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Module D – Situational and Organizational Factors Related to Sexual Abuse

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Module D – Situational and Organizational Factors Related to Sexual Abuse For Seminary Students and Faculty, Parishes and Dioceses. Situational and Organizational Factors Related to Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests. Main Sources of Data.

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Module D – Situational and Organizational Factors Related to Sexual Abuse

For Seminary Students and Faculty, Parishes and Dioceses

main sources of data
Main Sources of Data

Reports presented to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by the John Jay College Research Team, The City University of New York*

  • The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010, March, 2011
  • The Nature and Scope of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States, 1950-2002, February 2004

* The two reports are based on data supplied by 97 percent of U.S. archdioceses and dioceses on all clergy accused of sexual abuse of minors

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I. Situational Factors:

Settings and Circumstances

of Sexual Abuse

settings where victims first met priests who abused them
Settings Where Victims First Met Priests Who Abused Them

* % Based on Nature and Scope and victim survey of 7,142 boys and 1,762 girls.

physical locations of abuse
Physical Locations of Abuse
  • Note well: Clergy sexual abuse occurs in multiple settings
  • Most frequently it is in church-related locations
  • A wide range of residential contexts are used
  • Other public and private venues also are exploited
circumstances timing of abuse
Circumstances/Timing of Abuse

* Categories are not mutually exclusive, as victims may have experienced abuse in more than one location.

priest s primary duty or role at time of abuse
Priest’s Primary Duty or Roleat Time of Abuse

* Based on Nature and Scope victim surveys of 7,864 boys and 1,863 girls.

additional observations related to situational and organizational circumstances 1
Additional Observations Related to Situational and Organizational Circumstances, 1
  • a person who is motivated to commit the act of abuse
  • a potential victim
  • lack of a “capable guardian”

To prevent or identify abuse, education of potential victims, potential abusers, and potential “guardians” is essential since abuse can occur when these three factors exist:

A capable guardian is one who has oversight and awareness of a child’s wellbeing, most often parents

additional observations related to situational and organizational circumstances 2
Additional Observations Related to Situational and Organizational Circumstances, 2
  • Do not meet alone with a child in a closed room without windows
  • Have two adults present when meeting a child whenever possible
  • Have cameras installed in rooms where meetings take place

Precautions to lessen conditions for sexual abuse to occur during meetings with children:

  • Keep in mind:
  • An abuser is likely to be considered “a very good person”
  • Many priests who were accused of sexual abuse were in other ways excellent in carrying out their ministry
summary of situational and organizational factors related to sexual abuse of minors
Summary of Situational and Organizational Factors Related to Sexual Abuse of Minors
  • Situational Factors: Settings and Circumstances of Sexual Abuse
  • Settings Where Victims First Met Priests Who Abused Them
  • Physical Locations of Abuse
  • Circumstances and Timing of Abuse
  • Organizational Factors Related to Abuse

- Priests’ Primary Duty or Role at Time of Abuse

  • Additional Observations Related to Situational and Organizational Circumstances
discussion questions
Discussion Questions
  • Considering the settings and locations where abuse took place, what precautions should priests and other church leaders take about where they meet young people?
  • Taking into account the circumstances and timing that were most common when abuse was perpetrated, what instructions should be given to those who are or soon will be serving in ministry?
  • What other safeguards should be considered in discussions relative to the places and situations where abuse has occurred ?

Link to USCCB – http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/charter.cfm

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Prepared by:

Sister Katarina Schuth, O.S.F., St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, University of St. Thomas

Technical Associate: Catherine Slight

Consultants:

Dr. Karen Terry and Margaret Smith, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, authors of major studies on sexual abuse for the USCCB;

Dr. Mary Gautier, Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate

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