Putting our children at risk

David Webb
The Rare Reporter

Child sexual abuse a concern for everyone, especially LGBT parents

Most people would probably agree there is no resource that a society cherishes more than its children. So it is hard to fathom how sexual predators manage with such apparent ease to carry out horrendous, undetected assaults on children practically under the noses of their families and others who are charged with their protection.

As horrific as the crime of child sexual abuse is, there are no firm estimates of its prevalence because it often goes undetected and is seriously underreported, according to agencies that study child abuse.

Less than 100,000 crimes of sexual abuse are reported each year because children fear telling anyone, and adults who become aware of the activity are often reluctant to contact law enforcement agencies, even though there is usually a legal requirement to do so.

With so many LGBT households now raising children, it is obviously vital that all parents be aware of the tactics used by sexual predators to seduce children without arousing the suspicion of their families, and aware of the symptoms victims of child sexual abuse exhibit.

The critical need for sustained intervention into child sexual abuse recently gained national attention following a grand jury’s indictment of retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on 40 counts of child sex abuse involving eight victims over a 15-year period. The victims reportedly came into contact with the now 67-year-old, married Sandusky in connection with the Second Mile, a children’s charity the former football coach founded.

Although Sandusky denied, this week in an NBC interview, engaging in any type of sexual activity with the pre-pubescent boys, he acknowledged showering and “horsing around” with them after exercise. He also admitted hugging young boys and putting his hand on their legs when they sat next to him.

His admissions shocked viewers and confirmed in many minds what was already suspected — Sandusky is most likely a pedophile that has taken advantage of young boys with the unwitting complicity of their families.

It is a devastating scandal that will likely rival the one that rocked the Catholic Church a decade ago when it became known that untold numbers of Catholic Church priests sexually abused young boys and violated the trust of their families.

If the charges against Sandusky are true, the accounts by the victims portray a classic pattern of enticement and betrayal practiced by the former football coach in his pursuit of the young boys. Likewise, the lack of action by those who knew about Sandusky’s alleged criminal activity parallel what often happens when the abuser commands power and respect in a community.

Much of the difficulty in combating child sexual abuse can be attributed to its relative youth in terms of public awareness about the crime. The first studies on the molestation of children began in the 1920s, and the first estimate of the prevalence of the crime was reported in 1948.

In 1974 the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect was founded, and the Child Abuse and Treatment Act was created. Since then, awareness about the problem has grown dramatically, and much more is known about deterring the crime and assisting victims of it.

Children’s advocates have identified “red flags” to help parents and others protect children from sexual predators. They warn parents to be wary of someone who wants to spend more time with their children than they do, who attempts to be alone with a child, who frequently seeks physical closeness to a child such as hugging or touching, who is overly interested in the sexuality of a child, who seems to prefer the company of children to people their own age, who lacks boundaries, who regularly offers to babysit,who often gives presents or  money to children, who frequently walks in on children in bathrooms or locker rooms, who frequents parks where children gather, who makes inappropriate comments about a child’s appearance or who likes to photograph children.

Signs of possible sexual abuse in children include a fear of people, places or activities, reluctance to undress, disturbed sleep, mood swings, excessive crying, fear of being touched, loss of appetite, a drastic change in school performance, bizarre themes in drawing, sexually acting out on other children, advanced sexual knowledge, use of new words for private body parts and a reversion to old behavior such as bedwetting or thumb sucking.

Aside from the moral responsibility to protect children and other weaker members of society that all people share, it is essential to intervene in child sexual abuse because of the long-lasting psychological damage it usually causes. The problems can include feelings of worthlessness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and distorted views of sexuality.

Also, victims of child sexual abuse tend to become sexual predators as adults, making it a crime that begets more crime.

The Sandusky scandal will undoubtedly lead to devastating repercussions for Penn State, for the Second Mile charity with which the former football coach is no longer affiliated and for law enforcement and university officials who became aware of concerns about the former football coach’s activities and failed to act on them.

But the real tragedy — if the allegations are true — will be the lasting impact upon the victims.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.        

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 18, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Lesbian couple, who are ‘high-level Episcopal priests,’ marry in Massachusetts

This is apparently a first for the Episcopal Church — and it came with the blessing fo the local bishop who performed the ceremony:

Episcopalians here and across the country are already divided over whether to elect gay bishops and allow their priests to perform same-sex weddings. Now they have another issue to discuss: The marriage of two lesbians who are high-level Episcopal priests in Massachusetts.

In a wedding that appears to be the first of its kind in the U.S. – at least in the Episcopal Church – former Plymouth priest the Rev. Mally Lloyd married the Rev. Katherine Ragsdale, dean and president of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, on New Year’s Day. The Rev. Lloyd, a former pastor at Christ Church in Plymouth, is now a ranking official of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

The Rev. Lloyd and the Rev. Ragsdale were married in a ceremony at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston, with about 400 guests attending. Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, the state’s highest ranking Episcopal official, presided.

Bishop Shaw has openly supported gay marriage for years. In 2009, a few months after the Episcopal general convention voted to allow “generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church,” he gave parish priests permission to perform same-sex marriages – to “solemnize” them, in the language of the Episcopal Church. Those actions came five years after gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts.

Very cool.

Of course, the Catholics had to be a little bitchy about this. The headline on Catholic.org reads: “Two Episcopal Lesbian Leaders ‘Marry’ in Boston Cathedral.” Had to put marry in quotes and had to write about all the discord this will create at the next meeting of Episcopal leaders. Thing is, the couple is married in the eyes of the law. And, let’s be real, Catholic.org, you may want to stir the pot in the the Episcopal church about marriage. But, that church can discuss these issues and not worry about the endless scandals involving its priests rapign children. That’s what Catholics leaders are forced to talk about at their meetings.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

New studies: Catholics aren't homophobic and pedophile priests aren't gay

The Pope: out of step with the majority of American Catholics?

The Pope: out of step with the majority of American Catholics?

Anti-gay Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito are Catholic. The Catholic Church poured money into anti-gay campaigns such as Prop 8 and Catholic Charities threatens to stop delivering social services in Washington, D.C. if new anti-discrimination laws including same sex marriage pass.

So you would think Catholics would be more likely to be anti-gay.

A new study finds that is not necessarily true. More Catholics seem to align with Catholic Supreme Court justices Anthony Kennedy and Sonia Sotomayor.

The states with the highest proportion of Catholics are the states that are more likely to support LGBT rights.

According to an article in Pink News, “Six of the eight states where 50 per cent or more of the public supports gay marriage are the states with the highest proportion of Catholics, ranging from Rhode Island at 46 per cent to New York and California at 37 per cent.”

The study was done by Mark Silk from Trinity College.

In a related story, a USA Today headline today says:

Report: Homosexuality no factor in abusive priests

Because most of the 14,000 reported molestations by priests were of boys, the assumption was that gay priests were committing the abuse. A $2 million study commissioned by American bishops indicates that sexual orientation was not a factor in these abuse cases.

Heterosexuals were as likely to have committed these crimes.

— David Taffet

—  Dallasvoice