Monday, February 13, 2006

Sexual abuse in the Church, public schools and around the world.

First off, this is an unusual post for me. I usually stay away from the sexual abuse issue, because so many people cover it. I just never felt that I had anything to add.

However I was reading this article:

Denver Archdiocese uncovers sexual abuse bias for public school teachers (link)

Let me be clear: The point of what follows is not to exonerate the actions of members of my church who have committed the most evil and destructive acts. Priests who are guilty of such acts are not fit to be called priests or Christians. In a very real way they have a fundamental disconnect with what it is to be a decent human being.

My aim is to draw attention to the fact that this issue is much larger than the press shows. It is not my attention to draw attention away for the Church, but to draw attention to the fact that this is a pandemic problem. The media focus that is solely on the Church trivializes the impact and draws attention and solutions away from the equal and greater numbers of abuse in other areas of society.

The Public Schools and Why We Now Have Data

The No Child Left Behind Act is the first legislation that requires schools to report on sexual abuse. No matter what opinions people have about President Bush or No Child Left Behind, this fact alone supports the act. From these reports several facts have been discovered.

6-10% of American school children have been sexually abused and harassed. 290, 000 students have experienced some form of sexual abuse from1991-2000. The extrapolation of data makes it likely that the number of cases in American public schools is 100 times the number of abuses by priests in a ten year period. (Link)

In 2004 the United States Department of Education released a report suggesting that 4.5 million students may be victims of educator sexual misconduct during their school years.
(link to the document in PDF form )

For information of the breakdown across schools and other religious bodies:



There can be no argument that the sexual abuse of children is a worldwide problem. The best way to get information on that would be:

UNICEF Site (link) Just use the search bar, there are too many articles and studies connected to the site to even choose things to link to.

The Ultimate Point of The Issue

The point is that this disgusting sexual abuse of children in all of its' forms is a global issue. For the American media to focus on the sexual abuse performed by priests, to the exclusion of the larger issue is criminal.

Priests who abuse children should be defrocked and punished. The media should not relax vigilance in that area. But they should focus on the wider problem. If the perception continues that this is only a problem in the Church, then it can not be solved.

If it exists as an issue that is used to generalize all Catholic priests and provide fodder for anti-Catholic sentiment, then it is not even fixing the problem in the Church. People are sometimes happier that this issue reflects badly on the Church instead of being horrified by the global and usually secular nature of the problem.

Children are being preyed upon the world over by those they trust; In the Churches (not just Catholic), the classrooms and their own homes.

This is indeed an issue that affects one group: Humanity.

1 comment:

Bent El Neel said...

Good on u David for bringing this up. These incidents are appaling and horrifying, but they aren't characteristic of Catholic priests. It seems issues are sensationalised when they touch the Catholic church for some reason. I used to think this was the case only in the Mid East, but was shocked to see it happens here too.

We pray for all the children who have endured this violation, may Jesus Christ bring them comfort and peace. May He also protect all children from this evil.