Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_lightwise'>lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
WE NEED TO FACE THE TRUTH NOW, AND ASK OURSELVES THIS QUESTION
Has the Time Come for
A Mandatory Requirement of
Psychological Testing for Specific
Professions and Occupations?
(Definition of “psychological testing” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press.)
27 July 2017 Update
Iseult Catherine O'Brien
Montessori Teacher & Supervisor | Tutor with Second Level Students | A Member of The Tutors' Association
I am aware what I propose for discussion, may be difficult for some. I should welcome views on the subject, from all shades of opinion, as I believe this is a matter that NEEDS to be discussed widely, publicly and freely. I have updated and renamed this Post.
It has been my long-held view that those who wish to become any types of doctors, nurses, psychologists, psychotherapists, therapists, counsellors, physiotherapists; teachers at all levels, and all related disciplines; police officers, members of the defence forces, clergy or ministers of all religions, social workers, community workers, and sport coaches; child-care, and general care workers; anyone who works with young, older, or fragile people, or people with significant disabilities, of whatever kind; anyone who comes in contact with young or vulnerable people in their work or vocation; should be REQUIRED to submit to a complete Psychological Testing, or whatever is considered the most appropriate testing, to isolate personalities lacking in empathy, normal social-emotions, a vocation to care, all of which would show as ABSENT in specific tests, prior to being accepted for training in their chosen field.
With the exception of carers, and those working in early childhood education, the above professions have VERY robust representative bodies.
Such Psychological Testing could expose personalities who should not work with vulnerable people on the grounds of unsuitability.
Excluding those who have not satisfied a Psychological Test from becoming members of professions or occupations who have access to all children, all vulnerable people, all older and / or frail people, those with physical, mental, and psychological issues, would go some way to safeguarding these people who should be at the heart of our care system.
If there is a more efficient way to monitor the potential intake into all the above mentioned professions and occupations, to exclude certain abusive or violent types of personality, I should be very pleased to hear of it - please let me know.
As things are currently, I doubt people could be stopped from studying medicine or teaching, for example, but having finished their studies if they were found to be intrinsically unsuitable to work with patients and students ~ what attitude might the unions and representative bodies take with regard to supporting the employment of these graduates?
SOME BACKGROUND EXAMPLES
Our long, sad, shameful, national history of heinous and illegal acts, over many decades, continues coming to light in an endless-seeming catalogue of abuse or neglect by members of all the above groups, through personal acts, or turning a blind eye to a reported incident, or an incident which does not get registered at all; in some specific bodies, many actions were and are frequently hidden with the connivance of colleagues and superiors. Here are a few examples of what is done in our Society to the young and vulnerable.
Naively, I hoped that the following statements from Dr Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of All Ireland, and others, might make a difference in relation to the Roman Catholic Church's responses, at all levels, to clerical abuse.
On Holy Thursday 2009, he warned that the depth of the Catholic sex abuse cases "will shock us all", throwing up challenges to the Catholic Church in Ireland it has never experienced before. Martin said: "It is likely that thousands of children or young people across Ireland were abused by priests in the period under investigation and the horror of that abuse was not recognised for what it is. The report will make each of us and the entire church in Dublin a humbler church."
On 10 February 2015, Dr Diarmuid Martin said he was "appalled to hear of delays by some orders in fully implementing standards and guidelines of child protection".
The National Board for the Safeguarding of Children said seven of the nine orders it has just completed inspections on have a poor record of management, making any assessment of their current practice difficult.
The Catholic Church's child protection watchdog says opportunities to safeguard children were missed and known abusers allowed to remain in ministry in 1990s.
In a statement, Dr Martin said: "The failure of any single Church organisation to implement the common norms casts a shadow over the credibility of the entire Safeguarding efforts of the Catholic Church ...."
"Failure of any Church organisation to implement fully and robustly the agreed clear norms is a direct affront to the desire of Pope Francis, repeated only one week ago .."
A spokesman for the Chief Executive of the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church, Teresa Devlin, said the following seven had significant problems: the Augustinians; The Passionists: The Discalced Carmelites; The Franciscan Friars and Brothers; The Servites; and the Marist Fathers.
It strikes me that Dr Martin's instructions have been and continue to be ignored by some under his rule. Has a follow-up instruction been made to watch the delinquent "orders" and organisations" and to enforce the following of orders?
[All underlining and italicising of text has been done by me.]
We have had quite a number of investigations into the activities / allegations of hospital doctors in many Counties, in recent weeks, months and years, frequently without a satisfactory conclusion for those who wish to know what happened, who did or did not do what, and if anyone is taking any responsibility. There is one hospital on the north-east coast, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, whose name will go down in infamy and social history as the site of the mutilation of women over many decades, at the hands of one specific doctor in residence.
We had the RTÉ television under-cover investigation into the appalling treatment of residents by staff in Áras Attracta, which distressed and angered many of the viewers on broadcast.
On 20 January 2017, we had the publication of the Report of the SEVEN YEAR investigation into child abuse in Northern Ireland, GOING BACK SEVENTY YEARS! Yet again, based on a briefing by the Chairperson, there emerged evidence of the degree of knowledge in official circles in the Roman Catholic Church of the activities of Fr Brendan Smyth, of the Norbertine Order ... possibly the most prolific child sex abuser in modern times, with a career of abuse of over forty years.
On 27 April 2017, the "Grace" case is going to cost the HSE (Health Service Executive), in other words the tax-payers, a massive sum. In this instance, I do not know how much money could alleviate the twenty plus years of ghastly abuse suffered by "Grace". A €6.3m HSE-funded settlement package for this woman with serious intellectual disabilities known as "Grace" includes PUNITIVE DAMAGES for the serious failings in her care.
The package was approved by the President of the High Court for the "literally voiceless" woman who was entrusted to HSE care as a young child until aged in her early 30s. "Grace" was placed with a foster family in the south-east in 1989.
A Health Board decision was made in 1996 that she and other children be removed, following an allegation a child was sexually abused. But despite evidence of physical abuse and neglect of Grace as well as suggestions of sexual abuse, SHE WAS LEFT THERE FOR ANOTHER 13 YEARS, until 2009.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly said Grace's treatment over 20 years was "not just shocking, but a scandal", particularly as it continued into the 21st Century, and involved "abdication" of responsibility by the relevant Health Board and State agencies. It remains a "mystery" why the decision to remove her, against which the foster family made representations to the Health Minister, was not acted upon and was later reversed by a three person Health Board Committee, the Judge said.
Were it not that a Commission of Investigation has been set up, he would have insisted on answers to many questions, including what "extraordinary" hold the foster family had over the Health Board Committee. He hoped the Commission would "get to the bottom of this".
When removed in 2009 from the foster family, "Grace" "cut a sad figure" in a "wretched" state, frail, dirty and unkempt, with health problems due to a poor diet and psychosis. Her only possession was a child's toy which she held on to "for dear life" and to which she still clings - but her condition has greatly improved since, he was pleased to note.
The Judge paid warm tribute to two social workers who were the "catalyst for change", and also praised the lawyers who acted for her.
He was approving the €6.3m package as the settlement of a legal action brought against the HSE on behalf of "Grace", now a Ward of Court.
While money was no compensation for what "Grace" suffered, it was "the best the law can do" and would ensure she is properly looked after into the future, he said. It was about trying to right the wrongs done to her while in the care of a State agency.
The funds will be paid into Court and the package provides that Grace will retain her medical card, get funds equivalent to her lost disability allowance and be appropriately housed and receive all necessary therapies and supports. The future care costs are estimated at €4.3m.
Given the HSE's handling of Grace's care in the past, the Judge SOUGHT and GOT, A SWORN UNDERTAKING from an HSE OFFICIAL, IN COURT, IT WOULD ABIDE BY THE TERMS OF SETTLEMENT. There is only one way to take the Judge's requirement of a sworn undertaking from an HSE official in Court ~ The Judge was making it clear to all that he did not have confidence in the HSE doing its duty and following a Judicial requirement without obliging a HSE official to give a sworn undertaking in Court, in public, that the HSE would abide by the Terms of Settlement.
Sara Moorhead SC, for the Ward Committee, said, when she got involved in this case: "I genuinely could not believe this was the 21st Century in terms of what we were dealing with." For years, everyone appeared to "run away" from "Grace" in relation to her needs and this was "perhaps one of the saddest cases" concerning abdication of responsibility for a "literally voiceless" person, she said.
The details of this case horrified the Nation, as they unfolded during the High Court proceedings.
We cannot know how many more "Graces" there may be, dotted around the Country, waiting for some brave social worker or neighbour to have the courage to report what they have witnessed. What we do know is we cannot trust the bodies entrusted with responsibility for the welfare of children and other vulnerable people.
We can all add to this catalogue.
The Thing is, Nothing has Changed
For the Better!
I am a libertarian by inclination, with a great reluctance to proscribe. However, I have come to believe that some people must not be allowed access to the young and vulnerable in our society.
The legacy of our clerical child abuse, is still a current story; resolution and justice is being blocked. JUSTICE IS DENIED TO MANY who need it to carry on with the rest of their lives, in the hope of gaining psychological peace. We continue to see some sections of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, deem themselves above the Law of the Land.
Obfuscation is one of their most useful tools.
From The Irish Times of Monday 18 July 2016, Patsy McGarry writes the following.
'Two of America’s leading Catholic child protection advocates have strongly opposed suggestions by the church that care of laicised priests convicted of child abuse ought, in certain circumstances, to be a State responsibility.
'It follows an interview in which Teresa Devlin, Chief Executive of the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church, (the child protection watchdog - my insertion) – said “once you know he is guilty, then you do have to cut the ties, you cannot continue to pay for someone, and at some stage the State has to take over with pensions." [this is the same Teresa Devlin who is quoted above as follows. " ... completed inspections on have a poor record of management, making any assessment of their current practice difficult." " ... the following seven had significant problems: the Augustinians; The Passionists: The Discalced Carmelites; The Franciscan Friars and Brothers; The Servites; and the Marist Fathers."]
'Last month new child protection guidance standards were published by the board where it stated: “If the respondent is not the responsibility of the church authority, the church authority must inform the statutory authorities, and the process of involvement (by the church) in relation to safeguarding ends.”
'US lawyer and former Benedictine monk Patrick Wall said his take on it “is that they are looking to dump all their criminals on the public.”
'He said that the church “selected, hired, trained, supervised and turned these perpetrators loose where they committed heinous crimes against children leaving permanent scars that continue to impact survivors and their families. The church ought to reap what they sowed”.
'What should happen “is that the church use their land, tax-exempt status, wealth and personnel to isolate the perpetrators away from the public,” he said.
'Dominican priest Canon Tom Doyle said: “The bishops want to rid themselves of perpetrators so as to avoid having to share the responsibility of their own negligence.”
'He added: “I have found that, with very, very few exceptions, any solutions the bishops promote to anything related to clergy sex abuse usually is fundamentally for their benefit, while often covered over with pietistic and honest- sounding bullshit.”
'Meanwhile, president of the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors Cardinal Seán O’Malley has encouraged bishops, priests and religious superiors to be in contact with sex abuse victims “so that they will understand the impact and be more vigilant”.
'Such meetings had been “transformative for me and that’s why one of the first things we did as a commission was to set up meetings with the Holy Father with victims”. For Pope Francis it was “a very, very important experience,” the cardinal told RTÉ Radio One’s This Week programme.'
[All underlining and italicising of text has been done by me.]
From The Irish Times, Wednesday 01 March 2017, Patsy McGarry writes the following.
'Marie Collins resigns from Vatican child protection body'
'Abuse survivor Marie Collins has resigned from the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors due to frustration with some officials in the Roman curia. Her resignation takes effect from today. Abuse survivor says she is frustrated with some officials in the Roman curia. But she has found “the attitude of a small number in the Vatican’s curia is resistant to the work of the commission and has not been co-operative.”
'Her decision to resign followed an accumulation of frustrations at the hands of such officials. It came to a head recently over “one small issue that for me was the last straw. It was in the context of healing for survivors and victims.”
The commission recommended to Pope Francis that all Vatican departments acknowledge letters from survivors and victims of abuse. “It seemed like a simple request but I learned afterwards that this particular dicastery (Vatican department) was not going to change their processes, was not going to put in place a system whereby they would respond to such letters. For me that’s just the end of the line.”
'It was not its practice to respond to such correspondence, it said. This was also “the dicastery that would receive the most correspondence from victims and survivors; the dicastery victims write to about cases if they’ve been abused by a priest,” she said. She did not wish to identify the Vatican department involved but The Irish Times has learned it refers to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which seems at the root of frustrations felt by the commission generally.
“I said when I joined the commission three years ago that if there was anything happening inside and I learned anything that was counter to what was being said publicly by the church, I wouldn’t remain.”
The issue was important to her. “It may not seem important to many. But the fact that we have pronouncements all the time about care for victims and care for survivors and how the church wants to help with healing and that’s their first priority, I think that not being able to simply respond to a victim or survivor’s letter is totally counter to that. So I felt it was time for me to go.”
Other commission work frustrated by officials included the accountability tribunal announced in June 2015 to deal with negligent bishop and church leaders who had not protected children, she said.
It has been “just shocking to me that in 2017 I can still come across these defensive, inflexible attitudes in men of the church, the same attitudes I saw 20 years ago when I was trying to bring my own case to justice here in Dublin. That’s what’s really the most shocking,” she said.'
[All underlining and italicising of text has been done by me.]
IT CONTINUES ...
We continue to see vulnerable children and fragile or disabled people, and older people, abused by people employed to care for them; and it is rare that a colleague will break ranks to call official attention to the abuse.
We are still digesting the discovery, in the grounds of a mother and baby home, of hundreds of bodies of infants and children up to the age of around three years, hidden away in underground chambers, possibly part of a sewage system.
Vigilance is a primary duty as part of our care for children, the vulnerable, and all other members of Society.
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, is introducing legislation, "Children First Act 2015". The Act does not include legal sanctions for failing to report abuse. Under the new rules, workplaces and voluntary organisations will nominate a person to act as the 'mandatory reporter'. Any suspicions of child abuse must be brought to the attention of the 'mandatory reporter' who will in turn send an official report on the claim to Tusla, and only to Tusla. This Agency will investigate the claim and decide if further action should be taken. The Act's definition of harm to children covers assault, ill treatment, neglect and sexual abuse.
I feel that although the Minister probably fought as hard as she could, an opportunity to make a real difference has been lost.
Eventually, and very belatedly, the alleged smear campaign against whistle-blower Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe is being examined by Supreme Court Judge Peter Charleton, as a public tribunal (it has been named 'The Disclosures Tribunal'), with a remit to extend his investigations to other whistle-blowers, and specifically to investigate the alleged actions of an Garda Siochána and Tusla, which if proved to be accurate, could complete undermine that latter organisation's assumed probity and fitness to operate as currently structured.
So, now, until Tusla has shown itself to be worthy of the Nation's confidence, where can the 'mandatory reporter' go, with assurance, with a report of suspected child abuse or neglect, as defined by the new Act?
I appreciate many may argue that such an undertaking would be expensive. I suggest that given the very considerable monies already paid out by the State, tax-payers in other words; and the massive payments that shall be due on foot of various current investigations and tribunals (plus the costs of these investigations) ~ this procedure could start saving the State money, and relatively quickly after its introduction.
Each member of the McCabe family is taking a case against Tusla. What will be the monetary cost to the State, the taxpayer? One has to wonder if anyone will be named and open to prosectuation, resulting from Judge Charlton's public tribunal, or the McCabe cases.
THE CURRENT REQUIREMENTS FOR THE FOLLOWING WHILE CARRYING OUT THEIR JOBS
Before we lose sight of the reasons behind considering introduction of this requirement, let us note some of our current requirements for potential professionals.
Anyone wishing to join the Garda Siochána must not have a criminal record, as is the case with all branches of the Defence Forces. Anyone wishing to work with children in any capacity, even while training for teaching and requiring placement experience, for example, must have a Garda Clearance. All carers are required to have Garda Clearance, and it is required for many of the above professions.
LEGISLATION & CIVIL RIGHTS
This proposed introduction, which would require legislation, could not be used for the purpose of evidence gathering for legal cases already underway, for people already charged with crimes of any type of abuse or neglect, or those facing charges for neglect to fulfil their due diligence in respect of any citizen, and awaiting trial, or in the process of a trial. Such a proposal would be abhorrent to natural justice.
I expect Civil Liberties groups and legal representatives' organisations, may have difficulties with such a development, on grounds of personal civil rights, and possibly with Constitutional implications in relation to the necessary legislation.
It would be very useful to have these possible difficulties outlined by various interested parties and organisations, so that the discussion can carry on, enlightened by these perspectives.
I make no pretence to knowledge of either civil or canon law.
I would never condone anyone taking the law into his or her own hands, however dire the provocation. However, I believe we all have a duty of care to our fellow citizens, from Day One on this Earth, to their Last Day, and everything that can be done for their welfare, in between.
It is clear, we cannot rely on honesty and justice from some of the pillars of our Society. Every child or adult who is abused, at whose ever hand, is a brother or sister in our Republic. We have a Constitution, we have laws, we have those who think themselves above them all.
Why cannot charges for obstruction be taken against the heads of any organisations which refuse to co-operate fully with all lawful investigations or tribunals?
It seems to me more and more often, the judiciary is only pillar of Society which has stood solid.
THIS IS ALMOST FARCE! ~ WHO is in CHARGE?
Please let me have your views. This is a rough outline of my ideas ~ I am much more interested in hearing those of others.
Iseult Catherine O'Brien
If you find any errors of fact in the above, or which to argue a point, I should be very glad to hear from you.
My LinkedIn site can be found at
I am an elected Member of The Tutors' Association.
If I quote a person, group, organisation, or establishment, I do my very best to source the material quoted, and to attribute it properly. If I cannot satisfy myself I have found the author or speaker who voiced a quote, I resist using it, no matter how tasty a bite! If I refer in passing to views expressed by others, I attribute the views even if they have not been given verbatim in the text. I work on a basis of goodwill and good intentions. I shall make errors, being human, and when I do, I apologise now, and should always welcome a correction, which I would insert in the relevant Post prominently, in clear unambiguous text and type, repeating the apology. That's is the best I can do!