Tuesday 4 December 2007

Comic abuse

The New York Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic church has created an unusual weapon against child abuse.

Following many humiliating sexual-abuse scandals, the Roman Catholic Church is trying to convince parishioners that they're doing everything they can to prevent such tragedies from happening again. In the New York Archdiocese that means a surprisingly direct, abuse-themed coloring book for kids that's being sent to parishioners across the area.

At first glance, "Being Friends, Being Safe, Being Catholic" is what you'd expect from a Christian handout: lessons in loving thy neighbor and knowing we're all special in God's eyes, plus a fun word search with names of people whom kids can trust (parents, counselors, teachers).

Many of the book's cartoon-sketch drawings, which were created by a church volunteer, are light in tone and narrated by an angel looming overhead. But on one page, the angel warns of an online predator—with chest hair exposed—who attempts to chat with a child; on another (shown above), the angel implies that children should make sure they're never alone in a room with a priest.

In a way it is a shame that the diocese has found it necessary to produce such a document, but it is a symptom of the society that we find ourselves in. As a youthworker myself I have to abide by rules like this, much as they may seem inconvenient and uneccessary most of the time, they aren't just there to protect the kids they are also there to protect the leaders. If you aren't alone with a kid it is difficult for them to create false accusations at a later date (not that I'm saying this is the case in every case of child abuse - but I'm sure a very small percentage of these type of claims are fabricated).


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