As the trial and sentencing of Jerry Sandusky comes to an end, I can honestly say that I am relieved. Some form of justice has been done. Moreover, the details of this case have been spread across the front page, the sports pages, magazines, radio, and television and through all forms of social media. The image of his faced is now seared across my imagination. I feel done and I am ready to move on.
But in good conscience, I cant do that.
The courage of these young men to come forward and talk about the details of what was done demands that we match that courage with our own. What does that mean? We can create policies that require that every youth-serving organization establish clear policies to protect children and youth. We can ask every organization working with children and teens if they know how to report an allegation of abuse or a situation that they suspect is abuse. We can also ask what they would do if they see behaviors in an adult or teen that might be abusive as well.
Imagine a world where every parent begins to ask these questions before they send off a son or daughter to an after-school program or summer camp. Imagine if our policy makers began to require these policies. Although this would not make up for the way Sandusky harmed these boys and young men, it would help protect other children from similar situations. It might make it harder for someone to sexually abuse boys or girls.
The sentencing marks the end of the case, but it can also be a beginning for all of us to transform the pain this one man has caused into actions that will change lives and make our communities a little safer for our children.
For more information, contact the NEST Child Advocacy Center, (970) 565-8155.