Lessons to be learned from the Sandusky Case

 

Dos and Don'ts All eyes are on the Jerry Sandusky trial right now, watching every detail unfold as each witness takes the stand against him. Between the tragedy, stories of lost innocence and the drama of the court proceedings there are lessons for all of us to take forward in our lives to help prevent more Sandusky-type cases in the future.

One of the biggest lessons to be learned is this: If you see something, suspect something or know something regarding a child’s safety, you must SPEAK UP.

There were people around Sandusky and these young men who could have blown the whistle on this situation much earlier, but for one reason or another stayed silent, or decided to let it be someone else’s problem to fix. In order to end child abuse in the United States, we must all be responsible for ensuring every child’s safety.

Make yourself aware of the signs and symptoms of child abuse so you can better detect issues when you see them, and if you suspect child abuse or if a child comes forward to you with information about being abused, read the steps below so you will be prepared in the best way possible to protect that child.

What do I do if I think someone is abusing a child? If a child discloses that he or she has been abused by someone, it is important that you listen to them most of all.

DO NOT

  • Investigate
  • Ask leading questions (a question that suggests the answer or contains the information the questioner is looking for – That man touched you, didn’t he?)
  • Make promises
  • Notify the parents or the caretaker

DO

  • Provide a safe environment (be comforting, welcoming, and a good listener).
  • Tell the child it was not his/her fault
  • Listen carefully
  • Document the child’s exact quotes
  • Be supportive, not judgmental
  • Know your limits
  • Tell the truth and make no promises
  • Ask ONLY four questions
    • What happened?
    • Who did this to you?
    • Where were you when this happened?
    • When did this happen?
  • Asking any additional questions may contaminate a case!

Report it!

If you have concerns about a child’s safety but you’re not sure whether you should report it or not, contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). We have trained professionals we can talk through the situation with you and help you decide on the best next steps to take or connect you to the proper authorities to make a report.

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