Every time we think that we’ve heard the last of Jerry Sandusky, another headline appears in the news.
Last March, we were subjected to an unnecessary and offensive TODAY Show interview with Dottie Sandusky. And last week, we had to hear the news that Jerry Sandusky is pursuing yet another appeal of his conviction on 45 counts of child sexual abuse.
Each time we hear his name, we get angry all over again. Years later, the survivors, families, and entire community this man devastated are still working to pick up the pieces and heal. They don’t need to see his face popping up on their TV screens and news feeds every few months.
We struggled with how to approach the news of this appeal – whether to respond or to give it the (non)attention it deserves. Then we reminded ourselves that as sick as we are of hearing about him, it serves a purpose. We can use this attention to keep the issue and the need for prevention at the forefront, rather than letting it fade into the background and allowing another Sandusky to take advantage of children.
It’s okay to see these stories and to get angry. It should anger us that children are being sexually abused every day in every community. We rarely hear about these silent victims, and when a large-scale case is made public, the perpetrator inevitably receives more attention than the survivors.
The one silver lining to come out of the Sandusky case was a new focus on the issue of child sexual abuse. Awareness is increasing, which is a positive first step. Yet, reports like this remind us that awareness alone is not enough. We must stay aware. We must stay focused. We must take action to prevent child sexual abuse in our homes, our youth serving organizations, and our communities.
Our next step is to educate ourselves on how to prevent and react to child sexual abuse, and then to apply this knowledge to better protect the children in our lives. The only way to ensure our children and communities will never have to relive the trauma of sexual abuse through the headlines is to prevent it from happening in the first place.