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Preventing Child Abuse: Reminder for Parents Following Penn State Scandal

If the allegations within the Penn State sex scandal demonstrate anything, it’s that being unfamiliar with or ignoring the signs of child abuse is a means to allow that abuse to continue. It also shows that you cannot always count on organizations or their officials to do everything that you would have done to stop the abuse.

A Shocking and Profound Tragedy

In the case of former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, there was allegedly even an eyewitness to an incident of child sex abuse in the showers of the university’s football complex in 2002. Yet, the eyewitness did not immediately intervene to stop the abuse and did not attempt to learn who the victim was or contact his family.  Instead, he informed head coach Joe Paterno, who then told his immediate supervisors. These university officials then attempted to handle the situation themselves. The result has been a shocking and profound tragedy, lasting over many years and involving a large number of victims, still to be determined.

However, there are ways to prevent child abuse. In the Sandusky case, the alleged abuser used his ties to both the Penn State football program and Second Mile – a charitable foundation for at-risk youth – to prey upon boys. Here are some things you can do when your child participates in daycare, a school group or other organization:

  • Make unscheduled visits to the organization and its facilities.
  • Check up on references for the organization and staff.
  • Understand where and how children are being supervised at all times.
  • Learn the signs of child abuse and talk to your child.
  • Keep your eyes open and stay involved.

Abusers are opportunistic; the easiest way for them to form relationships with children is to be around many of them on a daily basis. Don’t assume that every staff member of an organization which is church-sponsored, education-oriented, or charitable in nature truly has your child’s safety or best interests in mind.

Preventing Child Abuse

Preventing child abuse is a matter of vigilance; always be sure to investigate references, talk to your child, and stay involved. And if you believe your child is being abused in any way – whether verbally, emotionally or sexually – remove the child from the situation immediately. One of the first things you should do afterward is contact an experienced Sarasota child abuse attorney. It is important to know how to handle these situations so that no further damage is done to your child or to any other child. Simply telling the organization or somebody’s boss will not be enough.

If you believe your child has been abused by a caregiver, mentor or organizational staff member, or if you would like more information on preventing child abuse, contact the Mallard Law Firm at (888) 409-3805.