If HB 726—the bill designed to redefine child abuse in Pennsylvania—is signed, it will be the first of more than a dozen bills expected to be signed into law that came out of the evaluation following the arrest of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted of 45 charges of abusing ten boys.
We have an unprecedented opening to use the Penn State sexual abuse case’s stunning lessons about ignorance, self-interest, and responsibility to examine widespread, false assumptions about child sexual abuse and how to prevent it.
From the Sandusky trial to new revelations about the Catholic Church to the stories about Horace Mann in the 1970s, it seems like sexual abuse is always in the news. These topics are particularly tricky to discuss with kids—how do we keep them safe without making them scared? I turn to two experts for advice.
By censoring Rep. Lisa Brown’s use of the word “vagina,” lawmakers in Michigan are sending a powerful message to young people that certain things (and body parts) are so shameful adults can’t even hear about them. It is just this attitude that creates environments where years of abuse – like what is being alleged in the trial of Jerry Sandusky – can go on in silence.
As a society, the way we think about most social phenomena—including sexual assault—is influenced by both facts and morals. But in the United States, the way we think about rape has, for decades, been operating with an outdated version of both.
This is a story about Roxanne, a fictitious young single mother who thinks she found the man of her dreams. It turns out he is a nightmare–a child sexual predator. But after initial denial, Roxanee trusts her instincts, and protects her daughter from sexual abuse. What if this were the norm post-Penn State?
The most surprising thing about the cover-up and riots over the Penn State child rape scandal is how surprised we are. If you’ve been paying attention, you might notice that our society has a habit of not taking sexual violence seriously.