While the scandaltainment industry was rocked this week by the news of the Penn State child abuse charges against its former assistant coach and the surrounding coverup, I couldn’t help but wonder about the children in this matter and whether or not they are receiving the help that they need. In all the news reports I’ve seen in the media, few if any have focused on how to protect your kids from a situation like this. The statistics above are from RAINN, the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network. With 1 in 4 girls being sexually assaulted before she turns 18 and less than 60% of victims ever reporting the abuse, it’s not really surprising that the boys involved in the Penn State case did not come forward on their own.
What is child abuse? Darkness to Light an organization to end child abuse describes it as such:
- Any sexual act between an adult and a minor or between two minors when one exerts power over the other.
- Forcing, coercing or persuading a child to engage in any type of sexual act. This, of course, includes sexual contact. It also includes non-contact acts such as exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, voyeurism and communicating in a sexual manner by phone or Internet.
- An agonizing and traumatic experience for its victims.
- A crime punishable by law.What can the average parent or citizen do about it? Face the facts head on. This is not about good neighborhoods vs. poor ones. This is not about strangers–most cases involve someone the child knows already, and often the child is “groomed” for long periods of time before the pedophile assaults the child. Child abuse can and does happen anywhere and everywhere. Your child is interacting with people in positions of authority–which is every adult when you’re a child–on a daily basis. Whether it’s a teacher, a coach, a priest, an ice cream truck vendor, a friend’s father or older brother, a neighbor. If you decide to be conscious and present you can be open to recognizing when a child is in danger. Unlike McQueary, you can do the right thing and go to the police and child protection agencies if you witness or suspect a child is being abused.
Please go to the Darkness to Light website for the expanded 7 Steps to Protecting Our Children From Child Abuse
STEP 1 : Learn the facts
STEP 2: Minimize the opportunity
STEP 3: Talk about it
STEP 4: Stay alert
STEP 5:Make a plan
STEP 6: Act on suspicions
STEP 7: Get involved