On the Catholic Church & the Societal-Wide Issue of Child Abuse

The outrage towards child abuse is understandable and just, because abuse is simply an evil act and a betrayal of trust. There is no way that these acts should be condoned, and this post is the opposite of being a defense of any abusive actions, physical, sexual, verbal. What this post is going to talk about though, is one thing I can’t stand. It’s the immediate reaction of “the majority of priests are pedophiles” and the reflexive statements about sexual and physical abuse, as if those are the norm. Especially when the crimes that some priests committed are being committed by others in positions of authority and trust, yet they receive little to no media attention.

It takes very, very minimal research to show that educator abuse is running rampant. In 2006, a landmark study from Charol Shakeshaft showed that the abuse that happened in public schools is 100 times that of the abuse that happens in the Catholic Church.

This goes back to the mid-80’s, where teachers would abuse children and it would get swept under the rug. They would continue teaching and abusing. In some cases, they would abuse their own kids, with people lining up to defend them. “He’s a good guy”, they would say. “You’re imagining things”, they said. ‘He would never hurt anyone!” And so he continued to teach in high schools, until he finally messes up enough and gets caught.

Why did he not get caught? Protection from friends, protection from his peers. Small town, so he couldn’t exactly go anywhere else. In a larger area with more resources though? Well, we have articles that tell us something very telling. Does it look familiar? Why yes, it has all of the same talking points people levy against the Catholic Church, without the mass hysteria, that there looks like a systematic coverup of abuse being performed by early educators.

Yet how many people have seen this NY Times article? How many people have actually paid attention to the studies that have been put forward about educators abusing children? Why is it that no one has paid attention to that we’re seeing more and more people come forward about abuse from childhood sports coaches? This report showcases how widespread the problem is. Check out those numbers. Yet no one does a damn thing about it, except point towards the Church. Why is it that people have no put it together that between educators and coaches, maybe this is a society-wide problem that needs to be addressed?

You know who is addressing it though? The Catholic Church! Due to all of the media attention provided, a Catholic church is actually the safest place for kids to be now. The amount of background checks required to do any form of work with children is extensive. If you so much as breathe the wrong way, the media will be right there to report it, regardless of innocence and guilt (which is a different matter – my Uncle was falsely accused, and now has to deal with the ramifications of those false accusations). Furthermore, we can look at the timeframes – the majority of the abuse cases happened decades ago. Since then, there has been several changes to safeguard children from the evils of abuse. I would be interested to see the numbers post-2006. Have schools done the same? I don’t know, no one is reporting anything about it.

So, in my opinion, there is a scandal. The true scandal is that there is a societal-wide problem, and no one does anything about it except point towards one group. A group who has made the most efforts to create a structure where children are safe. A group who may be targeted due to their beliefs, which I may add could mean people are being prejudiced and bigoted towards Catholicism because they are ignoring abuse that happens elsewhere.

To end with a disclaimer; I am an abuse survivor. An early educator abused me. He eventually received justice for another crime, but never received justice for what he did to me. And he never will, thanks to our legal system. I’ve accepted this, I’ve forgiven him. But what bothers me is with all of this attention towards abuse within the church, no attention is given to schools, sports teams, and even within the home.

So please, continue the outrage. Just promise me you’ll direct it to the societal-wide issue, and not stick with only one group simply because you don’t like their beliefs.

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