Letter to the Editor
by Emanuel County Live | June 29, 2012 4:35 pm
We have learned of the guilty verdict of Jerry Sandusky and few child abuse professionals were surprised. Although anyone can be a pedophile, the case involved a predator who had many of the markings of a classic pedophile.
A man who was personable, well-liked, with power and influence over young boys. He was married with children and had a much respected interest in providing needy children with opportunity. His efforts provided a resource from which he could select his favorite boys. Sandusky, like many predators, chose boys of a certain age and he liked to play with them. His generosity provided attention, special times on campus with the coach or at his home, in his basement. He was a celebrity of sorts, a coach to many, and a nightmare to those boys who were his favorites. Now adults, they were compelled at the Sandusky trial to reveal their lost innocence and stolen childhoods. Hopefully, there will now be healing and closure for these young men.
However, it is the response of the institutions involved that is also a travesty. The Penn State legacy may now be marred by decisions that blinded good judgment. At least two administrators at Penn State face charges of not reporting an eyewitness account of a rape of a boy in a shower. All too often we see this happen. Institutions do not want negative publicity. They work to weave a quiet web of secrecy over the incident, silence the victim, ignore the damages, and impair a victim when healing does not take place.
The Catholic Church did it for years. Educational institutions at all levels may work to quiet an incident. The focus is not on the victim but on the reputation of the institution Recently, a prominent Roman Catholic Monsignor was convicted of moving predator priests from parish to parish. In Georgia this year, a school counselor and principal were fired for not reporting as mandated reporters. When will they ever learn? They will learn when more of the enablers face consequences for ignoring the law.
Fortunately, in our community we have citizens and professionals who come together and support healthy children and happy childhoods and the prevention of child sexual abuse. But it takes all adults being active in the lives of children.
We will accomplish this if we:
• Encourage parents and children to minimize one-on-one contact between adults and children. See that your schools, churches, recreation activities adhere to this too.
• Learn the characteristics of a pedophile, the grooming techniques and how to recognize the signs of abuse. Participate in a Stewards of Children program offered by the Sunshine House CAC.
• Let children know you are interested in who they play with, where they are and what they are doing.
• Trust your best instincts when you believe abuse is occurring and report it to a professional .
A pedophile will be around children whether as a coach, a teacher, a preacher or a family friend. Yes, he or she may be someone you know, respect, even love. Nine out of ten children never tell about abuse at the hands of predators like Jerry Sandusky. Yet, in spite of passing years, these young adults in the Sandusky trial finally and courageously took that opportunity.
The protection of our children must be an important priority in any community. Adults can and should keep children safe.
Carol V. Donaldson, Executive Director
Sunshine House Regional Children’s Advocacy Center