What should we do with child abusers that teach our children?

The Australians are trying to get a handle on child abuse.  Brave move.  Except they’re  only going to look at a third of it.  Vice reports

Australia is having a Royal Commission to look at child abuse in institutional settings, and it’s come up with a whole lot of nasty stuff that’s gone on for decades in churches, schools, orphanages and other places where men can prey on kids. However, two thirds of child abuse won’t be looked at by the Commission because it happens to kids at home.

It’s difficult to find reliable statistics that show just how prevalent child sexual abuse is because it’s often not reported. However, from what statistics are available, it’s possible to see some trends.

The ABS estimates that in Australia 12 percent of women and 4.5 percent of men have been or will be abused before they reach 15. In other words, 72 percent of child sexual abuse happens to girls. Girls are most likely to be abused by a relative or their father, and are unlikely to be abused by a stranger. Boys are most likely to be abused by someone they know, like a teacher or priest, or a stranger, and are unlikely to be abused by their father or stepfather.

If that’s the sort of numbers coming out of Australia, our own child abuse statistics won’t be any better.  

It’s sometimes said that abusers are only acting out what happened to them as children, that it’s learned behaviour. If that were the case, why aren’t 72 percent of sex offenders women? In fact women make up far less than one percent of all abusers, and in most reported cases a woman is only involved when she’s in an abusive relationship with a man who is the primary abuser.

For women, the abuse doesn’t stop once they become an adult. Overwhelmingly, sex offenders choose adult women. Most people who are sexually abused in Australia are women over 17. In the case of churches, 95 percent of those abused are adult women according to a US study.

There are a lot of other factors to consider when looking at child abuse—for starters, there are huge differences in the suffering people experience. Do kids suffer more if their abuser is a family member, or a teacher, or a priest?

We need to know, of course, so we can help.  But at some level it is irrelevant “who suffers more”.

Sexual abuse, especially of children is one of the most despicable things one human can do to another.

I was recently sent a list of New Zealand teachers with sexual abuse and/or child pornography charges against them.  Some have already been through the court system, some still work as teachers, some are currently before the courts.

Even though the bulk of the data is directly from the Teachers Council itself, some of it has been matched from media and other sources.  And here-in lies the problem:  The secrecy of the Teachers Council proceedings is such that I can’t get confirmation that my information is without errors.

And so, even though I have all these ratbags on file, including what they have admitted to or are standing accused of, they are still walking around – their community largely unaware of who they have in their midst – potentially able to keep working, or get another job of volunteer position involving children.

Some have name suppression – to protect the victim.  But what about their next victim?

Children are 2nd class citizens, and when it comes to their safety and protection, our society continues to fail them.

People like me, who try to put the children and other victims of sexual abuse ahead of the law have been made an example of.

The law must not be trivialised.  If that costs more kids a normal life because offenders aren’t known in their communities, is this really a reasonable compromise to make in our society?   The rights of the criminal trump the rights of a community to protect itself?

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.