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Address of Dr. Monica Applewhite to the CMSM Assembly
Louisville, Kentucky
August 9, 2003

PowerPoint Outline

Thank you all for allowing us to be here. We are honored. Let's start with a bit of history.

A number of years ago, reports began to surface within the Boy Scouts of America. Reports that some of the scout leaders were touching scouts inappropriately during outings and overnight trips. The executive leadership sent an internal memo emphasizing the need to more closely screen and monitor leaders. The year? It was 1922.

During the 1960's in the United States a community of adults with a primary sexual attraction to minors was formed through low-profile bars where adults could take minors and nudist organizations where pedophiles could find one another through want ads and discussions of "family nudity."

In the 1970's, Big Brothers, an organization with a mission to provide a mentor for at-risk youth discovered that they had become a magnet for adults who were seeking sexual contact with children. Big Brothers had a decision to make: shut down their program because it had become "risky" or find a way to fulfill their mission in a safer way. Big Brothers made their choice and today continues the difficult and treacherous work of screening, selecting and monitoring individuals in one on one relationships with youth. Why? Why go through the trouble?

Because they decided it was worth it. They decided that sometimes there is no substitute for the difference a relationship can make in the life of a child.

And the experience of Big Brothers can teach us a great deal about where we were as a community during the 1970's. You see, at that time they contacted every other major volunteer organization that served children and asked them to ban together to create abuse prevention programs. Do you know what they heard? "Sorry we're not interested. We don't really have a problem with that."

By 1978, awareness of child sexual abuse was beginning to grow and the last of the establishments for "dating" minors were shut down. The community of adults who sought sexual contact with minors began organizing around special interest groups such as the North American Man-Boy Love Association: NAMBLA. These organizations exist primarily for political purposes, focusing on activities such as lowering the age of consent and campaigning for the sexual rights of children.

In the 1980's, youth serving organizations began to be sued in civil proceedings for failure to prevent and respond properly to allegations of sexual abuse. The most common theories of liability were negligent screening, negligent training, negligent monitoring and negligent retention (keeping someone longer than you should have). The average settlement for a case of molestation in a child-serving organization is $400,000. The average settlement for a drowning is $200,000. In response to the volume and intensity of claims, youth camps, YMCA's and Boys and Girls Clubs began implementing "abuse prevention programs" which typically consisted of requiring staff to sign agreements to report abuse and complete training in the profile of a child molester and the indicators of abuse in children.

Something else happened during the 80's — the Internet was born. And through the Internet, the community of adults who have a primary sexual attraction to minors was re-discovered and organized like never before. There are literally hundreds of websites and chat-rooms where perpetrators of abuse meet and discuss how to cultivate relationships with minors. It was in about 1995 that a disturbing trend began to emerge in the chat-rooms.

As a significant portion of child-serving organizations initiated abuse prevention programs, perpetrators of abuse began advising one another to "join a church," become a youth minister, or volunteer to work with children in a religious organization. More than once we read the words, "They're desperate" "they're trusting" or "why put yourself through all of that screening? Just join a church."

By that time our small group of consultants, called "Praesidium" had completed extensive research into the issue of organizational abuse. The basis of our work was then and is today, the findings from the root cause analysis of incidents and false allegations of abuse in organizations. Root cause analysis was originally developed by the military to examine the causes of accidents and this is the methodology we selected and continue to use to determine the causes and circumstances that lead to organizational abuse. Using the knowledge we gained through root cause analysis, we began assisting organizations to prevent, detect and respond to incidents and allegations of abuse.

In 1997, Praesidium came to the attention of Christian Brothers Risk Management Services. The Risk Management Services are a division of Christian Brothers Services that specializes in helping the religious control the risks that are inherent in their work. Christian Brothers Services determined at that time that their member organizations could benefit from the services of Praesidium and over the past several years our two organizations have provided training for members and institutions, risk assessments, training for local superiors, internal investigation protocols, and model policies, as well as helping communities to develop wellness and safety plans for individuals.

In March of the year 2000, a small independent school district in Texas was struggling with a situation of their own. A male schoolteacher was caught with his hands inside the pants of a nine-year-old student, a little boy. The school district's response? They transferred him to a school filled with minority students whose parents did not speak English. There, he was caught again. The school district's response this time? They sent him to a school for children with mental retardation. When he was caught the final time, the superintendent told him that if he would just go away quietly and leave the area, no further action would be taken against him. He was never arrested.

That same year, the year 2000, newspapers around the country reported 244 cases of child sexual abuse in our nations' schools in a six-month period. Sexual abuse perpetrated by schoolteachers against students. A substantial number of those cases involved female schoolteachers.

About three months ago in the state of New Jersey, a 43-year-old female schoolteacher was given probation instead of time in prison after confessing to having sexual contact with a 13-year-old boy. The rationale provided by the judge was that "something had just clicked" between the teacher and the student.

In February of 2002, in the state of Florida, a 28-year-old man was released from prison after a four-year sentence for molesting three adolescent boys in his small fundamentalist church. In April, he approached the minister of a new church, described his crime and his time in prison. He also explained that he had found Christ and that through his faith had been healed from the attraction to adolescent boys. The minister appointed him as the new youth director and told him to stop being so hard on himself, that this was not a place where he would be judged. Within six months the man was re-incarcerated for molesting two teenage boys in his home. The boys were members of his youth group.

In the past week, we have received nine phone calls from organizations around the country that have experienced cases of abuse… schools, camps, churches, hospitals. These are not 15, 20, 40-year-old cases — they are today. They are now; they are happening…or are about to happen. And so what have we learned during all of this time… what have we learned from all of these cases?

  •  We learned that abuse happens everywhere that there are children and youth. Water parks, YMCA's, camps, boys and girls clubs, hospitals, photo labs, churches and schools. We found cases everywhere.
  •  We learned that every major child-serving organization in the country has dealt with and continues to deal with cases of sexual abuse.
  •  We learned that there are patterns to how abuse is perpetrated and elements that must be present for abuse to occur.
  •  We learned that because there are patterns, many instances of abuse can be prevented.
  •  We learned that most organizations are looking for a simple answer for abuse prevention and we learned that there is no simple answer, to this complicated challenge.
  •  We learned that in virtually every case of sexual abuse there are individuals who sense or recognize that there is a problem, often long before abuse is disclosed and that most of the time, they fail to take action. Not because they don't care, not because it doesn't matter but because they do not understand their intuitions and they do not know how to respond when they are uncertain.
  •  We learned that these same individuals often grieve for many years because they did not intervene when they feel they should have.
  •  We learned that in order for abuse prevention to work, it must be pervasive in the culture of an organization.
  •  We learned that the development of commitment serves children far more than the development of compliance.
  •  We learned that dealing with sexual abuse is painful and that our natural tendency to avoid pain can and does interfere with the responsible handling of abuse allegations.
  •  We learned that perpetrators of sexual abuse are rarely as bad as we would like them to be and that victims are rarely as good.
  •  We learned that both of those realities trouble decision-makers and interfere with the best intentions for protecting youth.
  •  We learned that you cannot investigate someone you cherish and that in most cases, it is best if you do not try.
  •  We learned that there is no such thing as a clear-cut case of sexual abuse. It will always be difficult, it will always be complicated, and in every case we will all spend the first 48 hours hoping — that it just isn't true.
  •  We learned that false allegations are rare and that fear of them is not. We learned that in most cases of false allegations, there are lapses of judgment that make the adult vulnerable, and that these, too, are preventable occurrences.
  •  We learned that the United States Department of Defense has designated an occurrence of sexual abuse on a military installation as a "threat to National Security" because their mission is to protect national security and an incident of sexual abuse so captures the energy of an organization that it effectively grinds that mission to halt.
  •  Last year, in the Catholic Church, we learned the Department of Defense has got a pretty good point.

Over the past twelve years we have analyzed more than 800 cases of abuse in organizations and we have learned a great deal about the causes, antecedents, and prevention of abuse, and we know that during that same period of time, and even before, YOU have also been learning.

Yes, we absolutely must ensure that our own men are not causing harm to others. But can't we expect more from ourselves than just that? You see, if you could really believe that the big problem in our society is "pedophile priests" then it would be fine for us to just quietly go about the business of solving our own problems.

But it's just not true.

The reality is that one in eight males will be sexually abused before the age of eighteen and for women the number is one in four.

The reality is that our prisons and psychiatric hospitals and treatment centers for addiction are filled with people who were sexually abused as children.

The reality is that every other child serving organization in the country has had the same problems we have… and every other organization has made the same kinds of mistakes.
And perhaps the reality is that we weren't just meant to change ourselves, perhaps we were meant to bring everyone else along with us. It's already happening you know...

In March, I was at the Episcopal House of Bishops and the speaker before me was one of their highest-ranking legal experts. She conducted a seminar entitled, "Emerging consequences of the Roman Catholic situation," and her message was this, "we have a new national standard and everyone will have to step up to meet that standard." It got a little lost in the media, but following this convention the Episcopal Bishops will be sending a pastoral letter to every parish in the country to emphasize their commitment to preventing abuse.

The Catholic Church is already changing the standards for everyone. But you can set the tone. Your compassion, your sense of mission, your charity. You have the power to make this about the genuine love and respect for children. You have the power to build the commitment. And as we begin our work together, we want you to know that we are deeply grateful to each of you and to those you represent for your lives of devotion. And we pledge to you that with your help, we will do everything we can to educate this community of faith, about the truth… about child sexual abuse. Our mission is to help you fulfill your mission.

But before we begin, I'd like to add one note of caution. Last summer we visited a resident camp for youth. The camp director was very excited to find new ways to ensure that the kids at this camp would not get molested. When we went down to the pool area and talked with the swim instructors. We found out that the swim instructors were no longer permitted to actually get into the water with the kids to teach them how to swim. So please allow me to humbly urge you to… stay in the water.

There is much work to be done. So, let's begin.

Dr. Applewhite’s PowerPoint Outline

Large Scale Organizational Change Model

  •   Publicly, robustly endorse the change
  •   Develop and disseminate clear standards, policies and expectations
  •   Provide the resources, materials, and educational opportunities to support the standards
  •   Provide technical and practical assistance during transition
  •   Implement system of accountability

Resource Development Phase

  •   Resources will be in the form of written materials and educational programs
  •   To be guided by an advisory board of religious
  •   Resources will be provided incrementally
  •   Resources are to support the efforts of member organizations
  •   Member organizations will tailor materials

Model Policies

Model policies will be provided in the following areas:

  •   Abuse prevention
  •   Reporting procedures
  •   Responding to incidents and allegations
  •   Review boards
  •   Internal investigations
  • Policy Development

Structuring Policy Implementation

  •   Recognize that policies can help you prevent abuse
  •   Set an "effective date" for new policies
  •   Tailor policies to your organization
  •   Try modifying before eliminating
  •   Provide specific names and phone numbers for contact information
  • Distribute abuse prevention policies in the context of educational seminars
  • Remember that compliance is built through commitment
  • Distribute key policies to other eyes and ears
  • Plan to revisit your policies
  • Do not tolerate drift from your own standards

When to Utilize Formal Supervision

  •   Post-treatment
  •   Pre-treatment waiting period
  •   Before, during and after criminal proceedings
  •   When serious concerns have been expressed
  •   When policies have been violated
  • During internal investigations

Principles of Supervision

  •   Not intended to be punitive
  •   Must be individualized to be effective
  •   Answers the question "why do you believe this situation is safe?"
  •   Often formalizes what is already in place
  •   Allows you to articulate and take credit for managing risks
  • Will assist in transitions of local and province superiors

Structuring Supervision

  •   Clearly identify problem behaviors
  •   Specify components of supervision
  •   Specify who is responsible
  •   Use timelines and set dates for review
  •   Identify who will be aware of the plan
  • Articulate consequences for non-compliance with the plan
  • Use experts and experienced decision-makers to review and make recommendations



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