We’ve all heard the story. Hundreds of young sexual-abuse victims long afraid to come forward for fear of embarrassment and scorn, abusers escaping prosecution and quietly moving to different jurisdictions, authorities covering up the crimes to avoid scandal and litigation. It’s a saga of grave, grave sin.
Of course, you would assume I’m talking about the Catholic Church sexual-abuse scandal.
And you would be wrong.
I’m describing the situation in America’s schools, something that, although mirroring the problems dogging the Church, is strangely ignored.
Let’s examine the similarities using statistics from the United States. According to the John Jay Report, 10,667 people made allegations of child sexual abuse (not all were substantiated) committed by priests between 1950 and 2002; according to an AP investigation, at least 1,801 educators committed sexual misconduct involving minors between 2001 and 2005. So the per annum tally is:
Number of people making allegations against priests — 205
Criminal educators — 360
Now, since it’s logical to assume that numerous individuals made accusations against the same priests, the number of clerical transgressors is no doubt less than 205. Yet, even if we use the 205 figure, the number of offenders appears to be approximately 76 percent greater among educators. But that doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story.
While it’s obvious that a certain percentage of cases must have gone unreported in both education and the Church, the latter has been subjected to intense media scrutiny while the former has remained off the radar screen. Thus, it’s reasonable to assume that the percentage is higher in education. As to this, the AP tells us about a Congress-mandated study placing the number of students sexually abused by an education worker at some point between kindergarten and 12th grade at 4.5 million. Furthermore, the AP found that most of this sexual abuse is never reported and that even when it does come to light, often no action is taken.
Of course, the other side of the coin is that the number of teachers nationwide is greater than that of priests, so a raw-numbers analysis may be deceptive. So let’s examine the rate. Wapedia reports the following: “A Perspective on Clergy Sexual Abuse by Dr. Thomas Plante of Stanford University and Santa Clara University states that ‘available research suggests that approximately 2 to 5% of priests have had a sexual experience with a minor’ which ‘is lower than the general adult male population that is best estimated to be closer to 8%.’”
Now let’s look within the numbers, at the nature of the abuse and abusers. While we hear a lot of media reports about sultry female teachers seducing young teenage boys, the reality is that almost 9 out of 10 school offenders are male. It’s also true that in the cases of both the Church and the schools the abuse is, by definition, not pedophilia, as the abused were mainly adolescents, not pre-pubescent children.
Here critics may point out that there is a difference: The abuse among priests is mainly homosexual in nature. This is true, but I can’t imagine it would bother the secular left very much. After all, this is the set that for years has maintained that there is a moral equivalence between heterosexual and homosexual behavior and that saying otherwise is bigotry. Unless they’re now changing their tune . . . .
Another similarity is the cover-up by school officials, who, as stated earlier, were motivated by the same priorities as the most remiss bishop: a desire to avoid embarrassment, scandal and punitive court judgments. As an example, the AP presents the story of Gary Lindsey, an Iowa teacher who was fired from his first job for sexual misconduct but then allowed to work elsewhere for about 30 more years. During these decades he transgressed against other students, dodging the hangman every time with the complicity of school administration. And his is no isolated case. In fact, the practice of transferring sexual predators is so common it has become known as “passing the trash” and the abusers have been dubbed “mobile molesters.”
Despite this, we currently have trash being passed daily — it’s called media reportage. Why don’t we hear stories about people who believe the schools should be defunded or that parents should stop sending their children to them (similar things are said about the Church)? Why has the Vatican been placed in the unenviable position of having to defend itself with the “Look, others have the same problems” argument? Why does Rome have to take up the cudgels for itself and point out that its woes just reflect the wider society? It’s because the media aren’t doing their job.
That is, what their job should be. What some within the mainstream media see it as being — attacking traditionalist institutions — they’re doing very well.
The Church receives such disproportionate scrutiny for the same reason why the media will happily smear Pope Pius XII as a Nazi sympathizer when he was possibly WWII’s greatest hero and why they paint the Crusades as imperialistic wars when they were but a defense against Muslim aggression: the media views the Church as an enemy. They despise its teachings on abortion, the all-male priesthood, and, in particular, sexuality. You see, if the schools taught such things, they too would surely be in the crosshairs. But their embrace of all the left’s favorite isms grants them great immunity.
Now, this might be where I’m supposed to issue the obligatory statement about how we’re all appalled by the sex crimes in question.
But it’s not really true.
And what comes to mind is late Massachusetts congressman Gerry Studds. In 1983 it was revealed that he had had sexual relations with a 17-year-old male page, which, as ephebophilia (attraction to older adolescents), is precisely that of which many transgressing priests are guilty. And what was his punishment?
The liberals in his district re-elected him six more times until his retirement in 1996.
By the way, some may point out that Studds’ behavior was legal, as the age of consent in Washington, D.C., was 16. Of these people I would ask: Are you equally charitable with priests who had “legal” relationships with teenage boys?
Then there is serial sex criminal Alfred Kinsey, the bug researcher-cum-human sexuality “expert” who ran a pedophile ring disguised as a research team. If you read the piece I wrote about him (trust me, this one is worth the time), you’ll find that his research included things such as encouraging pedophiles to continue committing crimes so that he could collect more “data.” Yet there has never been a hue and cry for a pound of flesh from the Kinsey Institute; the University of Indiana in Bloomington, where the deviant plied his trade; or Paul Gebhard, a still-living Kinsey co-author and partner in crime. On the contrary, the left not only defends Kinsey, it even lauded him in a whitewashed 2004 film.
So do the Church’s critics really care about sexual abuse? Some do, for sure. But there’s no doubt that many of those using the issue to attack the Church do not. And “using” is the key word. If they truly cared about sexual abuse of youth, they would take pains to emphasize that it isn’t limited to the priesthood. Oh, I’m not saying they would necessarily do this to defend the Church; they would do it to truly expose the problem. Instead, they’re simply interested in exposing the Church — to ridicule — and to this end use these abuse victims as a convenient vehicle through which to attack a hated adversary. This is typical of the left, which makes a practice of using people as human shields, props and political hammers.
Of course, crimes against innocence are abhorrent, and those committing them should be rooted out wherever and whoever they may be. Likewise, those who knowingly and negligently facilitate their abuse must be punished harshly, and the incompetent should lose their positions. But this just states the obvious. If we really want to move toward a more sexually sane society — get at the root causes, as it were — we must delve more deeply.
We can argue about facts and figures. We can debate whether sexual trespass is worse in schools or in churches, and many will, no doubt, try to make the case that the secular world is a safer place. But of this there is no doubt: The social phenomena making us a more libertine and morally unmoored civilization are the handiwork of the left.
It was not the Church that sexualized society with Kinseyesque sex miseducation and prurient messages everywhere, in movies, shows, music and on the Internet. That was leftist academia, Hollywood and their brothers in porn. It was not the Church that expanded the First Amendment to include protection of obscene imagery. That was leftist judges. It was not the Church that spread moral relativism and its corollary, “If it feels good, do it,” an idea that can find pedophilia no worse than peanut butter. That was leftist philosophers and the millions who wanted freedom to sin. It was not the Church that, reducing man to mere beast, found a basis for his behavior in the animal kingdom. That was leftist anthropologists and their acolytes. And it was not the Church that first subordinated punishment to “rehabilitation” and subscribed to slap-on-the-wrist pseudo-justice. That was leftist psychology. Of course, insofar as the Church has allowed itself to become infected with the spirit of the age, it is culpable. But know that it is the infected, not the infection.
As for the cure, the Church has done much in recent times to root out sexual abuse — far more than the schools. Even closer to the point, its teachings provide necessary guide rails for man’s sexuality. Yet critics call this age-old wisdom “antiquated.” The left obviously prefers to take its lead from the Kinsey Distorts, Hugh Hefner and Hollywood. But if the pleasure principle is going to be our master, we shouldn’t wonder why we’re taking our children on a field trip through Caligula’s court.
The Moral Liberal Associate Editor, Selwyn Duke, is a columnist, public speaker and Internet entrepreneur whose work has been published widely. He has been featured on the Rush Limbaugh Show, is a regular guest on The Michael Savage Show, and has a regular column in both the Christian Music Perspective Magazine and The New American magazine.
This article first appeared in the American Thinker.