A friend tells me that the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, is planning on implementing a mandatory sex abuse education program for all kids called “Good Touch, Bad Touch.” It is similar to the program used in Boston called Talking about Touching. But in this case, there is no opt-out and parents aren’t allowed to attend, despite the Church’s clear teaching that parents have the final say in matters related to education, especially sex education.
And their reasoning for not allowing opt-out or parental oversight? Because some parents are sex offenders, and they shouldn’t be allowed to opt-out or intimidate the children. As one priest said at the meeting, “Who’s going to get up at a meeting of the parents in my parish and tell them that they aren’t allowed to keep their children out of the program or see it for themselves because it’s possible some of them are abusing their own children?”
That’s the problem with these programs. They are designed to address a problem that the Church was not confronted with and ignores the problems it was. We heard several times over the past couple years from bishops who said, “The primary duty of the Church is the protection of children.” No, it isn’t. The primary duty of the Church is the salvation of souls. But by phrasing it they way they did, they’ve shifted priorities and the Church has now become involved in areas it need not be. It is no more the Church’s duty to implement programs to stop parents from abusing their kids than it is the Church’s duty to implement programs to stop drug smuggling. When confronted by a specific case, yes, the Church should act, reporting it to the authorities. But otherwise it is not the Church’s role. This is something that should be handled in the temporal sphere.
Once again, we have bishops telling parents, “You’ll just have to trust us with your kids.” Sorry, but that trust is earned, and they spent it over the past couple of decades by protecting pervert priests at the expense of kids. And that’s another problem with the program: It ignores the real source and cause of the Scandal. It was priests abusing kids, not parents, not uncles, or neighbors. So the some bishops, rather than dealing with the source of the Scandal, has decided to branch out. That way they can appear to be doing something, without having to deal with the uncomfortable realities that got them in the mess in the first place.
Finally, the problem with this program as with Talking about Touching is that there is one word never mentioned: chastity. There’s good touches, bad touches, and so on, but the gift of human sexuality is never put in its proper context and the children are never taught about the beauty of what God has given us. And so it becomes a thing of fear and apprehension rather than love and commitment. I wonder how that will affect them throughout their lives.