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Authorities missed chances to stop a rapist, Sandusky who preyed on children for years…

June 17, 2012 Comments off

Yet evidence and testimony from the trial show there were plenty of people, not just those at the highest levels of Penn State university, who had ample opportunity to stop a man accused of violating 10 boys over 15 years:

A janitor failed to tell authorities he allegedly caught Sandusky performing oral sex on a boy in a campus shower a dozen years ago.

A district attorney with a reputation for prosecuting cases involving children and sexual abuse victims declined to charge Sandusky over a 1998 molestation allegation even though the detective who investigated thought it was a solid case. The DA, Ray Gricar, disappeared in 2005 and was declared legally dead last year.

School district officials were skeptical of abuse claims brought by the young man known in court papers as Victim 1 because, the accuser testified, Sandusky was considered to have a “heart of gold.” Victim 1’s allegations eventually triggered the state investigation that produced charges.

— One accuser testified he screamed out for help at least once when Sandusky’s wife, Dottie, was in the house. He doesn’t know whether she heard his cries.

— And, famously, coaching assistant Mike McQueary saw Sandusky having what he believed to be anal sex with a young boy in 2001. But his report to Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz went nowhere. McQueary’s dad testified that during a conversation, Schultz said he was suspicious of Sandusky, and NBC reported this week that emails between former university President Graham Spanier and Schultz aiming to keep McQueary’s allegation from going further were turned over to the attorney general.

— Others also saw Sandusky engaging in behavior that was at least odd, if not criminal. Longtime assistant coach Tom Bradley walked into the shower when one boy was with Sandusky, the accuser testified, and a wrestling coach told jurors he saw Sandusky and a child rolling on the floor.

— Several accusers said their parents or caregivers failed to grasp what was happening to them. Victim 4 testified that one weekend he did not want to go with Sandusky and told his mother, “I’m pretty sure he’s gay,” but she dismissed the idea. “She said, oh, whatever, this is just one of your lies,” he told jurors. He also said at one point he told his grandmother to tell Sandusky he wasn’t home when he called.

The testimony of eight of the 10 alleged victims named in a grand jury report prompted disgust and revulsion from Penn State alumni and others who took to Twitter last week to express their dismay — and to call for the heads of anyone involved in concealing abuse. “Anyone who knew and didn’t report should burn!” tweeted one.

The sad part is that most children know their abuser. Parents are concerned with letting their children outside to play, fearful that someone will abduct them or worse. But really, they should be concerned with the people their child interacts with on a daily basis. These are the people that abuse children (for the most part).  Our job is to guard against those who would prey on children.

The description — “sickening” of adults using young people to satisfy their sexual fantasies — isn’t harsh enough.

Take care and STAY SAFE!

In part via Associated Press

Taking a bold effort to reach into communities across the country, Anny Jacoby is a Prevention Specialist and an authorized Facilitator for Stewards of Children through the Darkness to Light program, an organization whose mission is to train adults in every community to responsibly attack the issue of child sexual abuse.

Please contact Anny to schedule Children’s of Steward’s training or to arrange a Prevent Now! meeting for your community.

anny@annyjacoby.com

New Adam Sandler movie “That’s My Boy” glorifies outdated views on healthy sexuality

June 16, 2012 Comments off

Sony Pictures released “That’s My Boy,” a movie that glorifies statutory rape between a teacher and her 13 year old student.

Numerous media outlets are reporting that Adam Sandler’s new movie “That’s My Boy” makes light of statutory rape in its depiction of a thirteen-year old boy’s sexual relationship with his teacher at school. That relationship results in the teacher’s pregnancy, a jail sentence, and Sandler’s character being forced to raise the child himself.  When the child turns eighteen, he leaves home and does not interact with his father again until the eve of his wedding, when the Sandler character shows up at his home in need of money.

Some will argue in defense of this movie by stating that the story ultimately focuses on the characters’ reconciliation and that since the movie is a comedy, advocates such as organizations like Prevent Child Abuse America, Darkness to Light and Stop It Now! are taking the story line too seriously. We would suggest that these arguments are specious at best. They do not excuse the movie’s outdated views on child sexuality, and the sexuality of boys specifically, much less the long term impact of sexual abuse on children. Nor do these arguments ameliorate the fact that the corporate culture of Columbia Pictures and Happy Madison Productions is one that embraces child rape as a means for making a profit.

“It goes without saying,” stated Jim Hmurovich, President & CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America, “that Adam Sandler and Columbia Pictures would never have made a similar movie about a thirteen-year old girl and a teacher of hers, so how is it that in 2012 they still find it acceptable to make such a movie about a character who is a boy? This is a movie about rape, plain and simple, and while we could have an endless dialogue about how is this is a comedy, or a story that highlights the resilience of children, I call upon the viewing public to express their strong disapproval. Along with my colleagues from Darkness to Light and Stop It Now! we have sent the producers of the film an offer to discuss how misguided this attempt at humor is, and what message can be salvaged from this screenplay. All of us regardless of what we do in our lives have a responsibility to the children and families in this country. I suggest we figure out together how they can fulfill that responsibility in a way that supports the healthy child development of all children.”

Via Darkness to Light:

Help us send Hollywood a message that sexual abuse is not a joke.

Click to sign our petition against Sony Picture’s movie “That’s My Boy”

As you know, for victims of sexual abuse, this issue is no laughing matter. Sony Pictures should stand with victims, not unite against them. At a time when child sexual abuse is finally getting the attention it deserves, Sony Pictures wants to take a huge step back by endorsing statutory rape.

Click to sign our petition and tell Hollywood sexual abuse is not a joke

I hope you will pass this petition along and keep the pressure on Sony Pictures so they will see the error of their ways.

Thanks again for your partnership in protecting children and for using your voice to speak out!

ABOUT DARKNESS TO LIGHT
Darkness to Light is a national non-profit organization with the mission to empower people to prevent child sexual abuse. We do this by increasing public awareness of the issue, educating adults to prevent, recognize the signs and react responsibly to child sexual abuse, and by engaging communities in building and sustaining child sexual abuse prevention initiatives. Learn more D2L.org.

ABOUT PREVENT CHILD ABUSE AMERICA

Prevent Child Abuse America, founded in 1972, works to ensure the healthy development of children nationwide while recognizing that child development is a building block for community development and economic development. We believe that communities across the country are doing innovative things with great results to prevent abuse and neglect from ever occurring, and what we need to do as a nation is commit to bringing this kind of ingenuity to communities everywhere. Based in Chicago, Prevent Child Abuse America has chapters in 49 states and over 400 Healthy Families America, home visitation sites in 37 states, the Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and Canada. For more information, please visit preventchildabuse.org and healthyfamiliesamerica.org.

ABOUT STOP IT NOW!
Stop It Now! ® prevents the sexual abuse of children by mobilizing adults, families and communities to take actions that protect children before they are harmed. We provide support, information and resources so individuals and families around the world can keep children safe and create healthier communities. Read more at StopItNow.org.

Take care and STAY SAFE!

Anny Jacoby Appearing on Dreamcatcher’s Talk Radio

April 15, 2012 Comments off

 

Dreamcatcher’s Talk Radio

To Listen LIVE: CLICK HERE

Anny Jacoby, Personal Safety Expert and Stewards of Children Prevention Specialist & Authorized Facilitator for Darkness to Light, brings her vast information on child sexual abuse and it’s prevention to the airwaves on Monday, April 16 at 9pm ET on Dreamcatcher’s Talk Radio hosted by Patricia McKnight.

Anny will be discussing child abuse prevention, bringing the listeners valuable information on how families and communities can join together to educate and bring awareness to child abuse with the hope of bringing the issue to the forefront.

Jacoby’s area of expertise lies in female self-defense training through The Realistic Female Self-Defense Company and Project Safe Girls. Along with her affiliation with Darkness to Light she works to train adults, teens and children in all aspects of personal safety. She has developed her training specifically for females and teaches them to use their bodies as their weapon to diffuse a violent situation. Teen dating violence and ways to keep our teens safe will also be discussed.

Join Dreamcatchers Talk Radio’s Executive Director, Patricia “Tricia” McKnight on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings at 9p.m. EST for Child Abuse and Survival Education. A talk show dedicated to educating the public on all aspects of abuse.

Connect with Anny Jacoby:

ImaginePublicity,Social Media Marketing for Individuals

To schedule Anny Jacoby for interviews, media events, or conferences, please fill out the form below or contact:   ImaginePublicity    PO BOX 14946    Surfside Beach, SC  29587    Phone: 843.808.0859    email: contact@imaginepublicity.com

 

Pinwheels Call Attention to Child Abuse, Ways to Identify and Prevent It!

April 1, 2012 Comments off

Many communities “plant pinwheel gardens” each April of colorful pinwheels spinning in the wind which represents a child living in the community who was abused last year.

April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month and many local organizations offer tips on preventing abuse.

Congress first declared April as National Child Abuse Awareness Month, a time designated each year to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect, in 1983, and each year the president issues a proclamation calling on Americans to use the month to help prevent child abuse.

The first step in helping abused children is learning to recognize the symptoms of child abuse.  Although child abuse is divided into four types – physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment – the types are more typically found in combination than alone.  A physically abused child for example is often emotionally maltreated as well, and a sexually abused child may be also neglected.  Any child at any age may experience any of the types of child abuse.

Child abuse leaves more than just bruises.  Long after children have recovered from the physical results of any type of abuse, abused children suffer from emotional and psychological trauma that can last the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, many bystanders witness child abuse and do nothing about it. Neighbors and friends may hear or even see child abuse happening, but don’t want to intrude or interfere with “the rights” of the parents.  Such inaction can mean years of pain and heartbreak for young children who are unable to get out of a horrific situation.

Abused children need your intervention.  In their helplessness, they must rely on capable adults who are willing to take a stand and get them out of an abusive environment.  By being aware of child abuse, and helping to educate the people you know, you can help prevent child abuse in your community.

Identifying Child Abuse

While it is impossible to determine the presence of abuse or neglect by behavior, the following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect:

The Child:

  • Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance
  • Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parent’s attention
  • Has learning problems or difficulty concentrating that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes
  • Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen
  • Lacks adult supervision•Is overly compliant, passive or withdrawn
  • Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home

The Parent:

  • Shows little concern for the child
  • Denies the existence of, or blames the child for the child’s problems in school or at home
  • Asks teachers or other caretakers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves
  • Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome
  • Demands a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve
  • Looks primarily to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of emotional needs

The Parent and the Child:

  • Rarely touch or look at each other
  • Consider their relationship entirely negative
  • State that they do not like each other

Preventing Child Abuse

Learn about child abuse.  Educate yourself and keep these key facts in mind:

  • Child abusers can be any age, any gender and any race.  They can be from any economic class, and have any level of education.
  • Children are more likely to be abused by their own parents than by a stranger.
  • Rarely does an incident of child abuse happen in isolation.  When a child is abused once, it is likely to happen again.
  • Educate your neighbors and friends about child abuse.

Stop child abuse when you see it.  If you have trouble identifying the difference between child abuse and acceptable forms of discipline, learn the Federal and State laws and find resources that distinguish between discipline and abuse.  Do not hesitate to contact the National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-Child).  During your anonymous call, their counselors can help you evaluate the situation and help you make a child abuse report to the proper authorities.  If you are nervous about making a report, they will even stay on the line during a 3-way call to offer you support.  If a child is in life-threatening danger, call 911 immediately.

It’s time that people take a stand against child abuse.  Your simple actions will help prevent child abuse and give abused children hope for a brighter future.

Take care and STAY SAFE!

YMCA’s Take Child Protection Very Seriously

November 28, 2011 Comments off

YMCAs take child protection very seriously.  Their extensive policies and attention to safety regarding every program and service make them a leader in “state of the art” child protection policy.  They also know that this alone does not keep children safe in their communities.  They instead recognize the need for leadership at every level to be involved and engaged in protecting children from sexual abuse.  With the health and well being of children and families at the heart of their mission and a long history of tackling tough community issues, Y’s across the country are stepping up to convene leaders and engage the entire community in prevention.

Teaming up to support these local Y efforts, D2L and The Redwoods Group Foundation are providing tools, resources and funding assistance to help YMCAs operationalize wide spread community awareness and education.  Our vision is that Ys, serving as the natural conveners, bring together community leaders, other local child-serving organizations, and policy makers as partners in prevention.  This exciting collaboration is empowering communities with a strategy and a model for creating and sustaining positive change in the protection of children from child sexual abuse.

YMCAs are helping lead a national effort to build community initiatives that increase awareness of the problem of child sexual abuse and bring prevention to the local level.  A key to their success with such initiatives is their ability to bring together the right people and resources to facilitate change in communities nationwide.  Locally, they do this every day generating solutions to challenges facing their communities.

While community prevention initiatives across the country are having an impact, Y’s have the ability to exponentially increase participation in the effort.  Serving over 9 million children and 12 million adults in 10,000 communities they can be the most effective and efficient pathway to reducing child sexual abuse.  In addition, one of the Y’s focus area is social responsibility, and their emphasis on youth development makes them a natural partner to address this issue.  As former Y CEO, Ralph Yohe stated, “Y’s are uniquely position to take a leadership role in prevention as we are often at the heart of a community, we have a long history of tackling community issues, and bottom line, the protection and well being of children is part of our mission.”

Thanks to the impact YMCAs have on kids, families and communities—and the sheer number of communities they serve—this “Y movement” will lead the way in engaging the largest group of citizens yet in child protection!

YMCA Background

In early 2009, The Redwoods Group, a commercial specialty insurance group based in NC and one of the largest insurers for YMCAs, contacted Darkness to Light to explore synergies between the two organizations.  Redwoods felt that they could provide benefit to their clients by adding Stewards of Children prevention curriculum to their training offerings, believing that the empowering and emotional elements of the program would augment the policy and procedure training components that were also necessary.

Kevin Trapani, founder and CEO of Redwoods, had a bigger vision.  The Redwoods Group is a privately‐held, Certified B Corps that takes their responsibility for the safety of children at Y’s across the country very seriously.  Not only that, social responsibility is at the core of everything Redwoods believes so it wasn’t enough to just address child safety within the 4 walls of a Y.

A collaboration begins…In 2010, the social enterprise’s Foundation made a commitment to facilitate community‐based child sexual abuse prevention through YMCA’sOver the past three years, the Redwoods Group Foundation has dedicated significant time, energy, and financial capitol to protect children from the trauma of sexual abuse. Collaborating with Darkness to Light, a Stewards of Children “seed fund” was created to assist YMCAs in starting community initiatives.  The Foundation has two staff members working to bring YMCAs together to propel the effort to scale.  Their goal is to help YMCA’s engage community partners in child sexual abuse prevention and intervention.  Ultimately, they hope the effort will be expanded to all YMCAs.

Via d2l

Anny is a Steward’s of Children Authorized Facilitator and Prevention Specialist who trains adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse through Darkness to Light’s certification programs.  Please contact Anny to bring Prevent Now! community meetings your area and to arrange Steward’s of Children trainings.  You may contact her via email, anny@annyjacoby.com or 919-225-1421.

Take care and STAY SAFE!

Child Sexual Abuse Community Awareness Meetings Being Planned…

November 19, 2011 Comments off

The Darkness to Light’s child sexual abuse program(s) are trainings across the United States.

Have you taken a stance again CSA?  If not, why not?  Call or email me to plan Darkness to Light’s Child Sexual Abuse Community Meetings, Prevent Now! (45 mins) and/or “Stewards of Children”, two-and-a-half training sessions for adults.  Darkness to Lights program seeks “to empower adults through awarness and educational programs to PREVENT, RECOGNIZE AND REACT RESPONSIBLY to childhood sexual abuse. 

“The only public good thing that came out of the horrible Penn State situation is it’s brough major attention to Child Sexual Abuse.”  Take a stance, NOW!

Take care and STAY SAFE!

Sandusky case triggers pain well beyond campus…

November 16, 2011 1 comment

As adults, victims suffer nightmares, anger, anxiety from childhood abuse.

By Kari Huus, Reporter msnbc.com

As the Penn State sex abuse scandal unfolds — ghastly detail by detail — on front pages, the airwaves and Twitter accounts, the news can be especially devastating for one group in particular: former victims of sexual abuse.

“Another night of triggers and flashbacks,” writes a forum member on MaleSurvivor.org, a website devoted to healing male victims of sexual abuse. “… I felt him all over me and my arms are scratched as I try to get the feeling of his hands off me. … I think all the (Penn State) news set the triggers off, and now I am like a zombie, trying to recover and move forward today.”

“I never met Jerry Sandusky, but feel I know him all too well,” writes another member of the forum, referring to the university’s former defensive coordinator who stands accused of sexually molesting at least eight young boys. “I dealt with my own ‘Jerry’ when I was 12 or 13. … Now that he is sated and I am long forgotten, I’m still picking up the pieces.”

“This whole thing is devastating me. These boys are lost in the details … just as most of us here were,” the member added.

Psychologists say that any sex abuse victim — man or woman — may find that news of the Penn State case sparks painful memories. But the way this case is unfolding strikes an especially deep chord with men.

“It can be very triggering of either their own memories — they may get flashbacks — or they may get angry again,” said Richard Gartner, a psychologist and psychoanalyst in New York, and spokesman for Malesurvivor.org. Some men may have to limit their news consumption, and maybe avoid watching football to avoid a panic attack or bout of depression, he said.

“It is re-traumatizing for them — more so to the extent that they believe that this is being handled wrong … and ignoring the needs of the victims.”

Different experience for boys
Sexual abuse has a different impact on boys than on girls, and they deal with it differently because of socialization, experts say.

“Men aren’t supposed to be victims. Men are supposed to be strong,” said Jim Hopper, clinical instructor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. “A man says I’m not a real man, because I let someone do this to me. I should have been tougher. Even after years of therapy they say this.”

Girls who are abused by men are psychologically damaged, to be sure, experts say, but boys abused by men often come to question their sexual identity and orientation.

“If they were sexually abused by a man, there’s this whole stigma — does that mean I’m gay, or did he do it to me because I look gay?” says Hopper.

Another difference: Boys who forced into sexual acts may have an erection — a physiological response which makes them all the more confused and ashamed of the encounter, Gartner says.

The women’s movement helped bring sexual assault of females into the public eye — and led to tougher penalties against attackers, more policy aimed at prevention and better access to care for victims. The focus on sexual abuse of boys came nearly 20 years later, when hundreds of childhood victims went public with stories of abuse by Catholic priests, according to Gartner.

Shame, silence, secrecy
Still, the shame and stigma makes it less common for boys to report abuse and seek help than girls, studies show.

“Men tend to come into treatment much later in life,” said Gartner. “Usually they are in their 30s, 40s or 50s — occasionally in their 70s — never having spoken about this.”

Their reluctance to talk about abuse is partly to blame for the perception that sexual abuse of boys is rare, Gartner said.

Research shows that about one in six boys are sexually abused before they are 16 years old, according to Hopper, a founding board member of the nonprofit organization OneInSix, which aims to help men deal with abuse they experienced as children.

The number for girls is one in four. The statistics do not include verbal harassment or other forms of non-physical sexual abuse, such as forcing a child to watch a sexual act.

Reports of sexual abuse by boys are still more likely to be dismissed, researchers say, which can intensify the victim’s pain and difficulty later in life.

“Boys who are sexually abused are mostly disbelieved, or it is minimized,” said Gartner. “They’re told, ‘just get over it’.”

“They learn that nobody’s safe,” said Hopper. “That’s really devastating. … that people who were supposed to protect me are not going to help me, they are blaming me!”

That perception by a child can lead to a wide array of problems as they grow older, including depression, anxiety, emotional numbing, substance abuse, and difficulty forming healthy relationships.

PTSD in high gear
Robert Brown, 51, who is now open about his story, was repeatedly sexually assaulted over the course of seven years when he was a child. He says the perpetrators were older boys who were favored because they were top athletes in his small New Hampshire town, while his plight was ignored by adults.

Brown did not acknowledge the problem to anyone until four years ago, when he was blindsided by a severe bout of post-traumatic stress.

Now he is a child protection activist, and shares his story on the MaleSurvivor.org forum, many of whom keep their abuse secret.

“In my lifetime and in my time with all other survivors that I know, the Penn State case is the most earth-shattering one for us to face,” Brown said in an interview.

“Probably because of the authority abused and the trust abused by the sports program and by Jerry Sandusky. It gets worse when we see that it’s underprivileged kids being so badly abused as if they are throwaway people,” he added.

“We identify very, very strongly with these boys. And we identify with the poor handling of this. To think there are 15-year-old cases that have never been dealt with,” Brown said. “It kicks off the (post-traumatic stress) into high gear — nightmares, flashbacks, extreme depression. It’s been some of the worst few days of my life emotionally.”

Gartner said that while the Penn State case has clearly caused pain and anguish for men struggling with the aftermath of abuse, it does demonstrate that perceptions have changed since the 1980s, when he started treating sexually abused men.

“Before the (Catholic) church scandal, even in professional meetings, people rolled their eyes, feeling that (sexual abuse of boys) happened rarely,” said Gartner. “Now, nobody seems to be saying it doesn’t happen. It does give people courage to come forward and disclose and get help, and that’s positive.”

Take care and STAY SAFE!

 

Penn State Tradegy by Erin Merryn

November 14, 2011 2 comments

By now we all have heard about Penn State. All you need to do is turn on the television and whether you are watching the news or sports they are talking about it.

Jerry Sandusky doesn’t have many free days left before he is locked away for the rest of his life. He is a perfect example of why we need Erin’s Law in every state. Adults in charge witnessed children being molested by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and while they reported it they did not take it to the police which they should have reported immediately when they saw it happen. No ifs, ands, buts, about it. They witnessed a horrific act take place or were told about these horrific acts being done to children and they turned a blind eye.

The Board of Trustees did exactly what needed to be done and that was firing the President of the University and head coach Joe Paterno. Joe started off doing the right thing by taking it to the President but when the President did not go to police with the matter this is when it was Joe Paterno’s moral duty to report it to police. Instead more children’s innocence would be stolen all in the sake of protecting the Universities reputation. A school’s image is more important in the mind of a University President then innocent children who fell into the hands of a very dangerous sick individual who used his authority to groom and rape children. Reports have said Sandusky gave the children he abused many gifts. Often sexual predators use gifts as a way to silence children on top of threats. Several adults over a fifteen year time period were aware of Jerry Sandusky’s actions yet Jerry continued to be around children and abusing several more.

If these children had learned in school the same way they are educated on tornado drills, bus drills, fire drills, DARE, Stranger Danger, Internet Safety, Bully Intervention, etc. on safe touch, unsafe touch, safe secrets, unsafe secrets, how to get away and tell today then these children would have had the courage to speak up and keep telling an adult until someone put an end to their horror. Instead they were never educated because we fail to educate kids on sexual abuse which is why I went after Erin’s law. The law that would have empowered these children with the power to use their voice and tell someone. So many more children could have been saved from the hands of Jerry Sandusky had they been educated. Parents would have been educated through Erin’s law on what to talk about with their kids and the warning signs to look for in a child that has been abused. One parent whose child was abused spoke openly without her identity being revealed and she shared how her son’s behavior changed, he began acting out, showed lots of anger, and did not want to be around Sandusky. She went to the school guidance counselor about it and the guidance counselor brushed it off saying it is a phase he is going through. Had this mother been educated on the biggest silent epidemic in this world, that being sexual abuse of children, then she would have known to talk to her son and her son would have known to talk and not keep these secrets.

I would advise any parent never to let your kids stay the night with their coach. Invites to overnights by a coach, youth group leader, etc. is a red flag right there. That should be a strict boundary in every household. I don’t care how well you think you know the person. Is the risk really worth it knowing your child could fall hands to a predator you never imagined would do such a thing. It is time for the world to take off their blinders and wake up. What has happened at Penn State as I have been saying for years is happening in our own backyards. Just take a look in your own community. These sex offenders  live in your communities and you don’t even know it because many have not been caught. Not until we educate children through Erin’s Law in schools will more children break their silence. My law will prevent what happened at Penn State from ever happening again because children won’t spend years in silence because they will be educated to know this is wrong and not to keep it a secret. Children will be turning these sexual predators in the first time it happens because they will be getting the other end of the message. The first message is to stay silent, this is our secret, don’t tell anyone, I will hurt you, your family, no one will believe you, etc. The message that is missing throughout society is the educational piece. Don’t keep this a secret, tell someone, we will believe you, keep telling until someone takes action, who are safe people in your life you can tell if this happened to you, etc.” Sexual predators don’t just take children’s innocence they take their voice when they are being abused. We have to empower children to use their voice and not fall into the trap of silence.

Penn State needs to use what happened in their community and take action against this silent epidemic. They now have the reputation that won’t be going away. This scandal will be one talked about decades from now so they now have the power to make change happen in society. Addressing the silence around sexual abuse and demanding change. Being a voice for the 39 million survivors that exist in America alone. Urging their lawmakers and Governor to pass Erin’s Law in their state.

I turned the painful events of sexual abuse and rape in my childhood into putting a face and voice on this silent epidemic in my two books Stolen Innocence and Living For Today, passing Erin’s Law in Illinois and Missouri and eventually will get it passed in all 50 states, and flying the country speaking before thousands of people the past 7 1/2 years to shatter the silence, stigma, and shame around sexual abuse. The same way I turned the tragic events in my life into triumph the same is possible for the reputation of Penn State. They can do something positive about this unlike the riots that broke out this week. They can raise awareness and become a campus that is a face and voice on child sexual abuse for educational institutes around this country and world.

With an estimated 39 million survivors of sexual abuse in America 3 million of those are children right now living in our country. That 3 million could fill 46 national football stadiums. Imagine that for a moment 46 national football stadiums of children that have been sexually abused. Joe Paterno was Penn State head football coach for 46 years.  For every year he was head coach the entire football stadium could be the 3 million children in America who were sexually abused. These children are real and the life long challenges they face because of sexual abuse can be life altering. Shame and pain that you could never imagine if you have never been abused. These children often grow up to be adults many carrying their silence into adulthood because the shame is too great. Because of the silence around sexual abuse they often feel so alone in this world. Alone in a world where a past comes back to haunt them in nightmares and flashbacks. Pulling them right back into reliving the trauma they suffered. Many survivors of sexual abuse as children will spend years in therapy trying to come to terms with what happened and learn how to go on living a life and not be defined by this.

I was interviewed by a Penn State writer for the college paper today for a story that will run in the next day or two. As I tried to explain to her that I wanted her to get across to her study body is the fact that this isn’t about college football. We are talking about innocent children who were raped at the hands of a very sick individual who preyed on them while they were doing something they loved, playing football. I would not be surprised if several of these children turned away from ever playing football again after what happened because of the painful reminder it brings back. I spoke back in April at a child abuse conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania not very far at all from Penn State. I had just come from speaking the day before at a New Jersey child abuse conference and drove two hours into Pennsylvania in my rental car. I was driving into a town that was known for being chocolate capital of the country. The light posts in the downtown were Hershey kisses, they have chocolate businesses every where and the biggest attraction is chocolate world where children go for school field trips and parents take kids. If you like chocolate you were in the right town and you would think it would be hard to pass through this town without stopping for chocolate. Well as I explained in my speech I don’t eat chocolate. I actually hate it. I won’t eat chocolate cake, brownies, frosting, ice cream, etc. How is it possible to hate chocolate? Well if you have read my books I explain clearly in them why I don’t eat chocolate you see I use to love chocolate as a kid. It took one night celebrating my grandfather’s birthday with all my other relatives in 1998 for me to find myself locked in a dark bedroom with a cousin on top of me, molesting me, begging him to let me go, hearing the sounds of happy birthday being sung downstairs to my grandfather, and eventually being told by my cousin to go get cake with him. I sat at a table in the kitchen in silence with a chocolate piece on cake and my cousin taking a seat right across from me with his piece of cake and just smiling at me with that grin I will never be able to erase from my mind. I felt my stomach turn and with the rich taste of chocolate in my mouth  and I just wanted to throw up. He often gave me something called a Star Crunch after abusing me at his house. Star Crunch was chocolate coated with caramel and rice crispy. Anytime I put any form of chocolate in my mouth it became triggering and the rich taste of it would immediately bring me back to memories of abuse. I have tested myself and have learned the only way chocolate doesn’t do that to me is chocolate with peanut butter in it. Here is one example how someone even like myself that is so outspoken on sexual abuse can also continue to be affected by actions of someone who abused me.

Penn State is a national tragedy and many lives have been hurt. It is time to raise up and tackle this issue that needs to be addressed in every state, educated in every school, every home, and survivors need to know they have nothing to be ashamed of. I have no doubt that more boys will come forward and that number of 8 will get higher. If you know someone or are someone that has been abused and never told anyone or did tell someone and nothing was done then tell someone today. You have nothing to be ashamed of and you could be helping others come forward and find their voice. You find a new sense of peace finding your voice.

God Bless the survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of Jerry Sandusky. Justice will come I promise!

PENN STATE be an example for others, start to educate, raise awareness, go after Erin’s Law. The country is watching. Make us proud.

About Erin Merryn

Erin Merryn is the author of Stolen Innocence and Living for Today,  memoirs about incest and rape.  She graduated in May 2009 with a Master’s degree in Social Work from Aurora University. A leading participant in Take Back the Night, her goal is to raise awareness of abuse in order to end the stigma and silence. Since 2004 she has been traveling across America giving inspirational and motivational speeches at national conferences, community events, Children’s Advocacy Centers, colleges, and high schools. She has appeared on Oprah, Good Morning America and Montel Williams.  Her writings have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, Daily Herald, and Teen Voices, among others. Erin spends her time between the suburbs of Chicago and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Visit Erin at www.erinmerryn.net.

Take care and STAY SAFE!

Grand Jury Report on Penn State Child Sexual Abuse/Rape Investigation

November 12, 2011 Comments off

A grand jury is a type of jury that determines whether a criminal indictment will issue.  A grand jury is so named because it has a greater number of jurors than a trial jury.

The Grand Jury Report below is extremely graphic and detailed accounts from victims and witnesses.  The release of this documentation was due to a computer glinch according to the PA’s governor.  However, legal documentation from investigations is vitally important for the public to clearly understand and gain knowledge of testimony leading to alledged crimes committed and arrests.

Penn State Incident Should Empower All Adults To Better Protect Children

November 10, 2011 Comments off

As individuals and communities, we are all impacted by the horrible allegations of child sexual abuse by a former assistant football coach at Penn Sate.  These reports leave us  wondering how such atrocities could happen when so many well-minded adults were around –– yet none took the necessary action steps to end the abuse and the offender’s access to children.   Further, parents are left wondering how they can best protect their children.

Shock, disbelief and outrage are often the first reactions to such news.  However, this incident can serve as a teachable moment to empower adults to recognize the signs, have the courage to react responsibly and, ultimately, prevent child sexual abuse before it happens in the first place.

The accused did not wear a trench coat and lure a child into a dark alley.  Rather, he was a talented man who was revered by the public as a coach and trusted mentor.  He allegedly used that trust to obtain access to children.  Tragically, this scenario plays out all around us every day.  Hundreds of thousands of children are sexually violated by adults every year, and shockingly, more than 90% of the time, the child is abused by someone the family knows and trusts.

At Darkness to Light, we have spent the last decade educating adults — those who are in a position to protect children — how to prevent abuse and recognize warning signs so communities can react responsibly and with confidence.

Penn State could have benefited from having its staff trained so that witnesses would come forward.  Having policies and procedures in place, and staff empowered to hold others accountable to the policies, would have made all the difference in the lives of the children involved and the reputation of the institution.

There are more than 42 million adults in America who were sexually abused as children. Research shows that between eight to 20 percent of our children are abused every year. The immediate impact to a child is devastating and the long-term impact costs society more than $35 billion annually.  Child sexual abuse is linked to personal dysfunction, mental health issues, teen pregnancy, violent crime, substance abuse, and sex trafficking – among other issues.

Now is the time to finally shine a spotlight on the much avoided subject of child sexual abuse.  We must talk to our kids and our communities about prevention.   Public dialogue about child sexual abuse helps shape better societal beliefs and responsible actions. The more we can talk openly about child sexual abuse signs or perpetrator patterns, the better we are able to recognize behavioral red flags and have the courage to take action.

We should expect our youth-serving organizations to have policies that govern how adults may interact with youth.  Further, these  organizations must offer regular trainings, so that no one is left wondering what their legal or moral obligation is when discovering that a child has been sexually abused.  The youth-serving organizations should hold staff and volunteers accountable, while our communities, parents and students, in turn, should hold the organizations accountable.

We encourage the public to continue the dialogue that has been started and find hope in the fact that there are things we all can do to reduce the risks in our own homes and organizations.  Get involved in your local school, church, youth service organization, youth camp or sports league to ensure that prevention is being addressed and comprehensive policies and training are in place to identify potential problems.

If you believe that your child has been victimized in any way please get immediate help through your local child advocacy center.  In addition, Darkness to Light is here as a resource to any parent or organization who wants to get involved in making their community a safer place for children.

Via d2l.org

Anny is a Steward’s of Children Authorized Facilitator and Prevention Specialist who trains adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse through Darkness to Light’s certification programs.

Take care and stay safe.

 

 

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