Wednesday, 18 July 2007

The problem of abuse

As the struggle of dealing with child sexual abuse in remote aboriginal communities continues, we should not be surprised that this stretches resources (here). The problem is deeper than we think, or want to admit.
An example of the extent of that this week is that we have seen the Roman Catholic Diocese of Los Angeles make an enormous financial settlement with victims of abuse in that Diocese over 50 years (here). Our own local Anglican Diocese has been struggling with this issue  for some years. And it does indeed stretch our resources.
It is important to recognise that while the provision of adequate law enforcement, compensating victims , and the need to start again are critcal issues and need to be dealt with well.
But they  beg the question of whether they are attempts at local containment of a problem that is actually much wider. 
This certainly has been a major critique of the aboriginal community focus. The indigenous people are an easy target, but what of non-indigenous communities.
None of my blog readers would imagine that I am  suggesting that we should not be throwing resources to support aboriginal communites. May they not be used to posture and paint power-brokers in a good political light!
Churches, too, are an easy target. Highly visible and outspoken, and good targets for the charge of hypocrisy. But do we imagine that abuse is limited to the church alone.
Certainly not!
My contention would be that there is a fundamental issue about MEN. Yes, men! 
Although there are a few isolated cases (readily sensationalised by a male dominated media) of women abusers the real problem is men.
We live in a society, both black and white, religious and non-religious which allows men, not all men, to believe that you have a good chance of getting away with abuse.
Now maybe we are tightening up on this.
But I don't want to have narrow 'easy-target' focuses when there is clearly a much wider problem throughout society.
Where are the resources for schools to address the teaching of programs to help boys become the sort of men we want them to be?
Where is the wholesale examination of why our legal system by and large fails to convict rapists and abusers (anything up to 85-95% perpetrators of vilent sexual attack are never convicted or brought to justice)
You see, it is easier to hit the soft targets, but the problem is much more extensive than that.

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