Reflections on Child Sex Abuse

By Dr David Laing Dawson

With the child sex abuse scandals of the Catholic Church back in the headlines suggesting that these crimes are wide spread and more common than we thought (surprise, surprise), perhaps it is time, at least in the modern sections of this world, to accept the realities of our species and live within that reality.

To put it succinctly and bluntly, when your 14 year old son’s hockey coach drops by and asks if your son would like to come camping with him this weekend, you slam the door on him and call a parents’ meeting.

There is never a moment when your priest has a legitimate reason to be alone with your son or daughter. If he wants to do this he should be immediately suspect.

If you build it “they will come.” I think a century ago building the residential schools was a forgivable naivety. Who might know then, that not all the priests and sisters put in charge of vulnerable children were motivated only by notions of service and altruism?

Power (status, position, control), Sex (in all forms and some we haven’t even thought of), and Money. The prime motivators of this species. Money being strangely third, and really, just a symbol of power.

Now that is not to say there can’t be other motivators, altruistic, social, helpful, loving, giving, generous motivators, but, let us stop being naive.

This past September I was dragged to some monasteries and churches in Italy by my wife’s brother. In one monastery I lingered, looking upward at the child pornography painted on the vaulted ceiling. They were, of course, cherubs, but lovingly rendered with round bottomed pre-pubescent nakedness in teasing, inviting poses.

The family members look askance when I point this out.

This monastery, like others, was built 500 to 700 years ago, with fortifications, on the top of a hill. It is not difficult to imagine how, a few hundred years ago, the poor peasants would drag their offerings up the hill, a few coins and crops and chattel, to receive those empty promises of health and after-life.

The location and fortification of the monastery provides safety and security, and the likelihood of surviving the various wars that will envelop the countryside from time to time. The peasants provide labour and food. The order of sisters in an outer building provide various services. The landowners in the countryside provide money. A little accommodation is made for the changing mayors, monarchs, dictators, governors of the state.

All in all, a sweet deal.

But let us not be naive. Those cherubs. If I painted those on canvas and displayed them at Gallery on the Bay, the police would be knocking on our door within hours.

Editorial comment – a write up of our two new compilations but mostly

Hamilton psychiatrist David Dawson puts Donald Trump on the couch

2 thoughts on “Reflections on Child Sex Abuse

  1. Okay, it’s time for me to break the silence. I have never been sexually or physically abused. 50 years ago I had a mother who was not naive, and who didn’t allow me to have any male babysitters. Later in life when a prospective male boss suggested a job interview at his home instead of the office, I knew what was up and resigned my application. Once, when my mother was slapped by my father, her response was that if he ever hit her again she would kill him while he slept — believe me, that was the end of it. The expression she taught me was, “If you lie down like a rug, someone will walk on you.” Thanks to her strength and wisdom, I was protected and shown how to set limits and stand up for myself. Pass it on.


    1. Rufus Wainwright knew enough when he wrote Hadrian for the COC that Antinous, Hadrian ‘s young lover should seem to be over 18.. Yet in Greece at that time , sexual relations , love between older men and boys as young as 13 were accepted.


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