But those voices have lingered in memories and in the damage done to the lives of the victims. They haven’t gone away. They’ve been waiting in the shadows of time, needing to be heard, needing to be validated, needing to find strength with others, saying, “No more.”
While the silence is being shattered all around the world with an avalanche of disclosures started by the rock slide of revelations of clergy abuses in 2002, Australia has taken a huge step forward by funding a $277.9 million dollar “Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.” Starting this week, it will examine the conduct of all major institutions that have the responsibility of looking after children. Scouts Australia, the Salvation Army, the YMCA and the Catholic Church are among the first to be targeted. According to ABC News, few are likely to be spared scrutiny.
The establishment of the royal commission came a year after it was discovered that a paedophile had been given trusted roles involving children. Steven Larkins had been one of the nation’s most senior leaders in the area of child protection. Those who knew and worked with him were dumbfounded to learn of how he rose to trusted roles.
The commission’s chief, Janette Dines, says, “We believe the public will be shocked to begin to learn just how difficult life has been for people who have experienced child sexual abuse in an institution….We’ve had an overwhelming response – 5,000 have called the royal commission and at least 2,000 of those have expressed interest in coming forward and talking to the royal commissioner.” The work of the commission is expected to be a “nation-changing event.”
The ways institutions usually handled allegations of sexual misconduct are undergoing radical changes around the world. Awareness of abuse—and how allegations are handled—has fundamentally changed since the Catholic Church’s crisis erupted.
David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, claims* that many institutions are now run by people with modern attitudes about the effects of abuse who are not afraid to confront painful issues that were once hushed up. “Having more women in leadership makes a difference, as they may be more sensitive in handling these episodes, supporting the victims and encouraging other people to come forward.”
Marci Hamilton, a professor of Law and one of the United States’ foremost critics of how religious groups handle abuse, was recently quoted* as saying, “Change is happening, but also the pace of change is quickening. State legislators are more educated. The public is more knowledgeable.”
While most institutions are now aware of the importance of having protective standards, policies and procedures in place to ensure the protection of the children in their care, accessing the most effective procedures to implement is critical.
The key lies in preventing incidents of abuse before they need to be “handled.” That’s where the WKI ® “Plan to Protect™” comes in. Its policies have become the recognized standard for abuse prevention and detection. Individuals and organizations not yet taking advantage of the assistance available to protect kids, can access the “Plan to Protect™” at http://www.winningkidsinc.ca
*The Rockland County News, New York, Sept. 14, 2013 article by Gary Stern and Mareesa Nicosia
©Diane Roblin-Lee, Sept. 15, 2013