Child Abusing Chalkies Escape Public Scrutiny.
A generation or so ago in Ireland, a priest was a figure of respect, if not awe. Not any more. Priests have become publicly reviled in Ireland. Younger priests say they are afraid to go out in public wearing a clerical collar. There are reports of priests being spat on in public.
Certainly, Ireland is no more immune than anywhere else to the general coarsening of public behaviour polluting the West. Nor is it likely particularly safe from the wave of anti-Christian sentiment, including widespread desecration of Christian holy places, which swept across Europe in recent years.
But what has really driven the surge in anti-clerical sentiment in Ireland are the same horrifying revelations of priestly abuse which have shocked the rest of the Western world. Clerical abuse might rightly be described as one of the worst abuses of public trust in recent history. The church had for long occupied a kind of high ground denied to, say, politicians or used-car salesmen. The very notion of clerical abuse shocked the still-Christian West.
That the churches had sought to cover up such abuse was perhaps even more of a shock. The sense of betrayal struck to the very core of Western identity.
Such a deep betrayal understandably generated a harsh backlash.
So, I wonder, why aren’t we spitting on teachers?
After all, teachers occupy a similar position of public trust as priests once did – and teachers are abusing kids, too. Probably more even than priests.
Despite the selective focus of the media and public almost entirely on clerical abuse, the facts are that priests are not much more likely than the general public to be child abusers. About 4% of Catholic priests in the US abused children from the 1950s to the 2000s. Yet, in the same time frame, 5-7% of public school teachers in the US were abusers.
Moreover, the incidence of priestly abuse peaked 50 years ago and has since slowed to a trickle (most of the cases which continue to dominate the news are historical). Teacher abuse, however, appears to be on the rise.
Not just rising – surging. “It’s an epidemic”, “a pandemic”, according to investigators. The U.S. Department of Eduction concluded in 2004 that one in ten students will be sexually abused by a teacher during their years in school.
One in three abuse survivors testifying at Australia’s royal commission into institutional child abuse reported that they had been abused at school. Abuse was reported at over 1000 schools, nearly half of them government schools.
It might be argued that clerical abuse was compounded by a culture of secrecy. Senior church figures covered for abusive priests and silently shunted them around the system, where they repeated their behaviours.
Yet, much the same story pertains to teacher abuse. Principals, teacher unions and other teachers have covered for abusers and conspired to keep even the most egregious clusters of abuse secret.
Other teachers very often report that they “thought there might be something going on”, yet kept silent. This is despite mandatory reporting requirements. Unions make it nigh-impossible to sack bad teachers, short of criminal convictions – while the school system conspires to shield abusive teachers from investigation. Schools, from Sydney to California, are accused of covering up abuse, often serial and for decades. Yet, charges are rarely filed against those who educators who fail their legal duty to report suspicions.
If churches can be tarred as tantamount to pedophile rings, then so can schools. If other priests are damned for keeping silent about what they knew or suspected, then so should teachers who do the same.
Perhaps most alarming, in light of this silent epidemic of teacher abuse, is a growing push to sexualise school curricula. Schools are being used to advance a radical Queer Theory agenda, under the guise of “anti-bullying” programs. Schools are teaching girls as young as 11 how to “safely” send nude selfies and usurping parents’ role, and right to know, in handing out contraceptives to even primary-age children. Sex education has devolved from teaching the mechanics of biology, sex and pregnancy, to “relationships education”, which encompasses everything from promoting homosexuality to how to use sex toys and write sex personals.
In the context of widespread teacher abuse, this looks more and more like officially-sanctioned grooming.
An astonishing double standard prevails. Teachers continue to enjoy a high level of professional regard – three times that of priests. The fall in regard for clergy can be almost entirely sheeted home to revelations of priestly abuse. Yet, as we now know, teachers are not only more likely to be abusers, but teacher abuse is rising while clerical abuse has plummeted.
Teacher abuse is routinely laughed off – especially the high prevalance of abuse by female teachers – in a way that priestly abuse is not. No-one jokes that, “I wish Father Reilly had shagged me in the sacristy”. Yet, evidence shows that female teacher abuse of boys is every bit as damaging as any other child-rape.
So, is it time to start spitting on teachers in the street? Certainly not: the fact remains that the vast majority of teachers (and that includes several members of my own family) are not abusers. But, then, neither are most priests – yet conventional opinion almost uniformly damns priests as “all pedos”.
What is needed is an honest public conversation about teacher abuse and an end to the double-standards – and an immediate move to de-sexualise the school curriculum.