Scandal should become a lesson

Editorial board

THE ISSUE: Penn State University has captured headlines across the country for its childhood sexual abuse scandal.

WHAT WE THINK: Everyone should learn from this scandal about the dangers of childhood sexual abuse and how to help victims.

By now, most have heard about the gruesome child sexual abuse scandal that swept through the Pennsylvania State University football program, and as details continue to come out, many wish they could forget about the particulars of the case.

While many in the national media have spent a considerable amount of time trying to place blame on an individual or institution, the chance to turn the tragedy into a teachable moment is largely being squandered.

Child sexual abuse is pandemic, and not just limited to Penn State. According to TAALK, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of childhood abuse, one of every four girls and one of every six boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.

These numbers are staggering, but they get worse. The organization’s data also shows that 30-40 percent of victims are abused by family members and another 50 percent are abused by someone they know and trust.

Regardless of the community, this kind of abuse occurs across the country and damages some of the most innocent and vulnerable members of society, even in Chillicothe.

One of the saddest parts of this saga is that it took a major scandal that involved an iconic university and football coach to bring attention to the pandemic of abuse in the country. Many know that these kinds of abuses go on daily, but it isn’t until mainstream cases like the Penn State or Catholic church scandals come out before the public gets fired up about the issue.

While the issue of sexual abuse has been brought to the forefront, many are missing the true lesson that can be learned: that there are too many sexual predators among us.

As the statistics show, the majority of those who will abuse children are those that the victims know and trust. It is important for parents and family members to get to know everyone their children spend time around, whether it is a baby sitter or Little League coach. If a child comes forward with a claim of sexual abuse, they should be believed immediately, and counselors and the police should be contacted.

What happened to the children in Pennsylvania was a tragedy, no doubt. However, it will become an ever sadder situation if the public does not learn how to fight and prevent this kind of abuse.