Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sexual Abuse Reporting: a double standard?

Recently an article emerged of a famous Newfoundland hockey coach who has been charged with sexual assault of a boy. Many were shocked because he such a prominent figure in the community. Many have rightfully pointed out that although our justice system ensures that someone is considered innocent until proven guilty, the publication of his name has already led to disgrace.

There has been a vocal outcry from the public denouncing this practice and saying that if someone is innocent until proven guilty, their name should be withheld unless they are found guilty of an offense.

Strangely however, no such outcry was made when Catholic clergy were being accused left, right and center. In fact, the reaction was quite the contrary. People were quick to not only condemn all accused priests, but also those who were not accused. Popular opinion suggested that every single priest is a pedophile and none are innocent.

People's reaction to a priest accused of inappropriate sexual behavior was to lock him away and throw away the key or worse, and then to begin a diatribe about the evil Catholic Church. I read dozens of articles with reader responses and not once did anyone suggest hiding identities until charges were proven.

There have been accusations and arrests for pedophilia for all kinds of people, including teachers, coaches, scouts leaders, and yes, clergy. But have you ever heard a report of a teacher accused of sexual assault in another country? How about settlements between victims and school boards worth hundreds of millions of dollars? Never. The statistics however show that teachers are 4 times more likely to sexual abuse children than clergy.

To get an idea of the double standard, go to Google News and search for things like arrest pedophile, etc. You will find stories of people from all walks of life. There may be an odd priest here or there, but there are far more from other areas.

Clearly there is a major bias. A priest who commits sexual abuse in Germany is headline news, but 17 teachers who get arrested in a single country is not mentioned.

This is in no way excusing clergy sexual abuse. It must be stopped immediately and the Church is doing many things to eradicate this. But let's show some semblance of fairness. Let's end the double standards.


  1. Wow, I actually don't totally disagree with you for once. Everyone, regardless of occupation, should be treated as innocent until proven otherwise.

    In my opinion (I have no references or citations to back this up, just my own personal thoughts) one of the main reasons there is so much child raping going on in the catholic church is simply because what the priests are told to do is unnatural. They're told follow abstinence their whole lives. This goes against millions of years of evolution, which is something which can't be fought. Priests should be allow to marry, and I promise you the amount of child raping in the catholic church will quickly die down. When you're faced with never having sex, ever, little Jimmy alter boy might look mighty tempting. Also we don't hear about priests having sex with consenting adults, but I'm sure it happens all the time, maybe even more so than the raping of children. I'm not trying to be controversial in saying this, sorry if I come off this way. I would honestly like to hear your opinion on the above statements I've made.

    Also, would it be possible for you to provide a citation to your claim, which you've made several times in the past, of teachers are 4 times more likely to rape children than clergy. I've never heard this statistic referenced by anyone else, including people who share similar views as you do.

  2. Priests are no more likely to abuse children than other clergy, including those who can marry. Nor are they more likely to abuse children than other groups of people in society in general.

    In terms of being allowed to marry, almost all sexual assault cases (which are not all rape) involve the priest and a post-pubescent boy. Therefore this is both an issue of hebephilia (as opposed to pedophilia) and homosexual tendencies. Putting these men into marriages would not end their desire to have sex with young boys. Also, if you look at non-clergy statistics, you will find that a lot of pedophile men who targets boys are married with a family. Either that or they choose not to marry in the first place.

    If the ability to marry could solve the problem of sexual abuse of boys, then it should not exist in society in general and only exist in cases where celibacy is enforced, which is clearly not the case. Plus, it would be more logical that a priest would seek to have sex with women rather than boys.

    There has been an issue with homosexual behavior in the priesthood by certain individuals. Lately there has been a crackdown on this and the Pope has said that men with deep homosexual tendencies should not be permitted into the priesthood.

    I will look for the statistics on teacher sexual assault.