The Need for a National Commission to Address Child Abuse: A Checklist of Ten Notes


With the establishment of a royal commission to investigate child abuse (and its cover-up) in Australia, I’ve been going through a checklist of mental notes I’ve made about the issue of child abuse over the years. I’ve blogged about most of these items.

Here’s the checklist I’ve compiled thus far:

1. I’m convinced that Alice Miller and Phillip Greven are correct when they find that the abuse of children is far more widespread and taken for granted (and covered up) in many societies than most of us have been willing to admit.

2. I also think (and here, Miller has been determinative for my thinking) that societies that are the most sentimental about their love of children (or fetuses) and the most vocal in protesting how they cherish and protect minors are likely to be precisely the societies that are most callous towards minors. And the most tolerant of child abuse.

3. I think with Miller and Greven that the roots of Western culture’s toleration of child abuse lie in longstanding religious attitudes that absolutely have to be re-examined if we’re to stem the tide of child abuse.

4. I think that the Catholic church is far from the only institution in which abuse of children has been widespread, tolerated, and hidden by church officials.

5. At the same time, I think the problem of abuse of children (and its cover-up) is deeply endemic to Catholicism, and the argument that child abuse occurs in other institutions, when it’s advanced by Catholic officials, is an impermissible diversionary argument that ought to be rejected out of hand by people with good sense.

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