The past 4 blogs on lessons learned provided advice and tips for parents and youth serving organizations. We want everyone to know that there are positive, proactive steps that all adults can take starting now to better protect children. But we also get that responding to child sexual abuse is risky and scary. Let’s use Mike McQueary, the assistant football coach, who as a post graduate assistant witnessed Sandusky in the shower with a young boy as an example. It’s easy for us as the public majority to blame McQueary for not doing enough and to say, “I would have immediately called the police.” To understand why education is so important, we have to understand the very dynamics involved in why sexual abuse is largely kept secret in our society.
First, witnessing such abuse of a child or even suspecting rape of a child is unfathomable. Our brains scramble to make sense of what’s happening. Now add the element that the abuse is being perpetrated by someone we like, know, possibly even love, or someone revered and highly respected. You almost immediately jump to trying to reason with yourself. Did I actually just see that? Is there a possible explanation? Could I be wrong? Then add the fear of losing your job, or your spouse, or that you won’t be believed, or even fear of retaliation, and you can see how things get complicated.
Here’s what true: If we do the right thing and intervene or make a report, we won’t be able to foresee or control all of the outcomes of that choice. We’re going to have to learn accept that sometimes doing the right thing carries with it enormous changes and complexities. Typically, this is why people don’t act. They choose their fear of the unknown over the lifetime wellbeing of a child. And that choice carries the consequences that we see in our culture today.
Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children training program for adults is designed to help adults overcome the very real fears and barriers that prevent many of us from taking action. Not only are you given practical prevention steps but you are also given a set of tools that will help you understand what is needed to overcome the risk and fear of taking action. Imagine Mike McQueary being trained to recognize abuse. Imagine him being trained in a community with all his supervisors and peers and together creating a culture of safety for children- and a culture of support for those who take action? Imagine if everyone in an organization was clear that safety comes first – ahead of money, politics or convenience. We think that could have empowered the adults around Jerry Sandusky to act sooner and with greater resolve.
Now that the trial is over D2L remains focused on our mission to educate adults on how to prevent, recognize and react responsible to child sexual abuse. We have a program that with a minimum investment of time, can save children from abuse. Will you commit 2 1/2 hours and $10 to better protect the children in your life? Take the training online here or find out where a Stewards of Children class is being offered in your community.