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.
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.
Fifteen adults at Penn State–15 individual adults, all men–either witnessed directly or had knowledge of rape, sodomy, and assault of children by Jerry Sandusky and either did not act or whose actions were for naught. These include 12 adult men who were in positions of power, some of them members of law enforcement.
In any particular abuse situation there is an abuser, a victim, and (almost always) bystanders. This is true in bullying, street violence, as well as child sexual abuse. One of the most important questions that the Penn State situation, and cases like it, raise is — what is it about the nature of intimate sexual violence that stops so many bystanders from taking action?