Investigation Finds Hundreds Of Sex Abuse Cases Reported At Children's Camps

December 10, 2018 - 4:53 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880/CBS News) — CBS News has found reports of at least 578 children who were sexually abused at children camps over the past 55 years and it's likely many more cases were never reported.

“We’ve spoken to a number of experts who say this is possibly just in the beginning, the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, a lot of times, as you probably know, in sexual assault cases people do not report that this has happened to them also this is an area that we've been looking into,” CBS News reporter Jericka Duncan said.  

Duncan notes that she spoke to a woman whose son was allegedly sexually assaulted by a summer camp counselor in 2009. The person who molested him, according to Duncan, plead guilty to injuring a child but only went to prison when he violated probation.

“The woman that we spoke to didn't want to be identified said you know for her it wasn't about scaring people away from camps,” Duncan said, “it's about having the education, having the conversations, and knowing what to do and really it comes down to research and checking to see some of these places are accredited.”

The investigation found that part of the problem in camps is that there is no national standard for hiring counselors and supervisors.

Duncan explained that their investigation found there's no national regulation for camps to follow.

She notes eight states have no requirements for overnight camps to be licensed, 18 states do not require background checks for employees and more than 20,000 camp counselors came from foreign countries on visas in 2017, which experts say complicates things further when trying to obtain records from foreign countries.

For parents searching for camps for their children, Duncan explained that there are organizations, such as American Camp Association and Praesidium, which monitor camps and issue accreditations based on safety.

“In general, whenever you have sort of the situations where children, in particular, are more vulnerable, the parents aren't there, you have to be aware and also just do your due diligence, I think, as a parent to try and investigate before you say yes,” Duncan said.

She notes that the woman she spoked to thought her son’s camp was accredited but never checked to make sure.