SANDWICH (CBS) – The family that runs a camp on Cape Cod has reached out to Senator Scott Brown to tell him how sad they feel about what has happened.
Brown says he was sexually abused by a camp counselor on the Cape when he was 10. He has not named the camp, but the Director of Camp Good News in Sandwich, Jane Brooks, has confirmed that Brown was a camper there was he was ten years old.
Brown released a statement late Friday night:
“I wish I had said something 40 years ago when these events occurred, but I was scared and embarrassed. I want to be clear that the reason I write about these incidents in my book is not to settle any scores, but to let people know they can overcome the obstacles and hardships they face in life. If by opening up about what happened to me I’ve given others the courage to talk about their own abuse, or just comforted someone who felt alone, then I feel I’ve accomplished something important.” – U.S. Senator Scott Brown
Brooks said as soon as she heard Brown disclose the abuse, she and her family called him and sent him a letter. Brooks says, “It’s just made us sad.”
WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson reports.
We asked the camp directors whether they planned to try to find the counselor. Dr. Stephen Brooks, Jane’s brother, says they will defer to Senator Brown. Brooks say they are eager to help if he wishes to do that, and if he wants to let it rest, they will support him as well.
Brooks says much has changed since years ago. “Right now it’s a lot easier to collect data on counselors, so we do the (background checks) and so many things to screen our counselors, interviews, references, we even have other counselors interview the counselors if they’re not close by.”
Brooks believes Brown could also help camps strengthen laws. Brooks said, “The American Camping Association probably would like to work with Senator Brown to even improve people’s access to criminal records. This might be a positive thing. I think that’s what the Senator wants and we hope for the same.”
The Brooks family has also written a letter to parents of current campers:
You may have heard in the past few days about Senator Scott Brown’s new book, in which he describes his experience of sexual abuse at a camp on Cape Cod when he was 10 years old. Since there will be much said in the media associated with the Senator’s disclosure, we wanted to approach our parent community with clarity and transparency. Our camp is committed to the physical and emotional safety of our campers, past, present and future. His book is a poignant reminder of the serious harm that can befall children at the hands of trusted adults. Please pray with us for Senator Brown and his family.
Forty years ago when Senator Brown was a camper, there was far less awareness and greater stigmatization around abuse, which kept many children suffering silently into their adulthoods. Sharing personal experience is more common and accepted now. These public disclosures can serve as an important reminder to all of us that child abuse is real and needs to be seriously addressed by any agency taking care of children.
We want to assure you that we take very deliberate steps toward reducing the risk of sexual and physical abuse at Camp Good News. These include:
1. Intensive pre-camp staff training in positive behavior management and conflict resolution.
2. Specific training, led by a psychologist and physician, about the signs of physical and sexual abuse and how to maintain appropriate boundaries with campers.
3. Criminal and sexual background checks on ALL volunteer and paid staff.
4. Ongoing training and close supervision of staff by head counselors and camp directors throughout the summer.
5. Zero-tolerance policy for staff misconduct including substance use, inappropriate boundaries, and inappropriate use of discipline.
6. Zero-tolerance policy for campers who bully, belittle or manipulate peers.
7. Smaller camper to counselor ratios for close supervision.
8. Counselors are not allowed to be alone with just one camper at any time.
9. We take camper disclosures of possible abuse very seriously and follow up immediately with parents and legal authorities if appropriate.
10. We comply with all child safety standards recommended by our accrediting organization, the American Camp Association (www. ACAcamps.org)
While we continue to improve and enhance our efforts to provide kids a safe environment, we need your help. Please partner with us and discuss safety with your kids. We recommend:
1. Make sure your child has been educated in appropriate boundaries and “safe touch.” Such curriculums are usually taught in schools, but can be taught at home. Remind your child of personal safety skills before camp.
2. Get to know your child’s counselor and let them know about your child’s interests and special needs. Talk with the senior staff about any concerns you may have.
3. Encourage your child to let you know if anything has made them feel uncomfortable in any way. Notify the camp director if you receive a phone call, email or letter from your child that concerns you. If your child is a day camper, report any unusual behavior in the evening to the camp director immediately.
4. Call the camp director any time you have concerns while your child is at camp.
Camp Good News has been bringing state of the art camping in a Christian atmosphere for over 75 years. Despite this unfortunate circumstance, we will continue to provide life-changing summer experiences, with ever-more increasing vigilance and awareness about child safety issues.
Please do not hesitate to call us with any questions or concerns.
The 60 Minutes interview with Scott Brown will air Sunday at 7 p.m. on WBZ-TV and WBZ NewsRadio 1030.