torsdag 18 mars 2010

Clerical and other sexual abuse

The scandal of sexual abuse by the clergy continues to make the Catholic Church a target for criticism. One excuse is that "it wasn't taken so seriously in those days".

Having grown up "in those days", perhaps I can shed some light on the subject. A minority of classmates talked about their sexual activity even in primary school. This was usually with older brothers. In secondary school, it was common between the boys by the age of twelve, and usually initiated by another slightly older boy, in one case a young man, a scoutmaster. But since both parties were happy to relate in detail what they regarded as adventures, with a sense of achievement, it is obvious that the matter was between equals - we were all willing participants and it was something that happened amongst friends. On one occasion I was approached by a creepy man in his thirties, which was a different matter. I made a quick getaway.

Things were slightly different in the boarding school, then an all-boys' institution, I attended from the age of 13. The authorities took a strict line on sexual activities and anyone caught was asked to leave. This acted as something of a curb but still did not stop a lot of the 14-year-old boys in the 8-bed dormitory pairing up and sleeping with each other. One of the masters was of dubious sexuality, but everyone gave him a wide berth. Another was definitely weird. He was in charge of the prep school and attracted to the better-looking fifteen-year-old boys whom he called "my specials". One of the prefects' duties was to keep an eye on the prep school after lights-out in the early evening and when the master came back, the prefect had to report if any of the boys had misbehaved. Of course there were always a few, and they had to be given the slipper. The master clearly enjoyed watching the handsome prefects whacking the naughty eleven-year-olds. But to my knowledge it never went further.

I don't know what one can conclude from all this.

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