Entries in Research (2)


Catholic Sex Abuse Linked to 'Deviant' Behavior of 1960s, '70s

ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- Research commissioned by the nation’s Catholic bishops concludes that the sexual promiscuity and widespread drug use exhibited in the U.S. during the 1960s and 1970s coincides with an increase in child sexual abuse at the hands of priests, suggesting that a rise in “deviant” behavior in the country tracks with a higher rate of abuse by priests.
The report, which has already sparked controversy, says that no single factor causes priests to become sexual abusers of children, but it claims that abuse cases were “influenced by social factors in American society” during the Vietnam Era.
“The increased frequency of abuse in the 1960s and 1970s is consistent with patterns of increased deviance in society at that time,” said the study’s lead author, Karen Terry, the dean of research and strategic partnerships at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York.
Terry told reporters in Washington Wednesday that those “deviant” behaviors -- including drug use, crime, premarital sex and divorce -- “intersected with vulnerabilities of some individual priests whose preparation for a life of celibacy was inadequate at that time."
But a decline in reported cases of sex abuse by the mid-1980s, Terry says, tracks with an increased societal awareness of the sexual abuse of children and an increased effort by the church to teach priests about “human formation” while in seminary.
The study is also likely to provoke controversy for its determination that priests who abused children older than 10 are not to be considered “pedophiles,” since the victims -- by the authors’ broad definition -- had already hit puberty.
The American Psychiatric Association defines prepubescent children as those under the age of 13.
A small group of protesters that gathered outside the Washington headquarters of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops before the report’s release Wednesday included D.C. resident Kevin Higgins, who was abused as a young boy in Kansas City at age 11.  Higgins held a sign reading, “Bishops Claim: Not Our Fault.”
"It sounds like a very unspiritual practice, to blame others for your own faults," Higgins said.  "I think there are scriptures that talk about pulling a log out of your own eye before you blame others, and I think they should practice what they preach."
His brother, who Higgins says was also abused by the same priest, committed suicide as a teenager.
Critics also noted that the report was commissioned by the bishops’ conference, using data collected by the church itself.
“When you have the bishops doing the self-reporting, I mean it's sort of like the fox is watching the hen house,” said Robert Stewart of the group Voice of the Faithful.
But Terry insisted the academic integrity of the report had not been compromised by its backers and primary source of funding.
“All of the work that we did was ours, all of the writing was ours, all of the conclusions were ours and none of the bishops had any influence on the findings of the study,” Terry said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: College Students More Social Than Studious

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A new study has found that students are more locked in to their social lives than they are to their studies.

The study followed 2,322 traditional, college-aged students from the fall of 2005 to the spring of 2009 at 24 different United States colleges and universities. The research is closely tied to a book, entitled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, soon to be released by one of the co-authors of the study.

Two professors, one from New York University and another from the University of Virginia, found in their research that 45 percent of their subjects "demonstrated no significant gains in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and written communications during the first two years of college." After four years, 36 percent showed no significant gains in those same areas.

It also found that students spent 51 percent of their time socializing or on extracurricular activities.

The study is based on data from the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test that examines critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and writing skills. The test does not examine specific knowledge gained relevant to a particular field of study or major.

"These are really kind of shocking, disturbing numbers. Students are able to navigate through the system quite well with little effort," said New York University professor Richard Arum, lead author of the book.

ABC News Radio