To the Editor:
Jerry Sandusky will be sentenced today. We all know the harm that he caused to the children that he abused for so many years.
What we often do not think about is the irreparable harm that he caused to his own family and friends. I can only imagine how difficult it is when you realize someone you trust and care about has hurt so many children.
As a society, we have a choice. We can choose to have the story end with the sentencing of Sandusky. We can say that justice has been served. What we can also do, however, is say that this case needs to be a new beginning.
We can demand that every youth-serving organization be required to create policies that ensure every adult understands what sexual abuse is, knows the warning signs, knows what to look for and knows how to report abuse when it is suspected.
Implementing these policies is the very least that we can do to ensure the safety of all children.
The real tragedy of the Sandusky case will be measured by how we respond.
I understand that the sexual abuse of children is not a topic that anyone enjoys talking about, but it is important for everyone to understand that the abuse of children happens everywhere. One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before they are 18.
The abuse of children is preventable, and we all have a role in this prevention.
Holly Ann Peifer
Director, Children’s Advocacy Center
of DeKalb County