Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Here is a tough one for me: “10 ways to stop yelling” brought to you by Parents magazine. Okay, must take a deep breath…

Another tough one for me: California Gov. Jerry Brown just increased the age for booster seats from 6 to 8, or 4 feet 9 inches — whichever comes first, according to the Oakland Tribune. I swear, the booster seat manufacturers are going to milk this one until the kids are in junior high school. If they are really that important, why aren’t they automatically built into cars?

Dana over at Mombian posted an excellent story on how same-sex parents, who in some states are not allowed to marry, should fill out financial aid forms for their children.

South African Wendy Luhabe, considered one of the 50 leading women entrepreneurs of the world, proposed a salary for stay-at-home mothers, according to CNN. She said that husbands should pay their stay-at-home wives 10 percent of their salaries to honor the work that they do. What say you?

The details in this news story are sick, but at the end justice was served. A Roman Catholic bishop in Kansas was indicted for failing to report a priest who had been sexually abusing children, according to the New York Times. Also, the New York Times published a report on the high infant mortality rate in the African American community, which is twice as high as the Caucasian infant mortality rate and higher than Sri Lanka’s. Yikes.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


What To Do About Priest Sex Abuse

A few days ago I caught this long thread in “Dear Prudie” about a seminary student receiving unwanted advances by a Roman Catholic priest. Here is the original letter:

I have a young friend of 22 who recently visited a Catholic Seminary as a potential applicant (I’m not Catholic and may have terminology wrong.) He spent about a week there and during that time one of the senior priests made sexual advances toward him. My friend would like to report this to someone but doesn’t know who to call. He insists this priest is like the big kahuna in his particular order so there is nobody he can call. I figure there must be someone. Granted my friend isn’t a child, but I still think what this priest did was inappropriate and needs to be reported. Does anyone have any ideas?

I agree that for the sake of everyone involved, including previous and potential seminarians, this priest should be reported to the proper authorities. Here is what Prudie and others said:

Emily Yoffie (Prudie): Absolutely this needs to be reported.  If this guy is propositioning potential applicants, you can be assured he has been sexually abusing people for years. If your friend were a minor, the police should be called in. But even if the proposition doesn’t rise to the level of something actionable by the legal authorities,  it still might be worth a call to the District Attorney’s office. Perhaps there have been some previous allegations against the priest, and your friend’s new testimony could help, or they might have other suggestions on what to do. For how to report this in the Catholic diocese, your friend might want to contact the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests — they should have some advice for the best path to take. Readers, any other suggestions?

Reader comment #1: I adamantly agree that sexual advances toward applicants into the Priesthood are extremely inappropriate and wrong, but how can we make the jump that he has assuredly been a sexual abuser for years? I think it’s just as dangerous to presume anything other than what is known for sure: sexual advances were made by one adult to another adult. Should it be reported? Absolutely, but we can’t draw conclusions about what this man may be guilty of because of an isolated incident.

Yoffe: I’m just going to take a flyer that an avowedly celibate older priest who makes a sexual advance toward a young potential seminarian has not found himself for the first time in his life overwhelmed with desire for a particular young man.  This behavior is so out of control it virtually guarantees it’s part of a pattern.

And another reader has suggested contacting the National Bishops Council.

Reader comment #2: Sure…. report it to the church. Hitting on job applicants is inappropriate. But older men who are attracted to 22 year old men are not necessarily pedophiles. I’m 46 years old and gay, and I might oggle younger men, but I am not interested in children. It’s kind of insulting that you assume he is guilty of this behavior. Would you automatically assume that an older man hitting on a 22 year old woman was also out hunting for little girls?

Yoffe: No it’s not insulting to assume that a priest who hits on an applicant for the seminary has a huge problem (I didn’t call him a pedophile,  but who knows what a priest who thinks it’s okay to make a sexual approach to a young seminarian is capable of). The priest needs to be reported and removed from his position. I would also strenuously object to an older maleboss hitting on a 22-year-old female applicant for a job and say he should be reported, even if his explanation was that he found the young woman physically desirable.

I would report the priest to the organizations mentioned above like SNAP and the National Bishops Council. The reader might even consider the local police as that is what we were taught in our local Catholic parish. To lead our children’s liturgy, I was told to report any suspicions of abuse to the police — not the church.

What would you do in this young seminarian’s position?


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Strollerderby had an important and timely post on preventing child sexual abuse.

From the bizarre-o files: couples who have faced a miscarriage are 22 times as likely to break up and couples who have had a stillborn are 40 times as likely to divorce, according to CNN. Also from CNN: even formula-fed babies are not getting enough vitamin D.

And I don’t get this column at all. According to an op-ed piece in the New York Times, sleep deprivation actually lifts depression. Huh? All I gotta say is I have been taking half a sleeping pill about two times a week and I feel SO much better in terms of my outlook on life. It is incredible what 8 hours of straight sleep can do for the psyche.  

From the gross files: a mom at the Baby Bites blog actually sat out a McDonald’s Happy Meal for a year and discovered that it doesn’t decompose. Ick!

Remember the Netroots Nation moms caucus in Austin two years ago? We had the honor of meeting Melody Townsel at Amy’s. She wrote a sad and heartfelt diary at Daily Kos about her father’s cancer diagnosis. Let’s keep her in our thoughts and prayers.

There have been a lot of good diaries at Daily Kos lately — thank you, Shenanigans, for pointing them out! Here is another one on famous daughters of politicians.

Finally, I have been meaning to post this story I originally spotted in Newsweek. Florida may become the first state to abolish tenure and tie teacher annual raises with a performance review. What do you all think?

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Thank you all for the compassionate advice on my sister. I vented, I took it all in, and then I took it down. I am grateful for this community.

Nine high school students in Massachusetts have been charged for bullying a girl who eventually committed suicide, according to the Associated Press. Surprisingly, school officials will not face charges, even though they knew of the bullying.

The Roman Catholic Church in Germany has launched a sex abuse hotline to document all allegations of sexual abuse by priests, according to BBC News. So far, “hundreds” of people have come forward to say they were abused by priests as children between the 1950s and 1980s.  

I really do wish the new health care law’s stipulation on pre-existing conditions took effect right away. Here is a tragic story about a newborn baby in Texas being denied healthcare coverage due to a heart defect. Death panels, anyone?

Here is an hilarious Bloomberg story on tea party activists. They want government out of their lives, but want it to create jobs, reign in Wall Street bonuses, and continue to dole out medicare and social security. Okay.

The Environmental Protection Agency listed bisphenol-A, or BPA, which is found in hard shiny plastic products, as a “chemical of concern,” according to the Washington Post.

Yahoo! listed five jobs that are flexible and offer at least $40K in pay.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


The Latest Sex Abuse Scandal: Boy Scouts of America

This seemed too important to just throw into an open thread so here it goes. Apparently, the Boy Scouts of America has an extensive archive of documents chronicling the sexual abuse of young boys by Scout leaders over the years, according to the Associated Press.

Here is the scoop:

The “perversion files,” a nickname the Boy Scouts are said to have used for the documents, have rarely been seen by the public, but that could all change in the coming weeks in an Oregon courtroom.

The lawyer for a man who was molested in the 1980s by a Scout leader has obtained about 1,000 Boy Scouts sex files and is expected to release some of them at a trial that began Wednesday. The lawyer says the files show how the Boy Scouts have covered up abuse for decades.

On Friday, testimony from a bishop for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responsible for a Scout troop of church members suggested the Scouts never provided training about spotting abuse or preventing it.

The trial is significant because the files could offer a rare window into how the Boy Scouts have responded to sex abuse by Scout leaders. The only other time the documents are believed to have been presented at a trial was in the 1980s in Virginia.

The details of the case are obviously tawdry. I feel for the young man who was victimized. I can’t help but think this kind of thing is prevalent in a situation where young people are entrusted to adults in a patriarchal institution whether it be the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts or the Mormons (who were also involved in this case). I know at my church we have responded to this type of abuse by making sure that no child is left alone with clergy, adults must leave their doors open at all times and all our classes are co-ed, including female teachers. It is different from when I went to Catholic school — and with good reason.

What have your churches, schools or outside groups done to prevent sexual abuse? What do you think these older institutions can do to reform themselves so that their children do not become sexual abuse victims?

In somewhat related news, the debate on Catholic priest celibacy and women deacons was re-opened last week as an Austrian cardinal questioned both tenets of the church, according to the Times Online of the UK. The discussion in the comments thread was interesting, too.