Throughout Pennsylvania and possibly the entire country, parents and caretakers are having difficult conversations with any child or young adult who ever had any contact with The Second Mile, the charity founded by former Penn State football coach and alleged pedophile Jerry Sandusky.
Could you imagine asking your child if he or she was ever touched inappropriately? Could you imagine the anger and devastation you would feel if your worst fears were confirmed? Could you suppress the urge to take matters into your own hands? Would you erroneously blame yourself for not figuring out what was happening?
In probably a few households, young adults and children are re-living horrible memories they’ve been trying to shove aside. Could you imagine how they are feeling right now? As a human being, Penn State alum and Nittany Lion football fan, news of this scandal has stretched my emotions into territory I didn’t know existed. How many times must I multiply that to reach the level of anger, confusion and sadness that these victims feel as this plays out so publicly?
There are horrific emotions being felt in hundreds of households right now. As I write this, the number of alleged victims is up to nine. I’ve heard media reports that at least a dozen more leads have been received via a Pennsylvania Sex Abuse Hot Line.
The time is now to begin pushing the interests of any and all child sex abuse victims – or anyone affected such as parents or family members – to the forefront of our national conversation, beyond a dialogue about university interests, football games and a fallen football legend. How can we help those affected by child sex abuse deal with their emotions?
As shocking and sad as this situation appears to be, it’s an opportunity to raise awareness about child sex abuse in an unprecedented way. Attorneys General in all states can reach out to the people they serve by publicizing their sex abuse hot lines and encouraging victims to come forward. As a country, we can learn more about how child sex abuse victims should be helped and treated. We can learn about warning signs and how to handle suspicions of child sex abuse. Shouldn’t we be using this as an opportunity to talk more about how to protect children than anything else?
What do you think should be done to help victims of child sex abuse?
Note: I make these statements having read the 23-page Grand Jury Presentment and being fully aware that Sandusky has not been convicted in a court of law. However, a lengthy legal process should not stop alleged victims from getting the support they need
Pete Strella is a professional writer and husband of Rachel Strella, owner of Central PA Webster. He holds a Bachelor’s of Humanities from Penn State Harrisburg, located in Middletown, PA.