For immediate release: Tuesday, Feb. 18
Statement by Judy Jones of St. Louis, Assistant Midwest Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 974 5003, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Missouri's Catholic bishops are trying to get more tax breaks through a petition-gathering drive about schools. Citizens should think long and hard before signing.
Church officials who worry about shrinking Catholic schools should insist that their bishops take real measures, not symbolic ones, to end the long-standing and dangerous church culture of recklessness and deceit in child sex abuse cases. That will no doubt help stem declining enrollment in parochial schools.
And citizens approached with the church-sponsored petitions should keep in mind one fact: For at least three reasons, public schools are inherently safer than private schools. There is more openness and more accountability in public schools than private schools. And there's less incentive to ignore or conceal child sex crimes in public schools than private schools.
First, law enforcement and fiscal authorities can more readily and easily audit and investigate public schools than private schools.
Second, citizens and journalists can better gain access to records in public schools than private schools.
Third, public school parents can attend and speak at regular, public school board meetings. They can oust board members, back other candidates, and run for those positions themselves.
These "checks and balances" aren't perfect. Kids do, of course, get molested in public schools, far more than anyone would like to admit. And child sex crimes are sometimes covered up in public schools. But in our experience, there are far fewer cover ups of crimes against kids in public schools than private ones.
We are grateful when people are generous, especially to institutions that help kids. But such generosity is better targeted to institutions that are less apt to conceal crimes against kids.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)