Response to Penn State Child Sex-Abuse Reports

In response to the latest media reports regarding the child sex-abuse scandal involving Penn State’s former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, Friends for Youth, Inc. would like to express our sorrow about the young men allegedly victimized and our disappointment at another preventable tragedy. Sandusky, charged with molesting eight boys over 15 years, with some of the alleged abuse taking place at the Penn State football complex, is now under scrutiny for years of child sexual abuse about which others knew but either did nothing or were not heard.

As a recognized leader in the field of mentoring we are unfortunately not surprised by these horrific events. The very nature of our business demands that we match volunteers with children, much like the Second Mile program. Vulnerable youth are encouraged to establish trust and break down natural barriers of caution creating the perfect opportunity for sexual abuse such as exactly what has been reported to have occurred with Mr. Sandusky.

Because there are those who look to exploit and victimize children under the auspices of a volunteer role, Friends for Youth developed, implemented, and promotes best practices, tools, and information to inform and educate any youth-serving organization about the potential for child abuse. Demand for information is such that we published a resource SAFE (Screening Applicants For Effectiveness); Guidelines for Preventing Child Molestation in Mentoring and Youth-Serving Organizations, a comprehensive guide to volunteer screening.

Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is an uncomfortable topic, especially in the male-dominated sports world. In our 32 years of serving at-risk youth, we have seen reports of this situation all too often: child sexual abusers offend multiple times and get away with it, even when someone knew about the abuse.

Friends for Youth is saddened by the alleged initial abuse perpetrated on at least eight boys by Sandusky and even more disappointed by the second offense, the culture of silence surrounding and protecting him. Many times in situations with child sexual abusers, people may notice something “off” or something “not right” but will then discount what they see and hear, especially when it involves those who are in positions of leadership. Our SAFE publication offers ways to prevent exactly this.

The primary duty of youth service providers is to care for the well-being, healthy development, and growth of children. It is vital that we are informed and educated on the inherent risks in the relationships we create. More information about SAFE and how Friends for Youth can help build awareness of this tragic issue in communities and youth-serving groups can be found on our website.


Top Ad 728x90