Discuss sexual abuse in church sermons, urges Queen's researcher
Child sexual abuse in religious institutions is still being reported, 20 years after the first nationally guiding policies were put in place.
“Policies for receiving complaints are crucial. But policies are not enough, no matter how good,” says Queen’s University researcher Tracy Trothen (School of Religion). “Child sexual abuse must be talked about. Child sexual abuse and policies must be the topic of more sermons, more bible studies. Talking about abuse shatters the secrecy; shatters the dangerous illusion that it doesn’t happen in my family, my group, or my church.”
Dr. Trothen examined the policies and procedures used by the Roman Catholic Church, the United Church of Canada, the Anglican Church, the Mennonite Church, the Canadian Unitarian Council and Islamic Centres.
The research reveals how these religious institutions deal with allegations of sexual abuse against leaders in power. Dr. Trothen hopes the research will empower officials to go further with policies and procedures that govern paid and volunteer faith community representatives.
A contracted research paper commissioned by The Cornwall Inquiry, a public inquiry into a child sexual abuse case in Cornwall, Ontario sparked Dr. Trothen’s interest in the issue. The inquiry started in 1992, the same year the Anglican Church, the United Church and the Roman Catholic Church developed child sexual abuse allegation policies.
Dr. Trothen’s research has been published in her new book Shattering the Illusion: Child Sexual Abuse and Canadian Religious Institutions.