Child Abuse by the Thousands in Ireland Raises New Questions about the Roots of Conflict

Colm OGorman speaks out in the name of Irish abuse victims
Colm O'Gorman speaks out in the name of Irish abuse victims

The revelations about massive abuse over decades at Catholic religious schools in Ireland continues to call attention to the Church’s need for massive reform of its approach to children and their protection. But this is not a uniquely Catholic problem, and it goes deeper than that in terms of our whole approach to political and military conflicts facing humanity. Too often as we confront the conflicts facing humanity we look for political, economic, security, ethnic and religious roots of conflict. But in one study examining a thousand children who suffered child abuse, over half of those who were followed through to the age of thirty two were arrested for one crime or another. For those who have been victimized or who have witnessed it, just leading a normal life can become a challenge every day, to keep your head straight, to keep yourself from exploding, to keep yourself from being self-destructive in some fit of wishing to finish the destruction wrought in youth. We have to nurture and love such people, even when they act out in crazy ways.

But we also must ask ourselves what may be the underlying roots of cycles of violence that get perpetuated by angry young men in every conflict involving gangs and ethnic groups globally. How many have been abused? If we embrace all of the children at risk among us might it not have a direct effect on our military and international conflicts, let alone domestic crime rates? How to do this one larger conflicts are underway is hard, but it certainly suggests that early war intervention and prevention should include an aggressive international effort to care for and protect children.

© Marc Gopin