Children abused by religious figures less likely to report crimes because of belief in perpetrators' “automatic morality”, government report finds


Researchers found that those abused in religious institutions were less likely to report the abuse at the time (69%) than survivors (54%) in other institutions.

They also found that victims in almost half of cases (48%) knew of someone else being abused at the time. Participants told the Inquiry that it needs to address the secrecy that comes from the sanctity of religious institutions and the assumption that religious figures are automatically moral.

Most participants reported sexual abuse by individuals from Anglican and Catholic Churches in England and Wales. However abuse within other Christian denominations and other religions – including the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam and Judaism – was also reported and is included in the analysis.

The report said survivors from “particularly closed religious communities” had described how inquiries by outside bodies had been hindered by community members and leaders.

They insisted that secrecy in religious organisations and an assumption around the morality of perpetrators needs to change in order to prevent abuse happening in future.

One survivor told how they had been “pretty much fobbed off with a cup of tea and biscuits” after disclosing their abuse, while another said they had been blanked – “no return call, no missed calls, no messages, no letters, nothing” – when they tried to follow up their report with the institution.

The report concluded: “Culturally, participants stated that the secrecy that comes from the sanctity of religious institutions and the assumption of the automatic morality of those involved in them had to be addressed.


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