LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Sex-abuse problem widespread

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The sexual abuse of minors is a global plague. Perpetrators of this sin that cries to heaven for justice include fathers, step-fathers, live-in boyfriends of the child's mother, uncles, public school teachers, coaches, scout leaders and, occasionally, a priest of the Catholic Church.

But you'd get the impression from headlines like Sunday's in the U-B, "Pope Benedict XVI mired in controversy," that this was a specifically Catholic thing. Is it?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says 60,000 child sex- abuse perpetrators were reported in 2008 -- 40-60 percent being family members. Scholar Carol Shakeshaft reports 6-10 percent of public school children have been abused -- about 290,000 -- in just one decade.

By contrast, the problem has virtually disappeared in the Catholic Church in the U.S., where in 2009 "six credible cases of clerical abuse were reported in the U.S. Bishops annual audit," according to George Weigel, a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

That's six too many. But if we were really concerned about the sexual abuse of minors, wouldn't we focus time and talent where the majority of it occurs? At home?

Alan Wostenberg

Walla Walla

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