Sunday, October 21, 2012

Boy scouts, priests, and the powerlessness of the child

     I thought the Catholic Church had the monopoly on sexual abuse of young boys but I was wrong.  The Boy Scouts of America  recently published information (14000 pages of files posted on the Internet of cases from 1959-1985)of  young boys abused by Sout leaders and other figures in the movement.  The website got so many hits it crashed. Of course, there were many posts describing positive experiences as scouts but the amount  of abuse is astonsishing. 
    What's alarming to me is how this went on for decades and what it tells us about the place of children in society.   Alice Miller in her writings on childhood "For Your Own Good" and "Thou Shalt Not be Aware" describes the position of children as totally dependent on those who take care of them.  She talks about the triad of concealment- shielding the parents (or abusers), blaming the child, and concealing the trauma.   This is evidently what has happened here and with the church's abuse cases.  There is hope though. Miller states- "I can see the possibility of substantial improvement for patients in simply being able to articulate their feelings, formulate their resentments, and experience their rage toward their parents (or abusers) providing they are taken seriously. She describes Klaus Thomas's method of patients writing directly in letters telling about the abuse to a therpist. He successfully treated adolescents who had attempted suicide. 
     So there is an opportunity for healing these terrible traumas and perhaps putting a stop to them in the future ( the abused can become the abuser).   Much has come into the open in the last decades but  I'm waiting to hear of cases of young girls in these situations (even more powerless than boys in our culture). 
    When I was doing research for a crime novel ting I encountered so much information on abuse cases, I was almost unable to continue reading the devastating stories.  But we can take heart- childhood is past and one will never be just that powerless again. 

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