I have zero tolerance where child abuse, in any form, is concerned. As a father it makes my blood boil. So let me state clearly; I deplore sexual abuse and have no desire to make apology for offenders or protectors. Where crimes were/are committed the judicial system must be used for it is shameful when the issue is not dealt with appropriately by institutions and individuals.
It is well documented, and profoundly sad, that the church has historically failed in this regard. Many crimes reported today, and an obvious failure to deal with them effectively, stem from the 1960s- 1980’s- in the wake of a sexual revolution but before modern safe-guarding practices were put in place. A time, to be fair, when most institutions chose to look the other way or trust in woefully ineffective therapy to deal with the problem. We might consider how the BBC handled its staff including Jimmy Saville. Or how politicians, including Harriet Harman, lobbied for pedophile groups.
Statistics suggest the problem was societal and not linked to just one institution; the church. Secular care homes had/have no better record than religious ones. Teachers tend to abuse at a higher rate than clergy and indeed all professions with access to children are targetted. And whilst hollywood may delight in tales of wicked nuns running evil Irish laundries, survivors state that whilst they were bleak places indeed- so were all work houses and similar institutions of that day. And today the most likely person to abuse a child is not a cleric but a family member or trusted friend. Yet still the church tends to be singled out for demonisation. Why is this? Why does the church get more heat for abuse from the media than celebrities like Roman Polanski?
It makes for a conundrum. How to speak out about press impartiality without minimising, in any way, the suffering of victims? What to do when there is truth in what is reported -and yet the reporting is being done, not to help victims, but for the delight of giving the church a good kicking? To explain let us examine the very different way in which the BBC reports on the grim issue of child abuse when the church is involved and when it is not. The difference in tone being so seismic as to be revelatory.
The first, ‘bodies of children found in mass grave’ was presented with an eerie photograph and strong language evoking terrible foul play. Yet scrutinise the text and it transpires the remains ‘discovered’ were in a cemetery??! What else did they expect? And that the remains were ‘of children’ is hardly shocking when you discover said cemetery is a plot attached to an orphanage. So what, exactly, is being alleged beyond vague suspicions of something sinister lurking in the past? There seems to be a paucity of hard facts at play but plenty of vague allegation.
Apparently the allegation is valid because records are hazy as to who is buried here. But that, in itself, is hardly evidence of abuse given that all other burial sites of this era would be much the same. This was a time when cholera and disease meant infant mortality was high. An era when record keeping and care of children, especially very poor children, was woefully inadequate. We all know that such children were being stuffed up chimneys, broken in manual labour, flogged and so forth. So if there is specific abuse to be answered for- why isn’t it cited? The story- in its present form- looks more like a hatchet job to continue a favoured narrative (Catholic bad- modern libertarianism good) rather than anything substantial.
Now compare the tone of that first article with a tweet from Victoria Derbyshire- or with this older article. Once the church is removed from the equation, and the issue placed into the smorgasbord of modern PC agenda, the tone changes significantly. Out goes horror style black and white photos- in comes reasoned presentation. We are encouraged to sympathise with those who prey on the young and objectify them for their twisted gratification. There is no hint of evil at play here (grrr – more is the pity) now it is a health issue in need of medication. So- chillingly- we are told, as in the bad days, that ‘therapy’ is the answer! What a seismic shift in tone and how it speaks volumes.
To conclude then: I find it outrageous that wicked people harm children. I dislike any attempt to downplay the sin involved in such situations. That some hide behind dog collars and habits to access their victims is also heart breaking. And I weep that many children have found/find care homes totally bereft of love and care and places in which sinister characters are lurking. Oh how little ones suffer when the family breaks down! Fathers we have a duty to protect our little ones.
But I also find it sickening that voices within the media would use such stuff to pursue ideological agenda. It suggests they dont care for the victims at all – only their own favoured narrative. So be careful what you believe in a relativistic and pluralistic post-modern society that no longer even believes in truth. I fear the media manipulates our thinking, attitudes and beliefs far more than many realise.