31 Oct 2010

Australian Anglican Church report: Don't leave clergy alone with children

The Age - Australia June 18, 2009

by Barney Zwartz

THE Anglican Church in Australia is set to overhaul its rules for how clergy and church workers interact with adolescents after an independent report revealed the extent of sexual abuse within the church.

The report, released yesterday, showed the church averaged nearly a complaint a month between 1990 and 2008, that boys between 10 and 15 were most at risk, and that most victims took more than two decades to complain.

In a study the researchers believe is the second of its type worldwide, University of Sydney professors Patrick Parkinson and Kim Oates examined every completed report of child sexual abuse — 191 by 135 abusers.

They recommended clergy and youth workers should never be alone with adolescents where abuse could occur, such as a home, church or car.

They recommended a triple check on people who work with adolescents (a criminal check, referees and the church's own national register), that people other than the minister must be responsible for enforcing the code of conduct in a parish, and that the church should review its protocols and training.

They also suggested there were enough similarities for the Anglican and Catholic churches to consider working together on child-protection strategies.

Three-quarters of the complaints were made after 2000, but the number peaked in 2003.

The researchers found that, in mirror image to abuse in the community, three-quarters of the victims were male, most between 10 and 15.

About half the complaints involved more than one abusive act. Most abuse occurred in the abuser's home or on church premises, while camps and cars were also common locations.

The report said the church needed to concentrate its effort on the areas of most risk, such as youth groups, rather than its present blanket approach.

Releasing the report, Brisbane Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, the Anglican national leader, said: "We reiterate our apology, our sorrow and our deep regret for abuse which has occurred." Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier and Sydney Bishop Glenn Davies echoed the apology.

Dr Aspinall said the report enabled targeted strategies. "Abuse happens because people exploit opportunities for abuse, so there should be no opportunities for youth workers to be alone with children where abuse could occur."

He said child sexual abuse had been a significant problem for the Anglican church, but it had "expended enormous energy to do the right thing".

Victims advocate Michael Salter hailed the report as evidence-based and independent and, above all, a move from legal risk minimisation towards long-term pastoral care.

"There's a spirit of openness in this report that contrasts with the attitude of other churches, especially the Catholic Church," said Mr Salter, director of Adults Surviving Child Abuse. "We'll keep an eye on the church to make sure they follow through."

Dr Freier said Melbourne was already applying most of the recommendations, but systems could always be improved.

This article was found at:


No comments:

Post a Comment