My own first encounter with sexual abuse
came when I had just turned seventeen. I was working at a Boy Scout camp and discovered and managed to inform higher-ups that a camp official was abusing fourteen-year-old “trainees.” He was fired, and that was that. But of course it wasn’t. A school teacher, he moved to another state where, through an extraordinary coincidence, I learned years later that he continued to molest. That experience in the summer of 1958 sensitized me to the radical and welcome changes in societal responses to sexual abuse since the hush-hush attitudes that then prevailed among parents, victims, health care professionals, and law enforcement officials as well as Boy Scout authorities. It took time to recognize that child molestation, once portrayed as a threat from lurking strangers in raincoats, could be the work of family friends, doting uncles, Scoutmasters, physicians, fathers and stepfathers, or even an admired clergyman. It took even longer for therapists, judges, and legislatures to decide what to do about it.
As for Catholicism, the Second Vatican Council, along with major social changes, disrupted the church and the shame and silence imposed by its deferential culture. Jogged by lawsuits and publicity and the very fact of increasing instances of abuse, bishops’ responses began to change, belatedly but significantly, in the late 1980s to mid-1990s. Attitudes took a definitive turn in 2002 with the bishops’ adoption of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, passed in the wake of the Boston Globe
’s revelations. Even sex abuse by priests has a history. If we are to believe the findings of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, it increased in the latter 1960s, spiked in the ’70s, and declined in the ’80s.https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/pa-grand-jury-report-not-what-it-seems?utm_source=Press+List&utm_campaign=f098968bc0-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_01_09_05_22&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_01bf0cc1e6-f098968bc0-92468121