Could Abuse Happen to
By Sara Kennedy, Hands & Voices
Many of us read with disbelief the recent news reports of child abuse allegations against an ex-football coach at Penn State University. A pattern of abuse over a period of years was apparently known to staff and coaches. While some took limited action, the alleged abuse and the access to more children continued. Even possible eyewitnesses failed to follow through to make sure the abuse was stopped. We can’t know how many children tried to report to the parents or teachers or other adults, but we know that statistically, 60% of adults do nothing after receiving a report of abuse or neglect from a child. 60% do nothing.
How can you be sure you or the adults supervising your child wouldn’t do the same? Even thinking about this issue is painful and disturbing. Learning what you would need to do before a situation comes to your attention is a positive, responsible inoculation against the risk that you, too, would do nothing for a child who is suffering.
How a child responds to an initial overture from a potential abuser or in a risky situation can make a huge difference to their future safety. How can you be sure your child knows what behavior is questionable, out of line, or downright dangerous in his or her circle of acquaintances, family and friends? Do they know how to respond, what to do or say, and where to go for help?
We encourage you to take the first step and educate yourself about prevention, observing, and knowing how to report and who to ask if you have questions. Reach out to Hands & Voices at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have immediate concerns about the welfare of a child, call 1-800 4 A Child to reach the ChildHelp hotline and talk with experienced counselors who can help you decide what to do. Do it today. Do it because every child matters.