Nov 15, 2012

First, the secrecy must end on child assault cases

The secrecy which still exists around child s-xual assault victims needs to be lifted. Amanda Gearing, who has reported on dozens of institutionalised cases, frames what the royal commission must do.

Survivors of recent child s-xual abuse within Anglican institutions who are involved in current legal actions are still being required to sign secrecy agreements.

Families of the survivors are angry that an Anglican organisation is demanding the young victims remain forever silent as a condition of settlement, not just on the amount of compensation to be paid to the victims, but also silent forever on the crimes committed against them.

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7 thoughts on “First, the secrecy must end on child assault cases

  1. Clytie

    Amanda is exactly right. This has been going on for too long, and worse, has been ignored and even enabled by those who have a responsibility to protect and support children.

    That’s all adults, BTW. We may not have heard about this in the past (although that would be difficult to imagine, given how widespread child abuse is in society) but now we have absolutely no excuse for sitting back and letting it continue.

    Raping children stops here.

  2. Venise Alstergren

    The ‘confessional’ has to be the primary reason that paedophilia is rampant in the Catholic Church. But as long as people like Ted Baillieu-Premier of Victoria who has just exempted the confessional from mandatory reporting, Fr Frank Brennan, who has vowed to go to jail rather than allowing the secrets of the confessional to be broadcast, and Cardinal George Pell who has taken the same stance, no royal commission will be able totally to get to the truth.

    In order to stamp out paedophilia many people say priests should be married. Whereas many a fine paedophile has been married. Of course marriage should be allowed, but not for the sole reason given. Get rid of the secrecy of the confessional and the problem will be considerably reduced.

  3. michael crook

    Just thinking about the figures released by Jenny Macklin regarding the overall child abuse notifications for 2009. It seemed to go largely unnoticed by the media at the time, but 340,000 child abuse notifications, relating to 287,000 children in just one year. That is an awful lot of notifications and and awful lot of children. Have you ever picked up the phone to make a notification, or thought of doing so? A big deal for any person I would have thought, but 340,000? Is there any societal problem which is bigger than this. We are beating and abusing our children at an incredible rate while retaining the fantsay that we some how have a stable democratic society, What bullshit.

  4. Andrew Bartlett

    This article is a reminder of the missed opportunity over 10 years ago when the scandal about Archbishop/Governor-General Hollingworth was unfolding. Unfortunately, once he resigned as G-G, that was seen as the end of the matter once the political ‘scalp’ had been claimed.

    Of course he had to resign, but the government’s refusal to act further meant Hollingworth became the scapegoat for a multitude of other failures, while the calls for a full Royal Commission were brushed off.

  5. Sean Doyle

    Given all the other means that the Catholic Church (along with other institutions) has used to prevent police action on child abuse, along with the difficulty many victims have getting others to believe their story in the first place, I’d be very hesitant to suggest that ending the confessional seal would be a silver bullet for the problem of secrecy. It’s something that the commission should look at, but I dare say that there are bigger issues at play, particularly given that similar cover up cultures seem to exist at non Catholic institutions as well.

    It should be remembered that a priest can recommend that a sinner seeks repentance by publicly accounting for their sins, one method of such would be going to the police. The main issue may not be confession but the Church generally thinking that it’s above the law.

  6. rhonaj

    Let us not be distracted by the furphy of arguing about the sanctity of the confessional – this argument is merely a RED HERRING raised to distract from the REAL HORROR.

  7. Peter Shute

    An excellent article and I applaud Amanda Gearing and crikey for bringing for publishing it.

    By contrast go to Independent Australia and there are stories there that border on hysteria with 2 writers demanding this Royal Commission be only aimed at the Catholic Church.

    One writer screeches “How dare the likes of political expedients Bill Shorten and Joe Hockey decry victims the right to a National Royal Commission on this stinking cesspit” while at the same time decrying Anglican victims and all others.

    I applaud Julia Gillard for taking this decisive step.

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