Magazine article The New American

Child Abuse: Not Just a Catholic Problem: The Catholic Church Gets the Spotlight, but Child Sexual Abuse Is Rife in Many Religious and Secular Organizations

Magazine article The New American

Child Abuse: Not Just a Catholic Problem: The Catholic Church Gets the Spotlight, but Child Sexual Abuse Is Rife in Many Religious and Secular Organizations

Article excerpt

"Protestants can be very arrogant when pointing to Catholics," A opined Liberty University law professor Basyle Tchividjian. "I think we are worse." During a Religion Newswriters Association conference in Austin, Texas he called the Christian mission field a "magnet" for sex abusers. Tchividjian is the grandson of late Southern Baptist minister Billy Graham and founder of the non-profit GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). As chief prosecutor for Florida's Sexual Crimes Division and attorney for the Child Advocacy Center in Daytona Beach, he discovered that abuse is prevalent in Protestant evangelical circles. Just as some Catholic bishops reassign accused priests to new parishes, Protestant abusers jump from one church or agency to another, leaving a path of victims.

The problem is even worse in public schools. A U.S. Department of Education researcher estimated in 2004 that "physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests."

Media's double standard is glaring. Dave Pierre of NewsBusters.org told Catholic World Report he began to notice an alarming trend in the Los Angeles Times. "The Times was often giving front-page coverage to stories about Catholic priests alleged to have committed abuse decades ago. Meanwhile, arrests of public school teachers for abuse happening today were often not reported or buried in the 'news briefs' section."

Further research resulted in Pierre's 2011 book, Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church. It details widespread media bias and asserts that with its current screening procedures and protocols, the church is a much safer environment for children than schools and other religious organizations.

If that sounds implausible, consider statistics from SESAME (Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct & Exploitation), which reports that "one in ten K-12 students is a victim of educator sexual misconduct." One child molester can have between 70 and 400 victims in his or her lifetime, according to various child advocacy groups.

The problem isn't new. A 1998 Education Week article reported, "It is no secret in education circles that these itinerant abusers, often called 'mobile molesters,' are abetted by school officials who let them quietly slip away when allegations arise. …

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