When you hear Jerry Sandusky talk, it is “pedophile speak.”
The convicted child-abuser believes that he loves children and was just showing his love. However, this is the “logic” of many convicted child-molesters. When a pedophile like Jerry Sandusky says, “I did nothing wrong, I love children,” that is part and parcel of how a child abuser can rationalize their continuous abuse of children.
It’s difficult for the average person to understand, but a true pedophile thinks that the child is a willing participant. He makes the child think this as well, and therein lies why children often do not report when they are abused.
The offender makes his/her victims feel complicit in the abuse, and as a result, the child most often feels it was his/her fault. The child feels shame, anger, embarrassment, guilt, confusion and often, utter hopelessness. Many victims feel that if they tell their stories, no one will believe them, especially when the perpetrator is someone as revered as Jerry Sandusky. At the end of the day, a child is no match for a predator.
KidSafe Foundation is on a mission to change that. What do we mean by that? We want every child to understand that they have the right to be safe. The right to a voice. The right to access help and know that no matter the situation, it is ALWAYS the adult’s fault. And we want to do more than that, because we know it won’t be enough to keep our children safe. KidSafe Foundation provides sexual abuse prevention training which every adult working with children should be mandated to undergo.
Knowing how to create a culture of safety in an organization (school, sports league, social service agency, etc) does not come naturally – we need to be educated on proper protocol, boundaries, and red flags. This sends a clear message that child abuse will not be tolerated and it teaches employees that their jobs will NOT be in jeopardy should they report a crime (and thus save a child). Only will then adults tie their reputations and identity to their own integrity, rather than to the institutions they work for.
Educate all adults – parents, teachers, coaches, anyone that works with children – in sexual abuse prevention. Not only will this help adults recognize the red flags of an offender, but it will also teach them what do and how to respond to and protect children. If an organization, institution, or agency makes Sexual Abuse Prevention Education Training mandated as part of the requirements to work or to be involved with children, it sends a clear and concise message to pedophiles – stay away. Protecting children is of the utmost importance and anyone who suspects a child is being harmed must report it or they too will be held accountable – only then will our children have a chance at being safe.
Take the case of the elite private school Horace Mann. According to recent reports, there were dozens of child molesters at the school and children were abused over decades. Are the pedophiles on a message board telling their cohorts about the school and how easy it is to prey on children? I have no idea, but what I do know is that child abuse went on for decades while the school simply swept it under the rug or “passed the trash,” having teachers move on for no apparent reason.
We must, as a society, recognize that child abuse is an epidemic and allocate an appropriate amount of time, money, advocacy and training into teaching all how to protect our children. Then and only then will our children, the future leaders of the world have a chance to be safe.