Anyone who seeks to defend the Catholic Church about the priestly scandal is often verbally clobbered by those outside and inside the Catholic Church. "It is indefensible" they cry. And of course I do understand, it is indefensible. But I come from a very different perspective on this.
When I point out that this is a sexual abuse coverup in all churches, I am told that I am just making excuses for Catholics! NO! NO indeed. I do not point to the abuse in other churches to soften the Catholic Church's culpability. I am just wanting to cry out that there is a monumental problem still out there that needs to be addressed and if we confine the problem to the Catholic Church, we have abandon the majority of victims. There are millions of children who suffer psychological problems their entire lives because of childhood sexual abuse who continue to need a voice.
Don't let the problem be "solved" with the Catholic church reform! Please God, don't! Because that is only the tip of the iceberg.
Most of my life, as a Seventh-day Adventist, I was aware of the huge problem within Adventism of sexual abuse. It was rampant and tragic. Half of all the kids I knew had been sexually molested by a SDA parent or family member or SDA leader of some kind--a teacher, pastor or Sabbath school leader. It is actually quite well-known within Adventist circles and no one really wants to discuss it.
While an Adventist, I tried to expose the problem. Adventist sociologists at several universities were well aware that the occurrence of incest and child sexual abuse is far higher in the SDA church than anywhere else, but no one ever wanted to address the problem in any other way than just shaking their head in shame.
Finally there is stirrings of this at the GC and good for them. And I am certain the exposé of the Catholic Church sent a thunderbolt of warning to all other Christians. Get your own house clean!
We absolutely need to keep pounding on the fact that this isn't a Catholic problem, not to take up for Catholics but so that we can shine the light of truth so that other churches can start healing the victims.
The Feb. 2004 Sexual Abuse in Social Context: Catholic Clergy and Other Professionals states the following:
"The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Systems was developed by the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Human Services in partnership with the States to collect annual statistics on child maltreatment from State child protective services agencies. For the year 2001, it was found that approximately 903,000 children were victims of child maltreatment, 10 percent of whom (or 90,000) were sexually abused. It also found that 59 percent of the perpetrators of child abuse or neglect were women and 41 percent were men."
The studies reported the following statistics.
28% family friends
25% teachers molesting girls
18% male relatives: cousins, uncles outside immediate family
16% other children
15% teachers molesting boys
10% male siblings
10% biological fathers
9% mother's boyfriends
7% grandfathers and step-grandfathers
Sexual Abuse of Minors according to Profession
82.2% of HS gradate girls report sexual harassment by faculty, teacher or principal during their years in school.
17. 7% of HS graduate boys report sexual harassment by faculty, teacher or principal during their years in school
3-12% of psychologists have had sexual contact with patients (stats on child molestation not available.)
2-3% Protestant Clergy (Philip Jenkins, Pedophiles and Priests (New York: Oxford University Press), pp. 50 and 81.)
2% athletic coaches have a criminal record of sexual offenses in children
1-1.8 % of Catholic priests have had charges of sexual abuse made against them. Almost all those accused admit they are homosexual. And 90% of all charges are with adolescent teenager boys, not small children.
1-2% Jewish clergy seems to be at the same rate as the Catholic priests. (Rabbi Arthur Gross Schaefer, “Rabbi Sexual Misconduct: Crying Out for a Communal Response,” www.rrc.edu/journal, November 24, 2003.) See www.theawarenesscenter.org/clergyabuse.
The problem is that when we are searching out victims of sexual abused as minors, we need to be smart. It is usually going to be a family member or friend, the next is a teacher. Only a very small fraction of abusers are clergy of any kind. Parents need to keep a careful eye on their children and for goodness sake ask them about their day. Ask them if anyone made them feel uncomfortable. Ask them if anyone touched them inappropriately. Open up that means of communication so that a child will feel comfortable telling you. It is hard for children to tell when they have been molested, they are frightened.
This is a huge problem today. Our kids are being taken advantage of and its time that we expose the problem in all professions--teachers, counselors, clergy.... and even family and friends. This isn't a just Catholic problem.