Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Beyond the Headlines - child protection figures

When I read the RTE headline "Rise in abuse complaints to church watchdog", my heart sank. According to RTE "There has been a significant increase in the number of allegations of abuse of children reported to the Catholic Church child protection watchdog." As a mother of four children, (who hang around Churches quite a bit), it is not the sort of thing I want to read.

The report of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church is available here. Now I did not read the full report, life is too short. I went to page 9 "Allegations notified to national Office - April 2010 to March 2011". Here are the figures that I found.

272 allegations of of physical, emotional and sexual abuse is a lot, and is not a very reassuring number for a concerned parent. The 86 allegations against the deceased people are no cause for concern, (I do not mean to offend, but the dead pose no threat to my children). There were 174 allegations against people who are out of ministry, retired, or have left ministry. (This figure of 174 needs to be broken down, as it provides more questions than answers). 12 people have continued in ministry, or have returned to ministry after an "allegation". Upon further reading, I also see that an allegation does not even mean allegation, it could mean "allegation", "suspicion", or "concern". 

This report provides too little information. This is what I want to know:
  • When did these incidences of alleged abuse occur? Last year? Five years ago? Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years ago?
  • How many clerics are involved? Is it two or two hundred?
  • How many incidences of alleged abuse occurred last year?
  • I would like to see a breakdown of allegation, suspicion and concern.
  • Do these allegations, concerns, and suspicions concern only children?
The initial headlines were a cause for concern, but further reading of the report just made me annoyed. The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, seem to be as competent, and as capable as our bishops!

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