Sandusky trial can start a conversation

By Grace Mattern

I have spent more than three decades working to stop sexual violence. I did this difficult work by advocating for victims - girls, boys, women and men who have been sexually abused - and often by people they love and trust. When I read about Jerry Sandusky, it showed me people continue to have stereotypes about individuals who sexually abuse, and the characteristics of this case really challenge those stereotypes.

As the country watches the case unfold, I urge parents, families and organizations to talk about what they need to do to make our communities safer for children. I urge adults to find ways to get involved and learn the scope of sexual abuse. We know it takes a lot of strength to come forward. We can imagine that we would have done everything we could to protect these children. Now we have the opportunity to learn from this experience.

We don't have to wait.

Start with opening the lines of communication. We can ask our church, synagogue, schools and other organizations if they have policies to protect children, if staff is aware of these policies, and if they know how to implement them on a day-to-day basis. Let's use the Sandusky trial as a rallying point to act and to begin conversations with every local organization about what we can all do to make our communities safer for our children and teens.

(To read original commentary, visit this Concord Monitor link)

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