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Breaking the Long Silence: Reports of child sexual abuse in the Anglican Church of Australia

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In the last 15 years, there has been extensive study of the problem of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. However little is known about the issue of child sexual abuse in other Churches. This article reports on a retrospective study of 191 cases of complaints of child sexual abuse in the Anglican Church of Australia. The accused were clergy, other employed pastoral staff and volunteers helping in church run programs for children and young people between 1990 and 2007. Three quarters of all complainants were male. On average, it took men 25 years to bring forward a complaint, compared with 18 years for women. Males were also less likely than females to report the abuse during childhood. Likely reasons for delay in reporting included threats made at the time and lack of family support for the complainant, particularly boys. Media reporting of child sexual abuse in the Church was a major factor in encouraging victims to come forward. The study demonstrates the need for all churches to develop programs to deal with historic child sexual abuse. There is little reason to think that the major surge of complaints of historic abuse is now over.


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