BX1912.9 (Sexual abuse by clergy)

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August 31 2018, @AzacMonster brought up the problem that LCSH records with a primary subject heading of “Child sexual abuse by clergy” is being classed under BX1912.9. Here’s the hierarchy of that number:

Christian denominations—Catholic Church—Government and organization of the Catholic Church—Priests. Deacons. Spiritual directors—Personal life of the priest—Sexual behavior

It seems that there should be a clearer distinction made in the classification between consentual sexual behavior of priests and sexual abuse perpetrated by priests.


  • Is this pattern seen elsewhere in LCC in the LC catalog? For example:
    • HV5201.S48 (Sexual behavior of alcoholics). No resources classed here in the LC catalog that focus on sexual abuse
    • HV8836 (Sex in prison, but also where LCSH Sexual behavior of prisoners is often classed). Lots of works here about sexual violence and rape
    • F3429.3.S45 (South America—Peru—Antiquities. Indians—Topics (Ancient and modern), A-Z—Sexual behavior). There is a book titled “Amor y violencia sexual : valores indígenas en la sociedad colonial” under this class number, but otherwise nothing indicating sexual abuse
  • Do works on Child sexual abuse by clergy belong in the BX range or elsewhere?

3 Replies to “BX1912.9 (Sexual abuse by clergy)”

  1. The broader heading “Child sexual abuse” is assigned to somewhat different call number ranges in its authority record. The most relevant one would seem to be HV6570, which is the criminology-related range assigned to it. (There are also ranges specified for it under forensic medicine, psychiatry, and pediatrics.)

    It might make sense to similarly indicate multiple call number ranges for “Child sexual abuse by clergy”, using the HV6570 range for works that focus on the abuse, and a BX range for works that focus on clerical reaction to that abuse.

    “Child sexual abuse”, by the way, is not explicitly registered as a broader term for “Child sexual abuse by clergy”, but it should be if rules allow it. (This seems to be a case of LCSH historically relying on not explicitly specifying relationships for alphabetically close topics, which was reasonable in the era of card catalogs but not helpful in the age of online searching and linked data. If this and similar relationships can be made explicit, that would be great.)

  2. I think a good case could made for HV or BX. If it is to be classed in BX, it should be moved out of BX 1912.9 (personal life of the clergy). The sexual abuse within the Catholic Church is much more of institutional problem than it is the crimes of individual priests. Given that the Catholic Church is involved in extensive cover-ups about the abuse and the structure and doctrines of the Church are a factor in the prevalence of child sexual abuse within Catholicism, I’d suggest establishing a classification number in BX 1795.A-Z (Catholic Church and the state. Special topics). This section includes legal/social topics (e.g. justifiable homicide, immigration, civil rights, etc.)

  3. Thanks for these ideas. I like the idea of establishing a classification number in BX 1795 A-Z. On the HV side, I see this is established:

    Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology—Drug habits. Drug abuse
    HV5747 Tobacco and the clergy

    So wonder if something like this is needed:

    Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology—Criminology—Crimes and offenses—Crimes against the person—Sex crimes—Child molesting. Sexual abuse of children
    [HV6570.5 Special topics, A-Z?
    .C– Child sexual abuse by clergy]

    In looking for patterns, also noted this:
    Theory and practice of education—School administration and organization—General—Personnel management—Teaching personnel—Other topics, A-Z—Child sexual abuse by teachers

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