The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse began its public hearings this week. The hearings are taking place in Ballartis holding long-awaited public hearings in Ballarat in Victoria, Australia. The purpose is to examine the abuse children experiences at the hands of Catholic clergy over the last few decades, particularly during the 1970s. It is not good:
Ballarat was one of the most horrific sites of abuse and it was revealed that in 1971, all male teachers and the chaplain at the St Alipius primary school were molesting children.
[Senior Counsel Assisting the Commission Gail] Furness said the royal commission would also hear from a survivor who had a photograph of his grade four class at St Alipius in the 1970s.
She said he would tell the hearing, of the 33 boys pictured, 12 had committed suicide.
That is astounding. It is shocking in part because of the severity of the impact. A third of the boys from a single class committed suicide. More troubling is that apparently all the men in positions of power in the school abused children. It also appears that many of the women at the schools knew of the abuse and did nothing to stop it. Sometimes they engaged in abuse themselves.
I find it difficult to believe that something like that could happen and no one would know about it. There are too many people, both abusers and victims, involved for this to go unheard and unseen. This is not just a cover-up by the Catholic Church. This also implicates the Australian local government. Many people had to know about this and choose to ignore it for it to get to this stage.
The stories the men share are particularly horrific, not only in their physical brutality but also in the callousness displayed by the abusers and their enablers. For example: Continue reading