Pedophilia and the Church

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Pedophilia and the Church

#1  Postby Mick » Jun 22, 2013 6:08 am

Here I endeavour to defend the Roman Catholic Church from a haunting myth: Catholic priests or its clergy, or whatever else associated with the Church, present a greater risk of sexual abuse to children. That this is present day myth should not be doubted.

It is worthwhile to note that I am not defending the Church from any alleged cover-up or negligence in dealing with sexual abuse cases. It is also worthwhile to note that I am not defending the Catholic spiritual leaders who actually did sexually abuse children. That, I think, is beyond reproach and tenability; and it is also, I think, a truism. Nevertheless, I wanted to make my intentions clear, lest I be perceived as an apologist for sexual abusers or negligent Church officials.

Let me now address the myth.

In Psychology Today, Michael Castleman remarks on the media portrayal of Catholic priests. He writes: "From media reports, one might infer that Catholic priests commit the most pedophilia. In fact, only a tiny fraction of child sex abusers are priests." In addition to Castleman, historian Dr. Philip Jenkins from Penn State University writes:

"My research of cases over the last 20 years indicates no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any denomination-or indeed, than nonclergy....My concern over the "pedophile priest" issue is not to defend evil clergy, or a sinful church (I cannot be called a Catholic apologist, since I am not even Catholic). But I am worried that justified anger over a few awful cases might be turned into ill-focused attacks against innocent clergy. The story of clerical misconduct is bad enough without turning it into an unjustifiable outbreak of religious bigotry against the Catholic Church."

Castleman and Jenkins are not alone. Ernie Allen, the president of the National Center for missing and Exploited Children has said this: "We don't see the Catholic Church as a hotbed of this [abuse] or a place that has a bigger problem than anyone else." Lastly, these voices can be further supported with the voice of psychologist Dr. Thomas Plante. He says:

"Catholic clergy aren't more likely to abuse children than any other clergy or men in general. According to the best available data (which is pretty good mostly coming from a comprehensive report by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2004 as well as several other studies), 4% of Catholic priests in the USA sexually victimized minors during the past half century....The 4% figure is lower than school teachers (at 5%) during the same time frame and perhaps as much as half of the numbers of the general population of men."

Journalist Tom Hoopes noted that the US Department of Education estimated that 6 to 10 percent of all students within public schools would be victimized before graduation; and that was in 2002. Oddly, during that same year, Hoopes noted that 61 of the largest newspapers in California printed over 2000 stories on RCC sexual abuse cases. In contrast, those same newspapers printed just 4 stories about the government's finding. Given this fact, one should begin to wonder why the media focuses so much on the RCC and neglects the schools, though I suppose that is another question.

With this myth debunked, it is prudent to address another myth, one which piggybacks on the myth I just addressed. The second myth is this: Celibacy strongly leads priests and celibate clergy to sexual abuse.

Given the evidence we just saw, priests and the like present no more risk to children than any other religious institution or men in general, and in some cases, perhaps even less. Yet men in general and many other religious institutions are not characteristically celibate. It stands to reason that if celibacy led these churchmen to sexual abuse, then we should see a greater number of such churchmen committing sexual abuses than their more amorous counterparts. Yet, we don't; and hence we have reason to think that celibacy does not play a strong causal role in priestly sexual abuse.

A lot has changed in the past bit-the Sexual Revolution is over and the days of lax or negligent governing within the Church are over. Nowadays the Church has strengthened its policies and strictures in regards to dealing with sexual abuse-there is zero tolerance. A priest is removed from ministry upon the establishment or admittance of sexual abuse, period. As journalist George Weigel writes, "Catholicism has cleaned house in America, where the Church is likely the safest environment for young people today (there were six credible cases of abuse reported in 2009: six too many, but a remarkably low in a community of 68 million members)." These numbers are great in light of alarming stats from the New York City schools that state 1 child is abused by a school employee within the city every day.

In conclusion, we have seen that this idea that the RCC is more given to sexual abuse than laymen or other religious institutions is a falsehood. We have also seen that celibacy does not play a strong causal role in priestly sexual assaults. Heck, I have not seen any evidence suggesting that it plays any causal role. Thus, it is incumbant upon us to stop this myth in its tracks, whenever and wherever we see it.

Links and Resources

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/all ... really-are

http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/the-my ... ?1=english

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2 ... n-men.html

This is a great one:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/do- ... exual-abus

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/08/ ... 3687.shtml

http://m.sunjournal.com/node/827390
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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#2  Postby Thommo » Jun 22, 2013 6:27 am

Plausible hypothesis, but (like its converse) according to your links there are just opinions, rather than evidence:-

Since other organizations dealing with children have not undertaken such comprehensive studies, we have no idea whether the Catholic figure is better or worse than the rate for schoolteachers, residential home counselors, social workers or scout masters.


Yet experts say there's simply no data to support the claim at all. No formal comparative study has ever broken down child sexual abuse by denomination, and only the Catholic Church has released detailed data about its own. But based on the surveys and studies conducted by different denominations over the past 30 years, experts who study child abuse say they see little reason to conclude that sexual abuse is mostly a Catholic issue.


Which means that the conclusion "we have seen that this idea that the RCC is more given to sexual abuse than laymen or other religious institutions is a falsehood." is incorrect. We have seen that it's not supported, not that it is false.
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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#3  Postby Scot Dutchy » Jun 22, 2013 7:04 am

Once again mick quoting rcc supporters as if was the truth.

It is totally a load of bollocks and extremely hurtful to those that have been abused by members of your filthy religion.

How about the Magdelene Launderies mick and the technical schools in Ireland which the rcc earned a fortune on the backs of those kids?

Your religion is just slightly above that of islam not much mind.

Look at the mad bitch of Culcatta. There are so many instances or cant you see them?
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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#4  Postby Cito di Pense » Jun 22, 2013 7:19 am

Mick wrote:Here I endeavour to defend the Roman Catholic Church from a haunting myth: Catholic priests or its clergy, or whatever else associated with the Church, present a greater risk of sexual abuse to children. That this is present day myth should not be doubted.


The elephant in the room, Mick, is that (according to all the opinions you published) whatever is associated with the Church doesn't present a lesser risk of sexual abuse to children. The natural question after that is, what is the benefit of whatever is associated with the Church? If people make up myths about the RCC, it is at least in part because the RCC makes up myths about people. It's payback time, Mick, as follows:

Extolling the virtues of a personal relationship with god is full of anecdote and no visible benefit. In fact, the visible effects of a personal relationship with god seem to produce in you a tendency to defend the virtues of a personal relationship with god. Bend a spoon, Mick.
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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#5  Postby Scot Dutchy » Jun 22, 2013 7:26 am

Or get a life.
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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#6  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Jun 22, 2013 8:32 am

My problem isn't as much with the quantity (thought that's bad too) but with the institutionalised cover-up and aid given to these people.
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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#7  Postby virphen » Jun 22, 2013 8:35 am

I do like the subtitle though, Mick's defending the church from its very foundations!
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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#8  Postby redwhine » Jun 22, 2013 9:09 am

Mick wrote: >snip<

With this myth debunked...

>snip<


Image


Calling pigeon checkmate before your opponent even makes their first move? :shock:

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Pigeon_chess

:nono: :nono: :nono: :nono: :nono:
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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#9  Postby Doubtdispelled » Jun 22, 2013 9:14 am

Mick wrote:It is also worthwhile to note that I am not defending the Catholic spiritual leaders who actually did sexually abuse children. That, I think, is beyond reproach and tenability; and it is also, I think, a truism. Nevertheless, I wanted to make my intentions clear, lest I be perceived as an apologist for sexual abusers or negligent Church officials.

Uh, I think you might need to consider re-wording this sentence, Mick. I'm really hoping you didn't mean to say that the abuse of children by Catholic priests is above criticism? Or that defending them is? It really isn't very clear what you do mean.

Also, if what you meant to say was that either is reproachable, then it's to be hoped that the qualifying phrase 'I think', which can indicate a measure of doubt, wouldn't be necessary.

Edit: Mick's sentence really is so garbled that I see I didn't even criticise it properly. What I should have said was 'Or that not defending them is (beyond reproach)'.

:ask:
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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#10  Postby Animavore » Jun 22, 2013 9:20 am

Thomas Eshuis wrote:My problem isn't as much with the quantity (thought that's bad too) but with the institutionalised cover-up and aid given to these people.


:this: It's not the paedophilia in and of itself that has enraged people so much. Check out this speech by Enda Kenny, Ireland's Prime Minister and a Catholic, on the Cloyne report showing the Church's continuing cover up and obstruction of law since 1996.



A curious thing too about Catholics which try to support the Church in the manner Mick has above; they always seem to come from countries outside of Ireland, maybe because in other countries they are more on the defensive against the other religions they are surrounded by? Where as in Ireland Irish Catholic are the most vocal against them by virtue of them being the majority.

Here's the most egregious example of a non-Irish Catholic being an apologist for the Church. They don't seem to understand the gravity of the situation outside of Ireland. Probably because the Church just simply didn't have their claws in every aspect of their life the way they did over here so the sense of betrayal isn't as deep.

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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#11  Postby MarkS » Jun 22, 2013 9:49 am

Men in positions of authority have always abused. But it's the mind set that considers the church more important than the abused. (Actually not just men).
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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#12  Postby Fenrir » Jun 22, 2013 10:04 am

Here in aus we have the situation where enquiries have been set up largely on the back of a long history of abuse and coverup by Catholics. The church fought long and hard to try and stop these enquiries occurring, that failed but did result in the enquiries being instituted to investigate institutional abuse in general. The Catholic Church has run with that in attempting to imply they are only one of a number of organisations involved so the enquiries should look at the problem as a whole and not focus on individual institutions or the most egregious violators to any degree, a plea for equal time as it were.

It's pretty transparent.
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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#13  Postby james1v » Jun 22, 2013 10:14 am

Fenrir wrote:Here in aus we have the situation where enquiries have been set up largely on the back of a long history of abuse and coverup by Catholics. The church fought long and hard to try and stop these enquiries occurring, that failed but did result in the enquiries being instituted to investigate institutional abuse in general. The Catholic Church has run with that in attempting to imply they are only one of a number of organisations involved so the enquiries should look at the problem as a whole and not focus on individual institutions or the most egregious violators to any degree, a plea for equal time as it were.

It's pretty transparent.



In other words, the church is saying (as Mick seems to be) "Look over there!"
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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#14  Postby Fenrir » Jun 22, 2013 10:26 am

Yep, pretty much.
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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#16  Postby Shrunk » Jun 22, 2013 11:30 am

Mick wrote:In Psychology Today, Michael Castleman remarks on the media portrayal of Catholic priests. He writes: "From media reports, one might infer that Catholic priests commit the most pedophilia. In fact, only a tiny fraction of child sex abusers are priests."


Does this guy seriously believe that anyone thinks "most pedophilia" is committed by Catholic priests? (How does one "commit" pedophilia, anyway?)
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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#17  Postby Beatsong » Jun 22, 2013 11:35 am

FWIW Mick I pretty much accept what you're saying. I've never particularly believed that RC priests are more likely to abuse children than anyone else, because I've never seen any data comparing rates one way or another. I've certainly always accepted that the vast majority of catholic priests are not abusers.

I feel similarly to Thomas and Ani about it though. The issue is not that a small minority of men commit heinous crimes - that can, and does, happen anywhere, with any subgroup of men. The issue is the prevailing and systematic cover-up and tolerance of those crime by church authorities, the deliberate shielding of the criminals from proper legal prosecution and the failure to address the issue as directly and robustly as the victims deserve.

And, related to that, the idea of the guilt of the victim as causing or contributing to the crime, and the whole management of the issue through shame and silence. I don't particularly know whether celibacy contributes to abusing and will accept for the sake of argument your claim that it doesn't. But a culture of sexual shame certainly enables the perpetuation of such abuse.

It's these things that are truly vile and unacceptable. In fact I suspect your argument, while sound, is a bit of a strawman. I'm not sure how many people really think that catholic priests are, as individuals, dangerously likely to be child abusers. The (rightful) howls of outcry and protest in the media and elsewhere in response to the stories of recent years, have been about the institutional protection of such abuse.
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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#18  Postby THWOTH » Jun 22, 2013 11:48 am

Mick wrote:...It is worthwhile to note that I am not defending the Church from any alleged cover-up or negligence in dealing with sexual abuse cases. It is also worthwhile to note that I am not defending the Catholic spiritual leaders who actually did sexually abuse children. That, I think, is beyond reproach and tenability; and it is also, I think, a truism. Nevertheless, I wanted to make my intentions clear, lest I be perceived as an apologist for sexual abusers or negligent Church officials.

Well said. It's all too easy to categorise the group as a whole by the actions of a minority of its individuals.

However, one might also note that it is the role as 'spiritual leaders' that the concerns about abuse within the institution have been intensified. The officiates of the Chruch are self-declared, God-appointed figureheads of the Catholic community, doctrinal educators and enforcers, and local, national, and global moral authorities. This leadership role not only made it easy for some to abuse, as much abuse (sexual or otherwise) is essentially an abuse of power and responsibility, but it also made it easier for others with in the institution to hide the facts. This I think has significantly contributed to the prevailing view that there is something rotten and rotting at the heart of the Holy See.

Mick wrote:...In Psychology Today, Michael Castleman remarks on the media portrayal of Catholic priests. He writes: "From media reports, one might infer that Catholic priests commit the most pedophilia. In fact, only a tiny fraction of child sex abusers are priests." In addition to Castleman, historian Dr. Philip Jenkins from Penn State University writes:

"My research of cases over the last 20 years indicates no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any denomination-or indeed, than nonclergy....My concern over the "pedophile priest" issue is not to defend evil clergy, or a sinful church (I cannot be called a Catholic apologist, since I am not even Catholic). But I am worried that justified anger over a few awful cases might be turned into ill-focused attacks against innocent clergy. The story of clerical misconduct is bad enough without turning it into an unjustifiable outbreak of religious bigotry against the Catholic Church."

Castleman and Jenkins are not alone. Ernie Allen, the president of the National Center for missing and Exploited Children has said this: "We don't see the Catholic Church as a hotbed of this [abuse] or a place that has a bigger problem than anyone else." Lastly, these voices can be further supported with the voice of psychologist Dr. Thomas Plante. He says:

"Catholic clergy aren't more likely to abuse children than any other clergy or men in general. According to the best available data (which is pretty good mostly coming from a comprehensive report by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2004 as well as several other studies), 4% of Catholic priests in the USA sexually victimized minors during the past half century....The 4% figure is lower than school teachers (at 5%) during the same time frame and perhaps as much as half of the numbers of the general population of men."

Journalist Tom Hoopes noted that the US Department of Education estimated that 6 to 10 percent of all students within public schools would be victimized before graduation; and that was in 2002. Oddly, during that same year, Hoopes noted that 61 of the largest newspapers in California printed over 2000 stories on RCC sexual abuse cases. In contrast, those same newspapers printed just 4 stories about the government's finding. Given this fact, one should begin to wonder why the media focuses so much on the RCC and neglects the schools, though I suppose that is another question.

With this myth debunked, it is prudent to address another myth, one which piggybacks on the myth I just addressed. The second myth is this: Celibacy strongly leads priests and celibate clergy to sexual abuse.

Given the evidence we just saw, priests and the like present no more risk to children than any other religious institution or men in general, and in some cases, perhaps even less. Yet men in general and many other religious institutions are not characteristically celibate. It stands to reason that if celibacy led these churchmen to sexual abuse, then we should see a greater number of such churchmen committing sexual abuses than their more amorous counterparts. Yet, we don't; and hence we have reason to think that celibacy does not play a strong causal role in priestly sexual abuse.

A lot has changed in the past bit-the Sexual Revolution is over and the days of lax or negligent governing within the Church are over. Nowadays the Church has strengthened its policies and strictures in regards to dealing with sexual abuse-there is zero tolerance. A priest is removed from ministry upon the establishment or admittance of sexual abuse, period. As journalist George Weigel writes, "Catholicism has cleaned house in America, where the Church is likely the safest environment for young people today (there were six credible cases of abuse reported in 2009: six too many, but a remarkably low in a community of 68 million members)." These numbers are great in light of alarming stats from the New York City schools that state 1 child is abused by a school employee within the city every day.

In conclusion, we have seen that this idea that the RCC is more given to sexual abuse than laymen or other religious institutions is a falsehood. We have also seen that celibacy does not play a strong causal role in priestly sexual assaults. Heck, I have not seen any evidence suggesting that it plays any causal role. Thus, it is incumbant upon us to stop this myth in its tracks, whenever and wherever we see it.

What's the point are you trying to make through the words of Castleman et al here, exactly? By saying that members of the RCC's celibate clergy are (and/or have been) no more likely to abuse than any other member of society Castleman et al appear to be skirting a more relevant, not to mention a more important point.

The defenders of Catholicism cannot so easily separate the abusers from the institution in general, and say that abusers are lone individuals with individual responsibility for their acts, because all officiates of the RCC represent the Church as a whole within the community. The abuse scandals have demonstrated that the RCC as an institution was complicit in abuse and systematically failed in its self-declared responsibility as 'spiritual leader' to the body of the Catholic community as well as to society at large.

Focusing on the mathematics of abuse is all well and good, and while I might agree that, in general terms, that there is no axiomatic causal link between being a member of a celibate clergy and being an abuser, to a great extent the institutional structures of the RCC did facilitated and perpetuate the abuse that has occurred by working so hard to hide it from the public. And it is reasonable to presume that this was done because those in charge thought that the abuse that did occur would reflect so terribly on the institution and its leadership role that cover-ups were considered the least-worst response to abuse allegations than investigations and prosecutions.

What the abuse scandals have highlighted is that the moral and institutional structures of the Holy See systematically colluded with abusers to abrogate the leadership responsibility the abusers had towards their victims, their flock, and society at large. I'm quite prepared to accept that the RCC has changed, but still, declaring that the abuse that did occur occurred at a kind of normative level, and that the Church is now more robustly organised to deal with abuse than it was previously is somewhat irrelevant - like slamming the stable door after the horse has been rendered down for glue, it implies that previous bads are somehow outweighted or mitigated by present goods.

I know that you are not an apologist for Catholic abusers, but the words of Castleman et al seem to guide us towards the view that the abuse which has occurred is no more significant or meaningful for the RCC as an institution than incidents of abuse should be for society at large. I don't think this is the case, and I think this is the point Castleman et al are not just missing but are in fact deliberately trying to downplay.

It is in its self-declared role of social and moral leadership the institution has failed so miserably, so completely, and so systematically, and it is in the context of self-declared social and moral leadership role that the high levels of media reports have to be read and the pervasive disquiet about the Church within society have to be understood, accounted for, and addressed.
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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#19  Postby Federico » Jun 22, 2013 1:44 pm

Mick wrote:Here I endeavour to defend the Roman Catholic Church from a haunting myth: Catholic priests or its clergy, or whatever else associated with the Church, present a greater risk of sexual abuse to children. That this is present day myth should not be doubted.


When I first read Mick's post I didn't know whether I should LOL or cry.
Actually, I did both at the same time, then, after wiping my tears, I looked for my thread on Pedophile Priests Scandal which I wrote about three years ago, and which I reproduce below:

"It seems revelations about the existence of pedophile priests amongst the congregation are surfacing everywhere in the world where the Racc is present in any strength. This comes together with the discovery that denial and covering has occurred at highest level since even Pope Ratzinger when he was cardinal and Prefect of the Congregation for the Defence of Faith Doctrine, formerly known as the Saint (!) Inquisition, has done his outmost to put a lid on the scandal.
Now, however, the shit has hit the fan and the scandal is touching Bishops, and even Cardinals. The Pope himself may be in the front line.

"The German-born pontiff formally accepted the resignation offer made April 21 by Bishop Walter Mixa, an outspoken conservative voice in the German church and a military chaplain for Germany, as well as head of the Augsburg diocese.
Mixa's posting to Augsburg in summer 2005 was among the first appointments Benedict made at the start of his papacy."

Furthermore:

"The strains of the scandals seem to be dividing the top echelons of the church itself.
An Austrian Catholic news agency Kathpress reported on Friday that Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn blasted the Vatican's dean of the college of cardinals for seriously harming victims when, during Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square, Cardinal Angelo Sodano dismissed claims of clerical abuse as "petty gossip."
Schoenborn, a confidante of Benedict's and considered by Vatican watchers to be potential pope material himself, had already indirectly blamed Sodano for blocking a probe of sex abuse allegations against late Austrian Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, who stepped down, officially for advanced age, after the complaints surfaced".

To paraphrase WC, for the Vatican it may not be yet the end, perhaps not even the beginning of the end, but certainly it is the end of the beginning."


I mean, for Christ's sake, it's not a myth elaborated by nasty atheists trying to destroy the RACC: It's a harsh reality dawned in the heart of the Church that, perhaps, something should be done before the scandals destroyed the Church.
And it's not a question of bean counting, It's a long story of tolerance and protection of pedophile priests hidden from civil authorities, and allowed to continue for decades to abuse and maim physically and/or mentally young, defenseless souls.
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Re: Pedophilia and the Church

#20  Postby Mick » Jun 22, 2013 2:36 pm

Thommo wrote:Plausible hypothesis, but (like its converse) according to your links there are just opinions, rather than evidence:-

Since other organizations dealing with children have not undertaken such comprehensive studies, we have no idea whether the Catholic figure is better or worse than the rate for schoolteachers, residential home counselors, social workers or scout masters.


Yet experts say there's simply no data to support the claim at all. No formal comparative study has ever broken down child sexual abuse by denomination, and only the Catholic Church has released detailed data about its own. But based on the surveys and studies conducted by different denominations over the past 30 years, experts who study child abuse say they see little reason to conclude that sexual abuse is mostly a Catholic issue.


Which means that the conclusion "we have seen that this idea that the RCC is more given to sexual abuse than laymen or other religious institutions is a falsehood." is incorrect. We have seen that it's not supported, not that it is false.



Well, I think the case is stronger than that. My sources, at least some of them, have cited studies which conclude there to be no such higher incidence. And my sources, at least some of them, are 'in-the-know' about these sorta things. One would think that if the rates were higher, we would know about it. But we dont; and the evidence we do have suggests the contrary.
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