“I am sorry.”
We have not yet heard these words from Jerry Sandusky to the young men he sexually abused when they were young boys. Once defensive coodinator to the Penn State football team, Sandusky was convicted June 22 of 45 counts of child sexual abuse at the Second Mile, a charity he ran for at-risk youth.
Sandusky has not said these words to each of the families who sent their sons to him as a trusted mentor. He has not addressed the damage he has done to the institutions that he represented to the community and the world around him.
We don’t often think of the harm he caused his own family and friends. He broke their trust, caused them pain and brought shame to himself and to them as well. It is hard to imagine and so very painful to even think that someone you know and love can do this kind of harm to a child in his trust.
As a society, we can begin the healing process by saying, “I am sorry.” We need to acknowledge the pain experienced by everyone involved in this story.
We also have a choice. We can choose to have the story end with the sentencing of Sandusky.
We can say that justice has been served. We can also, however, say that this case needs to be a new beginning. We can demand that every youth-serving organization is obligated to create policies that ensure that every adult understands what sexual abuse is, knows what to look for and what to ask, and knows how to report when any member of the organization sees sexual abuse or hears an allegation of sexual abuse.
If we act now, we can transform the pain of each of these young men into action.
The Capital Area YMCA and the Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center have partnered to present “Darkness to Light,” a three-hour child-abuse prevention program to the Baton Rouge area. Check http://ymcabr.org/protect for the schedule of presentations.
SHARON POL Ph.d, executive director
Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center
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