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Jerry Sandusky, Penn State’s former football coach faces over 52 counts of sexual abuse against 10 boys over 15 years. I understand these allegations are hard to believe. People continue to have stereotypes about individuals who sexually abuse, and the characteristics of this case really challenge those stereotypes. I understand that an indictment of this magnitude would be a tragedy in any organization, but Penn State and particularly, their football team was known for all-American values of honor, integrity, and hope.
Jerry Sandusky deeply violated those values if these allegations are true. And Penn State may have violated those values as well because they allegedly failed to report these sexual abuse allegations to authorities.
It would be easy to end the story with the firing of key university staff and a quick conviction of Sandusky. It would be easy to say that we should always report suspicions of abuse, even if we are unsure of what really happened or whether the actions were sexually abusive. In the wake of all that has appeared in the media, we must take a deeper look at our own responsibilities.
This tragedy is a wake-up call to parents, families, and organizations. I encourage every adult to understand what they must do to respond to sexual abuse, and for organizations to put effective policies into place about inappropriate touch and conduct, as well as educating about our state mandate to report suspected abuse. I hope all of us will learn from Penn State, ask questions and take responsibility before any child is harmed.
Ellen Teller, M.Ed., LCSW
The Child Center, Inc., Executive Director
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