Overcoming scouting abuse scandal was tough, Kent says
The Newfoundlander who became the face of Canadian scouting as the movement dealt with revelations about past sexual abuse says the scandal was difficult to tackle.
Steve Kent, who is retiring as the voluntary chief commissioner of Scouts Canada, spoke on behalf of the organization over the last year as it responded to an investigation by the CBC's fifth estate that documented how Scouts Canada failed to report pedophiles in its ranks to the police.
Kent oversaw a shift in tack at Scouts Canada, which underwent an audit that subsequently found 65 different cases that had not been reported.
"I do want to acknowledge that the last year has been particularly tough," Kent said in a video statement posted to YouTube.
Without addressing the sexual abuse scandal directly, Kent added, "We've always tried to create the safest environments possible for young people, but we're not perfect, and there have been mistakes made in the past."
Kent, though, said that Scouts Canada has come through a period of "considerable scrutiny" with better policies.
"I'm proud of the way that the organization has confronted the past in its entirety, both the good and the bad, and I appreciate the efforts of our leaders in helping us deal with these challenges," said Kent, a politician who represents the district of Mount Pearl North in Newfoundland and Labrador's legislature.
"I believe that Scouts Canada today is healthier and stronger than ever before."
Last December, Kent issued a blanket apology on behalf of Scouts Canada to any former scouts who had been sexually abused by leaders.
Three months later, Kent said that he had not been told everything that the organization had known about pedophiles in its midst.
Kent said Scouts Canada has also worked on modernizing its programs, and that recruitment efforts have paid off with a turnaround in enrolment.