May 19, 2005

The Long and Difficult Road to Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse


Thursday, May. 19, 2005

Over the last decade, concern about childhood sexual abuse has grown.

Megan's Laws -- which put convicted sex offenders on public registers, so that parents can know if a neighbor has a record -- have become popular. Child abuse reporting statutes that mandate that certain professionals contact the state with knowledge of child abuse have also been passed.

And of course - in the most high-profile development - suits against clergy and religious institutions for childhood sexual abuse have been filed, and their filing has sent shock waves through the Catholic Church and (as I will discuss below) other religious institutions.

Even the press - which was unforgivably lax in covering this issue -- is starting to cover children's issues as though they are an important part of public policy.

What are the reasons for this trend? One is that experience has shown that pedophiles are incurable. It is a sexual predisposition, not a treatable psychological condition.

Another is that society has come to recognize that children have a great deal of trouble telling others about their victimization, and that, later in life, they suffer serious ill-effects from abuse. The victim pays for life, and society pays in lost capacities and contributions.

Posted by kshaw at May 19, 2005 04:41 AM