Light at the End of the Tunnel

Okay, I admit it.  I’ve attempted to avoid anything and everything having to do with the Jerry Sandusky trial.   Every time I hear anything about it, I feel an overwhelming sense of sadness.

But try as I might, I cannot avoid it.  As a resident of Pennsylvania and a staff member of the NSVRC and PCAR, I am smack-dab in the middle of the drama that is unfolding in Bellefonte.  I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to find something positive among all of the hurt and pain.  It was discouraging to hear that, time and time again, individuals and institutions that should have intervened and stopped the alleged abuse did nothing.

But then, the other day, came a little light at the end of the tunnel.  I read an article in the Washington Post by former Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington.  If you haven’t read it yet, please do so now – Jerry Sandusky Trial: I wish I’d paid more attention to one young man’s pain.  While at PSU, Mr. Arrington knew and would interact on occasion with one of the alleged victims.  He noted that the child often seemed mad or distant, and his perception was that he must be having issues at home.  Little did he know that the pain and hurt this child was experiencing was as a result of the alleged abuse by Jerry Sandusky, a seemingly trustworthy and upstanding member of the PSU football enterprise.  Mr. Arrington goes on to apologize to the victim for not doing more, and ends with this powerful statement:

“As a parent, I pray I can come to some peace about this and prepare my family for living in a world like this.  I will never just wonder why a child is mad.  I will never just assume ever again.  I will always ask, and let them know that it’s okay to tell the truth about why they are upset.”

If there is one glimmer of light that has come out of this tragedy, it is that the doors of opportunity have been opened for those of us in the prevention field to talk about child sexual abuse and how it can be prevented.  It has given us the opportunity to talk about early warning signs of abuse, about the importance of bystander intervention in these cases, and about the need for strengthening the policies of community organizations and programs to make them safe for all children.

I would love to hear how you have used this case or another high-profile case in your community to further your prevention efforts.  Let me know by commenting below.