The Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA) is an organization that was founded to provide children with valuable skills taught through various after-school programs and activities. Throughout its existence, the BGCA has been supported by adult volunteers who donate their time and energy to ensure local children have a safe place to gather and learn together. The BGCA serves nearly 644 million children in California across the state’s 115 member clubs.
However, despite its mission and goals, the issue of sexual abuse in Boys and Girls Club settings has come to light in recent years. High-profile cases throughout the country have spurred increased awareness of the issue, and California is unfortunately included in these incidents. For victims, it’s essential to understand their legal options and where they can turn to for help.
California Boys and Girls Club Sexual Abuse Victims Can Trust Maison Law
At Maison Law, we understand how devastating the effects of sexual abuse can be. Our team of experienced and dedicated California sexual abuse lawyers will ensure you can hold your abuser and any organization that empowered them accountable for their actions. Not only that, but we’ll provide you with all the support you need throughout this difficult process. Don’t wait to get the help you need, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Scope of Sexual Abuse in California
The scope of California’s sexual abuse issue is, unfortunately, very broad. As the most populous state in the country, California has more people than anywhere else in the country, and as such, there is more opportunity for sexual abuse to occur. Another problem is that the stigma surrounding sexual abuse means that not all instances are reported. Thus, it’s difficult to understand how widespread the issue is in California precisely. At the same time, the state has devoted significant resources to tracking the issue.
Data from the California Child Welfare Indicators Project (CCWIP) found that there were over:
- 440,212 allegations of child mistreatment statewide in 2022
- 50,555 of those involving some form of sexual abuse
As this data underscores, sexual abuse can occur in many settings in which children are gathered, from schools to youth organizations like the BGCA.
For children who are victims of sexual abuse, it’s important to understand the long-term consequences that this abuse can have on them as they try to grow and move forward with their life.
Long-Term Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse in California
California is not immune to the issue of sexual abuse, nor is it unique when it comes to the long-term effects it can have on its victims. While the long-term effects of sexual abuse have been widely studied, how it can manifest in an individual is always different. Further, these effects can be more severe depending on the different factors and circumstances of the abuse. For most children, though, the end result of sexual abuse is devastating physical, emotional, and psychological effects that last well into their adulthood and some even for the rest of their lives. Some of the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse can include:
- Mental health problems – Victims of childhood sexual abuse are at increased risk of developing a range of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse disorders.
- Relationship difficulties – Childhood sexual abuse can impact a victim’s ability to form healthy relationships later in life, as it can affect their trust in others and their ability to feel safe and secure in intimate relationships.
- Sexual dysfunction – Childhood sexual abuse can also lead to sexual dysfunction in adulthood, including difficulty with sexual arousal, intimacy, and trust.
- Physical health problems – Victims of childhood sexual abuse may also experience physical health problems later in life, including chronic pain, autoimmune disorders, and other health conditions.
- Economic impact – In many cases, childhood sexual abuse can significantly impact victims and their families financially. These include medical expenses, lost wages, and the cost of therapy and other support services.
These effects are present for many victims of sexual abuse, including those that suffered abuse at one of California’s Boys and Girls Clubs. One common question that requires answering is how the abuse occurred.
How Does Sexual Abuse Happen at a California Boys and Girls Club?
Not only are the effects of sexual abuse common among those that were abused in California Boys and Girls Clubs, but many of the underlying causes of sexual abuse were also present in these facilities. In looking at these incidents, it shows how many of these causes led to the abuse:
- Lack of screening – A major issue that leads to sexual abuse in Boys and Girls Clubs is the lack of proper screening procedures in place for staff and volunteers. This allows access for those that may be at higher risk of committing sexual abuse. Further, inadequate background checks, lack of reference checks, and insufficient training can also contribute.
- Lack of supervision – An overall lack of supervision is another major cause of sexual abuse at a Boys and Girls Club. Inadequate ratios of staff to children, lack of monitoring of staff interactions with children, and insufficient monitoring of children’s activities greatly increase the risk of sexual abuse incidents.
- Failure to report – Clubs with improper reporting procedures in place may be at higher risk for sexual abuse. This could include failure to report incidents of abuse to law enforcement or child protective services or failure to provide adequate support and resources to victims of abuse.
- Abusers taking advantage of vulnerable children – Sexual abusers may target children who are vulnerable due to certain factors such as age, gender, or socioeconomic status. Most of these characteristics are common among those children that utilize the Boys and Girls Club program. Abusers frequently use their position of authority or trust within the Club to exploit these vulnerabilities and groom children for abuse.
It is important to note that sexual abuse can happen in any setting, and not all Boys and Girls Clubs experience incidents of abuse. However, clubs aware of the risk factors and taking appropriate steps to prevent and respond to abuse are more likely to create a safe and positive environment for children. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.
What Options Do Victims of Boys and Girls Club Sexual Abuse Have in California?
While it may not feel like it, victims of sexual abuse at a Boys and Girls Club have several options available for support. Taking advantage of these options can help heal some of the trauma and put the victim back on the path to recovery. These options are also widely available throughout California, and they include:
- Reporting the abuse to law enforcement – The first step in the recovery process often involves reporting the abuse to law enforcement, who can investigate the allegations and pursue criminal charges against the abuser.
- Reporting the abuse to the Boys and Girls Club – Victims can also report the abuse to the Boys and Girls Club, which has a duty to investigate any allegations of abuse within the Club. The Club may take disciplinary action against the abuser and hopefully implement changes to prevent similar incidents from occurring.
- Seeking counseling and professional support – A significant step for victims of Boys and Girls Club sexual abuse is seeking counseling and support from trained professionals who can help them process their experiences and cope with the emotional and psychological effects of the abuse.
While these options are all important for victims, the most practical option they have is to file a civil lawsuit against the BGCA and abuser. California law allows victims of sexual abuse extra time to file a lawsuit if the abuse occurred while they were a child. Under the law, victims have until they are 40 years of age or within 5 years of discovering the injuries or harm the abuse caused.
A civil lawsuit allows the victim to pursue compensation in the form of damages, including:
- Medical expenses
- Emotional distress
- Loss of income
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
- Punitive damages, if the Boys and Girls Club was found to have acted negligently or recklessly.
For victims, it’s extremely important to speak with our team of experienced California sexual abuse lawyers to get a better idea of their options and the best course of action. A lawsuit, especially one involving sexual abuse, is not an easy process. However, our team will be there to support you every step of the way.
Experienced California Sexual Abuse Lawyers Will Be There For You
At Maison Law, we take great pride in our approach to the incredibly sensitive issue of sexual abuse. Victims of this intolerable treatment often feel alone and isolated, all while having to deal with the very real consequences of the abuse. If you’ve been sexually abused at a California Boys and Girls Club, our team of experienced and dedicated California sexual abuse lawyers will be there with the legal support and guidance you need. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to get started.