When the news broke of Penn State’s football coach Joe Paterno’s alleged failure to report professed instances of sexual abuse – by defensive coach Jerry Sandusky – to proper officials, I wondered “How many stories like this are never reported and never surface?”
Such stories set off protective, internal alarms within most parents, but how many of us know where, how or when to report sexual abuse? How do we protect our children and how should we talk with them – and warn them – about sexual abuse?
Bonnie Rochman, writer for TIME Magazine’s online article, “Penn State Scandal: Can We Trust Coaches with Our Kids?”, states it well:
We’re pondering what to say to our children about the X-rated details and how to say it. We’re uneasy because every day, we cart our kids to soccer practice, to Little League, to gymnastics, leaving them in the hands of adults we often don’t know very well but assume have our children’s best interests at heart. In theory, they do.
The TIME Magazine article provides decent advice to parents, but I’d like to provide CitizenLink readers with some additional resources to protect your family and your children.
Whether your children are babies, toddlers, adolescents or college students – at school, church, sports activities, jobs or family events – they are not immune from sexual abuse.
But kids need to know what sexual abuse is, that it’s wrong and how to avoid it – or report it. They need to be able to differentiate between what’s acceptable versus unacceptable touch and behavior from other kids and adults. Babies and toddlers are too young to understand, so cautious parental oversight and discernment is necessary.
Who’s suspect? Anyone can be a perpetrator, but many cases are reported with relatives, friends and family members. Also, if you work with children or youth, this information may be a valuable resource to share with parents.
Your children are your responsibility. That includes protecting them from – and teaching them about – potential dangers related to sexual perpetrators. Also, you are responsible for training them about God’s design for sex.
Helpful Information – Protecting Your Children, Preventing Sexual Abuse
- Talking to Your Kids About Sexual Abuse – Focus on the Family
- Prevention (Childhood Sexual Abuse) – Focus on the Family
- Protecting My Family – Pure Intimacy/Focus on the Family
- When Children View Pornography – Focus on the Family
- When Children Have Been Abused – Focus on the Family
- Healthy Childhood Sexual Development – Focus on the Family
- Summary of State Laws and Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect – U.S. Dept. Health and Human Services
- Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect – [1-800-4-A-CHILD (422-4453)] – U.S. Dept. Health and Human Services
- Perpetrators of Child Abuse and Neglect – U.S. Dept. Health and Human Services
- Child Abuse and Neglect Statistics – U.S. Dept. Health and Human Services
- Quick Guide: Healthy Sexuality Articles – CitizenLink/Focus on the Family
- Talking About Sex (parent-child) – CitizenLink/Focus on the Family