Skip to content

Teacher abuse crisis

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

If he were a priest, television, magazine and newspaper stories would be quick to connect the dots between the JonBenet Ramsey murder suspect and the clergy-abuse scandal. So why is no one connecting the dots between the man who claims he abused the 6-year-old girl and the abuse scandal in our nation's public schools?

Teacher molestation is far more common than clergy abuse. Between 6 percent and 10 percent of public school children across the country have been sexually abused or harassed by school employees and teachers.

That's what a draft report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, in compliance with President Bush's 2002 "No Child Left Behind" act found. Charol Shakeshaft is the Hofstra University scholar who prepared the federal report. She spoke about it to Education Week when it was released. "So, we think the Catholic Church has a problem?" she said. "The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests."

The report estimated that 422,000 California public-school students would be victims of sexual misconduct by educators before graduation - a number dwarfing the state's entire Catholic school enrollment of 143,000.

Not only does the church get disproportionate blame for its smaller problem, it gets very little credit for its uniquely strict response.

The church has cracked down on abuse with strict institutional policies and, in addition to compensating victims, has paid out huge sums of money to alleged victims and their lawyers.

There has been no comprehensive internal review of the schools like there has been of priests, reported Jon Dougherty in the 2004 NewsMax.com story that quoted Stein and Shakeshaft. Most of the data on school abuse has been generated as a byproduct of sexual harassment studies. There is no single agency tracking teacher molestation incidents.

"None of these studies - either singly or as a group - answer all of the reasonable questions that parents, students, educators and the public ask about educator sexual misconduct," said Shakeshaft. "And [the studies] certainly do not provide information at a level of reliability and validity appropriate to the gravity of these offenses."

Wrote Dougherty: "What is also different about the school cases is the level of secondary media coverage it has - or, in this case, hasn't - received." While the media coverage of clergy abuse was nearly "wall-to-wall," he found just four news stories that mentioned the author of the federal report about the public-school problem.

Since so little attention has been paid to non-Catholic sex abuse scandals, it's important to review what we know and what we don't know about them.

The church had no pedophilia scandal. Though it has become media boilerplate to refer to a "pedophile priest scandal," the reality is quite different. When the John Jay College of Criminal Justice thoroughly researched clergy sex abuse for the U.S. bishops, it found not a pedophilia crisis but what Dr. Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, described as "homosexual predation on American Catholic youth." McHugh called that information a "bombshell" and said, "I'm astonished that people throughout America are not talking about it, thinking about it and wondering about what the mechanisms were that set this alight."

Permissiveness, not rules, leads to abuse. Another common misconception that arose out of the saturation coverage of clergy abuse is that rules about sexuality somehow lead to sexual disorders. But the opposite is more likely the case: The church may have experienced a fraction of the sex-abuse allegations than public schools do because Catholic teaching is clear that sex with children is always abuse and is always wrong. That moral clarity is increasingly rare in the secular world.

For example, the April 17, 2002, issue of USA Today questioned whether molesting children is wrong at all. The article's title was "Sex between Adults and Children" (itself a euphemism for child abuse). Under the headline, the paper featured a ballot-like box suggesting possible opinions one might hold on the subject: "Always harmful, usually harmful, sometimes harmful, rarely harmful." The newspaper's own answer: "Child's age and maturity make for gray areas."

Michael Tracey is the University of Colorado professor whose e-mails led authorities to seek John Karr in Thailand in connection with JonBenet's murder. Tracey told the National Catholic Register, "Her death, and the whole circus surrounding it even 10 years later, has everything to do with the culture's desire to sexualize children."

It was good that the media vigorously pursued the Catholic Church's sexual abuse problem. Now, we need to find the courage to root out sexual abuse elsewhere.

We owe it to our children to protect them.

Contact

National Catholic Register
http://www.ncregister.com ,
- ,

Email

Keywords

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,717

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.