The media is on fire with discussions about the Penn State University sexual abuse unfolding before our eyes in central Pennsylvania. While we don’t know the outcome of this story yet, we do know that child sexual abuse happens everyday. While difficult for most of us to talk about, it’s something that we should all be aware of, actively trying to prevent, and educating our children about.
As we are learning through the case at Penn State, it is critical that suspicions of child abuse be reported to the proper authorities. While making a phone call (to the police department, 911, or local child protection agency) to report abuse can feel embarrassing and uncomfortable, it is crucial that law enforcement have as much information as possible.
Some facts about childhood sexual abuse:
- Most children are abused by someone they know and trust; boys are more likely than girls to be abused outside of the family.
- Some CDC research has estimated that approximately 1-in-6 boys and 1-in-4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.
- Most mental health and child protection professionals agree that child sexual abuse is not uncommon and is a serious problem in the United States.
If you have family members of friends dealing with the pain of childhood sexual abuse, there are many resources available, including:
- American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (312) 554-0166
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children 24-hour hotline: 1-800-THE-LOST
- Child Help USA (1-800) 4-A-CHILD
- Prevent Child Abuse America (1-800) CHILDREN
- Child Welfare Information Gateway (formerly National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information) (1-800) 394-3366
Fore more thoughts on how to help families learn from the situation at Penn State, check out my post on Dr. Stephanie
Photo by .Dianna. (via flickr)