Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested for sexually assaulting eight boys over a period of 15 years; most or all of whom he met through the charity he founded for troubled youth, The Second Mile. Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant coach, witnessed Sandusky raping a boy, and rather than call the police, he reported it to Coach Joe Paterno, who rather than call the police, reported it to Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior VP of Finance and Business Gary Schultz. They did not report the sexual assault putting children at risk. In fact, Sandusky continued to sexually assault boys for years.
Curley and Schultz have both resigned. McQueary is on administrative leave. In addition to President Graham Spanier, Paterno has been fired. Paterno himself said he wished he had done more. Yes, they all should have done more. How would you feel if your child was raped and a witness simply passed on the information to their superiors who kept it a secret? How does that make those child survivors feel knowing someone found out and did nothing to help them?
Adults need to support child sexual abuse survivors – to put an end to the culture of silence and secrecy. Some Penn State alumni have started a campaign to raise $500,000 for the national sexual assault services agency, RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network). They’ve already raised over $250,000. Students held a candlelight vigil, and there was a moment of silence, awareness materials for sale, and a “blue-out” for child abuse awareness during Saturday’s game. Let’s continue these types of efforts, using this highly-publicized story (and all those cases that are not covered) as opportunities to raise our voices in support of all sexual abuse survivors. Let’s create a society that truly does not tolerate sexual abuse.
Let’s learn how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. Did you know that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday? Over 90% of child sexual abuse survivors know their perpetrator. Perpetrators are often seen as nice and respectful by others in the community. Not only do we know survivors, we know perpetrators. Having policies and procedures in place while receiving on-going trainings can help reduce child sexual abuse.
To learn more about how you can protect children, please contact Hope House of South Central Wisconsin at 608-356-9123 to schedule a free Stewards of Children child sexual abuse training at your school, daycare center, church, or place of employment. Free and confidential support is available for those affected by sexual assault by calling Hope House at 1-800-584-6790.