection against child sexual abuse

Add the Scouts to the list of bodies — including but not limited to the church and some minor sports associations — that admit to fumbling the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of one of society's greatest ills. In a bid for transparency, Scouts Canada has initiated a third-party review of its handling of past sex abuse cases and its current volunteer screening practices.

While this may offer closure for some victims, it is foolhardy to suppose it will make the Scouts a safer place for children. There is no safe place. Like most youth groups, the Scouts follow a process of vetting volunteers that includes a criminal record check.

While sounding impressive, a criminal record check is worth approximately the paper it's printed on.

This procedure identifies only individuals who have been apprehended and charged; the vast majority of abusers never encounter the law. Again, like other groups, Scouts Canada adheres to a "two-deep" rule, requiring at least two screened leaders to be present with a child at any time. In most cases, this policy is as much for the protection of adults as it is for children.

Moreover, it does nothing to prevent the cunning manipulation that is so often the precursor of abuse. Scout leaders aren't molesting little boys around the campfire and coaches aren't abusing kids during the pre-game talk in the dressing room.

Successful sexual predators are adults who use positions of authority to gain positions of trust of a child and child's parents and create their opportunities for gratification.

Any adult who initiates a unique relationship with a child — treatment or affection preferential to others — should be regarded with caution. Red flags include unwarranted praise, small gifts and private jokes.

Go ahead and be paranoid.

The only real protections a child has against the threat of sexual abuse are knowledge, empowerment and guardians who listen, believe what a child tells them and are eagle-eyed for signs of distress.

We learned last week that a confessed and recently indicted child molester in Clinton, Mississippi, John Langworthy, has obtained a new pharmacy tech license, issued on Nov. 28, 2011. He was indicted by a grand jury in September, 2011 on 8 counts of felony child sexual abuse and is out on a $700,000 bond. His trial is set for April 2, 2012 in Hinds County, Jackson, Mississippi. He has been seen working at a Medicap pharmacy in Clinton, MS. 

C.  Be of good moral character as evidenced by having undergone and successfully passed a criminal background check conducted by the Board.

Mississippi Board of Pharmacy
204 Key Dr, Suite D Madison, MS 39110
Phone: 601/605-5388 Fax: 601/605-9546

To the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy,

We urge you to revoke the pharmacy technician license recently issued to an admitted child molesting minister, John Langworthy, of Clinton, Mississippi, indicted in September 2011 on 8 counts of felony child sexual abuse of 5 victims, and out of jail on a $700,000 bond. It is disturbing that this confessed criminal behavior meets the standard of  “Be of good moral character as evidenced by having undergone and successfully passed a criminal background check conducted by the Board” as listed on your website as requirements for certification. Bestowing the privilege of a license to practice professionally in a pharmacy  to someone with a background of an arrest, charges and indictment of sex crimes against children further places kids at risk in the community and deters other victims of this man’s crimes from coming forward.


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