The verdict is in but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop the conversations about what we can learn from this case. Today, let’s look at another valuable lesson to be learned.
Abusers seek privacy in order to abuse children, and privacy is easier off-site, away from the facility, school, field, etc., outside regular program activities, such as at the abuser’s or child’s home.
Sandusky gave children rides in his car, had children sleep over his house and took children on trips where they could stay in hotels. He basically had unrestricted private access to children.
Parents should be very alert to teachers, coaches, faith leaders, etc. who ask or offer to spend time with your child outside regular program activities. For example, the teacher that offers to tutor a child at their home, the coach that offers to provide private coaching, the youth leader that offers to help with babysitting. You do not have to e afraid that a perpetrator lurks in every potentially helpful adult but you do need to ask questions, be present, and have open conversations with kids and adults about child safety and be in tune with your child. Look for signs of distress or a change in behavior after your child spends one on one time with another adult.
For organizations, there must be strict policy prohibiting outside contact with children, including prohibiting staff from transporting or babysitting children in your program. Explain to parents why you have these policies and ensure the policy is strictly enforced.
We all have to work hard to create an environment where perpetrators simply do not have access to kids. We can’t control a perpetrators behavior but we can deny them access to the very children they wish to harm.