Sexual abuse against children by priests and religious: a study of factors that might lead to offence within the Catholic Church
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 10:46 by Paul Toby O'Connor
This study identified a number of factors specific to the Catholic Church which might lead to the committing of sexual abuse against children by clergy and religious in Australia. Child sex offenders differ from the general population on a range of measures of psychopathology. The psychopathology of priest and religious child sex offenders is no different to that of offenders found in the general population. There were no observable differences between clergy, religious or nonreligious child sex offenders and the general population when a range of traditional environmental factors were examined. However, a number of factors specific to the Church environment in which clergy and religious operate were identified as contributing to the committing of child sex offences. Factors were identified through a review of the literature and a survey of Church personnel, victims and offenders. It is suggested the Church develop new standards and approaches covering the recruitment, formation and ongoing supervision of religious personnel. It must implement internal procedures for dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse as a response to public demands for a greater commitment to open and robust systems of accountability. The study provides a comprehensive framework upon which future researchers can build and suggests those key areas in which further research is warranted.