If you've turned on your TV in the last two weeks, you've heard about the Jerry Sandusky Penn State scandal. The former assistant football coach has been charged by Pennsylvania's attorney general with 40 counts of sexual abuse. Eight boys have come forward thus far, yet Sandusky openly denies the charges.
Unfortunately, incidents such as this one are all too common in America: On average, one in six men and one in four women have been sexually abused in his/her lifetime. According to Darkness to Light, a child-abuse prevention organization, these stats mean there are over 42 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse in the U.S.
In the Jerry Sandusky case, what has infuriated much of the country is not only that the incidents took place, but also that no one did anything about it. Again, this happens all too often in the U.S.—60 percent of sexual- abuse cases are left unreported.
This has got to stop.
Here are five ways you can step in and help prevent children from being sexually abused.
A grassroots network of PSU alumni are banning together and standing up for victims of sexual abuse by supporting The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)'s efforts to prevent and treat victims. On RAINN's website, the group says:
We have joined together to mobilize the Penn State fan base – alumni, students, parents and fans – to ensure something like this never happens again – anywhere.
You can join #ProudPSUforRAINN's efforts here. Thus far, nearly $400,000 has been donated, with a goal of raising $500,000.
Sign the Care2 petition urging elected officials to prevent a Penn State repeat by passing stricter laws about reporting sexual abuse.
Darkness to Light offers helpful tools to educate yourself on how to prevent sexual abuse from happening. They offer tools for parents, individuals and for youth organizations.
If you are a parent, Stop It Now! has a great questionnaire outlining what you should ask before placing your child in a youth program.
Child sexual abuse is one of the most underreported crimes in the U.S. If you suspect abuse, step in. The National Sexual Assault Online Hotline can help callers and victims seek help and press charges.