GUEST COLUMN: Sandusky, Lynn convictions remind us to be vigilant, report suspected child abuse


Saturday, June 30, 2012

By Express-Times guest columnist

Valley Youth House

The stories we heard during the trials of Jerry Sandusky for abusing teenage boys and Monsignor William Lynn for failing to protect children from predator priests were tragic for all involved — the defendants, the institutions they served, and especially the young people whose lives were ruined.

Perhaps the most damaging long-term result is the loss of trust in the many good people who work with our youth. Can we ever look at our teachers, coaches, ministers and others the same way again? These trials involved very sad stories, indeed. Do these events provide an opportunity to do more to stop child abuse? Can we learn anything from what we have read for these many months? I think we can.

Child abuse is traumatizing and leaves permanent scars. Long after abuse occurs individuals struggle to come to terms with their victimization. We saw adults struggling to deal with powerful emotions and psychological anguish. In the testimony of victims we saw the painful legacy of abuse.

Many said they knew they were in an uncomfortable situation but were afraid to come forward because they were embarrassed, did not believe they would be viewed as credible, or were offered gifts they had no other way of receiving. Even years later, many victims did not speak up because they did not think their word would be trusted against that of a powerful coach or priest.

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