About Child Sex Abuse (2003+)


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Overview

There has been controversy (as illustrated by some sample articles) over several child abuse cases in  institutions established in Queensland by the Anglican church and the way in which these were managed by the Brisbane Diocese Office at the time when Peter Hollingworth, who subsequently became Australia's Governor General, was Archbishop of Brisbane.

Some speculations about this matter are presented below.

In Summary: It will be suggested that, rather than focusing on particular institutions and individuals who have been unable to manage the problem of child abuse, the most important question should be why sexual abuse of children has now emerged as a very widespread problem in the first place.

For example, it may be the case that:

  • the biggest problem of sexual abuse arises, not in institutions, but in families - where it is associated with the breakdown of traditional family relationships (ie of those in which children live with their biological father);
  • many social dysfunctions (including family breakdown and child sexual abuse) may now be resulting from the extremes that can arise when individuals are encouraged to set their own behavioural norms;
  • widespread child sex abuse has to be eliminated - presumably by renewing individual morality and family relationships. It seems unacceptable to simply live with widespread abuse - and impossible to correct it through legal and government machinery;
  • for over 1000 years interpersonal relationships have been based on a deeply-ingrained ideal of self-denial / putting-others-first (derived from Christ-ian traditions), and this has provided the foundation on which Australia's system of law and government has evolved. The foundation now needs urgent repairs as individual liberty is a key factor in the strength of societies such as Australia's, but may not remain socially or politically tolerable if moral interpersonal relationships are not ensured by religion independently of the state;
  • the information in the public domain about the Anglican Diocese in Brisbane does not allow a balanced assessment of the problems it had in managing child sex abuse cases.

Brisbane's Anglican Archbishop commissioned an inquiry but unfortunately its terms of reference  were too narrow to seriously address the problem of child sex abuse or to take account of the effect of general dysfunctions in the Anglican Church.

Moreover the Queensland and Federal governments failed to establish a broader inquiry as the Archbishop had requested - and there are plausible (though unproven) grounds for suspecting that the involvement in child sexual abuse of some officials might constrain the latter's willingness to allow the broader issue to be investigated.

Elaboration: The enthusiasm of official agencies for a general inquiry into child sexual abuse could be expected to be limited, if there is a significant basis in fact to rumours about paedophile networks in political and legal systems, as well as in official agencies dealing with children.

It is noted that: 

  • such networks have been widely rumoured (but not proven) to exist in Queensland. The present writer, while working for the Queensland Government as well as later: (a) was exposed to suggestions from diverse sources about ongoing corruption in Queensland that the Fitzgerald Inquiry had not resolved ; and (b) on the basis of a two decades research into the challenges of reform and development in Queensland, judged these allegations overall to be about as reliable as early information about police corruption in the 1980s that eventually led, years later, to the Fitzgerald Inquiry; 
  • similar allegations have apparently emerged in Victoria (Kaszabska G., 'MPs and police in child sex network', Australian, 9/7/04);
  • An inquiry found that sexual abuse of children in state institutions has been widespread in South Australia (Walker J and Akerman P., 'Abuse most foul', Australian, 2/4/08).
  • the Cabinet-authorised destruction of the (so called) Heiner documents in Queensland has been widely seen as a significant abuse of power - and this appeared to have the effect of covering up allegations to a magistrate about child abuse in a state institution (eg see 'Shredder-gate isn't necessarily much ado about nothing');

The Anglican Church's inquiry generated a 'witch-hunt' that led to risks to Australia's system of government related to politicizing the Governor General's role - as either an ally or opponent of democratically elected governments.

In 2012 the resistance of governments to confronting the reported widespread incidence of child sexual abuse in the general community again became apparent (see Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Another Official Cover-up?)

CPDS Comments

CPDS Comments on the Background to Sexual Abuse

The Problem

There is nothing new about child sex abuse, or about political commitments to address it [1]. And the problem appears to be widespread, serious, poorly understood and ultimately to reflect a lack of individual morality.

"An estimated 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys in Australia have been sexually abused before the age of sixteen! Most are abused by family members or others in a position of trust, many of them pillars of the community. Less than 1% of perpetrators are ever convicted of the abuse that is reported. Only 8% of abuse is reported. Perpetrators ensure that victims are too afraid or ashamed to tell, or have no-one they can tell. For most, the abuse continues for years. All are emotionally scarred for life. Unless they are helped to heal many later turn to drugs; some die of overdoses. Many attempt suicide; some succeed." (Australian Child Protection Alliance)

Sex abuse issues in Anglican institutions were described as merely 'tip of an iceberg' [1].

Though there are indications of significant problems in institutions (such as schools and churches) [1] it appears that most child sexual abuse occurs in families [1], and in 97% of the latter cases, it was suggested that those responsible were defactos or step-fathers [1]

A study by Australian Institute of Criminology of 213 fathers who perpetrated child sexual abuse showed that most (61%) had not been victims of family based offending. They pursued mainly (95%) female children under 10. Almost half the offenders (45%) were biological fathers rather than step fathers [1]

In a study of aboriginal communities in Australia "Child sexual assault was described as a ‘huge issue’ in every consultation ..... Both boys and girls were known to be victims and perpetrators were most often described as men who were grandfathers, fathers, step-fathers, uncles, cousins or brothers of the child. Often, perpetrators were also reported as being important people within the community." [1]

"One in five children are sexually abused. .... And what do we know about paedophiles? They are not men in grey raincoats lurking on corners. Not at all. That government campaign about stranger danger did more to mislead the public than any other. They are mainly men, that is true. They are clever. They are manipulative. They are respected. They inveigle themselves into positions of trust and authority where they can access children and young adults. They are teachers, priests, babysitters, friends, uncles and people in the public eye. They consciously create an aura of untouchability about them so they are never suspected, never called to account. Never accused." [1]

Very little is known about sibling sexual abuse and that which is brought to authorities attention may not be typical (eg it may be more extreme / violent). However prevalence studies suggest that sibling abuse is more more common that father to daughter abuse which is the most frequently cited form [1]

About a third of the criminal cases that come up in the Queensland Court of Appeal involve the abuse of children [not all of which is sexual] (see below)

"One in three girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused in some way before the age of 18 years.  (Australian Institute of Criminology, 1993)" [1]

Decades of social science data have shown that children do better in terms of health, education and social outcomes when raised in traditional two-parent married families. This is particularly important in relation to child sexual abuse - one of the most important child welfare issues. Most child sexual abuse occurs in family settings. However the fact that 70-80% of perpetrators have 'familial relationship' with abuse child conceals important issue. Children who do not live with most biological parents are more likely to be abused that those in traditional families. Girls in non-traditional families are abuse many times more often than by their biological fathers. US study found children were 20 times more likely to be abused when living with single parent - as compared with two-parent biological families. Australian data is very limited. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse can make only limited contribution to dealing with this problem as the under-publicised links between family structure and child sexual abuse are not being investigated [1]

 A study of child sexual abuse in Europe indicated that: (a) most cases are not recognised by official agencies; (b) it is difficult to identify overall prevenance issues - due to different definitions (of age, nature of behaviour, and consent); (c) it may be that rates of abuse are declining; (d) the most common form of abuse involves relatives / acquaintances - but trafficking for sexual exploitation, pornography, and abuse by authority figures may also be involved; (d) studies in 19 countries found incidence ranging from 7-36% for females and 3-39% for males; (e) WHO estimated that 150m girls and 73m boys were subjected to sexual abuse in 2002; (f) those approaching puberty were at greatest risk; (g) an overview of other studeis suggested that 7.9% of males and 19.7% of females had suffered sexual abuse by age 18; (h) a study of sexual abuse in Baltic states suggested that abuse involved: indecent exposure (14% of males, 22% of females); indecent tough (16% of males, 37% of females); and rape (12% of males and 10% of females)'; (i) sexual abuse amounted to 34% of cases reported to child protection agencies; (j) the US National incidence Study of Child abuse sought to provide a means for reliable measurement of child sexual abuse - but this has no equivalent in Europe; and (k) the most reliable studies have not been state funded. [1]

Victoria's system of residential care for state wards has failed and needs drastic overhaul. An inquiry has been launched into the sexual abuse of children in residential care. Evidence had been found by Commission for Children and Young People of systematic sexual abuse of children. The Victorian government has come under fire in relation to alleged paedophile rings and trading drugs, money and alcohol for sex. Victoria's residential care institutions were suggested to be probably better than other states in this respect. [1]

Sex abuse, prostitution and drug-taking has been rife amongst children in state care in Victoria for many years [1]

The Royal Commission into Institutional responses to Child Sexual Abuse is supposed finally break the silence surrounding child sexual abuse - but this is unlikely because of its restrictive terms of reference. It ignores the 70-80% of child sexual abuse cases which arise when the perpetrator has a familial relationship with the abused child - mainly when children do not live with their biological parents [1]

The present writer has no way to personally assess the validity of claims about the extent of sexual abuse. However a contact who is a former police officer heavily involved in investigation of child sexual abuse was asked if he thought claims like those outlined above were credible. His reply was 'Yes, though they are probably an underestimate'. And another contact who was involved in providing confidential support to distressed individuals noted that: (a) sexual abuse quite often seemed to be a factor in their histories; and (b) in all of the cases that that contact had been exposed to sexual abuse had occurred in a community, rather than an institutional, setting.

There has been increased recognition that sexual abuse as children has adverse effects on affected individuals later in life eg leading to severe psychological problems. It has been suggested, for example, that

  • a substantial percentage (eg perhaps 90%) of prison populations involve people who were subjected to sexual abuse as children (though most do not readily admit this because of fear of being subject to further sexual predation in prison) [1];
  • sexual abuse as children seems to be a significant factor in the breeding of 'gays', many of whom appear to have unsafe life styles (see Homophilia: Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour); and
  • the tendency of victims to become abusers of the next generation (and other factors) lead to an above average percentage of abusers in religious institutions (see above);
  • child sex abuse victims risk developing mental health problems (eg depression, substance abuse, eating disorders and anxiety) - according to Australian Institute of Family Studies (via Judy Cashmore and Rita Schackel, Uni of Sydney). Abuse by authority figures may have particularly devastating effects. Victims are more likely to abuse alcohol and engage in risky sexual behaviour - and are vulnerable to sexual abuse later in life [1].

There has also been increased recognition of a conspiracy of silence by adults about this problem (see Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally)

What has Gone Wrong with Morality?

In seeking an explanation of family breakdown and sexual abuse it is noted that, for decades, many opinion leaders have increasingly advocated the view that social mores are a matter of individual preference. And there are many political and philosophical reasons that they have taken this approach.

However an unexpected and unwanted result of 'eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil' [apologies to Genesis 2-3] could be that one of the core factors that has allowed Australia's social, legal, governing and economic institutions to be effective has been eroding (namely a deeply ingrained idea that interpersonal relationships ought to be based on individual self-denial and putting-others-first).

Attacking the Core Institutions of Australian Society: It has been suggested that politicizing public institutions, which seriously erodes their effectiveness, amounts to Australia's 'culture attacking itself'. [1]. 

However, whilst that point is worth consideration (see The Decay of Australian Public Administration), the root of Australia’s mainstream culture was not its public institutions but has probably been the creative tension in its social structure inherent in an amalgam of:

  • the deeply ingrained ideal of self-denial / putting-God-and-others-first (which emerged from Judeo-Christian ethics - which in the Middle Ages were the defining characteristic of Europe / Christendom relative to the rest of the world);  
  • individual liberty (which was traditionally much stronger in Anglo Saxon societies than in continental Europe) which permitted both the use of rationality as a tool for decision making and more effective governance of social / economic systems.

The significance of this amalgam is considered in Competing Civilizations. For reasons suggested these features were very likely to have been key advantages which propelled Britain into an industrial revolution (and world empire) followed by other European nations.

A high level of individual liberty is not tolerated in most societies (eg tribal societies, East Asia). In particular it can be noted a system of law is not in itself the foundation of liberty, as Islamic societies have a strong emphasis on law but not on liberty. 

Unless a self-denial / putting-God-and-others-first ideal had been the deeply-ingrained basis of interpersonal relationships, individual liberty would probably not have been tolerable in Anglo-Saxon traditions either. Liberty is only possible where the source of moral behaviour that is the basis of interpersonal relationships comes from within individuals, rather than being imposed from outside by law (as in Islam) or social superiors (as in East Asian traditions).

In recent decades in Australia, as social mores have been advocated with a prime focus on self-fulfilment (which means whatever one wants it to mean) rather than on self-denial, the result appears to have been seriously dysfunctional

Symptoms: Moral foundations of individual liberty identifies symptoms such as: self-centeredness; breakdown of natural families that result in at least mild 'abuse' of anything up to 50% of children; drug abuse; poor business ethics; and erosion of civil society.

Even the illegal extremes such as paedophilia (where permissiveness has been carried further than the advocates of self-determined morality have intended) may need to be considered to be a consequence of self-determined morality. Why this may be so can be seen from the apparent success of new policing concepts that involve strict attention to misdemeanours, and that appear (in the US) to have been able to reduce the incidence of serious crime.

For example: New York was once justifiably seen as the most dangerous place in America. NY adopted sophisticated computer processes for analysing crime; gave independence to local precinct commanders, and adopted a 'broken windows' approach - ie that apathy and inaction about minor misdemeanours leads to the view that people can get away with anything. So police started enforcing laws dealing with minor offences as well as major crimes. The result was a dramatic reduction in crime. (Brunton R. 'Broken windows plan shatters crime theory', Courier Mail, 5/1/02)

It has been credibly suggested that: (a) the most common reason for boys perceiving themselves to be homosexual is that they have been abused; (b) sexually abusive behaviour tends to be self perpetuating because earlier victims later become predators; (c) public acceptance of homosexual behaviour increases the damage done to those who are abused; and (d) a relatively high percentage of abusers accumulate in religious organisations because predators seek victims who are the most devoted, and thus least willing to cause problems for the institution by complaining and the most likely to seek careers in the institution.

Individuals tend to abuse others if they themselves have previously been abused. Damage is least when a child recognizes that the offender is the one with the problem and that they are not guilty. Sex abuse of boys is highly under-reported - because the boys become convinced that they must be gay and that it is their fault. They only realize what has happened much later after their lives have been seriously damaged (by dropping out of studies, poor jobs, drug abuse, inability establish healthy relationship). In church institutions offenders choose children who are the most devoted and religious as targets - and thus those who are least likely to embarrass the institution by complaining (personal communication from Professor Freda Briggs, University of South Australia, a child sex abuse expert with a national reputation) .

In 2010, it was suggested further by Professor Briggs that " the most common reason for boys perceiving themselves as homosexual: [is that] they were sexually abused by males and were told that (because their bodies responded), they obviously wanted it (which made them gay) .. and they were therefore to blame for their own abuse . This is a most effective silencer. It is not taken into account by predominantly feminist / lesbian driven sexual health programs. The sex education curriculum introduced to our schools a few years ago - via la Trobe University - assured children that homosexuality and anal sex are normal... creating even greater confusion for abuse victims."

 and that "it is a matter that is ignored and it concerns me. When I was professional witness for the boy victims at ......  I found quite consistently that their abuser had promoted gay sex and created confusion about their sexuality. When they reached adolescence, they experimented, putting themselves back in the victim role.. leading to further psychological harm. And when they realised they were not homosexual but had been fooled, there was even more harm."

[Comment: abusive behaviour is thus likely to be perpetuated in church institutions because the favoured victims are also more likely to pursue a career linked to such an institution].

If this is the case the shift towards regarding morality as merely a matter of opinion is critically important because the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour ensures that it is hard for individuals to 'nip in the bud' their own potential for abusive behaviour at the stage that they see it as only a misdemeanour - and their inability to do so before their problem passes the bounds of legality eventually creates a dangerous environment for many others.

Perhaps when a level of 'mischief' is ignored it will always be reflected in practice by a normal distribution, which will include extremes that go beyond any desired boundary. The closer the permitted behaviour comes to the desired boundary, the more the extremes will spill over it - and feedbacks may cause the problem to amplify over time.

How might this apply to child sex abuse: If most child sexual abuse occurs in families rather than in institutions, and if the adults involved tend to be defactos or step-fathers rather than biological fathers, then perhaps the chain of causation is something like:

  • an emphasis on self-fulfilment rather than self-denial leads to poor relationships in marriages - and families increasingly break down;
  • new family relationships are formed in which children live with adults who are not their biological parents;
  • growing numbers of children have trouble with relationships because: they were 'rejected' by a parent; boys often lack a biological father model; and in a few cases children are sexually abused by non-biological 'fathers';
  • official sanctioning of homosexual behaviour significantly raises the risk that boys subject to abuse  in institutions or non-biological families will be unable to see themselves as victims - and begin to accept that they must be gay and that adult-child sexual relationships are OK;
  • a second generation forms family relationships; many of those relationships also break down after the birth of children; new non-biological family relationships are formed; children live with adults who are not their biological parents and a significant number of the latter are pre-conditioned to sexually abuse children;
  • and so on ........

External Control of Interpersonal Relationships is a Dysfunctional Solution

If the core of the problem is a community view that morality is merely a matter of personal opinion (eg related to acceptance of family breakdown and homosexual behaviour) and if the problem is widespread in families, then it would be unjust to treat problems arising from sexual abuses by staff in various institutions as something that the management of those institutions should be held liable for controlling. 

Furthermore, it is undesirable  to respond to the problem by imposing external controls of interpersonal relationships through the legal system, government or organizational management because:

  • a pre-disposition towards child sexual abuse may well often be an affliction related to the abuser's own bad childhood experiences. This possibility has been plausibly suggested [1] in relation to homosexuality (ie that it may often be an emotional / addictive disorder as a reaction to childhood abuse and neglect which is not just a harmless alternative lifestyle option). If tendencies towards unconventional sexual behaviours have such causes, they cannot satisfactorily be dealt with merely by making the behaviour either legal or illegal  
  • individual morality based on a 'value others as oneself' ethical ideal was the essential precondition to the individual liberty on which Australia's legal and governmental systems have been built (see above).
  • such attempts are likely to be ineffective [1]

It can be noted that many limitations were seen in attempts to discourage sexual abuse by fathers through marketing campaigns such as 'Father of the Bride' (by Adult Survivors of Child Abuse)  [1]

Moreover if the courts or the state become involved in attempts to control interpersonal relationships then the individual freedom that conferred huge political and economic advantages on Western societies would be lost.

Legal and governmental 'solutions' would also be inadequate for practical reasons:

  • such institutional solutions (eg child protection services) would be both very fabulously) costly and very complex (eg see Buffini op cit). This is because they would be trying to intervene in typically-hidden interpersonal relationships. In some respects this would be a little like trying to 'police' marital fidelity - and require supervision of all homes;
  • if the absence of an ingrained self-denial / put-others-first ideal is the real cause of the escalation of many forms of socially-dysfunctional behaviour (and thus of its illegal extremes such as child sex abuse), then attention to any one of these will still leave dozens of others. It makes much more sense to deal with all such failures at the same time;
  • the creation of Australia's Family Court was unable to prevent an escalation of family breakdown - and this seems to be a significant factor in the child abuse issue;
  • the creation of a specialized court to operate at a child's level would seem to create huge risks of injustice to those accused mischievously;
  • abuse tends to be covered over to protect institutions when authorities act in terms of legal advice - rather than doing what is morally right [1]
  • a legal and governmental institutional solution leaves scope for abuses to be legalized - noting that the political process enables minority groups to gain influence (eg according to one report that the author has not personally validated, Western Australia appears currently to be legitimizing some sexual relationships with children as young as 12 - providing they are homosexual relationships);
  • legal and governmental institutions that deal with children appear to attract paedophiliac networks - see comments below about Queensland's institutions.

Thus there is little value in suggested alternatives such as:

  • enhancing the legal and governmental institutions to care for the victims of child abuse, and to discourage or treat offenders [1];
  • equipping courts to handle child sex abuse cases - or establishing special courts [1];
  • early (state) intervention in families deemed to be at risk, the appointment of a Children's Commissioner, or the establishment of a Royal Commission [1, 2, 3, 4].

Preventative Strategies

Educational alternatives have also been suggested such as: TV ads to encourage men who are sexually attracted to children to seek help - as tried in NSW in the 1980s; or schools could have total-safety child protection programs in the health curriculum - as in NZ.  

However, such efforts only address child sex abuse - when there seem to be many other symptoms of the loss of the ethical foundation of community morality and family breakdowns.

Moreover it is apparently hard to get parents to sessions in schools because (a) they are complacent and do not think it will happen to their children  (b) its not nice  or (c) they live in unsafe households and do not think it can be stopped [personal communication].

The importance of preventative strategies has also been suggested (eg by inhibiting the development of abusing tendencies or the emergence of situations in which abuse could occur) [1]. This appeared to imply that preventing the breakdown in family relationships could be the best way of reducing the incidence of child sexual abuse.

Another observer argued that the most important requirement was a change in attitude - but then strangely stated that, even though noting that most cases occur in families, it was in church institutions that a change of attitude was most needed [1]

Attacking the Core of the Problem

Any inquiry into child sexual abuse in Australian society and its institutions needs its main focus to be on changes in ingrained attitudes on matters of individual behaviour - and this is a matter needs to be addressed by leaders in non-state entities such as churches (though not through their 'institutions').

The way in which public attention has been focused on cases of sex abuse in church institutions seems often to be inappropriate and counterproductive because:

  • it is most damaging to hold authorities (eg organizational management) responsible for policing subordinates' morality. The whole framework of Australia's legal and governance arrangements is built on the assumption that this is not appropriate (see Moral foundations of individual liberty);
  • it has pressured churches to deal with internal abuse cases with legalistic management controls over staff rather than by leading spiritual renewal - though the latter is arguably the best option for dealing with the problem in the whole community;

If problems in this area are not resolved without state intervention then the very foundations of Australia's society and institutions could be at risk (see Australia's Governance Crisis).

It may be, in fact, that the tide of public opinion is already on the point of turning against permissive extremes. For example a media report concerning the (so called) 'Millennial' generation suggests that those under 18 (who can be seen as the 'victims' of dysfunctional social arrangements in the baby boomer generation) appear to be intent on 'rebelling' by rebuilding society [1]. 

Factors Affecting Anglican Institutions in Queensland

Finally, in relation to the situation in Anglican institutions in Queensland, the public debate and hints from contacts who seemed informed about the internal situation, suggest that many other factors have contributed to the difficulties Dr Hollingworth faced.

For example:

  • the Anglican church, like many major institutions at present, has internal difficulties (eg theological disunity, some senior roles taken by permissive extremists, falling attendances, and a consequent lack of resources to adequately manage its operations). In particular, one source alleged that the Anglican Diocesan Office in Brisbane was disabled by factional politicking and negligible resources, and thus that it would have required superhuman abilities to have coped with the child abuse situation which arose [see also 1]; 
  • Dr Hollinworth made many enemies because of his opposition to permissive extremes in the Anglican Church. For example, one Melbourne source [whose veracity can not be checked] argued privately that Dr Hollingworth had failed to gain the position of Archbishop of Melbourne because he would not support the homosexual and pedophilic orientations of influential groups in Melbourne's Anglican establishment; and 
  • the issue eventually become entangled with the Republican debate, with some persons joining the fray because of the apparent opportunity to prove that a new head-of-state system is needed (or to achieve a republican system by evolutionary change to the way in which Governor General's are appointed [1]).  

April 2002 - and subsequently modified

Anglican Church Inquiry About the Anglican Church's Inquiry

An unfortunate mission

The O'Calligan / Briggs inquiry [1] commissioned by the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane has obscured, rather than shedding light on, the problem of child sex abuse. 

This appears to have arisen because its terms of reference were limited to the way in which the Diocesan office had previously dealt with a few cases in Church institutions [1, 2 , 3].

This has virtually nothing to do with the real problem as, according to publicly available sources, sex abuse affects a very significant minority of children and is primarily perpetrated in within family groups by 'father figures' (ie step fathers and defactos  [1] rather than biological fathers).

In other words, child sex abuse seems to be largely a product of a widespread failure of individual morality, and of the breakdown over the past few decades of stable family relationships in particular.

Thus, to be serious about investigating / eliminating child sexual abuse, an inquiry would need to address the breakdown of morality and of stable family relationships that are the likely cause of the problem.

This might require a re-examination of the spiritual foundations of community morality - as it seems neither practical nor desirable to expect governments, courts or organizational managements to have to solve problems of individual morality (see above).

For example:

  • in spite of public allegations that child sex abuse is a widespread problem, governments refused to establish a broader inquiry  [1, 2, 3, 4] as Brisbane's Anglican Archbishop had requested [1].  

Why: It may be that state and federal political leaders were prepared to turn a blind eye to child sexual abuse because looking at the problem could well expose:

  • the fact that there is a structural problem in society (related to a breakdown in family relationships and individual morality) not just a few 'bad eggs' [1];
  • a significant segment of their electorates as moral criminals;
  • problems that governments could not do much about (see above);
  • child sexual abuse (and its concealment) in institutions for which they were responsible. An inquiry has, for example, found that sexual abuse of children in state institutions has been widespread in South Australia [1]

The Queensland Government may have been particularly reluctant to be the one to have to commission such an inquiry because of:

  • the apparent failure of an earlier state administration to respond responsibly to plausible allegations of child sex abuse in a state institution (in the case of the Cabinet-authorized destruction of the Heiner documents) - and the current Government's repeated rejection of calls to re-open the matter [Comment: it is understood that those who believe this matter needs further exposure do not regard the case as a once-off grand conspiracy, but rather as indicative of a culture in which cover-ups of child sexual abuse were routine];
  • the claimed failure to follow up on the Forde Inquiry into child abuse in state institutions - which made some see this as a 'con job [1];
  • the inadequate resources which the Families Department reportedly has to deal with all of the cases of child abuse that they encounter [1], which requires that officials sometimes ignore sexual abuse because other cases are life threatening [1]. The fostering system to care for children at risk is itself apparently touched by child sexual abuse [1, 2]
  • ;
  • that Department's failure to respond to reports of child sexual abuse [1];
  • the alleged difficulty that Department had in analysing the problem of paedophilia [1];
  • an apparent reluctance by that Department to acknowledge the problems that it has in dealing with child abuse [1, 2];
  • an alleged lack of response to warnings that an ALP MP was a pedophile [1];
  • the possibility that legal and governmental institutions that deal with children may have attracted paedophiliac networks - because of the opportunities this provides for gaining access to vulnerable children (if fairly-frequent allegations about Queensland's institutions, and some historical events, are a meaningful guide). Moreover persons in such networks, who have both legal power and susceptibility to blackmail, were rumoured in the past to have attracted corrupt police to divisions dealing with paedophiles.

And Victoria's premier (allegedly) called for the Governor General's resignation for failing to deal with child sexual abuse, at the same time that his government was failing in doing so [1]

  • courts have also turned a blind eye to the problem - perhaps because it is too hard to deal with [1, 2]

The O'Calligan / Briggs inquiry could not contribute to identifying or removing the moral failures at the root of the (apparently) widespread incidence of child sex abuse, because its terms of reference were confined to narrow administrative questions.  It could never be more than a 'whitewash' of the cover-up of this scandalous problem by secular and church authorities as well as by the media.

Even the Anglican church would have difficulty in undertaking any inquiry into the real problem of child sexual abuse as this would be likely to expose a dispute that could split the church - between evangelicals who endorse scriptural views of morality, and the hierarchically dominant liberals who take a post-modern view that morality is a matter of opinion.

A dispute: The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney (Peter Jensen) has taken it upon himself to challenge the authority of the controversially liberal Archbishop of Canterbury (Rowan Williams) in relation to the latter's support for womens' ordination and homosexuality. Jensen argues that the church has begun to commit to unscriptural practices and doctrine - and advocates an evangelical orientation. Williams holds radical views. Evangelicals dominate in many regions in the world - because of their missionary zeal. The permissive sexual ethics of the West horrify churches elsewhere.  Jensen can demonstrate church growth in Sydney - and evangelicals leave other Anglican traditions for dead. Liberals with loose interpretations of the Bible are seen as the enemy. Jensen opposes the Archbishop of Canterbury because he is seen to tolerate unscriptural teaching - and is in turn seen by Australia's Anglican primate as an extreme fundamentalist.  (Murray J 'The turbulent priest', A,  1-2/2/03)

This futile dispute illustrates why the the foundations of Western societies have been eroding for a century or more, involving matters such as:

  • the effect which narrow interpretations of the Bible (and narrow approach to the evolution debate in particular) have had on eroding the intellectual credibility of the Christ-ian meta-physical roots of Western societies [The literalists were so busy dissecting the words and sentences, that they failed to study anything else - and so could not  point out that the reversible deterministic laws of 'modern' 19th century science were inconsistent with fact that things changed - as evolution (and Genesis) implied];
  • the damage that has been done to social institutions by the post-modern assumptions that knowledge and experience have no objective value [The liberal post-modernists have been like 'Sergeant Schultz', saying 'I know nn..oo..ttthing'. So I'll tell just tell people that its OK to do whatever they think is good for themselves. There will never be consequences they don't anticipate]; and
  • the emergence of self-centered individualism (which puts self first and devalues others) in the vacuum of values that has resulted - a trend which is presumably the major cause of the breakdown of morality and families that has made child sexual abuse a major problem.

None-the-less these disputes are intense as illustrated in discussion of the problem in selecting a new Anglican Primate [1, 2]

In relation to child sexual abuse these factions would perhaps favour different solutions eg the liberals might favour social action, while the evangelicals might seek individual spiritual renewal.

And unfortunate outcomes

In practice the outcome of the inquiry was that:

  • the problem of child sex abuse itself was virtually ignored. There was no mention of the cause of the phenomenon or how it might be prevented, or of family situations where most cases arise;
  • the investigation focused on an individual who no one even suggested had any personal involvement in child sex abuse, and this resulted in;
  • a media 'beat-up' and political attacks on the Governor General [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12] in a process which some see denied natural justice to Dr Hollingworth [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9].

Media Bias: A great deal of the media coverage of allegations against Dr Hollingworth seemed to have assumed that he had to be found 'guilty' of something - though (as noted below):

  • the information available in the public domain about dysfunctions in Brisbane institutions established by the Anglican church does not seem adequate to allow firm conclusions to be drawn; and
  • the Anglican church inquiry seemed anything but independent.

Examples of bias: A blatant example of bias involved a banner headline (Sunday Mail,  25/5/03) "Revealed: The letter that seals Hollingworth's fate - DAMNED BY HIS OWN HAND" which refers to a letter from Dr Hollingworth to Archishop Aspinall of 16/5/03 which stated 'It is now being said that .... came to see me on 9 February about their .... who started a relationship with .... when at .... some years ago'. The article then went on to imply that Dr Hollingworth was claiming that the child was responsible for starting the affair - rather than advising when the affair had started. The evidence the article quoted did not justify its DAMNING headline.

An identical obvious misconstruction of the same document appeared in Milne G 'Spin doctor bad medicine', A,  26/5/03

Statements made by Dr Hollingworth on his resignation were construed to imply his acceptance of serious misdeeds [1] - though it this was obviously not their intent (see Presumption of Guilt).

The Courier Mail sought confirmation of the 'rightness' of Peter Holligworth's decision to resign by interviews with staff in the Anglican Diocese office [1], though it is clear that this office was an alternative suspect to Dr Hollingworth in relation to the mismanagement of child sex abuse cases.

Allegations of covering child sex abusers against political leaders were presumed to be merely a smear campaign [1]

The existence of allegations against Peter Hollingworth related to handling of child sex abuse cases were taken as proof that he was inept in the role of G-G [1]

Plausible motivations for media bias could lie in a political desire to attack the Prime Minister for a 'flawed' vice-regal appointment, or to pursue a republican agenda by politicizing the role of the G-G or by showing that the system is 'broke' and thus needs to be 'fixed' [1]. The risk of legal action for libel may well have motivated later all-out media efforts to 'win'. It was also suggested that journalists were not generally informed about organized religion - and were thus not well equipped to comment on what happened within it [1].

One observer suggested that the situation reflects the worst instance of 'trial by media' since the case of Lindy Chamberlain.

By May 2004, observers appeared to have concluded that Hollingworth had been pressured to resign because he had not been well informed about child sex abuse [1].

Community Bias: A child support organization, Bravehearts, took a leading role in calling for Dr Hollingworth's removal from the role of G-G. This pressure was applied after court evidence was presented by a psychologist in 2001 that she had telephoned Hollingworth in 1991 asking for support for the distressed parents of a girl who had been sexually abused and was told that 'He was very tired and needed a holiday, and that there was nothing that he could do'. (Scott L., 'Big scalp in small court', WA, 31/5/03). 

Based on the author's understanding of:

  • the conditions of insurance policies which covered such institutions which required that such cases be decided by the courts and invalidated the insurance cover in the event that liability was admitted or implied. Moreover Archbishop Aspinall who commissioned the church inquiry into Archbishop Hollingworth had himself reportedly been caught in such an impasse [1]; and
  • the dysfunctions in the Brisbane Anglican Diocese, Dr Hollingworth's response could well have been a reasonable statement - and the attacks on him that resulted from it may well have been quite unjust.

Managerial Naivety: it is quite inappropriate to judge any person's performance as bad because they make a bad decision. The essence of running any organization is to make decisions under uncertainty - and management theorists often suggest any good manager will make a lot of mistakes - because it means that are making decisions and making many more good decisions than bad ones.

Presumption of Guilt: the media and many political leaders generally denied Dr Hollingworth the 'presumption of innocence' which is normally accorded people who are accused of a crime before they are tried.

For example:

  • Hollingworth maintained (in relation to allegations that he had made a serious error of judgment) that such allegations were untrue [1, 2], yet was repeated referred to in terms which left no doubt that of others' view that he was actually guilty and merely not prepared to face this reality [1, 2, 3 and many more].
  • he was criticized for his inability to recognize and apologize for errors [1, 2].
  • Dr Hollingworth was also said to have apologized for his mistakes [1, 2] - where all he actually did was refer to one error of judgment, express regret about the way the matter had been handled and apologize to those harmed as a consequence  [1], while simultaneously raising the possibility of a legal appeal in relation to findings of the Anglican church inquiry [1].
  • Dr Hollingworth's letter of resignation made it very clear that he believed himself innocent and to be resigning to protect the office [1].
  • 'legalism' has now reportedly been reinforced in Anglican institutions though this was almost certainly the reason that those institutions had difficulty dealing with child sex abuse allegations - noting that child advocates seem to believe that legal advice always protects the institution at the expense of the victim [1]. Moreover increased legalism seems incompatible with the spiritual renewal required for solutions to the moral problems which widespread child sex abuse and other social dysfunctions reveal (see Moral foundations of individual liberty).

The controversy over Peter Hollingworth is driving change in in the Anglican Church towards increased transparency and legal systems, and away from traditional patterns of autonomous Episcopal decision making. Lawyers already prominent in the church's governing councils are set to enhance their roles as Anglican power brokers. The fate of Hollingworth has split the church. Dr Hollingworth had been popular in Melbourne - but lost support over his attitude to ordination of women. The Anglican Primate says the church must adapt to the world or become irrelevant (Callick R., 'Anglicans split on the issue', FR, 27/5/03)

The new sex-abuse criteria adopted by the Anglican Church have been criticized for a focus on the requirements of the institution and discouraging abuse victims to come forward [1]

Other defects

The inquiry appears to have other unfortunate aspects.

First, there were significant limitations on achieving even the inquiry's narrow goals of investigating how the Brisbane Diocesan office had previously dealt with sex abuse cases in Church institutions.

The Anglican Church inquiry was labeled a whitewash by victims who went not called upon to give evidence. Legal protections against defamation were inadequate. Key people who could shed light on how child sex abuse cases were handled were not consulted. Bravehearts accused the church of being more concerned about its legal position than investigating sexual abuse. Dr Hollingworth's administration dealt with sexual abuse cases in appallingly slow way (Wilson A. and Walker V. 'Church sex report branded a whitewash', A, 23/4/03)

Second, there appeared to be theological and political disputes within the Anglican church which made it unsafe to rely on an internal inquiry into the handling of child sex abuse cases. 

Furthermore there was a remarkable lack of independence in establishing the terms of reference for the Anglican Church inquiry. The inquiry was devised in the same office as had been accused of mismanaging child sex abuse cases - the only obvious difference being that a new Archbishop was involved. And those terms of reference seemed to focus on the role of the former Archbishop and ignore the (reportedly quite significant) role of the office itself in providing advice and support to both.  

Moreover the inquiry did not appear to consider the dysfunctions in institutions created by the Anglican Church that were the context to the administrative failures it was considering. Under the circumstances, it is perhaps a minor miracle that the inquiry could identify only a few instances of poor judgment and memory lapses. An inquiry which considered those dysfunctions might well have reached different conclusions about Dr Hollingworth's individual performance. 

Third, the individual targeted as a scapegoat for those problems became Australia's Governor General. Thus the inquiry had constitutional implications by exposing the holder of that office to political attack.

Creating a constitutional crisis: The heavy political pressure on the Governor General that resulted from this inquiry challenged the apolitical character of that Office - a situation which has unpredictable outcomes that might include:

  • politicisation of the position - which would lead to instability until the Australian constitution is rewritten and the system of governance fundamentally restructured; or alternately
  • fatal damage to the republican goal of making the position of Governor General into one that requires popular support

These possibilities are discussed further in Australia's Constitutional Crisis

Fourth, the release of internal Church documents by the Queensland Parliament compromised the separation of church and state [1].

This is significant because:

  • the inquiry can reasonably be interpreted as relevant to theological and factional disputes within the Anglican Church (see above). For example, the terms of reference set for the inquiry ensured that (a) it would not deal with the breakdown of morality and stable families that may be the underlying causes of child sex abuse generally and (b) if anyone was to be blamed for child sex abuse it would be a reputed opponent of moral extremism; and
  • the separation of church and state has been a critical factor in the political liberty and economic prosperity that has been enjoyed by Western societies (see Competing Civilizations).

Finally,  legal defects with the inquiry reportedly included the fact that evidence was relied upon from witnesses who could not be subjected to cross-examination. Furthermore one of the authors of the report soon joined the public calls for Hollingworth's resignation [1]

May 2003

Articles

Articles about Child Sex Abuse (in  reverse date order)
[see also Articles on Hollingworth controversy and Attachment A: Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally]

Professor Briggs who co-wrote report that forced Peter Hollingworth to quit as Governor General has denounced new Anglican Church guidelines for dealing with sex-abuse cases - because they might discourage abuse victims from coming forward - because they are complex and do not emphasize child abuse. They are more concerned with church organization - with who should do what in terms of investigations (Walker J. 'Church sex-abuse criteria attacked', CM, 22/5/04)

Comment: Law Reform to Control Child Sex Abuse in Institutions

The above article recorded the view of a noted expert on child sex abuse that new sex-abuse criteria adopted by the Anglican church were ineffective.

The real problem may well lie in Australia's legal system which allows employers to be sued for the moral misdeeds of their employees - as it is this which (in the past, present and eternal future) must force institutions to take a defensive approach to the subject (and tend to be anything but enthusiastic in exposing those moral misdeeds).

For example, in Queensland:

  • the Anglican Diocesan Office took a defensive approach to allegations of child sex abuse in various church institutions - to protect itself (and its insurers) legally; then
  • to protect itself (and its insurers) legally, the said Office persuaded an incoming Archbishop to organise an inquiry into the way in which his predecessor had failed to deal with those allegations. This led to the farcical situation where the previous Archbishop (who had apparently acted on the Office's advice because he knew little of the subject, and was overworked) -was politically attacked, and forced to resign when he later became Australia's Governor General; then
  • the Anglican Diocesan Office, in order to protect itself (and its insurers) legally, developed new procedures for dealing with child sex abuse cases which were said to be (a) highly legalistic and (b) ineffectual in dealing with child abuse.

This does not seem like progress.

Australia's legal system and governance is built on the highly unusual foundation of individual liberty because it is assumed that individuals are responsible for the morality of their own interpersonal relationships (so this is not the responsibility of those in authority).

For this reason, and due to the defensive stance forced on institutions, the best solution to the problem of institutional ineptitude in dealing with child abuse might be new legislation which prevents organizations from being sued for the moral misdeeds of their staff (though it would allow it to be sued for any misdeeds that the institution itself perpetrated).

This might allow the distraction of sexual abuse of children in institutions to be resolved by those institutions, and the much more serious problem in families to be confronted.

There is debate about Catholic Church's Seal of the Confessional which prevents priests from revealing anything learned in confession - which has resulted in no action being taken to prevent ongoing child sexual abuse. There is also no obligation on citizens to give police information which they have about crime (Fynes-Clinton J., 'Suffering from silence', CM, 15/1/04).

Protest rallies and legal actions are proposed to press for a royal commission into child abuse. A child-abuse summit organized by Bravehearts brought together groups demanding action to deal with national crisis. This follows revelations that up to 50 foster children may have been abused. Aboriginal academic Boni Robertson, Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett and Liz Cunningham support the calls. Brisbane law firm, Qinn and Scattini, represents a flood of victims. Lawyer Simon Harrison expects a group civil action alleging systemic failure with the Queensland Government. Professor Robertson, head of inquiry against aboriginal women, said that extent of child abuse crisis was becoming apparent. She supported royal commission to expose those in positions of authority who were turning a blind eye. Braveharts sees problem as not with foster families but with government which failed to do its duty and protect children. Street marches comparable with the Sorry Campaign are wanted (Madigan M 'Child-abuse campaign intensifies', CM, 4/7/03)

Anglican church has treated children as objects rather than as human beings - and this attitude sowed seeds of sexual abuse according to Anglican Archbishop Aspinall. This view gives children secondary or no status, and is deeply flawed. Under Aspinall six clergy licenses have been revoked, 5 investigations are pending, 40 abuse complaints have been reported to police and 21 claims have been settled. Complaints are still coming in but at a much reduced rate, because the message is getting through ('Aspinall: Kids not objects', SM, 29/6/03)

Ross Fitzgerald is right to call for a national coordinated approach to child protection - rather than a costly royal commission. There is no shortage of evidence of the effect of child sexual abuse, and expertise to identify earlier and better responses. Capacity to respond is restricted by cumbersome federal-state arrangements - which fragment approaches. A national summit, if well organized and attended by organizations with the commitment and capacity to improve both management and prevention could help. It could make governments work more effectively together - and with others. It could improve responses to notified abuses. It could also address prevention of abuse - which is more challenging but not impossible. It would be supported by the teachers, nurses, doctors, police, lawyers and others who see abuse and neglect daily. It would be a defining national moment - involving something all can agree on - that children need the best. A national approach is needed to turn the rhetoric into action (Stanley F. 'Facing up to child abuse', A, letter to editor 9/6/03)

Hollingworth's resignation as G-G should be the start, not the end, of concerted government and community action to deal with problem of sexual abuse of children. Many groups are calling for Royal Commission. But while such commissions have their uses (inquisitorial in nature they are not constrained by same evidence rules as criminal judicial proceedings, can uncover past misdeeds). But they depend on government will to carry forward, and cost a lot of money. Trevor Jordan (senior lecturer in applied ethics at QUT) believes a national summit is the best way forward. There is a need for a national approach, and for improved procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse. There has been a great deal of information about how to deal with abuse in organisations gathered over past 10 years. Unfortunately political, religious and sporting leaders seem to be unteachable. They now need to. All instances of abuse allegations should be dealt with by independent multi-disciplinary teams. Jordon (Chairman of Esther trust which advocates on behalf of victims) argues that Hollingworth saga illustrates conflict of interest involved in CEOs attempting to deal with allegations). CEOs need to be out of the picture as they put interests of organizations first. Independent committees within organizations would investigate a complaint of sexual misconduct - and pass sex offences to police. Other forms of misconduct would be dealt with by counseling, mediation, conciliation, restitution or apology. A national summit could also address adequacy of victim support and advocacy. Organizations with procedures for dealing with complaints do not publicize them as doing so increase incidence of complaints. It is difficult to deal with abuses in the distant past. A national summit would share accumulated experience - and result in national standards for dealing with allegations. Organizations could use each other's expertise to investigate complaints. There needs to be training in how to deal with the issue. Sex abuse is a complex issue - but a national summit of government, church, sport and community organizations would be more helpful in dealing with sex abuse than a royal commission (Fitzgerald R., 'G-G row must now trigger child summit', A, 5/6/03)

In Queensland police, a former Children's Commissioner and government officials were repeatedly told of abuse inside a foster family. Victims may take action against the state government. The proposed audit of foster families would be a band aid solution. Victims do not trust the police, the Families Department or the government system. A Royal Commission is needed (Madigan M 'Authorities knew of abuse, says aunt', CM, 21/6/03)

If every instance of abuse was reported and investigated, there would still be a future problem - because there are many who have yet to offend for first time. None of proposed programs would intervene before abuse occurs. However there are crime prevention strategies that are similar to health risk prevention. This includes (a) developmental crime prevention - which aims to reduce development of criminal potential and (b) situational crime prevention which reduces situations in which crime can occur. How can this apply to sex abuser? Sexual offenders experience similar developmental risks to those linked to general delinquency and crime - marital conflict, harsh and erratic punishment and low levels of parental involvement. Sex offenders have particular problems in relationship with their fathers. Thus improving relationships between fathers and children could reduce sexual abuse. To reduce environmental risk is difficult. Most abuse occurs in homes. Griffith University researchers are considering how TV could be used to intervene with potential abusers. However abuse also occurs in institutional settings - where procedures could be devised to reduce situational opportunities. Sex abuse can be a disaster for children - but resources should not only be mobilized after abuse has occurred (Smallbone S., 'Stop abuse before its starts', CM, 29/5/03)

The Prime Minister has ruled out an inquiry into child sexual abuse - as the issue that welfare agencies believe has been too ugly to confront gained national prominence. The PM labeled the practice abominable - and suggested that there was a need for more openness on the subject, rather than more inquiries because 'we know the problem'.  The best way he saw to deal with the problem (which mainly arises in families) is early intervention programs targeting families at risk. Opposition proposals for a Children's Commissioner were seen as window dressing - but supported by National Association for prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. Baptist Minister Tim Costello suggested that there was a profound problem related to child sex abuse which required attention to systemic problems in institutions and failure of leaders to address it. Bravehearts called for a Royal Commission (Rintoul S 'Howard rules out sex abuse inquiry', A,  27/5/03)

An inquiry into child sex abuse is not needed according to the PM - because the problem is known and the solution involves early intervention in families at risk (Rintol S 'Howard rules out sex abuse inquiry', A, 27/5/03)

Pressure for the establishment of a Royal Commission into child sex abuse has increased because of the resignation of the G-G. This is needed because the issue is now the top national priority - according the Bravehearts. Federal Opposition proposed a National Commissioner for Children. Opposition leader said that resignation showed that child sex abuse issue must never be covered up. Democrat leader Andrew Bartlett said resignation sent the right message in terms of the community's attitude to child sex abuse. This is a nationwide problem that involves more than one man. (Jones C 'pressure mounting for abuse royal commission', CM, 26/5/03)

Experts doubt that the Hollingworth case will catalyze change in tackling the sexual abuse of children. There is nothing new about children being sexually abused - according to Dorothy Scott and Shurlee Swain in Confronting Cruelty - which dealt with the evolution of child protection over the past 100 years. The ALP promised a crusade against child abuse with a Better Future for Our Kids bill, and creation of a Commissioner for Children. Social workers wondered whether the Hollingworth case would lead to lasting national interest. Royal Australian College of Psychiatrists (President Philip Boyce) support a national summit - because this could look towards the future rather than the past which would be the focus of a royal commission. While states have to find more money, most important is a change of attitude - especially in churches though most cases occur in families. According to Swain People in power empathize with people like themselves - and protect institutions. Churches believe their own propaganda and argue that there are just a few bad eggs rather than a structural problem. They are also governed by legal advice rather than by what is right morally. Monash University social work lecturer Lesley Hewett believes that what happened to Hollingworth will make people in authority take more care in responding to children's claims. It is significant that the Anglican church in Brisbane did initiate an inquiry. Social work consultant Jan Carter argues that there is a need for political will as well as institutional will for attitudes to change. Victoria's Premier called for the resignation of G-G while his government was failing to protect child abuse victims. The national debate about sex abuse has not helped one child - because there are still not enough services. There is no connection between the scrutiny given to sexual assault - and what government will spend on services. Much more is needed than mandatory reporting - though governments feel they have achieved something with this. Allowing the abused to speak at the time would be more useful. Hewett is optimistic that the Hollingworth affair marks an evolution in community attitudes. The outcry about the G-G's implication that a girl was responsible for initiating a sexual relationship showed a change in community understanding. The community needs to address a lot of educational issues (power imbalances, gender and sexual relationships) to move forward. Perhaps the churches will be shamed into taking the lead - as in Canada. (Yallop R 'Too hard to cope with', A,  27/5/03)

Brisbane's Anglican Archbishop Aspinall defended his handling of abuse cases in an alleged pedophile ring - but acknowledged that legal constraints prevented him from acting as sympathetically as he would have liked (Wilson A., 'Aspinall explains silence on abuse', A, 23/5/03)

Brisbane's Anglican Archbishop is to convene a summit to consider fallout from controversy surrounding handling of sex abuse cases (Wilson A 'Clergy to address sex report fallout', A,  20/5/03)

Premier Beattie questioned the conduct of Peter Hollingworth in five cases detailed in Anglican church report. All five cases he said raised questions about how the accused and complainants were treated, the lack of disciplinary action and  Hollingsworth's recollection of events. Premier said that he had tackled pedophilia head on in D'Arcy case. Others suggested that Beattie's contribution included setting up Forde inquiry whose recommendations were not followed up - and which seemed like a con job (Odgers R and Helen M 'Beattie steps up the pressure', CM, 14/5/03)

There are repeated reports about sexual abuse of children in schools, parishes and other institutions. Most of the reports concern people in Christian church. Repeated calls for a royal commission are met with PMs assurance that this is not necessary. Broken Rites is a support group for victims of sexual abuse by clergy. Issues that might come before a royal commission would be (a) personal accounts of criminal sexual abuse, criminal assault and sustained psychological abuse. There are distinct groups. There are groups of aboriginals, of former child migrants. There are 30-50,000 Australian born non-aboriginal children. Many were orphans. A commission would find that many of these had poor literacy skills and have lived on the margins of society. The Commission would identify a period in recent history when child exploitation was prevalent. It would identify repeated failure by church authorities and government bureaucracies to take responsive and responsible action. There would be testimony from advocacy groups about the 'lottery' nature of current church run processes - intimidation of some victims, a tendency by lawyers to refuse to consider victims needs. There would be accounts of attempted civil litigation - but these are strenuously resisted to defend church estate. A Parish in Ballaratt has been devastated by a paedophile ring. Advocacy groups believe that victims number in the thousands. There is a need for reliable data - and for information about victims later entering criminal system. A royal commission would be able to find out what has really been going on. (Chamley W 'Exposing a shameful past', CM, 13/5/03)

Conducting a national inquiry into paedophilia (which Premier Beattie has called for) is impractical - as most of the laws and institutions involved are state responsibility ('Pedophilia inquiry impractical', CM, editorial, 12/5/03)

There were many professional delegates to the national child sex abuse conference - yet 3 mothers' stories had the most impact - who spoke of the systemic failure to protect their children (ie of failure by legal and welfare agencies established to help children). They spoke of bureaucratic court processes that lacked humanity and understanding, and a gap between federal and state governments. Courts are seen to be perpetuating abuse with the psychological abuse of the adversarial legal system. The justice system can not deal with child abuse cases. Fred Briggs believes there is a need for a national inquiry and system for dealing with child sex abuse cases. SA's Victim's support groups believes that children can not give evidence that will be believed in court. Defense lawyers intimidate children with legalistic language of linguistic devices. A system must be found that matches children's needs. Features suggested for special courts might include: judges and prosecutors trained to deal with children; intermediaries to interpret children's questions for children; use of closed-circuit TV for childrens evidence  (Plane T., 'Abused and betrayed',  A,  5/5/03)

Brisbane's Anglican church conducted an inquiry into past complaints about the handling of sexual abuse complaints - after requests for a royal commission were rejected.  The report paints a mixed picture. It includes criticisms of the church that have been tackled. It can not be interpreted as just criticism of Peter Hollingworth as his performance was at time justified, and others were criticized. Child protection will be a matter of ongoing concern - and difficulties remain. Ultimately the problem is human failure. pedophiles are dangerous not only because of what they do but because they are expert at concealing this - and allegations seem unbelievable. Thus national protocols, screening measures and child protection are needed - which is not possible so long as state procedures are different.  And the community must recognize that more than 90% of child abuse occurs in family situations rather than in institutions (Aspinall P., 'Inquiry can help curb child abuse', A,  5/5/03)

The report on child abuse in Anglican Church in Brisbane has only touched the tip of the iceberg according to one of its authors (Professor Freda Briggs). There is a need for a national inquiry into child sex abuse and the way courts deal with children - as the court system is perpetuating abuse. She has called on Prime Minister to establish a national inquiry - but his office has denied there is a problem. Annie Cossins, Chair of National Child Sexual Abuse Reform Committee will call for special child sex offence courts in all states (Plane T 'Just tip of the iceberg', A,  3-4/5/03)

Allegations in relation to sexual abuse in Brisbane church institutions pale into insignificance in relation to allegations elsewhere. 'Sex power and the clergy' (by Muriel Porter) presents an insider view of sexual abuse by members of the clergy - in a wider context (ie looking at implications of enforced celibacy). Porter argues that 75% of journalists practice no religion - and are thus not well positioned to comment on organized religion. (Cotes A., 'Confessions from the inside', CM, 26/4/03)

The Prime Minister indicated that a royal commission into child sex abuse could be undertaken if this would significantly benefit victims. A royal commission would benefit those alleging sex abuse and inappropriate action by the Anglican Church in Brisbane. It would also benefit other institutions that face similar problems. One in four girls in Australia, and one in eight boys, are abused. A royal commission is needed because the laws of the land do not allow private investigations enough power. Professor Freda Briggs (University of South Australia) recently called for a national royal commission - because (a) the criminal justice system is an inappropriate way to deal with child sex abuse cases - and can add to the abuse of children seen as likely to be poor witnesses and (b) there is significant disparity between states in the need to report sex abuse cases - where clergy are exempt in Queensland but not elsewhere (c) support and offender-treatment programs are virtually non-existent. A royal commission could identify past errors and suggest best practices for protecting the vulnerable from future harm and dealing decisively with future abuse. If a royal commission is not held, a church investigation will proceed. (Aspinall P., 'Redress torrent of abuse',  Australian,  22/4/02)   

There is concern in the catholic Church about falling attendances, and sex abuse scandals. The latter is a world wide problem - which has seen many resignations. Sexual mis-behaviour is not a simple problem. Effective disclosure of criminal behaviour, proper treatment of victims, screening and advising of candidates for the ministry, prevention strategies in ministries are all needed. But at a deeper level the problem is not in the adequacy of structures and the integrity of ministers. Rather it is in theology - which has to do with power and a perception that ministers are free of the constraints of lesser mortals. The relationship between service and power as long proved difficult for the church - and attempts to find solutions were central to the work of the Second Vatican Council  (Bathersby J. (Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane) 'Service or power',  Courier Mail,  22/4/02)

Some SE Queensland Anglican schools may need to be closed because of the damages payouts connected with child sex abuse cases (Smith W. 'Sex attack compo may shut schools',  Courier Mail,   20/4/02)

A Canadian Anglican diocese was forced to close last year because sexual abuse claims against it exceeded its assets (Smith W. 'Prophet of loss',  Courier Mail,  20/4/02)

The Pope has arranged a meeting with all US cardinals because of child sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church in America (Maher S. 'Cardinal sins spark backlash',  Courier Mail,  20/4/02)

The refusal of both state and federal governments to countenance a royal commission into suspected child abuse in the Anglican Church needs further consideration. Such an inquiry would indicate that the authorities responsible for child protection were taking a serious pro-active approach. It is not enough to say that there are already enquiries underway, or have been enquiries . Institutions should have learned about the need to deal openly with these issues. The Abused Child trust has been seeking a national approach to child protection for some time as essential to prevention (Reynolds A. 'It won't go away', Courier Mail,  18/4/02)

There has been some support for a Senate inquiry into child abuse claims (Griffith C. 'Church faces Senate rebuff',  Courier Mail, 18/4/02)

The victims of sexual abuse in the Anglican Church deserve more than they are getting from governments - who are avoiding difficult issues. Dr Aspinall has been unable to establish an inquiry without government help. The PM does not seem to find the issue to be important enough. The repeated failure of church administrations to protect children in their care requires effort to restore a bond of trust. Queensland's Premier's refusal to establish such an inquiry - because the Forde Inquiry had already examined the matter - is not good enough, as the circumstances were different ('Frayed bond of trust needs leadership',  Courier Mail,  editorial,  18/4/02)

Premier Beattie was accused of refusing to meet victims of child abuse in state and church run institutions (Odgers R. 'Victims angry at Beattie',  Courier Mail,  17/4/02)

The Pope has called US cardinals to the Vatican to discuss sex scandals affecting up to 3000 priests ('Pope calls abuse talks',  Courier Mail,  17/4/02)

The promised Anglican church inquiry into sex abuse allegations will be ineffectual due to a lack of legal authority (Balogh S. et al ‘Sex inquiry will fail archbishop admits’, Australian, 17/4/02)

The Prime minister has refused a request by Brisbane's Anglican Archbishop (Aspinall) for a royal commission into child sexual abuse - which arose from problems in arranging an internal inquiry (Griffith C. 'Bishop powerless as PM rejects inquiry',  Courier Mail,  17/4/02)

Minders of Brisbane’s Archbishop Aspinall are claimed to have blocked his attendance at a national rally against child abuse (Taylor C ‘Church ignore rally for children’, Sunday Mail, 14/4/02)

The Governor General is refusing to acknowledge that the way that he handled child abuse allegations damages his current role. More importantly this is muddying the water around the sensitive issue of childhood sexual abuse - which US research now shows to change the form and structure of the brain. It is vital to ensure that child sex abuse does not happen in the first place. Thus such abuse can not be tolerated. The rights of children must prevail. If Hollingworth stays as Governor General he will be dragged into inquiries - which will send a mixed message about Australia (Soorley J. 'Clear message on child abuse',  Courier Mail,  9/3/02)

Brisbane's new Anglican Archbishop Aspinall announced an internal inquiry into the Brisbane diocese's past handling of child sex-abuse allegations - and also has to cope with its poor financial position (Scott L. 'A bright light to reignite the torch of faith',  Australian,  5/3/02)

The Prime Minister will hold a royal commission into child sexual abuse - if he is convinced that it would help the victims (Shanahan D. and Henderson I. 'PM warms to child sex abuse inquiry',  Australian,  4/3/02)

The Prime Minister should call a Royal Commission into the sexual abuse of children in Australia – a systematic review not a witch hunt directed against specific individuals. The furore surrounding the actions of the now Governor General in dealing with child sex abuse provides the basis for such an inquiry. It would also provide an honourable path for the Governor General to resign. (Shanahan D., ‘Now for a real inquiry’, Australian, 1/3/02)

The debate about child sex abuse in relation to the actions of the Governor General while Archbishop of Brisbane is helpful in raising awareness of the problem. But that problem is not being solved. The entire community needs to think about how it deals with this issue. Queensland spends less than 50% of other states on child protection. And despite the Forde inquiry recommendations funding was not increased – with an estimated $170m under-funding. Only doctors are required to report suspected abuses. And the legal system fails to deal with abuses adequately. Everyone is ultimately the victim of child abuse because victims can experience a lifetime of trauma and themselves commit crimes against society (eg theft, vandalism, child abuse, drug abuse, suicide) (Wood David, Chairman Abused Child Trust, ‘Refocus on the children’, Courier Mail, 25/2/02)

Rather than face up to the fact that a pedophile had been in a position of trust with access to hundreds of school-children for years, St Paul's School, eulogized the master after his suicide (Thomas H. 'God save the Queen's man',  Courier Mail,  23/2/02)

A Chaplain at Brisbane's Anglican Church Grammar School was sacked as a result of allegations about sexual abuse of a teenager (Targett T and Doneman P. 'Churchie dismisses school chaplain',  Courier Mail,  21/2/02)

St Paul's Anglican School hushed up a scandal involving sexual abuse by a teacher who later committed suicide (and paid a secret cash settlement) with the knowledge of the Archbishop Hollingworth (Thomas H. 'Father of victim stands by hush money' claim', Courier Mail,  21/2/02) 

The license of an Anglican Bishop was revoked because accusations of sexual misconduct (Reid 'Bishop was sacked because of shame', Courier Mail,  21/2/02)

The allegations against Peter Hollingworth relate to incidents of sexual abuse - without there being any suggestion that he himself was guilty of this. The overwhelming majority of child sexual abuse incidents take place in families rather than in institutions. Surely this be the major concern. As Governor General there is almost no opportunity to effectively respond to allegations - which are about very old matters that should have been raised while he was still Archbishop of Brisbane (Paul J. 'Accused with no right of reply',  Australian,  19/2/02)

On TV the Governor general painted himself as the real victim of the sex abuse scandal - and as being the victim of conspiracy. But there is no hidden agenda. The fact is that the Toowoomba Preparatory School (with Archbishop Hollingworth's knowledge) covered up the sexual behaviour of a teacher. This resulted in a large court judgment - and there are 26 other cases working their way through the system. (Aitkens D. 'Victim mentality',  Courier Mail, 19/2/02)

Articles focusing on Peter Hollingworth's Role

Queensland's premier has labeled allegations that he did not respond to warnings that a former ALP MP was a pedophile as a smear campaign (Wilson A and Nason D 'Smears a sad day in politics: Beattie', A, 30/5/03)

Yarallumba has been home to the greatest moral coward of recent times. At no point did Hollingworth admit that protecting a pedophile priest was wrong - except with a minor qualification. All that was given was a homily about his intentions as G-G. In fact he has done very little as G-G. He was not even up to the job of being Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane (Charlton P., 'Homily from garage ends dud appointment', CM, 29/5/03)

Peter Hollingworth bowed out of pubic life with expression of profound regret for his failure to deal properly with allegations of child sexual abuse. He apologized for his decision not to sack a pedophile priest - 'though acting in good faith he regretted the way the matter was handled'. He also apologized for comments on ABC radio about under-age girl starting a relationship with an adult - as these did not come out as intended. He criticized those who urged him to resign to prevent damage to the office of G-G because the office was not protected by bowing to popularly generated controversy. Damage can be done to an office by removing people from it without good reason. (Cole M., 'Hollingworth: I got it wrong', CM, 29/5/03)

A contrite Peter Hollingworth admitted that he had got it wrong (while acting in good faith) in relation to a decision to cover up the actions of a pedophile priest which would not be the one he would make now. He is considering a legal challenge to the Anglican church inquiry - and suggested that there was nothing in his past that should cause a problem for others or himself. As part of the national apology, Dr Hollingworth stated that he would return to work in the welfare field. (Lewis S. 'In the end, the G-G agrees he was wrong', A,  29/5/03)

All kinds of abuse, and particularly the sexual abuse of children, is abhorrent. As Archbishop of Brisbane I dealt with many pastoral matters, and in 1993 I was confronted with an allegation of abuse that had occurred many years earlier. I supported the Anglican church's inquiry into these issues - and in all cases except this one (in which it was highly critical) the report exonerated me. Though acting in good faith, I accept that the decision was not the one I would have made today - and regret the way that the matter was handled and apologize to those who suffered as a consequence. I also regret the impression given in an ABC interview that I blamed the victim for abuse. Many have sought my resignation - but the office is not protected from damage by bowing to popular pressure. I hope my resignation demonstrates both the importance of the position and the need to place a high priority on children's welfare. I have no doubt about the seriousness of child abuse and my error of judgment. Society needs to place most emphasis on care and protection of children in families where most abuse occurs. The hard fact is that, though acting in good faith, in at least one incident I got it wrong (Hollingworth P., 'I acted in good faith, I got it wrong', A,  29/5/03)

Peter Hollingworth apologized for his mistakes in handling child sexual abuse allegations. This statement was overshadowed by political furor after coalition MPs in Queensland made allegations about sex-abuse cases involving Labor figures. Queensland's Premier claimed that he was the subject of a smear campaign orchestrated at highest level. Beattie was accused of not having acted quickly enough in relation to Darcy, while NSW allegations involved sexual abuse by a senior Minster (Davis M and Strutt S, 'Smear campaign as G-G bows out', FR, 29/5/03)

Opposition leader Simon Crean failed to gain the high moral ground from Hollingworth affair even though appointing him has been the PM's mistake. This was the first forced resignation of a G-G beset with scandal. It was necessary to dissect the significance of the issue and expose the farce it had become. Crean should  have dwelled on his own consistent position - demanding in February 2002 that Hollingworth be stood aside when allegations first emerged that he had turned a blind eye to child sex abuse. (Walker T., 'Crean loses his way by taking the low road', FR, 27/5/03)

PM defended outgoing G-G, and ruled out changes to the appointment process. He said G-G had paid a high price for his error of judgment. The ALP attacked the PM for not sacking the G-G - saying that he was guilty of moral turpitude and that the victims had paid a higher price than the G-G (Davis M and Tingle L 'Howard under fire over plan for new G-G', FR, 27/5/03)

".. I believe that allegations made in relation to my behaviour as governor general are unfair, unwarranted and without foundation, it is clear that continued public controversy has the potential to undermine and diminish my capacity to uphold the importance, dignity and integrity of this high office" (text of G-G's letter of resignation, A, 27/5/03)

The GG announced his intention to resign because, despite the misplaced and unwarranted allegations made against him, the controversy made it impossible to carry out the job (Davis M 'G-G quits over church cover-up' FR, 26/5/03)

Civil Libertarian lawyer Terry O'Gorman said that Hollingworth was the victim of a witch hunt - involving baseless and unwarranted allegations. The Anglican church inquiry has not been properly reported and was seriously flawed because witnesses could not be cross examined. Then the joint author of the report joined the fray within days calling on the G-G to resign ('Victim of a witch-hunt says author',  CM,  26/5/03)

Various officials in the Brisbane Diocese support Peter Hollingworth's decision to resign (Griffith C 'Church officials support decision',  CM,  26/5/03)

Hollingworth's resignation was a relief. It was the only decent thing to have done. Revelations in the courts, in the press, through an Anglican church inquiry painted a picture of a man corrupted by the high office of archbishop. He protected pedophile priests, placed the interests of the church before caring for the victims of abuse. His failings infected the office of G-G - and cast a lasting stain ion the vice-regal system (Atkins D., 'Decision avoids a crisis', CM,  26/5/03)

In 1898 Emile Zola published a famous open letter 'J'accuse' in relation to false accusations against Alfred Dreyfus that he had betrayed French military secrets to Germany. Dreyfus was a persecuted victim of trumped up charges - under which lay a deep vein of anti-Semitism. In relation to the Hollingworth situation Zola might have accused: (a) the Australian people of being prepared to break every moral taboo except in one area related to the innocence of youth - in the area of sexual abuse where they take a 2 faced approach by setting up protection arrangements in institutions but do nothing about homes where 96% of cases arise (b) child abuse and sex abuse movements of being more concerned for their fame than doing anything about the problem - and leading the media astray (c) the media of lazily feeding from one another - and setting up an unbalanced adversarial situation (d) some reporters of having private agendas (e) political leaders of using the situation to their own advantage - and ignoring allegations of sex abuse in their own ranks (f) some in the church of being concerned only with their own self-protection. Hollingworth was found in the opinion of those who wrote a private report to be guilty of making an untenable pastoral decision. The report was misused. It was said at the beginning of his term of office that he would never be allowed to complete it - any excuse would do. Hollingworth has never thought it necessary to protect himself. Others were envious of his appointment. Many are guilty of hatred in this matter with no good reasons. Finally there are some who are guilty of genuine ill-will. There are traces in this affair of a virulent militant secularism which denies the place of religion in public life  (Morgan J 'J'accuse: G-G a victim of hate',  A,  26/5/093)

Hollingworth's decision about resignation  hinges on one case - in which an inquiry found that he had acted wrongly in relation to which senior counsel's opinion is that he was denied natural justice by the inquiry (Emerson S 'Resignation decision hinges on one case', A, 24-25/5/03)

Hollingworth had been the victim of a frenzied witch-hunt and should be left in peace - according to Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy (WA,  24-5/5//03)

Peter Hollingworth remains under intense political pressure to quit - with Labor and the minor parties intensifying demands that he step down over allegations of covering up child sexual abuse. Mr Crean suggested that the PM was giving comfort to those who fail to clamp down on child sex abuse. Greens leader blames the PM for allowing office of G-G to become so damaged. (Lewis S et al, 'Angry calls for head of state to roll', A,  24-25/5/03)

The Anglican Church inquiry formed by Hollingsworth's successor found that his action in dealing with allegations of sexual abuse was unfair, inappropriate and unreasonable - and that his position was thus untenable. But this is not the main problem. His actions as G-G justify his removal. He has lost the confidence of the Opposition. His defense of his position smacks of dissembling and grubby hard-ball politics. Statements provide carefully crafted illusions and misleading assumptions - and using old political trick of undermining the credibility of one's accuser. These slippery tricks of media releases do not look like naive churchman trying to be frank and sorry about past errors. On May 1 responded to reports findings that his position was untenable by admitting a serious error of judgment but pointing out that this had been made on the basis of psychiatric advice. Since then he supplied PM with legal advice that questioned Aspinall report. However these defenses do not stand scrutiny. In February he did not admit a major error of judgment - but merely that the wrong decision was made. And in a letter to Bulletin Hollingworth stated that his decision was contrary to psychiatric advice - and was based on potential damage to the church. The legal advice concerning inquiry was that it denied him natural justice. These are just some examples of how Hollingworth has used subtle public pronouncements from office to undermine his critics while adopting the attitude of naive innocence. Concessions have been forced from contradictions emerging while he has been G-G (Shanahan D 'Telling spin in crisis control', A, 23/5/03)

 taxpayers will cover the cost of clearing up the mess surrounding the Governor General, Peter Hollingworth. But these rape allegations are a distraction from handling of child sex abuse cases in which an Anglican church inquiry found that that he acted inappropriately. But it is his behaviour as Governor General that requires his removal. He has lost the confidence of the Opposition and public faith. His defense of his position smacks of dissembling and grubby hard-ball politics. This looks like crisis-control for a tawdry politician. It involves subtle public pronouncements to undermine his critics (Shanahn D. 'Telling spin in crisis control', A,  23/5/03) 

G-G has hit back at claims by Brisbane Archbishop Aspinall that he failed to pass on details of a child sexual abuse case. He had met with parents of abused youth and promised to pass on details to Aspinall - who denied receiving such information. Hollingworth then noted that reference had been made obliquely - because the matter was not direct responsibility of Archbishop (Griffith C 'G-G letter challenge to Aspinall', CM, 22/5/03)

Queensland premier accused PM of white-anting Anglican Church report and attempting to 'assassinate' its authors who criticised G-G's handling of child sex abuse. The PM had accused premier of waging a politically motivated campaign against Peter Hollingworth. Premier told parliament the report was independent and unbiased - in reference to legal advice that the report denied natural justice to Dr Hollingworth. The premier was not prepared to allow integrity of report to be undermined. The authors were very distinguished (Emerson S., 'PM white-anting report: Beattie', A, 16/5/03)

Australia's senate declared Dr Hollingworth to be unfit to hold the office of G-G and demanded his resignation or dismissal (Davis M., 'G-G loses on the voices', 16/5/03)

Government spokesmen have called into question both the selective use of the findings of the Anglican church inquiry - and whether it provided natural justice to the G-G (Davis M. and Strutt S. 'Coalition MPs defend G-G', FR, 15/5/03)

The Prime Minister has accused the Queensland Premier of conducting a politically motivated campaign against the Governor General - which the Premier suggested was intended to divert attention from the Governor General's conduct. Others alleged deep moral decay at the heart of the federal government for refusing to stand the Governor General aside. Queensland's public sector union noted that it was ironic to see the Premier taking a stand on child sex abuse when his government turned a blind eye to the problem every day - because staff lack the resources to deal properly with all the cases they confront (Emerson S, Toohey P and Karvelas P 'Howard, Beattie Brawl over G-G', CM, 15/5/03)

PM continued to attack the integrity of private church inquiry that condemned GG. GG faced Senate motion calling for his resignation. PM attacked the way inquiry dealt with GG - on the basis of a legal opinion that he was denied natural justice. He refused calls for royal commission saying it was more about political posturing than to better understand / deal with the problem (Cole M. 'Hoard turns his attack to church inquiry', CM, 14/5/03)

The PM refused to establish a Royal Commission into child sex abuse as the Senate made an unprecedented call for the G-G to be sacked - because of his actions as Archbishop of Brisbane. Queensland Premier suggested that there were more than the one instance involved that had been the subject of a conclusion by the Anglican church inquiry. The PM indicated that it would be better to spend royal commission cost on early intervention, and that he had been given legal opinion that G-G had been subject to abuse of natural justice (O'Loghlin T 'Howard says no to child abuse inquiry', FR, 14/5/03)

The Senate will censure Peter Hollingworth for failure to act against child sex abuse - increasing political pressure on him to resign. He has refused to release legal advice which is claimed to show that he was denied natural justice by Anglican church inquiry into sex abuse (Lewis S 'Senate move to censure the GG', A, 13/5/03)

Victims of child abuse were upset and offended by PM's little regard and recognition of the behaviour of the GG - according to founder of Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse (Liz Mullinar). Endless emails from ASCA members spoke of finally being recognised, but found that PM did not hold GG accountable for his actions. Victims see that again they do not matter. There is little regard of GG putting interests of perpetrator of child abuse ahead of victims. (Plane T et al 'Victims ignored again say activists', A, 13/5/03)

Peter Hollingworth is expected to resign as Governor General after standing aside to focus on clearing his name of rape allegations. The PM brokered a deal to avoid a constitutional crisis and limit the damage to his government. He denied that he had pressured Hollingworth to resign, or that the situation was a resignation - but he declined to express confidence in Dr Hollingworth (Lewis S 'G-G stands aside', A,  12/5/03)

Peter Hollingworth may be the victim of a witch hunt. Where is truth in the rumours surrounding him. There is no mention that he was found to have acted appropriately in the Toowoomba matter that let to the outcry. It is easy to fabricate allegations of abuse. Hollingworth earned a reputation for achieving much for the poor and deprived in Australia. In Brisbane he undertook reorganisation of vast and under-resourced diocese. All churches started struggling with sex abuse issues in 1990s - and Hollingworth was in the vanguard - in approaches which now seem soft but were not at the time. There is a need for people to re-examine the moral basis of their own lives (Morgan J 'Throw out moral chaos, not the G-G', A, 12/5/03)

Peter Hollingworth told the PM that his greatest concern was to protect the office - which points to resignation down the track (Kelly P. 'In other words a pledge to resign', A,  12/5/03)

Peter Hollingworth may be the victim of a witch hunt. Where is the truth? No one points out that the G-G was found to have acted properly in the case that started the outcry against him. A need for return to moral sanity is needed. It is easy to fabricate accusations - and hard to disprove them. Hollingworth did much for the poor and deprived in Australia. In Brisbane he took on re-organising a vast and under-resourced diocese. There is an hypocricy in the community about dealing with sexuality. Governments are now cleaning up their acts - but there has been a refusal to face up to the problem.  All churches started tacking sex abuse problems in the early 1990s and Hollingworth's action were ahead of most. Recently information about the McCarthy anti-communist witch hunts in the 1950s destroyed reputations while doing nothing about subversion (Morgan J 'Throw out the moral chaos, not the G-G', A, 12/5/03)

There is a considerable weight of legal opinion that the Governor General, having lost public and government support should resign outright. Constitutional expert George Williams (University of NSW) says that Dr Hollingworth is entitled to presumption of innocence - but should go because he lacks popular and government support. He can not fulfill his constitutional functions if he has lost that support. Geoffrey Lindell (Adelaide University) suggested that Dr Hollingworth ought to go for the good of the office - but is seriously concerned about this resulting from a media campaign and public opinion polls. Cheryl Saunders (Director, Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies) suggested issues related to appointment were more political than constitutional. However there are issues coming out of Queensland inquiry that seem to be being put aside (Stapleton J 'Time to quit say top law brains', A,  12/5/03)

Peter Hollingsworth has contested a key point in the Anglican church inquiry which found that he allowed a pedophile to remain as a priest knowing that his behaviour had been continued, rather than being an isolated incident (Griffith C 'Renewed legal attack on damning report', CM, 12/5/03)

The Governor General should resign or be sacked because he has lost public support - as most are aghast at his failure to act against child sexual abuse (Bartlett A. - Democrats leader). Headlines scream that G-G should be sacked. But the basis for this is what is said about Anglican church inquiry; opinion polls showing that 3/4 of people feel his position is untenable. But this was based on slanted media coverage of the report. The media coverage has been one-sided and can be described as a witch hunt (O'Gorman T.) ('Hollingworth: time to end debate and take firm action', FR, 10-11/5/03)

Supporters refer to lynch mobs and campaigns that offend natural justice - but no one could pretend that allegations of benign neglect of sex abuse cases while Archbishop of Brisbane did not wreck his office and reputation (Walker T., 'Hollingworth nothing if not determined', FR, 9/5/03)

Rape allegations against Governor General should not be dismissed as a witch hunt according to Bravehearts. The Australian Council of Civil Liberties stated that the Governor general is being denied natural justice ('Child campaigner defends truth hunt', Australian, 9/5/03)

A senior minister stated that G-G should not be hounded out of office over an error of judgment (Gilchrist M etal,. 'Abbott steps up to support Hollingworth', A, 7/5/03)

It is not possible in the absence of an proper procedure to determine whether the GG should resign or be dismissed in relation to handling of child sex abuse cases. Much comes down to politics - which is unfortunate given that position should be above partisanship. But Hollingworth can no longer do the job - and that should resign. The job requires the ability to unite the nation - in fact as a de-facto head of state. Hollingworth now can not do this. Second GG has to exercise reserve powers - and must have confidence of opposition - which he has now lost (Williams G., 'Compromised Hollingworth can't do his job', CM, 7/5/03)

Coalition MPs join attacks on G-G (Atkins D, CM, 6/5/03)

Peter Hollingworth will not be dismissed - and so must resign. He has little support - and is called on by most of the nation's leaders and call-back radio to resign. The criticism is so widespread it has damaged the office of G-G and the Anglican church. Reasons to resign are: Australia cannot have in vice-regal office someone who failed to act in such a serious matter as child sex abuse; the G-G has lost the support of all senior leaders; (and 10 others) (King M 'Ten good reasons to resign', CM, 6/5/03)

It is a sound constitutional principle that a governor-general should not be dismissed except for misbehavior in office or moral turpitude. The campaign against Peter Hollingworth has been so vicious and one-sided that many believe the worst of him. Yet the governor general requires protection to act against a prime minister acting unconstitutionally. The report of the inquiry has now cleared Hollingworth of the wild accusations that were made against him. Problems were found only in two cases - in one of which he acted on legal advice. Yet when the Queensland Government made no admission and fought all the way to the High Court in an appalling case which involved a teacher who became an MP there was no public outcry. The real target has never been the governor general - but the person who appointed him (Flint D., 'Hollingworth is a scapegoat', A,  5/5/03)

The G-G indicated that he would tough it out though senior government figures refused to support Peter Hollingworth as Democrats leader sought Senate motion of no-confidence. A former Labor leader also called for his resignation (Wilson A 'G-G vows to remain in office', A,  5/5/03)

The Governor General must resign because of the findings that he promoted an Anglican educational official whom church officials knew to have protected pedophiles. There were not the result of a media storm - but of an inquiry conducted by the Anglican church. ('Controversial Hollingworth must go now', A, editorial, 3-4/5/-3)

A former priest has accused Governor General of dismissing his (unsubstantiated) claims that he was abused while working in Brisbane. NSW Premier and Green's leader called for G-G to resign.  (Wilson A 'Another sex claim hits G-G', A, 3-4/5//03)

There is strong sentiment within the Coalition government that the G-G should resign. He is however intent on standing firm (Marris S., 'MP's hope he'll go quietly', A, 3-4/5/03)

Bishop Noble denied Peter Hollingworth's claim that he was involved in decision to let known pedophile remain a priest - because, while he had been asked for advice he had been unable to give it because he knew too much about the situation (Macfarlane D 'Bishop raises doubt on defence', A, 3-4/5/03)

The Governor General should resign or be sacked. It is the men who abuse children in their care who are the real problem - and so it is unfortunate that Hollingworth has received all of the negative publicity. But he is G-G and people in such positions have to be better than others. (Duffy M 'We shouldn't let mateship get in the way of morality' CM, 3/5/03)

Peter Hollingworth could claim that he did not breach Anglican protocols on allegations against priests because the did not exist in Brisbane archdiocese - according to woman who drew up church's sex abuse protocols. They were drafted in 1995 and it took several years for them to be released by diocesan council. Delay in release of protocols reflected differences between progressive and conservative forces. The conservatives did not want to do the wrong thing by the diocese while the progressives were aware of the pain of victims and the need for societal change. (Scott L 'Anglican abuse protocol only came after the event', A, 13/5/03)

Queensland's Premier found it difficult to table in parliament the report on sex abuse in the Anglican Church - because he was a practicing Anglican - but believed that sex abuse should never be covered up (Nason D., 'Beattie tells of personal pain', A, 3-4/5/03)

70% of callers to talk-back radio argued that the Governor general should resign or be sacked (Jackson S 'Airwaves abuzz with sack calls', A,  3-4/5/03)

The Governor General has again been hit by a huge wave of condemnations by politicians (including premiers), community leaders and campaigners against sexual abuse - calling for his resignation (Griffith C and Gearing A 'Chorus of critics call for G-G's resignation', CM,  3/3/03)

Peter Hollingworth once said that he would never let up on criticizing policies that failed the poor, the jobless and the disadvantaged. But he now standards accursed of failing societies' victims through the way sex abuse cases were handled from 1999-2001. The board f inquiry found that he had a case to answer. He has always been a contradiction - a social reformer who is also a conservative high  churchman.  Hollingworth claimed that he had been 'too tired' to do more to help victims (Walker J 'A case to answer', A, 2/5/03)

The board of inquiry were competent and impartial but its terms of reference virtually confined it to Hollingworth's dealings with child sex abuse cases, and were extremely limited. He was not alone in dealing with these issues - yet the sole focus is on him. The Church has set up better procedures to deal with these issues - yet this comes too late for him. The tabling of the inquiries' finding in state parliament is problematic - as it was an internal inquiry. There would be outrage if parliament legislated to impose Christian morality. The publication of the report by the state challenges the separation of church and state.   (Murray J 'Judgment for naive shepherd who failed his flock', A, 2/5/03)

A report by Peter O'Callaghan QC and Professor Freda Briggs that was commissioned by the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane, Philip Aspinall found that the Governor General, the former Anglican Archbishop, acted unfairly, insensitively and inappropriately in two cases of child abuse - by allowing a known paedophile to work as a priest and not standing down a bishop against whom abuse allegations had been made. (Wilson A. and Emerson S 'G-G protected sex abuser', A,  2/5/03)

The inquiry into instances of sexual abuse in Anglican institutions is limited to dealing with a small number of cases about which complaints were made, and deals not with the cases but with how they were handled by the church. A general concern is that the reputation of the church dominated over the rights of individuals - and that inadequate responses were made to evidence of problems (Lloyd G 'Act of contrition' CM, 19/4/03)

Though public demands for the Governor General's removal have collapsed, the PM still needs to consider the question in terms of the real issues (Atkins D. 'Howard dragged into eye of the Hollingworth storm',  Courier Mail, 11/3/02)

The Governor General is facing fresh attacks over a 1993 article that he wrote suggesting repressed memory techniques used to recover memories of childhood abuses could not produce hard evidence, and that churches needed to consider their own legal self defense (Griffith C and Gearing A. 'G-G's article brings fresh attack',  Courier Mail,  11/3/02)

Peter Hollingworth claims that attacks on himself were the product of a coalition of people - including social justice advocates, republicans, media, feminists, disaffected clergy and others. But Hollingworth has long been controversial in the Anglican church. He was seen as a future Archbishop of Melbourne - pressing social issues on the public agenda, and reminding Anglicans of God's bias to the poor. He supported broadly 'liberal' issues - and many were disappointed when he was not appointed. But hesitancy over the ordination of women lost him the support of the liberal wing of the Anglican church. In the 1990s he seemed to take a new conservative stance - and many were not surprised when he was appointed Governor General. This does not confirm a smear campaign (Porter M. 'Hollingworth always a controversial figure',  Courier mail,  28/2/02)

Media-frenzy has been the term applied to debate concerning the actions of present Governor General when Archbishop of Brisbane – in relation to the fact that schools and the diocesan office had gone into denial over incidents of child sexual abuse and a failure to act against clergy who had abused children. But that accusation is unsustainable – and the attempt to explain the situation has led to even more public concern (Reynolds A., ‘No value in blaming the messenger’, Courier Mail, 27/2/02)

As a priest in a working class area in North Melbourne Peter Hollingworth has fired up High Church Anglicans to work with the poor; attracted no criticism; and seems to have no faults except a willingness to forgive anyone. In dealing with allegations of sexual abuse, this may have been a naive thing to do (Legge K and Yallop R 'Fall from grace',  Australian,  23-4/2/02)

The people should have a say in the selection of the governor general and there should be clear rules for sacking this office-holder - according to the Opposition leader (Hendserson I. 'Give people a say: Crean', Australian, 22/2/02)

Queensland's Premier called on Peter Hollingworth to resign - to save the Queen embarrassment (Emerson S. et al 'Premier leads call for G-G to resign',  Australian,  22/2/02)

Peter Hollingworth confessed on ABC TV that he had mishandled child abuse allegations as Anglican Archbishop - because of operating within a system which lacked the ability to deal with the complexity of the issues. He also showed that his idea of what constitutes child abuse is out of step with public opinion, and that he was easily lied to. (Neill R. 'Leadership on the rocks',  Australian,  22/2/02)

Peter Hollingworth has now done enough damage to his resignation, and the office of governor general to merit his resignation. The PM's view is that, though he has made errors of judgment, there is no evidence to justify his removal (Shanahan D. 'Fatal error of judgment',  Australian,  22/2/02)

The Governor General has withdrawn as patron of the child protection charity, Kids First Foundation. This is seen as allowing attention to be given back to the problem of child abuse - rather than to his patronage (Gearing A 'Withdrawal as patron puts kids first again', Courier Mail,  21/2/02)

Peter Hollingworth has done neither himself nor the PM any good by his response to allegations of sex abuse while he was Anglican Archbishop in Brisbane. He merely stated his opinion, rather than detailing the facts. Controversy will not go away until an open independent inquiry is held (Aitkens D. 'Response does G-G no favours',  Courier Mail,  21/2/02). 

Peter Hollingworth's attempt to explain why he did not sack an Anglican Bishop for a sexual relationship with a 14 year old (on the grounds that the relationship was consensual and provoked) drew calls for his resignation (Griffith C. 'Hollingworth tries to explain',  Courier Mail,  21/2/02)

The crisis surrounding the Governor General may create a new push for a republic ('Vice regal laws under fire',  Courier Mail,  21/2/02)

An independent an open inquiry into allegations against Governor General should be conducted as an alternative to ‘trial by media’ (Williams G. ‘G-Gs terms of work are outdated’, Australian, 20/2/02)

Attachment: Public Policy Complexities

 

 

Attachment: Public Policy Complexities

Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally (Email sent 4/9/10)

Chris Goddard,
Director, Child Abuse Prevention Research,
Monash University

Re: Adult conspiracy to silence children a perversion of justice, Weekend Australian, 4-5/9/10

I should like to strongly endorse the suggestion in your article that the extent of sexual abuse of children (and the tactics used to cover it up) are only now being discovered.

My interpretation of your article: The truth about child abuse has long been obscured. Adults and institutions have used many weapons to silence children - and the full extent of lying and deception is still being uncovered. Children make perfect victims (being small and easily intimidated). Abusers have many allies - often unwitting. Medical interest in murder / abuse of children only started 50 years ago, and sexual assault took even longer to get attention. There is a presumption that children lie and adults always tell the truth. People distance themselves emotionally from child victims. Some institutions (eg Catholic Church) have aided the rapists, provided victims and silenced complaints (see Broken Rites website). The letter refers to case of Kevin O'Donnell - apparently a child abuser from the day he was ordained. An Irish Commission of Investigation report into child sexual abuse exposed again the Catholic Church's practice of hiding the rape of children.

While I have no direct knowledge of the problem, it seems from publicly accessible (but generally ignored) information, that the main tactic that the community uses to cover up child sexual abuse is the pretence that this is mainly a problem in church institutions. While abuse within such institutions exposes the hypocrisy of some individuals' Christian 'face', abuse within institutions appears to be insignificant in relation to the level of sexual abuse that occurs in the community generally - according to (apparently credible) sources cited in CPDS Comments on the Background to Sexual Abuse.

The major cause of this problem seems to be the breakdown of a very high percentage of marriages - so that large numbers of children live in blended families with adults who are not their biological parents. The community's way of covering-up such abuse seems to involve sensationalising instances of sexual abuse in church institutions (eg consider the Queensland Government's inquiry into sexual abuse of children in Anglican institions). By pointing the finger at those who should be condemning immorality in the community, it has been possible to cover up the real extent of the problem.

However another tactic that has been used with success to facilitate and conceal child sexual abuse involves the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour - as that acceptance seems to (a) constitute belated endorsement of the childhood abuse and neglect that seems to characterise many in the 'gay' community; and (b) facilitate future abuse by enabling predators to convince same-sex victims not to complain about what is being done to them because it is OK to be homosexual (see Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour).

There is no doubt that 'conspiracies' by adults to cover up the sexual abuse of children is a pervasion of justice. But exposing those conspiracies will encounter a lot of resistance, and I wish you luck in doing so.

John Craig


Explaining prohibitions on gay marriage to children (Email sent 6/11/10)

Senator Mark Arbib

Re: ‘Call by Arbib to back gay marriage’, The Australian, 6-7/11/10

The above article suggested that you would have difficulties explaining to children why gay marriage is not allowed. I should like to offer some help.

The above article stated that: “Right Wing Labor minister Mark Arbib has declared his party's policy against gay marriage must change to allow same-sex couples to marry. Mr Arbib is the first frontbencher to break his silence on the issue. The NSW factional powerbroker told The Weekend Australian his view was that gay people should have the legal right to marry. And he said all MPs should be given a conscience vote on the controversial issue. Until now, only Labor's left-wing factional powerbrokers have agitated on the issue. Senator Arbib has major influence in the Right and his decision to break ranks will have an enormous impact on the debate within the ALP. "If I was the parent of a gay son or daughter I don't know how I could tell them they didn't have the same rights as I do," he said yesterday. “

In the first place, there is no enthusiasm for homosexual behaviour in the Christian Bible. Some argue that such behaviour is absolutely condemned (see What does the Bible say about homosexuality by Matt Slick), while others argue that the question is uncertain, because the issue was not of much concern in earlier eras (see What does the Bible say about Homosexuality on another website). However there is no positive enthusiasm for homosexual behaviour anywhere in the Bible, and this must be a significant consideration in a country whose liberal institutions depend on their Christian heritage (see Christian Foundations of Liberal Western Institutions).

However explaining prohibitions on gay marriage to children should be easy, as children seem to be the main victims of the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (see Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally and Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour). Official approval of gay marriage would be a further step towards endorsing and encouraging the abuse and neglect of children. Thus it should surely not be hard to explain why this would be immoral.

Regards

John Craig


Same Sex Marriage: Marching into Moral Quicksand (email sent 17/11/10)

Amber Jamieson
Crikey

Re: ‘Rainbow of opinions over gay marriage’, Crikey, 16/11/10

Your article included reference to a map which showed regions in which Australians think ‘homosexuality is immoral’.

Might I respectfully suggest that the bigger issue is that, irrespective of whether homosexuality is immoral, ‘the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour’ is almost certainly immoral – though most in the community are not aware of this (yet).

The public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (which recognition of gay marriage would take to a new extreme) constitutes presumably-unintended-but-none-the-less-real endorsement and encouragement of child abuse (see Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour and Explaining prohibitions on gay marriage to children). I don’t know whether you are aware of the extent of child abuse (including sexual abuse) in the community but it is apparently: massive; always put in the ‘too-hard’ basket by political leaders; and linked with the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (both as a cause and as a consequence).

John Craig


Endorsing Homosexual Behaviour: Marching into Moral Quicksand and a Middle Eastern Quagmire? (email sent 21/12/10)

David Jackson,
President,
White House Correspondents Association

Re: Obama to sign 'don't ask' repeal this week -- may hold news conference, USAToday, Dec 20 2010

Your article referred to a statement by President Obama, to the effect that: ‘It is time to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve their country openly’, and implied that such a decision would simply be a matter of ending discrimination.

I should like to suggest for your consideration why this decision appears to be ill-informed, morally indefensible and a threat to the security of the USA.

The key issue related to accepting openly gays and lesbians is not one of discrimination but rather that, irrespective of the morality of what individuals do, ‘the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour’ is almost certainly immoral – though, if the USA is like Australia, most Americans will not (yet) be aware of this.

The public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (which the ‘don’t ask’ repeal would take to a new extreme) constitutes presumably-unintended-but-none-the-less-real endorsement and encouragement of child abuse. Presuming that the extent of child abuse (including sexual abuse) in the USA is similar to that in Australia, then it represents a social problem that is: massive; always put in the ‘too-hard’ basket by political leaders; and linked with the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (because the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour both facilitates future sexual abuse and endorses past abuse and neglect of children - see Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour).

Your article referred to ‘lawyers working on “implementation and legal issues” associated with lifting the ban on gays in the military’. Is anyone going to consider the national security implications? The ‘don’t ask’ repeal could be expected to lead to a propaganda triumph for Islamist extremists in their efforts to mobilize Muslim communities worldwide against the USA (and the US military in particular). A major component of the Islamist case against liberal Western institutions is that the West is a moral ‘rubbish heap’ (see Speculations about Extremist’s Manifestos). This was first argued by Sayyid Qutb who founded the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the roots from which Saudi Wahhibism and thus ultimately Al Qaeda sprung. Given the extreme position against homosexuality that emerges in Muslim communities and that the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour is almost certainly morally indefensible, the ‘don’t ask’ repeal is unlikely to be a useful contribution to winning hearts and minds in the Muslim world, and thus ultimately the war against Islamist extremists.

I respectfully suggest that the American public needs to be aware of the broader implications of this proposal.

John Craig


Breaking Off the Long Engagement? - email sent 27/1/11

Kate Legge
The Australian

Re: The Long Engagement, Weekend Australian Magazine, 15-16/1/11

Might I respectfully suggest that the issues involved in the ‘gay’ marriage issue are more fundamental than your article indicated? The real question should not be whether same-sex relationships should be further normalised, but rather: what should be done to protect the innocent victims of the ‘me’ generation’s tendency to base their view of acceptable behaviour on self-interest, rather than on concern for others’ welfare?

My interpretation of your article: A male couple in Victoria arranged to father a child through a surrogate in India. They also held a ‘commitment ceremony’ supported by a sympathetic priest and a former nun. Gay families / same sex defacto marriages are multiplying – since anti-discrimination laws encouraged tolerance. They moved from living together openly to wanting children. Now they want marriage. An opponent saw this as the ‘final citadel’ in quest for legitimacy. Last November Adam Brandt promoted national conversation on gay marriage. Until 2004 marriage had not been defined as only between man and woman. Philip Ruddock speaks of marriage as union that can give rise to children, whose upbringing is supported by both a mother and father. Ruddock has only encountered children in gay relationships which follow a traditional marriage breakup – but they are increasingly common otherwise. Gays may tend to live in inner-city locations, but their family connections are everywhere. PM favours the status quo. After Malcolm Turnbull spoke against gay marriage, he acknowledged that he was open to persuasion. Why do gays want to marry, when so many marriages fail? One gay couple have been together for 62 years, and when their relationship started it was criminal. They see the need to have a choice about marriage. Tasmanian gay activist Rodney Croome argues that 30 years ago gays made a point out of being different, now they want to be normal. Most gay couples are under 30. Studies show that over 60% of those under 30 favour gay marriage. The institution of marriage has evolved through no-fault divorce and defacto relationships, and gays now want to have the choice of marriage also. Alex Grimshaw (Australian Marriage Equality) wants to get married for equality / symbolism. Same-sex couples have staged virtual marriage ceremonies, and some have adopted their partner’s name. For same sex couples having children is hard and never accidental. Gay couples want to secure the rights of non-birth partner. Families are always changing, and the law needs to keep up. Changes in marriage have included ending of betrothal / vows of obedience / bans on inter-racial marriage / the need to marry. Frank Bates (Newcastle University) suggests that changes could be made to accommodate same-sex marriages, as there is nothing special about the Marriage Act (originally merely concerned with property rights) and many same-sex couples have the same commitment as married couples. Opponents refer to ending of discrimination (in tax, superannuation, Medicare, Centrelink, child support, immigration) – and see this as enough. But the core objection is to ending mother / father family model – as better for raising children. But many same-sex families now have children. How this will turn out for children is uncertain. Marriage and parenting may be more about commitment and less about gender. Extended family members may be the most influential advocates of gay marriage.

In this debate ‘everyone’ your article quoted seems to be overlooking a fundamental problem. Legalization of ‘gay’ marriage would merely worsen the moral mess that many governments, community leaders and ordinary citizens are already embroiled in. The problem is that (for reasons that are neither obvious, nor generally recognised), the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour appears morally indefensible (irrespective of the morality of homosexual behaviour itself). Such acceptance seems to have the unintended-but-real effect of endorsing and encouraging child abuse and neglect (see Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour). And policy changes by governments (such as those your article referred to) indicate that a high level of public acceptance of homosexual behaviour now exists.

Severe social dysfunctions (of which the escalation of child abuse and neglect are nasty, but by no means isolated, examples) have arisen in recent decades because questions of morality have been considered only narrowly (eg in terms of what particular individuals would like to do), without considering whether what those individuals want to do may have remote and unintended consequences and victims. The breakdown of marriages, and the trend towards serial relationships which apparently exposes huge numbers of children to sexual abuse because they live with adults who are not their biological parents, also seem to well established social trends that have innocent victims whose interests have simply been ignored.

The attached email (‘The Times They are a-Changing’ - but not always for the better) argues that the cumulative effect of these and many other social trends that reflect individual dis-interest in the welfare of others now constitutes a threat to Australia’s community as a whole. Further exacerbating such problems (eg by reinforcing the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour) would hardly be helpful.

I would be interested in your response to the above speculations.

John Craig


The Times They are a-Changing' - but not always for the better (email sent 27/1/11

Bernard Salt

RE: ‘Times are changing, but it’s our outlook that leads the way’, The Australian, 27/1/11

Your article suggests that a major change in Australia over the past 50 years has involved social values (ie the way people think, behave and conduct their lives has been loosened, with greater expression of free will).

This is undoubtedly correct.

However the loosening of values by the ‘me generation’ has usually been driven by individual self-interest rather than by the Christian principle of ‘valuing others as yourself’. Numerous adverse social symptoms have arisen as a result of individual dis-interest in the welfare of others (see Moral Foundations of Individual Liberty). The latter also points to the growth of constraints on individual liberty (and its political and economic advantages) that are starting to emerge as human authorities (eg political leaders) try to compensate for the increasing failure of individual consciences to promote moral behaviour.

John Craig


Rising moral authoritarianism threats liberal institutions (Email sent 25/6/11)

Frank Furedi,

Re: Where gay matrimony meets elite sanctimony, The Australian, 25/6/11

Your article makes interesting points about the campaign for gay marriage giving rise to demands for the acceptance of new moral and cultural values, and to discriminatory intolerance of opponents. I should like to try to add value to what seems to be the theme of your article (ie that such claims of moral authority are a threat to liberal traditions), and also to suggest little known reasons to suspect that supporters of gay marriage may not be on the high moral ground.

My interpretation of your article: Gay marriage has emerged as a controversial issue (eg in US and Australia). A tolerant society can’t deny homosexual couples the right to formalise their relationship. But the campaign for gay marriage is not just about rights, but about the contestation of values and attitudes. Gay marriage has gone from being a cultural weapon to challenge prevailing norms, to condemning opponents. It is not just a call for a legal change so much as a claim of moral superiority, and demoting opponents to moral inferiority. It is not just claiming a right, but demanding the institutionalisation of new moral and cultural values. Trevor Phillips (chairman of Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission) accused Christian, particularly evangelicals, of being more troublesome than Muslims in their attitudes to mainstream views. ‘Old time religion’ that is incompatible with modern society is driving Christians to clash with modern society. From Phillip’s viewpoint opponents of gay marriage are motivated by ‘old time religion’ – and this reflects a double standard (ie tolerance of those who support gay marriage and intolerance of opponents). The declaration that certain values are compatible with modern society leads to attempts to silence / stigmatise opponents – and this matches the intolerance of those they label homophobic bigots. Cosmopolitan cultural elites are constructing moral contrast between themselves and ordinary folk over gay marriage issue (and assuming a position of moral superiority). Affirming gay marriage places celebrities on the right side of the cultural divide. Questioning gay marriage is now regarded in US as a form of discrimination. Debate is no longer tolerated, because it is presumed that there is a ‘right answer’ and opposition to that is as bad as racism or anti-Semitism. The transformation of gay marriage into a crusade against sexual heresy coincides with devaluation of heterosexual marriage (which is now often viewed mainly in terms of domestic violence and child abuse). Literature focuses on the dark side of heterosexual marriage. The media present images of failed heterosexual marriages, and same-sex unions as mature relationships between equals. Behind the gay marriage discussion lie difficult questions about how to endow intimate relationships with meaning. Elite snobbish intolerance is no more acceptable than anti-gay prejudice

Firstly I submit that the existence of liberal legal and government institutions in Western societies has depended on the fact that human claims to be the source of moral authority are impossible under the West’s Christian traditions. Moreover, as people have increasingly drifted away from their ethical moorings, the resulting erosion of behavioural standards has given rise to serious social dysfunctions. Claims of moral authority are increasingly being heard in an effort to correct those problems. Such claims are leading to, and must inevitably lead to, a breakdown in the separation between religion and state, though such a separation has been essential for a liberal society and a secular government. This point is developed more fully, in an Australian context, in Moral Foundations of Individual Liberty.

Human claims of moral authority, that your article notes are emerging in relation to gay marriage, are by no means the only example of this phenomenon.

Secondly there seems to be a pressing need to highlight the probability that the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (which legalization of gay marriage would raise to a new level) also involves endorsement and encouragement of child abuse. Advocates of the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour arguably need to seriously consider both the probability that such abuse is the cause of homosexual behaviour in many (most?) cases and expert views of the consequences for vulnerable children of its public acceptance (see Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour).

I would be interested in your response to the above speculations.

PS: I noted a reference on your web-site to restoring the place of the humanities in universities (eg see Grayling cries freedom). My version of a similar argument is in A Case for Restoring Universities, and may be of interest.

John Craig


Same-sex Civil Unions: Endorsing Child Abuse? (email sent 29/11/11)

Daniel Hurst
Fairfax Media

Re: Civil unions down to wire, BrisbaneTimes, 29/11/11

Your article noted that: (a) the forthcoming vote on same-sex civil unions in Queensland’s Parliament is likely to be close; (b) in introducing the bill the Treasurer, Mr Fraser, had argued that it would simply recognise and validate committed relationships; and (c) many (but not all) observers supported this proposal.

The problem is that no one seems to be concerned about the relationship between the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (which the Civil Unions Bill would seem likely to extend further) and the abuse and neglect of children. The latter is a massive social problem and is likely to have severe consequences for the community as a whole. That linkage is explored in Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour. In brief the latter points to:

  • the apparently staggeringly high incidence of sexual abuse of children in the general community – probably largely because stable marriage relationships are no longer the norm, and many children live with adults who are not their biological parents;
  • indications that the neglect and abuse of children is frequently the determining factor in later involvement in homosexual behaviour. It is unclear whether this applies in a majority or minority of cases because researchers who study the causes of homosexual behaviour tend to take a one-eyed view (ie look only for genetic or social causes, depending on the evidence they want to find);
  • an expert’s observation that the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour facilitates child sexual abuse (because children are able to be convinced by sexual predators that what is being done to them is ‘OK’ and that they must be homosexual).

The fact seems to be that the public endorsement of homosexual behaviour by ‘consenting adults’ (whether by legislation or in other ways) is also an endorsement in many / most cases of the earlier sexual abuse and neglect of those individuals as children (as well as a contributor to future sexual abuse of other children). It thus seems morally indefensible.

Mr Fraser appeared to favour legislating to recognise same-sex civil partnerships because diverse relationships amongst people have become a fact of life (see Fraser A. ‘The speech: 'Why I'm introducing this bill', BrisbaneTimes, 25/11/11 and Civil Partnerships Bill: Introduction and referral to the Health and Disabilities Committee, Hansard). Queensland’s Premier, Ms Bligh, went further by suggesting that the bill was a chance to end discrimination against those who suffer it every day (see Cartwright D. Bligh hopes civil unions bill will get the nod’, NineMSN, 27/11/11).

It is noted also that Mr Fraser suggested that this is a matter for individual consciences (see Fraser A. ‘The speech: 'Why I'm introducing this bill', BrisbaneTimes, 25/11/11). However this suggestion raises another important issue, because (as suggested above) individuals may not be really aware of the remote consequences of what they decide and do. Liberal societies (a feature Australia inherited) appear to have emerged only where it has been presumed that individual consciences would be guided by responsibility to God (see Erosion of the Moral Foundations of Liberal Institutions in Australia's Governance Crisis and the Need for Nation Building). In brief, the latter suggests that in other societies, individual liberty has usually / always been constrained by human claims to moral authority, because individual judgements are considered unreliable. Moreover in Australia now there are signs of: (a) the emergence of highly dysfunctional behaviours within the community as a result of individual consciences being driven mainly by self-interest; and (b) increasing human claims of moral authority (eg by politicians) in an attempt to compensate for the ethical failure of individuals. These trends must eventually undermine the assumptions of liberty that have been the basis of Australia’s legal and governance institutions (and of the political and economic advantages that liberal institutions are brought).

Rather than legally endorsing outcomes (eg homosexual behaviour) that apparently often results from social dysfunctions (eg child sexual abuse in non-biological families), it would seem far more useful to consider what needs to be done to reduce the incidence of those dysfunctions.

John Craig


Shedding light on child abuse (email sent 4/12/11 - slightly modified)

Terry Sweetman,
Sunday Mail

Re: Gay unions fury wide of the mark, Sunday Mail, 4/12/11

I should like to try to add value to the broader concerns you expressed (ie about threats to children) in the context of the debate about same sex civil unions in Queensland. Your article suggested that:

“…. I am concerned about the welfare of children, which is why the concurrent theme that gay parents represent a sexual and developmental threat to kids is worth thinking about. I suspect some gay parents do represent a threat to children but I know many straight parents are a threat to children. The evidence is there in a stream of judgments from our various state and federal courts, which suggests we are in the grips of a plague of psychological, physical and sexual abuse of children. Some if it is homosexual but most of it seems to be heterosexual. And most of it involves men. Someone else can sit down and audit the books, but maybe a third of the criminal cases that come up in the Queensland Court of Appeal seem to relate to the abuse of children [Emphasis added]. If you want a horror trip, save your movie money and log on to the website. That's just the tip of the legal iceberg, with the rest of it drifting through the oceans of all our lower courts. And the courts probably represent a fraction of the abuse in the real world….”

Your concerns appear to be valid. And it is noted that other observers have also suggested that the community has not been paying enough attention to the problem (see Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally, 2010).

However, in relation to legalising same-sex-civil unions, the problem is there seems to be a significant link between the psychological, physical and sexual abuse of children and the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (see Same-sex Civil Unions: Endorsing Child Abuse?, 2011).

This question seems to go straight over the heads of those who are loudest and most vocal in advocating the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour. It seems to be assumed that ‘gays’ are being accused of being the perpetrators of abuse. While this is undoubtedly true of some paedophiles (“Hush there, don’t cry about what I’m doing to you. It’s OK to be homosexual”), the vastly bigger issue seems to be that ‘gays’ often seem to be the products of abuse (“Hush there, don’t cry about what was done to you when you were a child. It’s OK to be gay. In fact it’s your right to have a same-sex civil union”). My recent experience shows that raising the issue of child abuse can generate abuse of quite a different kind from those who prefer a ‘head in the sand’ approach.

Australia’s system of government is failing largely because of the inability of public debates and the political system to deal realistically with the complexity of social, environmental and economic issues (see Australia's Governance Crisis and the Need for Nation Building, from 2003). The latter suggests, for example, that half-baked populist policies are often supported because of the lack (or the crippling) of the institutions needed to enable issues to be addressed properly both in public policy debates and by governments. And Queensland is anything but exempt from this problem (eg suggestions about more competent external and internal support in The Upper House Solution: A Commentary, 2006).

I would be interested in your response to the above speculations.

John Craig


Don't Ignore the Links Between Child Abuse and Homosexual Behaviour - email sent 13/1/12

Professor Kerryn Phelps

Re: Nolan T., ‘Gay activist accuses tennis great of vilification’, ABC, 13/1/12

Might I respectfully suggest that this issue requires more civilised debate? According to the above article you suggested that “Margaret Court's views go beyond a difference of opinion over gay marriage and are dangerous and hurtful ….. (and her) comments vilify homosexuals”. Such personal attacks do nothing to prove the acceptability, or otherwise, of homosexual behaviour.

The issues involved seem to be far more complex than you are assuming, as (quite apart from what the Bible has to say about the matter) there are reasonable grounds for examining the link between homosexual behaviour and childhood trauma that Rev Dr Margaret Court has mentioned (and another apparent link that she may not be aware of).

“Court, who argues homosexuality is a choice and often a product of childhood trauma, said the tennis was no place for grandstanding on gay rights”. (LeGrand C., ‘Gay activist Kerryn Phelps wants Margaret Court's name cut from Melbourne Park’, The Australian, 12/1/12).

I have no direct knowledge of the ‘gay’ community, but an informal study of issues related to child sexual abuse some years ago (see About Child Sex Abuse, 2003) revealed strong indications of two links between homosexual behaviour and child abuse and neglect that would seem to make the public endorsement of homosexual behaviour morally indefensible.

My reasons for suggesting this are further developed in Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour and Shedding light on child abuse. The latter refers to aspects of the same-sex marriage issue that are almost-universally ignored, and are not what most people seem to automatically assume when same-sex marriage and the now-massive social problem of child abuse are mentioned simultaneously

In today’s Australian it was suggested (in a letter to the editor by Brian Greig) that the approach taken by Mrs Court (in effect that sexual orientation can be changed, and that this should be attempted) ‘has been denounced by Australian and American Psychological Societies as both harmful and dangerous’. This makes sense if it is assumed (as psychologists seem to do) that homosexual behaviour has primarily biological / genetic causes. But it does not do so if homosexual behaviour has primarily social causes in many / most cases. The problem seems to be that a ‘black or white’ approach is taken to a ‘shades of grey’ issue (ie commentators seem to perceive only the cause that best serves to reinforce their assumptions, as illustrated in A Comment on Causality in Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour).

Taking a blinker view makes it easy for what should be civilized debate to degenerate into personal abuse, and this is no more helpful in relation to the desirability (or otherwise) of publicly endorsing homosexual behaviour than was the routine claim at one time that anyone who questioned the smuggling of asylum seekers into Australia must be a racist (see Attachment A to Complexities in the Refugee Problem, 2001+).

John Craig


Attention to Child Abuse is Long Overdue - email sent 29/1/12

Paul Lampathakis,
Perth Sunday Times

Re: Court’s claim on gays, Sunday Mail, 29/1/12

Congratulations for publicly raising the link between child abuse and homosexual behaviour.

Your article noted the difference of opinion between Margaret Court who believes (on the basis of experience in dealing with members of the gay community) that there is a significant causal link (though she did not want to say too much about it to avoid opening ‘another can of worms’) and others such as:

  • Peter Rosengren (editor of the Catholic Church’s The Record newspaper) who “batted away her claims, saying he had "never heard of any scientific study'' linking abuse and homosexuality, and that "everyone has to be respected'' “; and also
  • Chris Tanti (a mental health expert) who “accused her of "spreading misery'' and putting young gay people at risk of suicide with what he called her anti-gay comments, amid calls for her name to be removed from centre court at Melbourne Park”.

In relation to this controversy I should like to draw your attention to Don't Ignore the Links Between Child Abuse Homosexual Behaviour, and also note that:

  • Margaret Court is not a solitary voice. Others with extensive experience in the gay community have drawn attention to what seems to be an extraordinarily high percentage who had been abused (not just sexually) as children. Moreover a different type of link between homosexual behaviour and child sexual abuse has been claimed (in a personal communication) by a national expert on child sexual abuse (see Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour);
  • A yet-to-be-published study on the causes of homosexual behaviour apparently finds evidence of a link with child abuse (personal communication) – though the details of this were not disclosed (see A Comment on Causality);
  • While ‘respecting everyone’ (as Peter Rosengren suggested) is a virtue, encouraging (and endorsing the results of) child abuse is not.

There seems to be massive community and official resistance to going anywhere near issues that relate to the now-scandalous problem of child sexual abuse (see Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally). This resistance may exist because: (a) sexual abuse seems to be a problem in too many families; (b) it seems to occur mainly where children live with adults who are not their biological parents – and is thus a symptom of the community’s loss of commitment to lifelong marriages; and (c) fixing the problem requires moral renewal – and this is a matter for churches, not for the state.

Because of this resistance your article, while useful in raising the issue, is unlikely to make much difference in the long term. However it is noted that the Greens have advocated a Senate inquiry into same sex marriage (see Curtis K., ‘Senate inquiry chance to have say on gay marriage: Greens’, Canberra Times, 25/1/12) and hopefully this will have terms of reference that are broad enough to cover the need for serious research into the links between the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour and child abuse.

John Craig


In seeking human rights, don't forget children - email sent 15/2/12

Stephen Keim and Catherine Renshaw,
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights

Re: ‘Every one of us should be equal in the law, love and marriage’, Courier Mail, 15/2/12

Your article argued, on the basis of the past evolution of the concept of marriage, that it was invalid to oppose further change (eg endorsing same-sex marriage) on the grounds that marriage has a fixed meaning (ie involving a man and a woman). It also suggested that: “From a human rights perspective, the issue of same-sex marriage is pretty straightforward”.

However, the issue is anything but ‘straight forward’ because legal recognition of same sex marriage would seem to be yet one more nail in the coffin of the human rights of those children who are subject to sexual and other abuse. My reasons for suggesting this (which relate to two apparent linkages between the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour and child abuse) are outlined in Attention to Child Abuse is Long Overdue. Child abuse (sexual and otherwise) has apparently become a massive affront to human rights in Australia (see Background to Sexual Abuse and Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally). And, though the community does not yet want to face up to the magnitude and implications of the problem, it is surely morally unacceptable to: (a) treat what seem often to be the symptoms of child abuse (ie a ‘gay’ approach to sexuality as an adult) as being a simple expression of ‘freedom and equality’; and (b) facilitate abuse of children by paedophiles by helping the latter to overcome children’s resistance by claiming that ‘It’s OK to be homosexual’.

In Attention to Child Abuse is Long Overdue it was noted that the proposed Senate inquiry into gay marriages will provide an opportunity to explore the linkages between child abuse and the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour – providing it has broad enough terms of reference. Advocating such broad terms of reference would provide Australian Lawyers for Human Rights with a more substantial opportunity to seek to ensure that ‘every one of us should be equal before the law’.

More generally I would submit for your consideration that redefining the meaning of words can have practical consequences, and this should not be done without careful consideration of those consequences. The uncritical post-modern notion that meanings are purely arbitrary is undermining and threatening key many of Australia’s key institutions, including: effective government; community; liberty; democracy; egalitarianism; the rule-of-law; and education (see Confusion of Knowledge). Australian lawyers who are concerned about human rights would be better occupied considering the practical implications of what words are taken to mean, rather than risk exacerbating social, community and political problems by superficial advocacy of treating meanings as arbitrary.

Finally it is overly simplistic to argue (as your article did) that: "All human rights are derived from the core principles of freedom and equality.” Surely ‘rights’ should exist on the basis of ‘freedom and equality’ only where there are no adverse consequences for others. It would be foolish to create a ‘right’ to steal on the basis of ‘freedom and equality’ to ensure that there would be no discrimination against kleptomaniacs.

John Craig


An ABC Witch-hunt? - email sent 13/3/12

Andrew Crook
Crikey

I noted with amazement that your article (below) implied that an ABC radio presenter should be persecuted for doing a voice-over on a political campaign advertisement. While Katter’s Australian Party only seems to appeal to a minority, they are entitled to express a point of view.

And legalizing ‘gay’ marriage is anything but an unambiguously good thing (eg see Don't Ignore the Links Between Child Abuse and Homosexual Behaviour). Moreover, as the latter suggests, directing undisguised hatred and abuse against those who express unpopular views (such as Katter’s Australian Party and anyone who helps them produce an advertisement) is not a sound basis for public debate, though it seems to be a favoured tactic to discourage dissent with ‘politically correct’ views.

If your article is correct (ie if the ABC has actually launched a witch-hunt against Ms McGill) then this would seem likely to generate a public revulsion that could be politically advantageous to Katter’s Australian Party – and, in my opinion, this would hardly be of benefit to the community as a whole.

John Craig


Extract from email received 13/3/12

1. ABC Radio presenter, the voice of Katter hate ad, stood down
Crikey senior journalist Andrew Crook writes:

An ABC Radio presenter revealed as the voice of the notorious Bob Katter Australian Party attack ad -- roundly condemned by all sides of politics -- has been stood down by the national broadcaster.

Suzanne McGill, a casually-employed Saturday breakfast host of ABC South West WA local radio, is named at the end of the ad as the voiceover artist responsible for delivering homophobic lines like "the LNP leader supports gay marriage, just like Greens leader Bob Brown" and "is a vote for LNP leader Campbell Newman a vote for gay marriage?"

After a pro-gay marriage blog speculated over the connection, and following Crikey's inquiries to the ABC, a spokesperson said a formal investigation will now be held into McGill's involvement.

"It can be confirmed that Ms McGill did not seek nor obtain permission for external voiceover work, as required under ABC Editorial and Workplace behaviours policies," the spokesperson said.

"ABC Editorial and Workplace Policies apply to all staff, regardless of employment status. To that end, the ABC will conduct a formal investigation. Ms McGill will not be on air while the matter is investigated."

According to the ABC's editorial policies covering "independence, integrity and responsibility", the "external activities of individuals undertaking work for the ABC must not undermine the independence and integrity of the ABC's editorial content". Its specific Queensland election policies reiterate its commitment to impartiality and independence given the trust thrust upon the government broadcaster by the voting public.

McGill could not be contacted this morning.

In addition to her ABC work, McGill is employed by Abe's Audio, doing spots for a range of clients including furniture retailers and flower shops. An Abe's spokesperson confirmed that the company had been involved in the production of the Katter spot.

Other elements of the ad have also attracted criticism. The pixellated image of the gay couple used in the ad was quickly chased by crafty Googlers to this copyrighted stock image from a French photo house.

The Katter strategists behind the ad depart from the usual Australian template, employing many of the tactics incorporated in US versions including sinister keyboard lines, slow pans and zooming, repetition and horror movie-style cut-ups.

The ad appears to be strongly influenced by this notorious 2008 effort from US conservative political action group the "American Issues Project", linking Weather Underground founder Bill Ayres to Barack Obama. "Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?" the haunting voiceover asked.

University of Melbourne political ad expert Sally Young told Crikey this morning that while the US-aping approach was usually a rarity, Australia has a storied history of negativity, including attacks on Robert Menzies, Gough Whitlam and Liberals' recently-reprised "Kevin O'Lemon" and "Latham L Plates" series.

"It's very presidential in style ... the production values are really cheap and nasty and the use of the image is interesting," she said. "Obviously they didn't want to get a real image of a gay couple in case they repudiated them. It's very American...there's no sense of humour about it and it's actually quite vicious."

Overnight, The Guardian posted a helpful primer to the current slate of GOP primary attack ads which have much higher production values. The all-time best attack ad -- so famous that it has inspired its own "index" -- is this 1988 George HW Bush spot highlighting Michael Dukakis' "weekend prison passes" that allowed criminal Willie Horton to commit rape and murder.

Then there's this amazing mash-up on the 1800 presidential election. "John Adams is a blind, bald crippled, toothless man who wants to start a war with France," the ad begins. "When he's not busy importing mistresses from Europe he's trying to marry one of his sons to a daughter of King George."

A political insider contacted by Crikey this morning named a classic of the Australian genre as a 2007 NSW election Labor ad targeting Peter Debnam's ownership of a failed prawn hatchery and a gym.


Broader issues related to gay marriage - email sent 7/4/12

Brendan O’Neill

Re: 'I now pronounce you partner 1 and partner 2': why gay marriage is bad for us all, The Australian, 7/4/12

Your article pointed to the fact that legalization of gay marriage provides a wedge for the state to interfere in traditionally-private family life.

Extract: “ …. politicians are also drawn to gay marriage because they recognise, subconsciously, that it gives them a route into that long-time no-go zone of the family. From the ferocious patriarchy of the Roman family to the idealised notion of the nuclear family in the 20th century, the institution of marriage and the units it gave rise to were considered deeply private. They shielded people from the scrutiny of the state; they were "havens in a heartless world", as Christopher Lasch put it. Where we're all subject to moral regulations in the public sphere, through marriage, a public expression of commitment that gives rise to a private unit, people could fashion an institution in which they themselves created morality and forged relationships, free from state exertions. Such was the power of sovereignty within the family that the rulers of society often borrowed from it to justify their authority. Kings and prime ministers referred to themselves as "Father of the Nation" in a nod to the ideal of family sovereignty that enjoyed such authority down the centuries. Of course, politicians often felt an urge to interfere in family and married life, being instinctively suspicious of institutions that provided cover from state prying. But they were never successful. The drive for gay marriage could change that. The attraction of gay marriage for politicians is it fits neatly with their turn from macro issues to micro ones, from finding solutions to big social problems to getting stuck into what the British Labour Party calls "the politics of behaviour". Today, politicians who aren't very good at traditional politics have given up trying to transform society in favour of reshaping the relationships, lifestyles and attitudes of those who inhabit it. Their gay-marriage agitation is a central part of that.

In relation to your expressed concern about losing freedom from state-determined notions of morality, I should like to submit for your consideration that:

  • The ‘gay marriage’ issue is by no means the only area in which the state is increasingly seeking to proclaim itself to be the source of moral authority (see Erosion of the Moral Foundations of Individual Liberty). And, as the latter suggests, this trend is eroding the foundations of, and thus putting at risk, the individual liberty that was built into the legal and governmental institutions that Australia inherited from the UK (and which has provided huge political and economic advantages – as noted in Cultural Foundations of Western Strength);
  • There is another issue that is receiving essentially no attention in relation to the gay marriage debate – namely the links that seem to exist between child abuse and the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (see In seeking human rights, don't forget children).

While it takes some time to get one’s head around the latter problem, it might be a good subject for a future article.

John Craig


Ignoring Child Abuse? - email sent 13/6/12

Kate McKenna and David Murray,
Sunday Mail

RE: ‘Praying away the gay’, Sunday Mail, 10/6/12

Might I respectfully suggest the need for a more balanced approach to this subject than was taken in your article? It seems that in many (most?) cases individuals are ‘gay’ because of abuse or neglect as children. Thus it would be more constructive to focus on ways to prevent this, rather than: (a) emphasising the rights of victims to endure the consequences of abuse and neglect; and (b) dismissing attempts to deal with those consequences as controversial / brainwashing / likely to be banned overseas / harmful / professional malpractice.

My interpretation of your article: Gay teens are being sent to counselling to turn them straight through controversial therapies that face bans overseas. Parents and some Christian leaders want children to change their sexuality. California is considering banning such reparative therapies for minors, because of concerns about long term harm. Children in Brisbane are being harmed by therapies (according to psychotherapist, Paul Martin). Therapies cause damage to those affected. They treat homosexuality as a psychological disorder resulting from sexual abuse as a child or a lack of strong parental figures. Christian reparative therapy also treats being gay as sinful - and this leads to belief that they are defective / depression / mental illness / suicide. Ministries in Queensland who claim to help overcome homosexuality are known, but did not return calls. Australian Psychological Society recommended against therapies that attempt to change sexuality – though psychologists and psychiatrists are using these covertly. Research at Bond University (by Heidi Jansen) showed that some lesbian and bisexual women were encouraged to undertake conversion therapy. British Association of Counselling found Christian therapist guilty of professional malpractice for saying that homosexuality was a curable mental illness. Online courses have been described as the most dangerous of all (by Anthony Venn-Brown). People have subsequently attempted suicide. Heather Corkhill (who made a documentary The Cure) said that children as young as 12 have gone through programs.

There are highly divergent views about the causes of homosexual behaviour. Observers / researches seem to make one of two clearly incompatible claims (ie that the causes are either entirely social or entirely biological - see A Comment on Causality). This presumably reflects one of the classic limitations in research recognised by philosophers of science – ie that observers tend to see what they expect to see, which is the reason that double-blind placebo controlled experiments are often favoured. A shades-of-grey approach to causality would probably be more appropriate than either extremist claim.

There are undoubtedly difficulties with therapies intended to help ‘gays’, but it seems that many such people are deeply troubled anyway so it must be difficult to tell whether disorders are the result of inappropriate therapies or their earlier experiences . The fact that the whole issue is subjected to an unbalanced and uncivilized debate is presumably part of the reason for their problems.

Your article’s attempt to ignore links between child abuse and homosexual behaviour is inappropriate for reasons outlined in Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour. In brief this draws attention to:

  • the shockingly high incidence of sexual abuse of children in the general community;
  • the apparent frequent association of such abuse with situations where children live with adults who are not their biological parents (whether or not those adults live in a heterosexual relationship);
  • the history of sexual abuse and neglect as children that appears to affect most in the ‘gay’ community, and strongly suggests a causal link in many (most?) cases;
  • the probability that public acceptance of their homosexual behaviour thus constitutes belated endorsement of the abuse and neglect that many affected individuals suffered as children at the hands of adults who were supposed to be caring for them; and
  • the fact that public acceptance of homosexual behaviour is apparently used by paedophiles to suppress their victims’ objections - by saying that ‘its OK to be homosexual’.

With respect I submit again that it more important to consider how children could be less exposed to abuse (eg by a re-emphasis on lifelong marriages / parental care and not publicly endorsing homosexual behaviour), than to criticize well-intended efforts to remedy the consequences that sometimes flow from being abused or neglected as children (see also In seeking human rights, don't forget children).

John Craig


Perhaps homophilia is a bigger problem - email sent 17/6/12

Terry Sweetman
Sunday Mail,

Re: It’s homophobia that is the real problem, Sunday Mail, 17/6/12

Your article commented on the Sunday Mail article last weekend that had expressed concern that some saw homosexuality as a curable disease / a psychological disorder.

My reaction to that article was that it represented a one-eyed view of a very complex problem (see Ignoring Child Abuse?). This suggested, in effect, that homophilia (ie the acceptance of homosexual behaviour) might be a bigger problem than homophobia.

A response that I received from one observer who has a much greater involvement with ‘gays’ than I do was:

“Thank you for your balanced, insightful and supportive comments in response to Sunday Mail article, "Praying away the gay." I agree that there are highly divergent causes of homosexual behaviour. However, my own personal experience in both Australia and Asia with people who are same-sex attracted does reveal a high incidence of sexual abuse and distant father figures. Therefore, as you suggested, there needs to be pro-active strategies in place to address these issues in our society rather than as you put it, "having an unbalanced and uncivilised debate on the origins of homosexuality." In fact I was in a meeting yesterday that emphasized this very point. “

John Craig


Children the Victims of Marriage Breakdown - Period. - email sent 21/6/12 (modified)

Gary Johns
Australian Catholic University

Re: Children the victims in minefield of same-sex marriage breakdowns, The Australian, 21/6/12

Your article pointed to the complexities arising from the breakdown of a homosexual marriage where children were involved – as a response to the support for recognition of such marriage by some members of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs (including the chairman, Graham Perrett).

In introducing this you suggested that: “Homosexuals ……. are in all respects, save one, like anyone else.”

This does not appear to be a correct statement, because homosexual behaviour seems to be a consequence in many (most?) cases of the abuse and neglect that affected individuals suffered as children, and that abuse and neglect seem to be particularly associated with the breakdown of traditional marriages (eg see email of 31/5/12 to Adam Brandt in relation to the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill).

Children are the victims of the breakdown of marriages of any sort – and in some cases homosexual behaviour as adults appears to be one of the symptoms (though by no means the only symptom).

The same-sex marriage inquiries conducted by the Senate and House of Representatives provided an opportunity to consider the apparent links between child abuse and homosexual behaviour (eg see Attention to Child Abuse is Long Overdue), but it seems that this opportunity was missed.

John Craig


Homophilia: A Bigger Test of Social Morality? - email sent 27/6/12

Noel Preston

Re: Homophobia: a litmus test of social morality, Online Opinion, 27/6/12

Your article equated homophobia with racism, and suggested that debates about marriage equality / gay marriage illustrated the problem.

An extract: “Forty years ago the crude and cruel social boundaries of homophobia and racism abhorrently shaped dominant ethical boundaries in Australian society. They are both offspring of prejudice generated by the human fear of difference. Related to such basic aspects of humanity – our sexual and racial identity – they are capable of stimulating deep anxieties. Homophobia in particular is often reinforced by ideological and religious justifications, which only serve to amplify the irrationality with which they are vehemently practised and defended. Happily, as repeated polls demonstrate, most Australians (including some religious leaders) have moved past these discriminatory attitudes while the laws, which legitimated them, have largely been removed by our parliaments.

However, as recent parliamentary debates in Brisbane and Canberra have shown, when it comes to marriage equality (or so called gay marriage) there is still one bridge too far. In the federal sphere this is a direct consequence of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's refusal to allow his members a conscience vote on the question, thereby demonstrating his disdain for the liberal philosophy his political party claimed as its founding doctrine.”

However the (so-called) ‘debates’ about marriage equality / gay marriage have simply failed to seriously consider what is arguably the most important aspect of this issue – namely the dubious morality of homophilia (ie the acceptance of homosexual behaviour). My reasons for suggesting this (related to the links between homophilia and child abuse) are outlined in Perhaps homophilia is a bigger problem .

Regards

John Craig


Gay Health: Don't Ignore Childhood Experiences - email sent 19/9/12

Adam Cresswell,
The Australian

Re: ‘Truth a victim in unholy row’, The Australian, 13/9/12

Your article suggested that concerns recently expressed about the health problems facing those in the ‘gay’ community are based on homophobia rather than on real concern for public health.

My interpretation of your article: Shiva Rayar (GP) believes that gay people don’t live as long as others, but not for the reasons suggested by religious leaders. Gay community is marginalised, bullied, subject to discrimination – and excluded from marriage. These experiences increase risk of depression / suicide and unsafe lifestyles for both gays and anyone else. Jim Wallace (Australian Christian lobby) said that smokers’ lives were reduced by 10 years, whereas gays’ lives were cut by 20 years. This resulted in Prime Minister (Julian Gillard) expressing outrage. Sydney Anglican archbishop (Peter Jensen) indicated broad agreement with Wallace, and suggested that censorship prevented these issues being considered. Wallace’s views were said to be based partly on Canadian report that gays were concerned that authorities had not developed strategies for them. Jensen suggested that his aim was to encourage discussion about all health issues affecting gays – not just HIV. There is no reliable information about gay and lesbian life expectancy – and health risks are linked to the high rates of stress in gay community. Warren Talbot (National LGBTI Alliance) doubts that Wallace and Jensen are drawing on current research. The Alliance was established, and is funded to do this research (which will take 10 years). Collecting such data is difficult. Overseas studies have been based on surveys. HIV is a danger mainly for gay men. Though medical advances mean that it is no longer a death sentence, HIV infected men aged 20 have 2/3 of average life expectancy. However treatments are improving. Some surveys suggest that 20% of gay men in inner city areas may be HIV affected. Andrew Grulich (Kirby Institute) says that citing data drawn from US at height of AIDS crisis in 1980s / 1990s is misleading.. Studies in Denmark showed that cancer rates for gays in stable relationships were similar to general population – except for cancers related to HIV. William Leonard (Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria) found through surveys that gay people rate their health as better than general population – though there are problem areas (eg amongst young people and those affected by mental health issues). Kate Carnell (Beyondblue) suggests that high levels of stress, depression and anxiety in gay people are due to constant discrimination. Depression is a major factor in suicide. WHO recognises that social exclusion negatively affects health. Carnell believes that there is an ulterior motive, rather than genuine concern, in comments on gay health (ie a desire to portray homosexuality as an undesirable ‘lifestyle choice’) And this is wrong. Nicholas Parkhill (ACON) says that there is nothing pathologically wrong with gay and lesbian people – and that the environment creates health inequalities. Jensen and Wallace’s assertions about running an anti-gay campaign similar to an anti-smoking campaign are wrong – and apparently based on homophobia..

Unfortunately the claims recorded in your article seem to be simplistic and perhaps seriously distorted.

It seems likely that many (most?) are in the ‘gay’ and lesbian community because they suffered abuse and neglect as children (see Ignoring Child Abuse?). If so then childhood abuses are likely to be a major factor in the psychological stresses that are seen to contribute to the depression and unsafe lifestyles that promote ill-health and poor life expectancy amongst affected individuals.

There seems to be a strong resistance to confronting the shockingly high incidence of child abuse in the community (see Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally). Unless and until the apparently extraordinarily high incidence of childhood abuse and neglect affecting ‘gays’ and lesbians in particular is taken into account, claims about the causes of their health problems can have little credibility.

John Craig


Child Sexual Abuse: Kicking the Can Down the Road? - email sent 12/11/12

Sid Maher and Milanda Rout
The Australian

Re: Investigate church abuse, Julia Gillard told, as government MPs, independents push for royal commission, The Australian, 12/11/12

Your article noted that calls are being made for an inquiry into the sexual abuse of children in Catholic institutions, and that the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney (Cardinal George Pell) suggested that this would constitute a disproportionate attack on the church, because the church was not the only culprit or the only community producing culprits.

Others (eg Nick Champion) reportedly suggested that a royal commission was needed with the power to look at “any Australian institution that has care of children and where these allegations have been made” (Packam B. and Vasek L., Julia Gillard considers church abuse inquiry calls, The Australian, 12/11/12).

What a good idea!! But there is a problem.

Seriously dealing with child sexual abuse could turn into a poisoned chalice for anyone who drinks from it, because:

  • Sexual abuse seems to affect a very significant minority (eg 15-25%) of children (see The Problem in Child Sexual Abuse), and no one wants to know because;
  • The ‘institution’ that seems associated with most (eg perhaps 80-90% of) child sexual abuse is the family.

Australia’s political leaders have been afraid to do anything, because: (a) widespread sexual abuse arguably reflects a breakdown of both community morality and of the biological family unit; and (b) far too many in the electorate must be involved. Avoiding the issue has been everyone’s preferred tactic (see Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally). An inquiry focused on the Catholic Church would seem likely to continue the cover-up (in the same way that it is often said that authorities in democracies now prefer to ‘kick the can down the road’ because they can’t address difficult economic / budgetary problems).

A courageous and lateral-thinking prime minister might find a way around this difficulty by asking Australia’s churches generally to address the full extent of the problem that Cardinal Pell has now ‘blown the whistle’ on. The latter might, if challenged, be able to summon the guts and motivation to do so - on the basis of their mission and political independence – and then challenge the communal immorality that is the root of the problem.

However ‘kicking the can down the road’ is likely to be easier politically.

John Craig


Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion - email sent 19/11/12

Hon Nicola Roxon, MP
Attorney General, and

Hon Brendan O’Connor, MP
Acting Minister for Families

Re: Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse¸ Transcript of Prime Minister’s Press Conference, 12/11/12

I should like to suggest (for reasons outlined in more detail on my website) that the proposed Royal Commission’s terms of reference should focus on systemically inadequate responses to child abuse by churches, governments, the legal profession and a fast-growing ‘sexual abuse industry’. Investigating systemic problems in those areas should be less costly, quicker and more effective than if the Commission is directed to investigate problems in ‘services-for-children’ institutions on a case-by-case basis (ie to investigate problems in potentially thousands of orphanages / schools run by religious / not-for-profit / state organisations).

Though the full extent of child sexual abuse is not clear it appears that: (a) sexual abuse affects a very significant minority of children, so there may be millions of victims; and (b) most cases arise in families and in the general community (see The Problem in About Child Sex Abuse, 2003+). The proposed Royal Commission would thus be a costly and time-consuming waste of effort if (as the Prime Minister’s press release implied) it deals only with:

  • Those abuse cases that occur in ‘services-for-children’ institutions, while ignoring the majority that occur in families and the general community; and
  • Inadequacies in the responses of those ‘services-for-children’ institutions to offences by their employees, without attention to the individual moral failings that sex abuse reflects.

There is arguably no need to spend many years and hundreds of millions of dollars on the proposed Royal Commission.

However, if a narrow, time consuming and expensive approach is taken to the Royal Commission’s terms of reference, a case will clearly emerge for a parallel (perhaps independent) inquiry over the next few months that takes a broader systemic view of the problem (eg along the lines suggested on my website) and draws upon evidence informally, rather than legalistically.

John Craig

[Note: in the original email, 'pedophilia' had mistakenly been written where 'sex abuse' now appears in grey, because the writer (who is a learner rather an expert in these areas) was only advised later of the difference between the psychiatric condition of pedophilia (ie a sexual attraction towards children) and the actual sexual abuse of children.]


A Strategic Suggestion 

The Royal Commission might be more effective and faster in dealing with the whole problem of child sexual abuse and in reducing the incidence of abuse, if it has a strategic and systemic mandate rather than one to investigate problems in ‘services-for-children’ institutions on a case-by-case basis. Reasons for suggesting this follow.

Churchesresponse to the widespread incidence of sexual abuse of children has been seriously inadequate for decades because most have failed to continue stressing the importance of moral behaviour by individuals in the face of clearly declining standards (eg see Evidence in relation to this trend generally, and What has gone wrong with morality? (2003) in relation to child sexual abuse). This matters because churches are the only institution that can do anything about individual moral failings (which not only give rise to child sex abuse and to tens of thousands of children having to be taken into foster care, but to innumerable other social dysfunctions) without undermining Australia’s liberal legal, governmental and economic institutions.

Why? Australia’s’ legal, government and economic institutions are built on an assumption of ethically responsible individual liberty – and this uniquely-Judeo-Christian expectation is in turn founded on the presumption that moral behaviour is sufficiently assured by individual consciences responsible to God (see Cultural Foundations of Western Strength in Competing Civilizations, 2001 and Christian Foundations of Liberal Western Institutions, 2010).

However many churches are no longer providing the ethical and moral foundations that Australia’s liberal institutions require. In the face of clearly declining standards and despite the warning in Matthew 5:13-16, many tend to have taken a populist approach (ie one favouring trendy but perhaps unwise ideas) and now seldom seem to publicly proclaim (for example):

  • The judgment that the perpetrators of moral offences face (eg see Luke 3:16-17; Matthew 5:28-29; John  16:7-8; Matthew 7:13), especially those who offend against children (Mark 9: 42-44);
  • The importance of sexual morality generally (eg see 1 Corinthians 6:18-20);
  • The maintenance of lifelong marriages (eg see Mark 10:2-12). This could be significant for child sexual abuse, if (as some observers have suggested) sexual abuse in the general community more often arises where children come to live with adults who are not their biological parents;
  • Objections to homosexual behaviour (eg 1 Corinthians, 6:9-10; Romans 1:26-28). This could be relevant because the development of sex abusers in religious 'services-for-children' organisations appears, at least in part, to be the result of the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (see above, and also Homophilia: Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour);
  • The path to salvation (eg John 5:24; Mark 16:16; Acts 4:12) and the strength needed to cease offending (eg John 16: 7-15; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Galatians 5:22-23) that a loving God provided to enable individuals to avoid eternal suffering (eg John 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:8-9);
  • The need to then demonstrate commitment by actually living Godly lives (Matthew 7:21-29;
  • Objections to human desires to be the source of moral wisdom / authority (Genesis 3:3-6), and to human attempts to enforce moral behaviour (eg Matthew 7:1-5; Luke 11:39-47), as moral legalists may simply make-up (Matthew 15:9) perhaps-unrealistic rules that others are expected to comply with (Matthew: 23:1-34), while they themselves: (a) may not comply (op cit); or (b) are guilty of various other offences (eg Luke 12:1) - as indeed all people are (eg Roman's 3:23).

The latter point is relevant because when human agencies (eg governments, the legal system or the community itself including the managers of ‘services-for-children’ institutions) try to act as authorities / enforcers in relation to individual morality:

 If social dysfunctions (such as widespread child sexual abuse) are to be overcome while maintaining Australia’s liberal legal and government institutions, churches’ failure in recent decades must be reversed.

One observer suggested that the cumulative effect of accepting apparently minor 'offences' for decades has been to allow a tidal wave of major social dysfunctions to arise [1]. If so something like the 'zero tolerance' approach that reputedly contributed to easing New York's increasingly serious problems with major crimes might be relevant.

Governments’ responses also seem inadequate because they have repeatedly commissioned inquiries into the failure of (say) church-owned institutions to deal effectively with allegations of abuse of children in their care, and this merely disguises the full extent of the problem (see Child Sexual Abuse: Kicking the Can Down the Road?). Governments' unwillingness / inability to deal effectively with child sexual abuse in the general community exactly parallels the difficulties that those in charge of 'services for children' institutions have faced.

The result of governments' narrow approach to child sexual abuse is that the community generally is not made aware of the apparent scale and nature of the problem. For example, it was noted that:

"A parliamentary inquiry in Melbourne last month heard that there had been 2110 sexual offences against 519 children in Victoria since 1956, with about 70% committed by catholic priests, brothers or teachers" (Roylance C., Courier Mail letters, 29/11/12).

The problem is that the Victorian parliamentary inquiry might be giving a quite misleading understanding of the problem on the basis of a sample of less than 1% of all cases (ie if claims by those who have looked at the whole of the child sex abuse problem are valid, namely that (say) 20% of children are subjected to sexual abuse and that this occurs mainly in a family / community context, then the real numbers of sexual abuse victims since 1956 in Victoria (population 5.5m) is likely to be 0.5-1m, while the number of offenders might be (say) 50-200,000).

Note added later: In 2014 an observer suggested that it was wrong to focus on sexual abuse in the community generally because the fact that (about) 95% of institutions have been associated with child sexual abuse shows that there is a qualitatively different problem in institutions. However it seems likely that this is primarily a consequence of the large number of potential perpetrators in an institutional context. A model has been developed which allows estimates of the number of potential abusers that children are likely to be exposed to within various different sized groups of adults. If it is assumed (simplistically) that (say) 2-3% of undifferentiated adults are likely to be involved in abuse then there is an 86-94% chance that an institution with (say) 100 employees / associates will include one or more abusers. There is also an 18-26% chance that one or more of the (say) 10 adults that a child is likely to be closely associated with in a family / community setting will be an abuser.

The Royal Commission arguably needs to investigate government responses to allegations of sex abuse also because there are periodically claims about pedophile rings in governments, in government institutions dealing with children and in the judiciary. Queensland’s Heiner affair (for example) may, or may not, be a consequences of such corruption in government / legal institutions (eg see Shredder-gate isn't necessarily ‘much ado about nothing', 2007). Such networks could easily give rise to dysfunctional institutional responses to instances and allegations of child abuse, and thus this possibility needs to be investigated.

More Reasons for Concern? A commentator (who wishes to remain anonymous) privately provided feedback (which the present writer can neither confirm nor disprove) to the effect that: “the Commonwealth Government… has …. presided over the abuse of minors among asylum seekers in their custody and officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs have been active for many years in some postings in Asia on a lot more than inter-governmental activities”.

Claims have been made that problems with sexual abuse of children in state care in Victoria could be greater than that in church institutions (eg involving pedophile rings) and that the situation in other states is likely to be worse (and that such abuse has been going on for a long time).

 There was reportedly concern that one of South Australia's most senior police ordered the closing of an inquiry into a pedophile ring - which those previously involved in the investigation believed was inappropriate [1].

The Legal Profession seems to prefer to follow the money’ in responding to the sexual abuse of children. Lawyers appear to recommend action against ‘services-for-children’ institutions (rather than against individual abusers in those institutions or in the general community), because such institutions can have large often-government-supported operational budgets and thus a lot more money that can be extracted if they can be held to be liable for the moral failings of their staff (including those who may be complicit in cover-ups).

Legislative changes which limit legal action for sexual abuse to the individuals responsible (ie for sexual abuse or for cover-ups) should be considered to:

  • Eliminate a major obstacle to ‘services-for-children’ institutions dealing effectively with instances and allegation of sexual abuse (ie the need that most have to be defensive about abuse by their staff because of concerns about the financial costs to the institution of defending against legal actions or the penalties that might be imposed as a result of such actions); and
  • encourage the legal profession to play a more constructive role in responding to instances and allegations of child sexual abuse.

A ‘sexual abuse industry’ has apparently emerged comprising those whose careers involve providing victims with counselling / support / legal advice, and analysing the phenomenon. This ‘industry’ also needs investigation because their methods and motivations are oriented towards dealing with the symptoms of child sexual abuse, rather than curing the disease (and this inadvertently constitutes an institutional obstacle to reducing sexual abuse). Those in the 'industry' need to be made aware that the objective should be to make their jobs redundant rather than to stir up 'witch-hunts'.


Child Sexual Abuse: Don't Turn Your Back on Millions of Victims - email sent 22/11/12

Secretariat,
Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse,
PO Box 6555,
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Re: Consultation Paper on the Establishment of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

I should like to make a submission in relation to the scope and terms of reference of the proposed Royal Commission, as well as comment briefly on the consequent information requirements, Commissioners’ qualifications and timescale for the Commission’s work.

My submission related to the Royal Commission’s scope and terms of reference is in A Strategic Suggestion (on my web-site). In brief this suggests that its terms of reference should focus on systemically inadequate responses to child sexual abuse by four different types of public and private institutions and organisations, namely churches, governments, the legal profession and the fast-growing ‘sexual abuse industry’. This suggestion was first referenced in an email to the Attorney General and Acting Minister for Families on 19/11/12 (see Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion). It includes reference to a simple legislative change that should improve the ability of both the legal profession and ‘services-for-children’ institutions (such as orphanages and schools) to deal effectively with allegations and instances of child sexual abuse.

It is submitted in particular that it would be morally indefensible for the Commission to turn its back on the potentially millions of victims of sexual abuse in family / community contexts.

A quote: "One in three girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused in some way before the age of 18 years. (Australian Institute of Criminology, 1993)" [Bravehearts, ProspeKtus to ProtectUs, 2010]

No matter what the context, child sexual abuse reflects a similar moral failure, and the effects on victims are similar. Also a narrow focus on the difficulties that ‘services-for-children’ institutions have in dealing with the problem is likely to be less effective in preventing future abuse and perhaps even counterproductive (because of the resulting emphasis on treating symptoms, rather than curing the disease).

My Strategic Suggestion implies that the Commission would require information about:

  • The incidence and nature of child sexual abuse in various contexts. This could be two stage process involving firstly drawing upon the numerous organisations and individuals who have studied the phenomenon in various contexts over the last 20-30 years, and secondly undertaking supplementary surveys and sub-inquires that are targeted at representative contexts on the basis of conclusions emerging from stage one;
  • The institutions and organisations nominated in A Strategic Suggestion. In particular this would require information about:
    • The influence of churches and other factors on individual moral behaviour (especially sexual morality) both historically and recently;
    • Influences on governments which have caused them (like ‘services-for-children’ institutions) to have difficulties in responding effectively to the growing incidence of child sexual abuse;
    • Financial considerations that have: (a) distorted the legal profession’s response to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse; and (b) made it difficult for ‘services-for-children’ institutions to deal with allegations and instances of abuse by their staff; and
    • The influence of those involved in counselling / supporting victims, and analysing the child sexual abuse phenomenon.

Commissioners appointed to undertake this investigation would need to have backgrounds which qualified them to assess such information.

It is also suggested that the Royal Commission could realistically be required to produce an interim report by June 2013, while the timing of a final report would depend on what supplementary surveys and sub-inquiries were found to be necessary as the result of initial consultations with others who have studied the child sexual abuse phenomenon over recent years.

John Craig


Stable versus Unstable Family Relationships: The Effect on Children - email sent 6/12/12

Bernard Salt

Re: In brave new world, latte line cuts the ideological divide, The Australian, 6/12/12

Your article pointed to the difference between cities / regions on the basis of whether or not there tends to be a commitment to stable family relationships.

It would be interesting to see a future article deal with differences between ‘progressive’ and ‘conservative’ cities in relation to the incidence of child sexual abuse, because some observers have suggested that this arises primarily where children live with adults who are not their biological parents (see The problem of sexual abuse).

This arguably is one of the key issues that should be addressed by the proposed royal commission into child sexual abuse, though it is likely to be kept safely outside the commission’s terms of reference because governments lack the guts to address crimes that involve a significant percentage of the community (see Child Sexual Abuse: Don't Turn Your Back on Millions of Victims).

John Craig


Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Another Official Cover-up? - email sent 9/12/12

Sid Maher,
The Australian

Re: Abuse inquiry gets maximum legal powers, The Australian, 8-9/12/12

An inquiry into child sexual abuse, even if given ‘maximum legal power’, will be an official cover-up if (as your article reported) its terms of reference are to be set so that it is prevented from dealing with most of the problem.

“In a communique following the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra yesterday, the meeting declared it was a national priority to identify what further systemic responses were necessary to protect children from sexual abuse in institutional contexts and ensure appropriate responses to abuse.”

Governments across Australia have established umpteen inquiries into the sexual abuse of children in ‘services for children’ institutions (eg orphanages and schools) but have always turned a blind eye to what seems to be the vast majority (eg 95%) of such abuse that occurs in family and community contexts (see Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion). As the latter suggested, governments’ unwillingness to deal responsibly with child sexual abuse in family / community contexts: (a) parallels the difficulties that the managers of ‘services for children’ institutions have had in dealing with abuse in an institutional context; and (b) makes governments into one of the primary institutions that a serious Royal Commission into inadequate institutional responses to child sexual abuse should investigate.

One must wonder how long this cover-up can continue.

John Craig


Conducting an Inquisition to Reduce Child Sex Abuse? - email sent 9/1/13

Evan Whitton

Re: Optimising the inquiry into child sex abuse, Online Opinion, 8/1/13

Your article suggests that an ‘inquisitorial’ approach (similar to the legal techniques used in France and Germany, and to the Fitzgerald inquiry into corruption in Queensland) would be better at discovering and manifesting the truth about child sex crimes than an ‘adversarial’ approach (which is foundational to the legal system that Australia inherited from Britain).

However, I submit that neither would be adequate.

My interpretation of your article: Australia uses two legal systems – an adversarial system (derived from common law countries such as Britain and its one-time colonies) and an inquisitorial (truth-seeking) system that is used in France and elsewhere. An inquiry’s task is to find / manifest the truth – yet universities don’t teach inquisitorial methods. Thus staff are not trained for the job, and inquiries are not run properly (as they are a combination of inquisitorial and adversarial techniques). Bron McKillop (Sydney University) is the expert on French / German inquisitorial techniques. The aims of the inquiry should be (at reasonable cost) to find the truth about child sex crimes; and to provide justice for victims by trying paedophiles and those who cover up their crimes. There should be no terms of reference and commissioners should be free to go where the evidence leads (like Australia’s most successful inquiry by Tony Fitzgerald into top-down corruption in Queensland). British judges invented truth-defeating devices (such as rules about concealing evidence, and the ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ concept). Immunity should be able to be offered to those who confess and tell the truth to the inquiry. The inquiry should be able to choose its own staff, rather than legal bureaucrats. Police whistle-blowers should be able to advise on which police should not be involved in investigating major cases. An adversarial system convicts only about 50% of guilty defendants, whereas French and German adversarial systems convict 95% of the guilty. Many sex abuse victims will be victims / not get justice if an adversarial system is used. A special prosecutor needs to be appointed to work in parallel with the inquiry. The commission should provide competent (but not highly paid) lawyers for suspects. Concealment of evidence (eg related to lawyer-client privilege) should not be allowed. Counsel assisting should follow French inquisitorial procedures – which allow a judge to build up a dossier on suspects in advance, which defence lawyers can examine and challenge. Lawyers’ role in the inquiry should be limited. Hearings should be relatively brief – merely enough to manifest the truth. And in the case of child sex crimes this is already known. A child sex crimes inquiry run on strict inquisitorial lines should cost no more than $50m. Inquiry reports tend to be wishy-washy because of adversarial-systems’ truth-defeating devices. Commissioners should be able to produce a secret report setting out their conclusions about individuals’ guilt.

While an ‘adversarial’ approach would have more trouble convicting a few suspected paedophiles, the problem is that there is vastly too much ‘truth’ out there for either an ‘inquisitorial’ or an ‘adversarial’ approach to be practical or effective in discovering it, and thereby significantly reduce the incidence of child sexual abuse.

Your article suggested that: (a) the ‘general truth about child sex crimes is already known’; and (b) the aim of an inquiry should be to examine particular child sex crimes and bring justice to victims by prosecuting perpetrators and those who cover-up such crimes. However the extent of child sexual abuse does not actually seem to be generally recognised, and governments’ attempts to limit the inquiry to offences that have occurred in ‘services for children’ institutions arguably makes governments themselves guilty of covering-up those crimes (eg see Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Another Official Cover-up?)

Consider: “……….

"A parliamentary inquiry in Melbourne last month heard that there had been 2110 sexual offences against 519 children in Victoria since 1956, with about 70% committed by catholic priests, brothers or teachers" (Roylance C., Courier Mail letters, 29/11/12).

The problem is that the Victorian parliamentary inquiry might be giving a quite misleading understanding of the problem on the basis of a sample of less than 1% of all cases (ie if claims by those who have looked at the whole of the child sex abuse problem are valid, namely that (say) 20% of children are subjected to sexual abuse, then the real numbers of sexual abuse victims in Victoria (population 5.5m) since 1956 is likely to be 0.5-1m, while the number of offenders might be (say) 50-200,000).” (see A Strategic Suggestion about improving institutional responses to child abuse).

Thus, if an inquiry were to presume that the ‘general truth’ about child sexual abuse is already known (or to have narrow terms of reference based on that assumption) and thus simply seek to find some individuals to prosecute, it would make little progress in dealing with the underlying problem. Its challenge would be compounded by the fact that:

  • children have also been damaged by neglect and non-sexual forms of abuse in ‘services for children’ institutions, which has led groups such as Care Levers of Australia Network and Australian Lawyers for Human Rights to suggest that the terms of reference for the inquiry should be broadened (eg see Rout M., ‘Orphans need say at abuse probe’, The Australian, 8/1/13);
  • neglect and non-sexual forms of abuse of children also seems to be widespread in the generally community – and, as with sexual abuse, this presumably involves vastly more victims than in ‘services for children’ institutions (eg see Erosion of the Moral Foundations of Liberal Institutions).

There is too much ‘truth’ out there for an inquiry to discover if it focuses on bringing justice to a few victims by prosecuting a hand-full of offenders. A broader focus for the inquiry is outlined in A Strategic Suggestion. The latter argues (amongst other things) for a primary focus on the need to redress the individual moral failings that lead to increasing sexual abuse of children (and other injuries to children). This is the only way that offences and irresponsibility that apparently affect a non-trivial segment of the community can be significantly reduced.

I would be interested in your response to my speculations. I note also that a postscript follows in relation to the impact of inquisitorial-style investigations in Queensland.

John Craig


PS: There is a need for caution about using inquisition-style investigations to discover ‘truth’. For example the late-1980s Fitzgerald Inquiry into corruption in Queensland led to the discovery of some of the ‘truth’ about problems in Queensland’s system of government. But:

  • The inquiries’ recommendations were then implemented by inexperienced autocrats who took an inquisitorial approach to public sector ‘reform’. Inquiries into change were undertaken on the assumption that the ‘truth’ was already known and it was only necessary to find offenders to prosecute (ie witches to hunt) – even though those put in charge knew very few of the ‘truths’ about what was really required for effective government, and there were very few real offenders (see Journey Towards a More Effective 'Fitzgerald Inquiry', 2009). This inquisitorial approach to implementing ‘reform’ managed to create an essentially unworkable system of government and laid the basis for the dysfunctions and crises that have plagued Queensland ever since (see Toward Good Government in Queensland , 1995 and Queensland’s Worst Government, 2005). The process also resulted in abuses of power because legislation was enacted to prevent the inexperienced autocrats’ assumptions about ‘truth’ being questioned in an adversarial environment;
  • There were important areas of corruption in Queensland that the Fitzgerald inquiry did not address (eg those related to illegal drug production and organised crime generally) – and the inquisitorial approach to implementing ‘reform’ largely eliminated from the public sector the knowledge, skills and motivations needed to prevent those influences from exploiting the situation to boost their power (eg see Reform of Queensland Institutions - or a Rising Tide of Public Hypocrisy?) .

A key point to recognise is that there are limits to what can be achieved by any inquiry.


Child Sex Abuse: What About the 99% - email sent 12/1/13

Judith Ireland and Bianca Hall

Re: “Too many blind to 'vile crime' of child sex abuse: PM”, National Times, 11/1/13

You reported that the prime minister said that too many people turn a blind eye to the shocking crime of child sexual abuse.

My interpretation of your article: Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that too many turn a blind eye to the shocking crime of child sexual abuse, as she announced terms of reference for a Royal Commission. Too many children are subject to sexual abuse in institutions and do not have a safe childhood. She wants the survivors of sexual abuse to have their voices heard. The Royal Commission will focus on sexual abuse in institutions, and will not deal with such abuse in families or with non-sexual abuse. The Commission will be headed by Justice Peter McClelland (Chief Justice at Common Law of the Supreme Court of NSW), and there will be five other commissioners. An interim report is expected in 18 months. Attorney General Nicola Roxon said that a lot of preliminary work will be needed before hearings start. The Royal Commission will focus on systemic failures and issues in the response of organisations / institutions to child sexual abuse. This will involve a lot of organisations (ie all private, public and non-government organisations that were / are involved with children – including government agencies, schools, sporting clubs, orphanages, foster care and religious organisations). The Royal Commission would not be a prosecuting body – and allegations about sexual abuse would be conveyed to and dealt with by police. A special investigative unit will be set up by the commissioners to work closely with police on prosecutions. The inquiry will not only look at perpetrators – but at those who were complicit (eg by moving on alleged offenders or ‘averting their eyes’). Church and victims groups as well as other community organisations welcomed the announcement.

There is no doubt that many prefer to ‘avert their eyes’. This is well illustrated by the widespread support you reported for a Royal Commission that is to consider only what ‘services for children’ institutions (eg schools / orphanages) could do to better respond to the  sexual abuse cases that affect children in their care. This is a clear cover-up as only (say) 1% of child sexual abuse cases may arise in 'service for children' institutions (see Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion for the source of that estimate).

While it might be that as many as 5% of child sexual abuse cases arise in ‘services for children’ institutions (who really knows?), the moral breakdown that gives rise to these offences and the effect on victims are similar in all contexts. Why ‘avert our eyes’ from the offences affecting the other 95-99%?

Note: It later became apparent that the Royal Commission's organisational focus would not be limited to 'service for children' institutions, but would include all 'entities' (eg including companies). However, if the majority of sexual abuse cases occur in families, the substance of above concern should still be valid.

Dealing with the whole of the problem (eg as proposed in A Strategic Suggestion) would be a bit embarrassing. It would, for example, probably require Australia’s churches to face up to the fact that they have not maintained the moral foundations that Australia’s liberal legal and governmental institutions require (ie ethical concern for others in the hearts of individuals). None-the-less it would seem to be more constructive than the proposed Royal Commission, as: (a) institutional managers, courts and governments can do little to prevent or deal with offences that are almost always kept behind closed doors; and (b) the more authorities are required to inquire and intervene in individuals’ private lives the more Australia’s liberal legal and government institutions would be at risk.

An independent inquiry, which addresses the core of the problem, could probably be undertaken relatively quickly and at minimal cost (eg in a spirit of contrition by Australia’s churches).

John Craig


A Response:

In response to a copy of the above email Professor Freda Briggs (University of Adelaide), who has a national reputation in the study of child welfare, suggested by email that, irrespective of whether or not family related abuse is considered, the criminal justice system and family courts should be included amongst the institutions to be investigated, as they are part of the problem.


Reducing Child Sex Abuse Mainly Requires Potential Offenders to have a Conscience - email sent 14/1/13

Gemma Daley, Joanna Maher and James Hutchinson
Australian Financial Review

Re: ‘Commission set for child sex crimes’, Financial Review, 12-13/1/13

Your article included an amazing claim by Australia’s prime minister in relation to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse:

“The Commission will not specifically examine child sexual abuse outside organisations, such as in the family … However any recommendations by the commissioners are likely to improve the response to child sexual abuse wherever it happens”

It would be very interesting to hear the prime minister’s reasons for her desperate claim, given that the Royal Commission’s terms of reference apparently require it to:

  • deal with only a small minority of offences – mainly those committed by the employees of ‘services for children’ institutions (see Child Sex Abuse: What About the 99%); and
  • focus on how offenders’ employers respond to cases that they become aware of.

Conclusions from such an inquiry can’t be particularly relevant in dealing with the majority of child sexual abuse that occurs in families or the general community, because in such cases no institution equivalent to an employer would be involved. Also responses to abuse by institutions of any type are limited because (according to those who appear to have studied the community-wide phenomenon) in most cases sexual abuse is not reported – so there is nothing for any external institution to respond to. An observer who has worked with abuse victims pointed out (privately) that reporting is less likely in family situations (where family discord would result from accusing (say) a step-father or an uncle) than where offences by an employee of a relatively-remote ‘services for children’ organisation are alleged.

Thus, while diverse institutions need to respond responsibly when child sexual abuse is alleged, preventing abuse (eg by encouraging potential sex offenders to consult their consciences more than the ‘me generations’ have been expected to do) would seem likely to be more effective in re-creating safe environments for children (eg as suggested in Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion)

John Craig


Blushing over endorsing homosexual behaviour? - email sent 5/2/13

Matthew Parris
The Times

Re: Don't be left blushing by same-sex vote, The Australian, 4/2/13 (reproduced from “Vote ‘no’ and you will blush to remember itThe Times, 2/4/13)

Your article suggests that those in the UK who opposed legalization of homosexuality in 1966 now blush at the memory, and the same risk faces those who might now oppose same sex marriage.

However I would like to suggest that the issue is a little more complex than your article suggests because of the linkages between the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour and child sexual abuse (see Homophilia: Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour). For example it appears that in many (most?) cases involvement in the ‘gay’ community is a by-product of sexual abuse or neglect as a child – so public endorsement of their homosexual behaviour as adults also constitutes belated endorsement of that childhood abuse / neglect, and is hardly morally defensible.

If, as seems likely, homosexual behaviour is an emotional / addictive affliction in many / most cases, then it makes no more sense to either: (a) try to prevent it by law; or (b) endorse it as a 'right relationship', than would be the case for anorexia nervosa.

The real problem is that the community (at least in Australia) is not yet prepared to face up to the monstrous problem that child sexual abuse has become (eg see Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Another Official Cover-up?). When this is eventually addressed, its linkage with homosexual behaviour will presumably be publicly explored, and many who have endorsed the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour will have good reason to blush.

John Craig


Gay Marriage - email sent 6/2/13

Peter Sellick

Re: Gay marriage: an argument against, Online Opinion, 1/8/12

While your argument in this article is important and valid, I suspect that there are other causes for concern.

In the first place endorsing homosexual behaviour by adults also arguably involves also endorsing the childhood sexual abuse and neglect which seems to be the main factor in the breeding of many (most?) gays – see email reproduced below and Homophilia: Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour. The latter refers also to:

  • the apparent relationship (identified by Professor Freda Briggs) between public endorsement of homosexual behaviour and the build-up of significant numbers of sexual offenders in church institutions;
  • the apparent lack of reliable studies of the causes of homosexual behaviour – as analysts seem to identify only biological or social causes (depending on their assumptions).

I would be interested in your response to my speculations.

John Craig


Informed Democratic Debate about Gay Marriage: The Need to End Official Sex Abuse Cover-ups - email sent 3/4/13

Janet Albrechtsen,
The Australian

Re: No short cuts to gay marriage, The Australian, 3/4/13

Your article suggested that:

  • Opposing gay marriage (probably) puts people on the wrong side of history; but that
  • There should be no short cuts to get around the need for democratic approval for gay marriage.

However the ‘direction of history’ in relation to gay marriage would probably change, if there was a truly informed democratic debate.

The problem is that there can’t be a realistic debate until there is an end to official cover-ups of the linkages between: (a) child sexual abuse; and (b) the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (which would be raised to a new high by the legalization of gay marriage). Those linkages apparently include (see Homophilia: Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour):

  • The role that childhood sexual abuse and neglect plays in breeding many / most ‘gays’; and
  • Facilitating homosexual abuse because potential victims can be convinced that: ‘It’s OK to be homosexual’, and that they must be homosexual.

And many credible sources suggest that sexual abuse affects a very significant minority of Australia’s children (see The Problem in About Child Sex Abuse, 2003+). Community leaders appear to be terrified of the implications of the breakdown of morality that this represents. Thus awareness of the real extent of the problem has been suppressed for years, eg by repeatedly investigating the small percentage of cases that arise in church institutions (see Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community, 2010).

Another cover-up that will be good for several years in the absence of a public outcry (ie the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse) has now been established by the federal government. Its mandate is again limited to investigating sexual abuse in mainly-services-for-children institutions, which (as suggested in A Strategic Suggestion) is quite inadequate because:

  • A Victorian Parliamentary inquiry reportedly found that there had only been 519 victims of sexual abuse in Victoria since 1956 (with 70% committed by catholic priests, brothers are teachers). However widely-available estimates of the incidence of sexual abuse across the whole community (ie in not just in ‘institutions’) suggest that (say) 12-25% of children are affected. If so the total number of Victorian child sexual abuse victims since 1956 could actually be something like 0.5-1m. Limiting inquiries to sexual abuse cases that arise in ‘institutions’ has been disgraceful;
  • The ‘institutions’ whose inadequate response to child sexual abuse most needs to be investigated by a Royal Commission include: governments; the legal profession; and the ‘sexual abuse industry’.

Conducting yet another inquiry into sexual abuse in institutions (and focusing much of that inquiry on church institutions – ie the only institutions that can really do anything about the moral breakdown that widespread sexual abuse in the broader community reflects) must give the majority of Australia’s child sexual abusers a lot of secret satisfaction.

And if, as seems plausible, sexual abuse is a factor in breeding many / most gays, then the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour constitutes belated endorsement of childhood sexual abuse and neglect – and this is hardly morally defensible. No democratic debate about the desirability of gay marriage can be informed as long as these official cover-ups continue.

Regards

John Craig


Earth to David: Sexual Abuse Happens - email sent 21/4/13

David Penberthy

Re: Right set to lead gay marital push’, Sunday Mail, 21/4/13

Your article made a joke of the massive problem that child sexual abuse appears to have become in Australia.

“On the few occasions I have written anything on the question of gay marriage - which I support in a pretty casual and unexcited kind of a way - I have been taken aback by two things.

The first is the often crazed level of anger displayed by those readers who support the status quo, replete with references to sodomites, unnatural acts, child abuse, and even the odd claim made famous by Liberal Senator Corey Bernardi that same-sex unions are the start of a slippery slope which will culminate with people marrying their pets."

Sexual abuse is a very real phenomenon and many credible observers have drawn attention to this fact and to the damage that it often does to affected children (see The Problem of Sexual Abuse). The fact that everyone prefers to turn a blind eye to this (eg by commissioning repeated inquiries into the small percentage of sexual abuse that occurs in institutions) will not make it go away.

And there seem to be very real links with child sexual abuse that would probably make the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour morally indefensible (see Homophilia: The Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour). Whether the right or the left (or the confused majority) take the lead in endorsing gay marriage, they still face the same moral difficulty.

I have no idea whether the ‘slippery slope’ could lead to people marrying their pets. However there is undoubtedly a ‘slippery slope’ which has been leading from the trivialization of apparently minor moral offences to increasingly serious symptoms. For example the trivialization of marriage has perhaps contributed to the widespread incidence of child sexual abuse – noting that some observers seem to believe that abusers are often defactos or step-fathers (ie a big problem may be arising because, after the breakdown and reformation of marriages, children come to live with adults who are not their biological parents). Australians enjoy a liberal environment because it has been able to be assumed that individuals would use their liberty responsibly. But when this is no longer so, liberty itself is at risk (see Erosion of the Moral Foundations of Liberal Institutions).

Personally I don’t find that risk all that funny.

John Craig


Weakness and Wasting Money in Dealing with Child Sex Abuse - email sent 2/6/13

Terry Sweetman
Sunday Mail

RE: Millions Better Spent Elsewhere, Sunday Mail, 2/6/13

Your article referred to: problems that the Catholic Church in Victoria has had because of child sexual abuse by its servants; that Church’s estimate that there have been 620 victims over the past 80 years; and the apparent virtual absence of new cases over the past decade.

Your article also referred to the Royal Commission that has been established by the Federal Government to again revisit the problem of child sexual abuse in Catholic and other institutions.

While undoubtedly there were better ways for the Catholic Church to have spent its money than in investigating and dealing with the consequences of child sexual abuse by its servants, I suspect that the Federal Government could be spending its money better by supporting an inquiry into the whole problem of child sexual abuse - rather than into the vanishingly small percentage of cases that have arisen in institutions.

If one takes seriously the estimates by those who have studied child sexual abuse, there are likely to have been more than (say) 500,000 victims in Victoria since the 1950s (see Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion for details of that ‘guess-timate’). If so, then the Federal Government is spending a huge amount of money on an inquiry that is dealing with less than 1% of the problem.

Part of the blame for the moral failings that widespread child sexual abuse represents can be attributed to churches – mainly because of the weak messages that have been delivered from their pulpits in recent decades. However the institutions that are probably the greater obstacles to dealing with the massive problem that child sexual abuse represents are governments, the legal profession and the ‘sex abuse industry’ (op cit).

John Craig


Response  to a copy of the above email that was received (2/6/13) from Professor Freda Briggs, University of Adelaide (reproduced with permission):

"I have warned the Royal Commission that if they don’t investigate the Family Court of Australia as an institution that is involved in child sex abuse, there will have to be a separate inquiry within the next ten years because of the number of children who have been sent to live with child sex offending parents, in some cases, knowing that the children will be at risk of abuse and the abusers have been convicted.

For the last fifteen years, state politicians have been referring parents to me when they have lost residence of their children merely because they reported incest. They were then labelled as delusional or suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder and/or were accused of training children to make false reports for vindictiveness. Psychologists’ and other experts’ reports have been ignored and judges are advised by lawyers who not only lack a professional knowledge of child development/abuse but they rarely if ever speak to the children they represent. Judges rely on police reports and they often leave a great deal to be desired, addressing them as if they are adults and accusing children of lying. Little wonder that so many cases are unsubstantiated.

Protective parents have been ordered to have psychiatric treatment for their so-called delusions and psychiatrists refuse to treat them because they are not mentally ill. They are then in breach of a court order.
The children affected are now growing up and have a voice but they are silenced because of S121 of the Act that imposes secrecy on participants.

In the meantime, the court is a gold-mine for lawyers; protective parents have had to sell their homes to pay legal bills of $500,000 and more in their unsuccessful attempts to protect their children.

One Sydney “expert witness” used by the court to assess families charges $37.000 for a single report, a report that he re-cycles and sometimes forgets to change the name of the child.

While it is good that victims are given a voice, many will have already had their say at state inquiries and the institutions in which they were abused have long gone. The Royal Commission should be looking at institutions that are failing children here and now... and there are many."
 


Exploring Homophilia - email sent 2/8/13

Timothy Jones
Latrobe University

Re: Inside the stained-glass closet: exploring holy homophobia, The Conversation, 2/8/13

Your article provided interesting comments on the Catholic Church’s difficulties in dealing with homosexual issues. However suggesting that homosexuality is just part of a person’s nature seems to fall into the logical fallacy of ‘begging the question’ (ie assuming what needs to be proved).

My interpretation of your article: Pope Francis recently made a conciliatory gesture to gay Catholics. This indicates a change in the church’s attitude to closeted priests – but did not address the root cause of religious homophobia. While dismissing rumours of a ‘gay lobby’ in the Vatican, he said “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, whom am I to judge?”. This reversed his predecessor’s harsh stance against homosexual priests, but still sees homosexuality as evil. Gay people, he suggested, need to be integrated rather than marginalized. Pope Benedict was plagued by gay sex scandals, and it is rumored that this led to his resignation. Historically the Church provided a safe haven for same-sex attracted men – as there was no need for a hetro-sexual family. Also religious language endorses love between men. By the early 20th century religious and scientific understandings of same-sex desire were integrated, and the church came to understand homosexuality as part of a person’s nature. This led to more pastoral responses to gay men, and decriminalization of sex between men in the 1950s. The social needs of homosexual men in the Church were acknowledged, while gay men in the broader society retreated into a closet. Catholicism provided a space of tacit acceptance of ‘inverts’, who could be more comfortable than their secular equivalent. This started to change (eg after decriminalization) in the 1960s so Gays and lesbians could come out of the closet. But Catholic sexual doctrines did not change. Thus gay priests, bishops and cardinals could not come out. In fact they are forced to proclaim hetro-normative values. So the church was both providing a safe-haven for same-sex attracted men and proclaiming homophobia in a sexually liberalized society. Pope Francis has changed the harsh tones of his predecessor, but the paradox remains.

The problem with all this is that it assumes (in the face of evidence to the contrary) that same-sex attraction is always merely something that is in a person’s nature, and that the public endorsement of homosexual behaviour does not have serious side effects that would make it morally indefensible.

Reasons for suggesting that these assumptions may be false (because of links with child sexual abuse) are outlined in Homophilia: The Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour (2004+). The latter suggests: (a) that sexual abuse and neglect as children seems to be a factor in the breeding of many (most?) gays so public acceptance of later homosexual behaviour constitutes belated endorsement of earlier abuse and neglect; and (b) that the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour facilitates the further sexual abuse of children.

I would be interested in your response to my speculations.

John Craig


Brisbane Coalition MP to Pressure Abbott into Endorsing and Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse????? - email sent 23/8/13

Tony Moore
Brisbane Times

Re: Brisbane Coalition MP to pressure Abbott into marriage equality, Brisbane Times, 22/8/13

Might I respectfully suggest that when covering debates about what is called ‘marriage equality’ it would be appropriate to not ignore the linkages between the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour and the sexual abuse of children.

Though those linkages are indirect and are not publicly recognised, they imply that the public endorsement of homosexual behaviour (whether through ‘marriage equality’ or otherwise) is not morally defensible. My reasons for suggesting this are outlined in Informed Democratic Debate about Gay Marriage: The Need to End Official Sex Abuse Cover-ups.

John Craig


Is Any Form of Oppression 'Natural'? - email sent 5/9/13

Archbishop Glenn Davies

Re: Scripture is all Greek to Rudd, The Australian, 4/8/13

You reportedly suggested that Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, was ‘profoundly wrong’ in claiming on a recent Q&A program that the Bible treated slavery as a ‘natural condition’ – as it seemed that Mr Rudd was mistakenly quoting Aristotle’s view of that matter.

Extract from the above article: “In the Greek philosopher's book Politics, Aristotle wrote: ‘For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule’."

I should like to draw to your attention that Mr Rudd also seemed to be mistaken in his claim that being ‘gay’ is simply a ‘natural condition’ (ie that from the hour of their birth some are marked out to be ‘gay’).

“Number one, I do not believe people when they are born choose their sexuality. They are gay if they are born gay.” (See extract from Q&A transcript below)

For many (most?) coming out as ‘gay’ seems to be a consequence of sexual abuse and / or neglect as children. This point is explored in Homophilia: Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour – though whether the percentage that are ‘gay’ because of childhood abuse is (say) 50% or 80% does not seem to have been reliably assessed. Governments have been too fearful of what they might find if they allowed any investigation of the extent and consequences of sexual abuse of children in the general community (eg see Informed Democratic Debate about Gay Marriage: The Need to End Official Sex Abuse Cover-ups).

If being ‘gay’ is often / mostly the result of childhood neglect or abuse, then claiming (as Aristotle said of slavery) that there is nothing wrong (ie that being ‘gay’ is also just a ‘natural condition’) seems morally indefensible.

John Craig


ABC Brisbane Q & A Transcript (extract)

QUESTIONER: Hi Prime Minister. I'm a pastor of a local church and work for a national Christian radio network. Most of the listeners and callers we have had in our radio station have been saying they won't be voting for you because they are disillusioned because you seem to keep chopping and changing your beliefs just to get a popular vote with regards to things like marriage. Why should we vote for you?

PM: On the question of marriage equality, you are right. I took a position about three, four, five months ago, well before coming back to the prime ministership, because I concluded in my conscience, through an informed conscience and a Christian conscience, it was the right thing to do. Let me tell you why. Number one, I do not believe people when they are born choose their sexuality. They are gay if they are born gay. You don't decide at some later stage in life to be one thing or the other. It is how people are built. Therefore, the idea that this is somehow an abnormal condition is wrong. I don't get that. I think it is a completely ill-founded view. Secondly, if you accept it is natural and normal for someone to be gay because that's the way they are, then it follows from that that I don't think it is right to say that if these two folk here who are in love with each other and are of the same gender should be denied the opportunity for legal recognition of the duration of their relationship by having marriage equality. If you accept - if your starting point is that homosexuality is abnormal - I don't know if that's your view.

HOST: Well, we can go back and ask.

PM: I just need to know.

HOST: We’ll go back to our questioner just quickly to ask what it is that you believe Christians in particular are upset about?

QUESTIONER: I think the thing is that every pastor, we do marriages between husbands and wives, and you know Jesus said a man shall leave his father and mother and be married, and that's the Biblical definition. I just believe in what the Bible says. I'm just curious for you, Kevin, if you call yourself a Christian, why don't you believe the words of Jesus in the Bible?

PM: Well mate if I was going to have that view, The Bible also says that slavery is a natural condition. Because St Paul said in the New Testament, slaves be obedient to your masters. And therefore we should have all fought for the confederacy in the US Civil War. I mean for goodness sake. The human condition and social conditions change. What is the fundamental principle of the New Testament? It is one of universal love. Loving your fellow man. And if we get obsessed with a particular definition of that through a form of sexuality, then I think we are missing the centrality of what the gospel, whether you call it a social gospel, a personal gospel or a spiritual gospel, is all about. And therefore, I go back to my question, if you think homosexuality is an unnatural condition, then frankly I cannot agree with you based on any element of the science. And therefore, if a person's sexuality is as they are made, then you’ve got to ask the second question. Should, therefore, their loving relationships be legally recognised and the conclusion I have reached is that they should. And on the question of chopping and changing, I wrote a 2,000 or 3,000 word essay, stuck it online, months and months and months ago before returning to the prime ministership so everyone would know why I changed my position, the reasons for it. And it was the product of some many months and years of reflection in good Christian conscience.


Same Sex Marriage: Who is Going to Raise the Moral Issues? - email sent 23/10/13

Tom McKilroy
Canberra Times

Re: Federal government lodges High Court challenge to ACT same-sex marriage laws, Brisbane Times, 23/10/13

I noted without surprise that your report stated that the “Prime Minister Tony Abbott defended a challenge to ACT same-sex marriage laws as a constitutional matter, not a moral issue”.

This raises the obvious question of who is going to raise the moral questions. It seems very likely that the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (whether through legalizing ‘gay’ marriage or otherwise) is morally indefensible because of it’s apparently links with child sexual abuse. Sexual abuse and neglect as children seems to be a major factor in the breeding of many / most ‘gays’. Moreover public acceptance of homosexual behaviour apparently facilitates the sexual abuse of children. The latter concerns are developed further in Informed Democratic Debate about Gay Marriage: The Need to End Official Sex Abuse Cover-ups.

If a federal government representing political parties all of whose ACT members reportedly voted against the ACT’s same-sex marriage law lacks the guts to publicly confront the moral question (ie the reportedly widespread incidence of child sexual abuse in the Australian community and its links with the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour), then who will?

John Craig


Follow-on Comments

In response to receiving a copy of the above email, one observer suggested that the present writer could not be serious and should stick to economics.

In reply it was first noted (in a further email of 23/10/13) that:

"..... child sexual abuse is a major ignored problem in Australia. For example, in 1993 the Australian Institute of Criminology claimed that “One in three girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused in some way before the age of 18 years.” Many other observers have made similar claims. Government inquiries into sexual abuse have dealt with only a tiny fraction of this phenomenon (ie the cases that arise in institutions) while ignoring the vast majority that arises in the general community (eg compare indications of the number of ‘institutional’ cases investigated with the likely community-wide numbers – in A Strategic Suggestion). Governments are simply afraid to confront the problem – despite its adverse implications for the community. ....X... is involved in a group that provides counselling to distressed / dysfunctional individuals – a significant percentage of whom privately reveal childhood sexual abuse as a factor in their problems. However in none of the cases ..X...  has encountered to date did this arise in ‘institutions’ – the only context that government inquiries are willing to consider.

....Y...  one of Australia’s experts on child sexual abuse has privately argued that the fact that homosexuality is regarded as OK enables potential child sexual abusers to convince their victims that what is being done to them is also OK – because homosexuality is OK and they must be homosexual because their bodies respond to stimulation.

Some who have studied ‘gays’ in the community believe that a very large percentage (eg 65-85%) were subject to sexual abuse as children – a much larger percentage than in the general population (ie 15-25%) and this implies causality – though this question has not been reliably studied (eg see A Comment on Causality). Children are probably the innocent victims of political correctness as represented by insisting that being ‘gay’ is natural (see Is any form of Oppression Natural?).

John Craig"

Then is a further email ('Would you like economics with that', 25/10/13) the present writer suggested that:

"The breakdown of individual moral responsibility which is reflected in the child sexual abuse situation (which has apparent links to ‘homosexual behaviour is normal’ claims) has significant economic implications – because (like many other indicators of a breakdown of moral responsibility) is a threat to the sustainability of legal and governmental institutions that are based on a presumption of ‘responsible liberty’ (see Erosion of the Moral Foundations of Liberal Institutions).

As far as I have been able to tell ‘responsible liberty’ is a unique feature of Western societies because of their Judeo-Christian heritage and has been immensely important to rapid economic and other progress. This has facilitated the creation of social environments in which individuals could become vastly more effective in all walks of life through rational / responsible decision making (see Cultural Foundations of Western Strengths: The Realm of the Rational / Responsible Individual).

I recently attended a presentation by groups who provide support to refugees and asylum seekers. They paid a lot of attention to the differences between the cultural features of countries that tended to be the source of refugees and those they tended to flee to (because they believed that Australia’s cultural features created problems for refugees that needed to be understood). However in essence the difference was that refugees are fleeing from countries with what they called ‘collectivist’ (though ‘communitarian’ was probably a better word) cultures to those with ‘individualist’ cultures. The ‘communitarian’ cultures put the community ahead of the individual (because there is no basis for ‘responsible liberty’) and thus suppress individual initiative / progress / economic prosperity (while encouraging relative poverty / political instability / conflicts / refugee outflows). The Islamic world (which is the major source of the world’s refugees and of those who head towards Australia) is a particular example of the latter (see Islamic Societies: The Realm of the Self-Repressive Tribes?).

At one level this is significant because it highlights what probably needs to be done to address the humanitarian disaster associated with the world’s refugee crisis (eg see Boat People Magic). However at another level it is vital that serious attention be devoted to reversing the breakdown in individual moral responsibility in countries such as Australia so that liberal institutions (and the economic / political advantages that they can provide) will be sustainable.

John Craig"

In response it was then suggested by that observer that

"Your contention is that around 75% of gays were sexually abused as children

If so there may be an element of causality but I doubt that number and you present no evidence I believe being gay reflects genetics and people really have no choice

However some predators may choose to justify their actions is beside the point "

In reply it was noted (by email of 25/10/13) that:

"The contention that a high percentage of ‘gays’ were subject to sexual abuse / neglect as children comes from a number of sources. I personally have no insider information. The account by Chris Keane (a 15 year insider to Sydney’s ‘gay’ community) was one source on this. However others are outlined in A Comment on Causality. This included reference to a study in Australia by a group that clearly wanted to believe that ‘being gay reflects genetics and people really have no choice’ who found to their horror that sexual abuse was a significant factor – though my informant refused to divulge what their study had found (other than to claim that the percentage was less than being asserted by others). As far as I am aware the results of that study have not been published. It would presumably not be in that group’s interest to do so.

Unfortunately the way in which predators get their child victims to acquiesce in what is being done to them and not report the sexual abuse they are suffering is not really ‘beside the point’. According to ...Y..  the victims are able to be convinced that ‘they must be homosexual’ (and it’s OK to be homosexual) – and they don’t realize until they are much older (and severely damaged) that they were being lied to.

The problem is that it has become politically correct to assume that ‘being gay reflects genetics and people really have no choice’ – so there is a complete cover-up of the fact that this assumption is a serious over-simplification.

John Craig"


Sex Abuse Royal Commission Swamped ........
While Dealing with a Few Thousands of the Millions of Victims, ie Those Who Suffered in 'Institutions'

- email sent 18/11/13

Dan Box
The Australian

Re: ‘Evidence swamping sexual abuse inquiry’ and ‘Bracing for the Truth’, The Australian, 18/11/13

Might I respectfully suggest that there is something weird about your articles on the royal commission on institutional child sexual abuse?

The first pointed to the fact that the royal commission has (or will have) interviews with hundreds of possible victims – and has already recommended police investigations in 44 cases. The second pointed out that the total number of institutional cases could be in the thousands, and also that:

“One of the most authoritative studies from 1988 suggests that as many as one in four Australian girls and one in 10 boys suffer some kind of abuse before they turn 16.”

The latter implies that there are millions of victims – so that pretending that the royal commission is making a significant contribution to finding the truth about child sexual abuse in Australia is a joke. It seems likely that only a tiny fraction (eg less than 1%) of sexual abuse occurs in the ‘services for children’ institutions that the royal commission has been politically limited to investigating (see also Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Another Official Cover-up?).

Your second article (which had a subheading ‘Public hearings into the abuse perpetrated by churches begin today’) started by referring to a girl who was allegedly repeatedly raped by a step father - before being saved by the church. This is arguably pointing to the biggest ‘institutional’ problem – namely that (because almost 50% of marriages break down and new ‘partnerships’ develop, or bad parenting requires fostering) children now often come to live with adults who are not their biological parents and who have unsupervised access to them.

The vast majority of sexual abuse seems to arise in the general community – and the ‘institution’ that probably most needs investigation in relation to this is the family.

John Craig


Spectacular bungling of child abuse - email sent 12/12/13

Archbishop Mark Coleridge

Re: Archbishop admits ‘spectacular bungling’ of child abuse case, Brisbane Times, 11/12/13

You were quoted as suggesting that: (a) the Catholic Church has bungled in dealing with child sex abuse victims; and (b) you would consider making additional payouts for victims.

However I should like to submit for your consideration that:

  • the greatest bungling by the Church in relation to child sexual abuse involves focusing on the tiny fraction of cases that have occurred in its institutions (see Child Sex Abuse: What About the 99%);
  • while the Church bears responsibility for the problem (mainly because of failures in the pulpit), it is by no means the only guilty institution (see Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion). Governments, the legal profession and the ‘sex abuse industry’ are arguably more to blame;
  • the expectation that institutions should have to pay compensation to victims for the private crimes committed by their employees is arguably the major reason that Churches (and other institutions) have been forced to ‘bungle’ in dealing with child sexual abuse.

John Craig


Putting an End to Institutional Abuse - email sent 21/2/14

Dan Box
The Australian

Re: George Pell to be quizzed on abuse defence, The Australian, 20/2/14

Your article raised questions about the ability of the Catholic Church to avoid being sued, or be held liable to pay compensation, for criminal actions (ie child sexual abuse) by their employees. It noted that the Catholic Church is in an unusual position because it does not have a corporate existence and thus does not actually employ clergy – this being the basis of the Church’s so-called ‘Ellis defense’ in relation to sexual abuse cases. Moreover, as your article implied, lawyers are presumably salivating over the fees they might get for pursuing many millions of dollars in additional compensation from the Church should a weakness be identified in that defense.

However, there is a larger question. Why is there a fixation on the tiny fraction of child sexual abuse cases (eg probably less than 1%) that arise in such institutions? Why are the individual moral failings that have given rise to (probably) millions of sexual abuse cases in family contexts (and the few thousand that have arises in institutional contexts) simply put in the ‘too hard’ basket?

This bias towards blaming child services institutions for the problems they have in dealing with sexual abuse by their employees arguably constitutes ‘abuse’ of those institutions by others who desperately want to avoid facing up to the vastly bigger problem. As suggested in Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion (2012), the institutions that most need investigation in relation to their failure to deal with child sexual abuse are: (a) churches because many have not continued to stress the importance of moral individual behaviour; (b) governments who don’t want to face up to the full extent of a problem that plays havoc with large numbers of young lives; (c) the legal fraternity who are apparently only interested if large fees can be earned; and (d) the ‘sex abuse industry’. No one seems to want to get involved in the politically-difficult moral issues that arguably need to be considered (eg the likely role that the widespread breakdown of traditional biological families plays in child sexual abuse in the general community, and the factors that apparently contribute to the accumulation of potential sexual abusers in some institutions).

As Improving Institutional Responses suggested, a new law to protect institutions against compensation claims in relation to sexual abuse offences by their employees (providing the institutions have not been complicit in those offences) would probably do a great deal to reduce the problems that the current royal commission is investigating. Child services institutions would then be able to deal openly with child sexual offences by their employees – without fear of any crippling financial fallout. And other institutions would be forced to face up to the bigger problem. In particular churches would come under pressure to address the apparent widespread moral failing in the general community (and thus strengthen to some extent the decaying foundations of Australia’s liberal legal and governance institutions).

John Craig

Note [Added later]: The fact that the liability of institutions to pay compensation for sexual abuse by their employees is probably the greatest obstacle to open and constructive institutional responses was clearly illustrated in February 2014 -see below.


Legal Liability: The Main Obstacle to Proper Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse - email sent 23/2/14

Ginny Stein
ABC

Re: Royal commission hearings into child sex abuse at St Ann's special school to go ahead despite Catholic Church concern over timing, ABC News, 22/2/14

Your article reported that insurers for a Catholic School had argued to the Royal Commission that commission hearings related to a paedophile bus driver should be delayed until after civil actions were complete, because making information public through a hearing would potentially alter the outcome of the civil action.

Though there was debate about what had actually happened, this concern illustrates to perfection the main obstacle to open and constructive institutional responses to child sexual abuse – ie the fact that institutions that deal with children are expected to pay compensation for sexual abuse by their employees.

The need for a much broader approach to the massive problem of child sexual abuse was argued in Putting an End to Institutional Abuse.

Your article provided useful support.

Thanks

John Craig


What we are Doing to Victims is Unchristian - email sent 29/3/14

Dan Box
The Australian

Re: What we did to victim was unchristian: Pell, The Australian, 27/3/14

Your article noted that a former Catholic Archbishop of Sydney had argued that the church had been ‘unchristian’ in its dealings with a sex abuse victim because (ie effect) large numbers of compensation claims could destroy the church financially.

“CARDINAL George Pell fought a child sex-abuse victim through the courts in order to encourage other victims to "think clearly" about suing the Catholic Church, a royal commission has heard. The former archbishop of Sydney said yesterday he regrets the way the litigation was handled and had been motivated by a desire to protect the church's trustees, who control its wealth. During his second full day in the witness box, the cardinal said he had long been concerned that the Australian church might face similar abuse claims to those that had bankrupted several dioceses in North America.”

This is getting close to the core of the problem that the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is investigating. Institutions have problems in dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse because they can be held financially liable for the moral offences of individuals who are supposed to act on their behalf in helping children. The problem of inadequate institutional responses could be solved with the stroke of a pen – ie through a law which: (a) recognised that sexual abuse is an individual moral failing; and (b) prevented damages’ claims against institutions for sexual abuse by individuals – unless the institution itself was in some way complicit in that abuse.

However this would do almost nothing to deal with the major problem of child sexual abuse. Only the tiny percentage of victims who suffer sexual abuse in the care of institutions that can be sued currently receive attention. The community (as represented by institutions such as churches, governments, the legal fraternity and the sex abuse ‘industry) is simply refusing to acknowledge the extent of the problem (see Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion).

What we are doing to victims is unchristian.

John Craig


Would Taxing Churches Help? - email sent 15/6/14

Des Houghton
Sunday Mail

Re: ‘Former Lord Mayor calls for all churches to pay taxes, and donate it to victims of child abuse’, Sunday Mail, 15,/6/14

Your article highlighted suggestions by a former Brisbane Lord Mayor (Jim Soorley) that churches should pay taxes for their ‘sins’ (and because some have significant assets). He had also suggested that this money should be directed towards victims of crime (including victims of child abuse by clergy).

My interpretation of your article: Former Brisbane Lord Mayor (also a former Catholic priest) called for churches to pay for their sins through taxes and rates – with some money going to the victims of child abuse by clergy. He also accused some churches of profiteering by abusing their rate-exempt status to build large land banks. Rates pay for infrastructure used by churches and their followers. Churches have lost much goodwill because of shameful criminal behaviour. The Salvation Army, Catholic Church and Anglican Church have harboured criminal paedophiles. There have been many crimes in these institutions – and their behaviour towards kids has been disgraceful. Mr Soorley wants rates from churches to go to victims of crime for 10 years. He agreed that many clergy and churches do good work. Soorley warned that expansion of Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Pentecostal faiths posed risks for taxpayers. Dubious religious groups can buy property and pretend it is a place of worship.. Mr Soorley sought a national stocktake of church property. Mark Coleridge (Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane) said that Mr Soorley was out of touch with reality. 25% of Australians profess allegiance to the church – and it was the nation’s second largest employer. Churches make large contributions to social infrastructure and social capital. They save governments by providing education, health care and social welfare programs – which would be compromised if taxes had to be paid. Professor John Quiggin (University of Queensland) said that the large proportion of people who don’t go to church should not have to subsidize churchgoers. Local Government minister (David Crisafulli) said that local councils already have the power to require churches to pay rates.

With respect to Mr Soorley, his suggestion is somewhat ridiculous. Individuals commit ‘sins’. Institutions do not commit ‘sins’. Many inquiries in recent years have shown that institutions such as churches have great difficulty in dealing with the ‘sin’ of child sexual abuse by their employees and associates. However most of those difficulties presumably primarily arise because of the legal expectation that the institutions should have to pay damages for the ‘sins’ committed by their employees / associates. That legal expectation creates moral hazard for institutional managers, and if it was outlawed most of the institutional problem should disappear.

However there is a darker side to the fact that governments have only set up inquiries into the difficulties that institutions have in dealing with the child abuse ‘sins’ of their employees.

There has not yet been an inquiry into child sexual abuse itself. And such abuse appears to be widespread (eg affecting about 15-25% of children) – see The Problem of Sexual Abuse. Focusing on the problems that institutions have in dealing with the tiny (eg 1-5%) of abuse that is committed by their employees / associates is a simple cover-up (see Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Another Official Cover-up?). Suggestions that churches should be regarded as a significant source of child sexual abuse or should pay taxes / rates in order to compensate the victims of such abuse is out of touch with reality. A serious inquiry into child sexual abuse itself is desperately needed to clear up public misunderstandings of what is going on (eg see Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion).

However whether or not churches with large accumulated wealth should pay taxes or rates is a different question. There is a need to look at this from a broad perspective. As Archbishop Coleridge pointed out, many churches play major roles in providing social services, which would otherwise be a cost to government. However this is only a part of the role that churches play.

Widespread adherence to Christianity in the community has been the foundation on which it has been possible to build Australia’s liberal social, economic and political institutions. Human elites have never had any difficulty establishing illiberal institutions – and such influences are still very active in the world (eg see The Resurgence of Ancient Authoritarianism in China). The fact that only (say) 25% of the community now profess allegiance to the church has eroded the foundations of Australia’s liberal institutions (see Erosion of the Moral Foundations of Liberal Institutions). The (say) 25% who now adhere to churches need a bit of help if the burden is to continue to be carried.

If the foundations of Australia’s liberal institutions are to be secured, the community needs to take this issue seriously (see Religious Education: The Need for a Bigger Picture View and It's Time to Expel Religious Naivety from Universities ). It is hard to see how requiring churches to pay taxes and rates would provide much help in overcoming this problem.

John Craig


Support for the Consequences of Childhood Sexual Abuse and Neglect? - email sent 16/7/14

Natasha Bita
The Australian

Re: Marriage equality wins support of two out of three, The Australian, 16/7/14

Your article noted the high level of support that the Australian community seems to have for the ‘gay’ lifestyles that in many / most cases seem to be a consequence of childhood sexual abuse or neglect (see A Comment on Causality).

The community also seems to have a profound aversion to any examination of its sexual abuse of children.

Umpteen inquiries have been held into the understandable difficulties that institutional managements have in dealing with the sexual abuse of children by their employees or associates. But the (perhaps) 95-99% of sexual abuse cases that seem to occur in the community (and which presumably have a role in breeding a substantial percentage of ‘gays’) does not seem to cause sufficient concern to generate any inquiry (see The problem of sexual abuse and Sex Abuse Royal Commission Swamped …. While Dealing with the Few Thousands out of Millions of Victims).

The community’s sense of moral responsibility is not inspiring. A serious inquiry into child sexual abuse is long overdue (see Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion, 2012). Such a review could usefully also address the consequences of childhood sexual abuse (which at times seems to involve becoming ‘gay’ and thus being encouraged to seek ‘marriage equality’). The problem is (probably) not that all ‘gays’ were the victims of abuse or neglect, but that the fact that the majority probably were has been concealed behind a wall of political correctness.

John Craig 


The Need for a Fresh Look at Abuse Cover-up - email sent 25/10/14

Right Revd Bill Ray
Anglican Diocese of North Queensland

Re: Bishop Bill Ray calls for fresh look at abuse cover-up , The Australian, 25/10/14

You reportedly “called on Australia’s royal commission into child abuse to hold public hearings and use its special powers to investigate the cover-up of the rape and beatings of young boys at a north Queensland boarding school in the 1960s”.

Might I respectfully suggest that what is really needed is an inquiry into the cover-up of child abuse (eg by governments) that is reflected in the fact that this royal commission (like many earlier inquires) has only been allowed / required to deal with the very small percentage (eg 5%) of child sexual abuse that occurs in ‘institutions’, and even there only in terms of problems in the ways those institutions have responded. My reasons for suggesting this are outlined in Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Another Official Cover-up? (2012); Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion (2012); Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally (2010); and The Problem of Sex Abuse (2003+).

There has long been an urgent need for an inquiry into the whole phenomenon of child sex abuse. But governments have been afraid to ‘go there’ - presumably because of concern about what this would reveal about community moral standards.

Regards

John Craig


Abuse Seems to be a Major Obstacle to Publicly Endorsing Homosexual Behaviour - email sent 26/10/14

Bill Shorten, MP
Leader of the Opposition

Re: Gay marriage tops Shorten’s Christian Lobby list , The Australian, 25/10/14

Might I respectfully suggest that ‘equality’ in relation to marriage is not an appropriate way to consider this issue. There is reasonable evidence that: (a) in many / most cases, those who become involved in ‘gay’ relationships do so as a consequence of abuse or neglect as children; and (b) the public endorsement that homosexual behaviour is OK facilitates abuse of children by pedophiles. My reasons for suggesting this are outlined in Homophilia: Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour (2004+).

Irrespective of the intrinsic morality of homosexual behaviour, its public endorsement (which ‘gay’ marriage would raise to a new level) seems morally in defensible because of these generally-neglected links with child abuse and neglect. This point was developed further in Same-sex Civil Unions: Endorsing Child Abuse? (2011).

Regards

John Craig