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Abuse and the Clergy
of child sexual abuse in houses of worship throughout our
nation has become an alarmingly frequent occurrence. The
high-profile cases that are surfacing almost daily serve
as a wake-up call to everyone in America to protect
Child abuse isn't just in our churches and it isn't just
happening in Boston or New York
it's happening all
over the country. What is happening among priests and the
Catholic Church are not isolated events. A small, yet growing
group of religious leaders are abusing their roles all over
America. It crosses faiths and denominations ... from an
Episcopal priest in Illinois who was accused of molesting
two boys at a boarding school in western Maryland more than
a decade ago, to a prominent rabbi in New Jersey who was
ordered to stand trial on charges of sexual misconduct with
two teen-age girls, to a Baptist minister in South Carolina
who videotaped himself molesting children, and pleaded guilty
to sexually abusing nearly two dozen youngsters, to Houston
where a Hindu priest was sentenced to two years in prison
for raping a young parishioner. Although the vast majority
of clergy are not child abusers, the stories - many dating
back decades - continue to unfold throughout our nation,
and throughout the world.
Children are taught to respect and honor parental authority
figures such as clergy and not to question their actions.
Religious communities are trusted to protect their most
vulnerable members, yet there is complete and utter silence
when it comes to the sexual abuse of children. It's swept
under the rug. So most abusers remain undetected and free
to continue their abuse of power and violation of professional
To believe it can't happen to us and our children - that
no one we know would ever abuse our kids, and certainly
not someone entrusted with their care or well-being ---
is to live in denial. Sexual abusers tend to choose occupations
that put them in close contact with children. They can be
found in every profession. They are heterosexual and homosexual
-- they don't discriminate.
What can you do?
The current law in 18 states mandates that health care workers,
school officials, day-care workers, law enforcement officers
and social service workers report suspicions of child molestation.
But it exempts clergy. In 19 other states church officials
are mandated, as well as everyone else, to pass on the information,
with the exception of incidents that come up in "clergy-penitent"
conversations, such as confession. In six more states, "all
persons" must report child abuse, but the clergy's status
Write to the Archdiocese or the leaders in your house of
worship and demand "Zero Tolerance."
Contact your politicians and ask for stronger laws that
protect our children, and for a stronger statute on mandated
reporting of child abuse. All responsible citizens with
knowledge of child abuse, which is a crime should be required
to report it, even if it's only suspected. Write letters,
e-mail, make phone calls
It's time for America to wake-up! Knowledge is power.
Learn all you
can about child abuse. Educate yourself, your children,
your family, your friends, your neighbors --- everyone you
know. Talk Loud,
We must keep our children safe!
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