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Originally published: 2012-07-02 10:21:10
Last modified: 2012-07-02 10:30:51

Incident is wake-up call

Jerry Sandusky, Penn State's former football coach was convicted of his sexual abuse against 10 boys in a span of 15 years. We understand these facts are hard to believe. We understand that a conviction of this magnitude is a tragedy in any organization, but Penn State and particularly, its football team, was known for all-American values of honor, integrity and hope.

Sandusky deeply violated those values. And Penn State may have violated those values, as well, because they allegedly failed to report these sexual abuse allegations to authorities.

It would be easy to end the story with the firing of key university staff and a quick conviction of Sandusky. It would be easy to say that we should always report suspicions of sexual abuse, even if we are unsure of what really happened or whether the actions were sexually abusive. In the wake of all that has appeared in the media, we must take a deeper look at our own responsibilities.

This tragedy is a wake-up call to every organization that works with youths. We hope that such organizations will educate themselves, the families and the children about child sexual abuse. We encourage every organization to understand what they must do to respond to sexual abuse, to use effective screening tools and to put policies into place about appropriate touch and conduct. We hope all of us will learn from Penn State and ask questions to help put effective policies in place before another child is harmed. 

Griff Gilbert, LCSW, LCAS