The Catholic Church in the United States has taken extensive measures to prevent child abuse, and they are highly effective and require zero tolerance. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, “The church is likely the country’s safest environment for young people today ... There were six credible cases of abuse reported in 2009 which is remarkably low in a community of 68 million members.” By way of comparison, the New York Post reported, “At least one child is sexually abused by a school employee every day in a New York City school.” Virtually all cases of abuse connected to the church that are in the news involve cases that are 30, 40, 50 years old.
Sexual abuse of minors is a serious problem. A 2002 Department of Education report estimated that 6 percent to 10 percent of public school students would be victims of abuse before graduation. According to a John Jay College of Criminal Justice study in 2004. over the past half century 4 percent of U.S. clergy victimized minors. While even one case of abuse is tragic, this is lower than the abuse by school teachers at 5 percent, and a much greater percentage of abuse takes place within families.
The vast majority of teachers, coaches and clergy are honorable people trying to do valuable service and should be treated that way. The book “The Seven Big Myths About the Catholic Church” says cases of clergy sexual abuse were relatively rare in the 1950s and again became rare in the 1980s and ’90s. The 1960s and ’70s were a time of widespread rejection of traditional sexual ethics fostered by the libertine spirit of the time. Currently, rare clerical misconduct has been turned into an unjustifiable outbreak of religious bigotry against the Catholic Church.
Stanley W. Stec
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