Friday, April 23, 2010

Getting it wrong (again) on sex abuse in the Catholic Church

John Haas the American Spectator has an excellent response to Peggy Noonan who has now chimed in with all the other uninformed voices that are simply ignoring the Catholic Church's actions in recent years to respond to problems of sex abuse by priests--and asking why, while everyone is piling on the Catholic Church, so little is being said or done about sex abuse and harassment in places like public schools:
Peggy has apparently not noticed that tremendous reform has occurred. In fact, more reform has taken place in the Catholic Church than in any other social institution in which the abuse of minors has occurred. In 2002 the U. S. Bishops approved a Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. They hired the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to conduct an independent investigation of the problem. They established a National Review Board chaired by a woman (Peggy called for a woman's touch), Justice Anne M. Burke. The National Review Board monitors the policies of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the bishops and oversees its annual audit. Five of its current 13 members have that "woman's touch." One of the original members of the Review Board was a media representative, William Burleigh, at the time head of the Scripps news agency. This was surely expressive of a desire on the part of the bishops for transparency.

The chairman of the research committee of the original National Review Board, Robert Bennett, said when the report was issued that the sexual abuse of minors was a broad social problem and that a focus merely on the Catholic Church would be a disservice to our children. Regrettably, however, that is exactly what has happened.

There will be media reports of sexual abuse by school teachers, Scout leaders, swimming coaches, and others, but they are fleeting. In March a judge ordered the Boy Scouts to release over 1,200 "perversion files" with Scout leaders who had molested boys. In early April a headline shouted, "Sex Abuse Pervasive in USA Swimming," with reports of molesters going unchallenged for decades as they moved from state to state. In 2002 Dr. Charol Shakeshaft of Hofstra University prepared a report for the U.S. Department of Education that found that 6 to 10 percent of high school students across the country have been sexually abused or harassed. "The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests," she declared. However, such reports will surface for a day and then quickly recede from public consciousness.

Read more here.

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