Protecting Children Gets Lost in the Shuffle
There has been a lot of media attention this week focused on Penn State – its administration and its football program. Who knew what, and who told whom, and when. Of course, lots of whys.
Perhaps instead of football coaches, the story that deserves to be discussed – in fact, must be discussed – is the prevalence of sexual abuse of children in the United States. Researchers estimate 15-25 percent of girls and 5-15 percent of boys are sexually abused in this country . Let me rephrase: as many as 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys. Those figures are astounding. Think about your friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family members. How can you not know someone who has been affected by this crime?
On Saturday, football stadiums across the country will fill with college football fans. A fitting way to start those games would be with a moment of silence for the millions of children across the country who are victimized by sexual abuse. Imagine if all the money and fan energy that will pour into those stadiums on just one day were directed toward eradicating sexual exploitation of children in the U.S. Now that would really be something to cheer about.
Eventually the headlines and interest in Penn State will fade, and the media will move on to something else. But counties shouldn’t let interest in protecting childhood victims of abuse fade. As the entities that investigate, prosecute, and provide services to abused and neglected children, counties have to continue to advocate and make these children a priority – locally, statewide and nationally. The sexual exploitation of these children results in lasting emotional, mental and physical scars for both them and our communities. Let’s not let the real story – child abuse – get lost in the crowd.