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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Red flags

More red flags than you could count.

So says the findings of the investigation into the sexual abuse cover up at Penn State.

I've not written much about this case because it feels like shooting ducks in a bucket. There is so much wrong with Jerry Sanduskey and his higher-ups / enablers at Penn State.

I just want to say this. The very same thing still happens in the church. The Protestant church. The process of moving and enabling abusive clergy continues. I hate to say it but if you are part of a church you should just assume that your pastor is a potential perpetrator and that if he is, or she is, no one in power has done anything to stop it.

Now, really, most pastors, the overwhelming majority are not perpetrators. But you are not going to know that. Because no one in authority is going to tell you. No one is going to intervene in the system to get the perps out of it. I hate to say this but the intelligence I pick up 'from the street' indicates this is true. Bishops are too busy circling the wagons -- in a different configuration, to be sure -- and trying to be relevant and to grow the church to pay any attention to the warning signals or signs or even, in some cases, outright allegations.

Okay, not no one. I believe in the commitments of some of the leaders in the church to stop abuse and to stop abusers. They do yeoman's work to respond with care to victims and to put the perps out of business. But they are not the majority of leaders out there. We have regressed.

So, watch for red flags. This could be a commercial for reading "Safe Connections" -- still available as a PDF download from the website. There are always red flags. Throw them. Pay attention. And even if it isn't you getting caught up in abusive behavior, think of the vulnerable young single women in your congregation. The single mother or father. Throw the red flag for their sake and don't stop until someone pays attention to you.

The saddest thing from this Penn State report was the comment about how much abuse could have been prevented "if only" authorities had acted sooner. Think of all the children who have to live with hellacious memories and intrusive thoughts -- signs of trauma -- for the rest of their lives.

Throw the red flag. Now.

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