Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Voris: A Little Balance, Please!

Nobody is comforted about the priest abuse scandal by learning that teachers abuse more, anyway. It's NOT a comfort and I think it makes us look bad to to lean heavily on such an argument.

We should be saying instead that we're doing all that we can to kick out pedophiles and pederasts in the priesthood and screen them out before they make it into a seminary. Our bishops have implemented reforms that have reduced such new cases of such abuse to approach the more acceptable level of zero.

Voris did an interesting thing here. At minute 3:00 he started to explain that there was a reason that there were more abuses by teachers than by Catholic priests: there are more OF them. Instead of doing the intellectually honest thing and calculating the abuses per teacher and abuses per priest, he just sort of CHANGES the subject. I didn't like that he did that. I believe that God is best served by truth.

So I decided to calculate it myself. I had to listen to the video about three times to write down all of the number of abuses and then I looked up the number of priests and teachers (of minors) in the U.S.

Voris (or Shakeshaft?) does us a disservice by giving us only apples to oranges comparisons of abuse figures. But for my calculation I'm accepting their average for the 1990's of 29,000 abuses per year by teachers and 220 per year by priests.

According to US News & World Report, there were about 32,300 Catholic priests in the US in 1995. That makes it about 8 abuses per 1000 priests in 1995. <1>

Another article from the same periodical claims there were 2.5 million teachers in 1996, making it about 12 abuses per 1000 teachers in 1996. <2>

These aren't the best data sources and I failed statistics twice, so I'm open to criticism. I'd say that although teachers appear to have abused more, the rate is too close to say which one abuses more in any given year. And the abuse prevalence of priests and teachers is almost equally unlikely, to such an extent that neither group should be stereotyped by it! I don't have the right data to compare apples to apples but the data I have would have to be off by magnitudes to make a difference, and I don't see any reason to assume that this is the case.

1. http://www.usnews.com/articles/news/2008/04/18/what-to-do-about-the-priest-shortage.html
2. http://landiss.com/teaching/why-teachers-dont-teach.htm

#2 is the best I could find after searching for an hour, an hour of my life that I'll never get back. We don't know what teachers that number includes or excludes, like preschool, special ed, private schools, parochial schools, etc. (or, where it overlaps with priest-teachers)

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