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Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

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The sexual abuse lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC have helped innocent victims seek financial compensation and justice against youth organizations. Our legal team comprehensively understands the psychological and emotional damage young people experience when sexually harmed.

Sexual abuse is a severe problem in many youth-serving organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA). Our young are being assaulted by adults in charge of protecting them and providing valuable services.

Victims are harmed while participating in recreational activities, sports, and mentoring programs. Much of the mental health damage of their victimization lasts a lifetime.

big brothers big sisters sexual abuse lawyer

The Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) organization began in the United States in 1904, offering youth mentoring programs to young people nationwide.

The program involved “Little Brothers” and “Little Sisters,” where the local community’s caring volunteers develop lasting mentoring. However, the organization allowed risky behavior, including sleepover relationships based on self-enrichment.

Unfortunately, beginning in the 1980s, the Board of Directors for the nonprofit community-based BBBSA program understood they had serious abuse problems with child protection but did little to protect the children. The complaints were addressed in-house, and any steps to prevent abuse led nowhere.

The nation’s largest donor volunteer-supported mentoring network failed to conduct comprehensive background checks of mentors, volunteers, and other adults (“bigs”) that provided services to the “littles.”

A Youth Organization Sexual Abuse Attorney Can Help

The sexual abuse lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC have helped victims of child sexual abuse deal with the legal, emotional, and psychological complexities of their assault. We work with family members and law enforcement to expose the hypocrisy of youth organizations that do not protect those under their care.

We handle cases involving allegations of child sexual abuse in youth organizations nationwide, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Our law office provides advocate services to seek justice and protect a victim from a staff member charged with sexual misconduct.

Contact a Big Brothers Big Sisters sexual abuse lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) for a free consultation to explore your legal options.

Ground Rules and Guidelines for Protecting Youth from Being Sexually Abused

Recently, BBBSA local chapters have established guidelines to ensure that the “littles” are protected from inappropriate relationships with sexual predators within the organization. The child sexual abuse prevention guidelines were developed in response to inappropriate allegations of harm.

One BBBSA guideline establishes respect for the child’s privacy and personal boundaries. All employees and mentoring adults (“bigs”) are encouraged to identify the level of sensitivity when interacting with the child, like a hug or physical touch that might be uncomfortable for the child.

Additionally, adults working in youth organizations can discuss or display any prohibited sexual materials that might include pornography or sexually suggestive information/photographs. All adults must monitor the physical contact with others and avoid wrestling, tickling, patting, pinching, or asking the child for close contact, including sitting on their lap.

Adults are not allowed to violate the minor’s intimate boundaries and can never come between the child and their parent/guardian. BBBSA employees, managers, and volunteers cannot interact with children using social networking sites to communicate, follow, or friend their “little.”

Employees and volunteers should also not give a gift to their “little” without it being a unanimous “Big” group decision. Typically, the “bigs” vote on specific holidays, birthdays, or events to give the child a gift they can never cash.

Reporting Child Sexual Abuse

All mentors, volunteers, employees, and parents participating in BBBSA activities and programs must monitor every child’s situation involving others.

Any adult who found or suspected the child might be involved in an abusive situation must file a report with appropriate authorities and law enforcement.

All those in charge must address immediate problems that caused harm and call local law enforcement (911) or take injured children to the police station or hospital if they ever feel that the minor’s well-being is in danger. The adult must also contact BBBSA to begin an investigation process.

Child Victims Act

Many states have enacted a Child Victims Act, allowing a victim of sexual misconduct to seek compensation, ensuring the predator is held accountable for their egregious behavior.

BBBSA recognizes that childhood sexual abuse is a crime punishable by the full extent of the law. The organization believes that any individual reporting suspected or discovered child sexual abuse victimization has a right to immunity and confidentiality from criminal prosecution.

How Big Brothers Big Sisters Respond to Child Sexual Abuse

BBBSA provides guidelines and training for mentors and volunteers talking to children who disclose they have been abused sexually. Mentors, staff members, and volunteers must follow their training and ground rules in responding to a child alleging sexual abuse.

These responses include:

  • Listen calmly to what the child is saying
  • Reassure the “little” that they should be talking about what happened in making their allegation and let them know you will be sharing what has been said with BBBSA to ensure that the alleged sexual abuse stops immediately
  • Let the minor know that they could receive support from child sexual abuse social workers who can help them through the healing process
  • Never question the child beyond what they are willing to say about being sexually abused that could interfere with law enforcement’s investigative process

Note any suspected or known signs of child sexual abuse that could include:

  • Unexplained welts, bruises, blisters, or sores
  • Unexplained burns
  • Unattended health issues
  • Illogical explanations for a newly observed injury
  • Underweight/stunted growth
  • Balding hair patches
  • Unexpected pregnancy in younger female children without a known biological father
  • Vacant stares
  • Preoccupation with age-inappropriate sexual behavior or knowledge

The local office of most BBBSA chapters will have an active case manager who gathers information on the allegations of children involved in sexual abuse.

The complaints about allegedly abused “littles” remain confidential until and unless the sexual predators are found guilty of criminal charges.

Screening Out Sexual Abuse Molesters is Not New for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

For decades, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has managed a task force to identify sexual molestation problems within the organization. Originally in 1903, when the organization was formed in Cincinnati, inappropriate sexual contact was not a problem.

The original Big Brothers Big Sisters leaders and adult volunteers took young boys under their wings and served as male figures to look up to, help with schoolwork, and participate in sports activities.

According to the organization’s national office, the program was designed to develop mentoring relationships.

Initially, the community-based organization succeeded in developing positive relationships and helping young girls and boys. Case managers in charge of creating mentoring relationships would pair a caring adult with a “little brother” or “little sister” with the child’s parent/guardian’s approval.

Enrolling in the BBBSA organization could help youth with their academic performance and school attendance at the junior and high school levels.

Public Awareness of Child Sex Abuse in the 1980s

An impact study showed that school delinquency and substance abuse decreased among participating children, and academic performance increased for participants.

However, by the early 1980s, without quality assurance policies, many cases of inappropriate sexual activity in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America organization came to light. In response to public awareness of the organization’s child abuse problem, the company developed a screening process as a protective factor in finding suitable men.

At that time, mentoring groups, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, began fingerprinting applicants to identify motor vehicle violations or criminal records. Next, the potential staff needed to pass the screening committee trained to identify any molesting “red flag.”

Sex Abuse Attorneys Working on Your Behalf

All victims of sexual abuse feel that they are alone in handling an impossible situation that might have created shame, embarrassment, or lifetime scarring from the molestation. The minds of many victims suppressed what happened for decades to avoid dealing with the pain.

However, help and justice are available for all victims who do not want to feel alone. Our legal team is ready to stand on your behalf, listen to your story, and fight aggressively on your lawsuit to ensure justice is obtained.

We recognize that many youth-serving organizations shelter molesters and predators from law enforcement to avoid negative sentiment. However, they are the villains who must be held accountable for violating victims’ safety.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America have always had an obligation to protect children from the staff, mentoring men and women, and volunteers who work for the organization and provide services. The organization must continually train adults to spot child sexual abuse indicators and report what is happening to the leaders and law enforcement.

Big Brother Big Sister Child Sexual Abuse FAQs

Below are some frequently asked questions about childhood sex abuse perpetrated by institutions such as Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Of course, should you have additional questions, we welcome you to contact our sexual abuse lawyers for a free consultation.

What are Sexually Abusive Behavior Indicators?

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) [1], the indicators of sexual abuse involving the young include a wide array of activities and behavior that might involve:

  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Inappropriate sexual activities/playing or drawings
  • Unexplained eating habits changes, including difficulty swallowing, compulsive eating, and refusing to eat
  • Thumb-sucking or bedwetting in older tweens and teens
  • Unexplained sudden mood swings including withdrawal, insecurity, fear, or rage
  • Refusing to share secrets about a teen or adult
  • Unexplained fear of specific places or individual
  • Unexpected pregnancy
  • Urinary tract infections [2]
  • Lesions, itching, or rashes in the anal or genital area
  • New belongings, including gifts, toys, or cash, without reason
  • Depression Inappropriate age-related knowledge, language, or behaviors involving sex

For years, Big Brothers Big Sister board members have worked with violence prevention advocacy groups and local agencies to increase their protective factors to minimize the risk of children’s exposure to inappropriate sexual activity.

Their local advocacy groups monitor every staff member to address any serious problems immediately and alter their training programs to stop others from being sexually abused.

What are the 5 Signs of Abuse?

Doctors identify the five signs of abuse, mistreatment, or neglect to include:

  • Physical assault involving personally physically injuring another
  • Child abuse involves any sexual activities, including intercourse, sexual battery, genital-oral contact, fondling, rape, sodomy, inappropriate touching, or sharing of child pornography.
  • Emotional abuse involves berating, belittling, ignoring, isolating, rejecting, or any other emotional assault that harms the victim and affects their well-being or self-esteem.
  • Neglect of a child by failing to provide supervision, affection, shelter, food, liquids, or medical/dental care
  • Psychosocial abusive behavior where the young victim is manipulated, coerced, or controlled by others, and their belongings might be withheld or tracked by the psychosocial abuser.

What is the Most Difficult Kind of Abuse to Substantiate?

According to the American Psychology Association, verbal abuse is the most challenging type of assault to substantiate. Many victims are belittled, called names, labeled, or ridiculed by peers, mentors, adult volunteers, or others in charge.

Verbal assault does not hurt the victim with physical scars, injuries, or other evidence. However, verbally assaulting minors by a mentor, staff, or employee could be incredibly hurtful and cause lifelong psychosocial problems.

Some Big Brothers Big Sisters of America organization’s children are victims of psychological and emotional assault where they are humiliated, shamed, or punished without physical contact. In response, the victim might turn to delinquency, drug use, substance abuse, alcohol use, or other risky behaviors.

What are the Four Types of Child Maltreatment?

The Merck Manual [3] (professional version) identifies child maltreatment as behavior toward youth outside the boundaries of society’s conduct. Maltreatment usually involves behavior that places the victim at substantial risk of experiencing an emotional or physical injury.

The four leading types of maltreatment are identified as:

  • Physical assault
  • Sexual abuse
  • Psychological abuse (emotional abuse)
  • Neglect

Many forms of maltreatment involving the young include negligence or abusive behavior that results in physical injuries, mental problems, delayed development, or delayed growth.

What Does Child Protective Services (CPS) Consider Abuse?

According to the United States Department of HHS, Child Protective Services considers abuse and neglect as certain behaviors or omissions of behavior by anyone responsible for the child’s welfare, care, or custody.

Speak With a Big Brothers Big Sisters Sexual Abuse Lawyer Today

Public awareness has exposed the problems of child abuse involving participants in BBBSA. Many young minors who signed up for mentoring services were instead abused by mentors and volunteers providing their care.

It is often taken years for the victims of sexual misconduct to get past the betrayal of a Big Brother or Big Sister predator who hurt them and left them with psychological and emotional damages.

The childhood sexual abuse injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC have years of experience holding sexual predators accountable, and we can help you too. We will work on your behalf to seek financial compensation and expose the organization’s hypocrisy.

If you, or your loved one, are a child victim of sexual abuse during your participation in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program, contact us at (888) 424-5757. Let us provide legal advice on obtaining financial compensation to recover your damages.

We can file a claim on your behalf against Brothers Big Sisters and any mentor, volunteer, or employee that sexually abused you.

However, time is of the essence. All necessary information and documentation must be filed in the appropriate county courthouse before the statute of limitations expires.

Resources: [1] RAINN, [2] Mayo Clinic, [3] Merck Manual

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