Well, you certainly did not read this in the the
Satanic Verses New York Times.
Despite the bad press, the child sexual abuse rate by Catholic priests is no greater than any other demonination or the general public.
The Catholic sex-abuse stories emerging every day suggest that Catholics have a much bigger problem with child molestation than other denominations and the general population. Many point to peculiarities of the Catholic Church (its celibacy rules for priests, its insular hierarchy, its exclusion of women) to infer that there’s something particularly pernicious about Catholic clerics that predisposes them to these horrific acts. It’s no wonder that, back in 2002—when the last Catholic sex-abuse scandal was making headlines—a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll found that 64 percent of those queried thought Catholic priests “frequently” abused children.
Yet experts say there’s simply no data to support the claim at all. No formal comparative study has ever broken down child sexual abuse by denomination, and only the Catholic Church has released detailed data about its own. But based on the surveys and studies conducted by different denominations over the past 30 years, experts who study child abuse say they see little reason to conclude that sexual abuse is mostly a Catholic issue. “We don’t see the Catholic Church as a hotbed of this or a place that has a bigger problem than anyone else,” said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “I can tell you without hesitation that we have seen cases in many religious settings, from traveling evangelists to mainstream ministers to rabbis and others.”
Since the mid-1980s, insurance companies have offered sexual misconduct coverage as a rider on liability insurance, and their own studies indicate that Catholic churches are not higher risk than other congregations. Insurance companies that cover all denominations, such as Guide One Center for Risk Management, which has more than 40,000 church clients, does not charge Catholic churches higher premiums. “We don’t see vast difference in the incidence rate between one denomination and another,” says Sarah Buckley, assistant vice president of corporate communications. “It’s pretty even across the denominations.” It’s been that way for decades.
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UPDATE: Here are a couple of more facts on the Catholic abuse scandal that did not make it into any news stories this Easter.
Thanks to Kathy N.
Every news story and commentary stating that the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is widening is factually wrong. The evidence shows just the opposite—it has been contracting for approximately a quarter century. Here’s the proof: the John Jay College of Criminal Justice—not exactly an arm of the Catholic Church—has shown repeatedly that the vast majority of the abuse cases took place from the mid-60s to the mid-80s. And the reports over the last five years show a rapid decline. The latest report, covering 2008-2009, shows exactly six credible allegations made against over 40,000 priests and tens of thousands of others working for the Catholic Church.
Almost all of the chatter about the alleged widening of the scandal is a direct result of media sensationalism. Here is a perfect example, taken from a Reuters story today. The headline reads, “Norway’s Catholic Church Reveals New Abuse Cases.” But what is new is not a new wave of incidents, rather it is an admission by the Norwegian Catholic Church of four cases of alleged abuse that it had not previously disclosed. Two of the cases date back to the 1950s; another dates back two decades; and the fourth one was based on “rumors.”
And… The nation’s public school’s have a horrible problem:
“[T]hink 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.”
So, in order to better protect children, did media outlets start hounding the worse menace of the school systems, with headlines about a “Nationwide Teacher Molestation Cover-up” and by asking “Are Ed Schools Producing Pedophiles?”
No, they didn’t. That treatment was reserved for the Catholic Church, while the greater problem in the schools was ignored altogether.
As the National Catholic Register’s reporter Wayne Laugesen points out, the federal report said 422,000 California public-school students would be victims before graduation — a number that dwarfs the state’s entire Catholic-school enrollment of 143,000.
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This doesn’t excuse ANY abuse.
But, it does put things into perspective.