To the editor:
I'm writing to encourage our community to use the child sexual abuse trial of Jerry Sandusky as a call to action. As parents and as members of this community we need to ask ourselves what we can do to prevent even one more child from being sexually abused.
Teaching our kids about scary strangers and just focusing on people on the sex offender registry won't keep kids safe. Research shows that we adults know that children are most likely to be abused by someone they know, trust and often love and admire.
But in our own lives it is still hard for most of us to recognize when someone we know could also be sexually inappropriate or abusive towards children. So we ignore that gut feeling we get. After all, we don't have "proof" that someone has harmed a child and we don't want to offend an adult by asking about his or her behavior.
Meanwhile, too many children are harmed by sexual abuse because we as individuals, organizations, and communities - are afraid to be wrong and don't know what to do. Most of us don't know how to even raise the issue or with whom we'd even talk about it.
As a member of this community, I urge each of us to decide for ourselves what is okay and not okay around children. Then, decide what words you'll say to protect a child's boundaries. Finally, call New Horizons Crisis Center to talk about your concerns.
Because when we act early, we can prevent child sexual abuse before a child is harmed in the first place.
Elaine Ladwig, LSW
Lyon County Program Director
New Horizons Crisis Center