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{July 23, 2012}   The Smallest Victims

We have all listened in horror to the unfolding stories of child predator Jerry Sandusky, and we know about the silence and coverup that enabled his reign of terror. From the once-great football coach, Joe Paterno to the assistant who witnessed the rape of a ten-year old boy in a shower, Mike McQueary, there is a lot of blame to go around. University administrators knew for over a decade that abuse of children was occurring on their campus but they kept silent, fearing that speaking the truth would personally weaken them and jeopardize their careers. The thing to keep in mind is–abusers of children always have enablers. There will be people who know about the mistreatment but turn a blind eye to protecting the child. This conspiracy of silence permits the perpetrator to continue his/her abuse until the moment when someone has the courage to speak up, report the violence and expose the truth. Without exposure, the abuser is free to stalk victims or add new victims to their list. Sometimes they never come to justice because the victims themselves are too scared or ashamed to speak up. Often, adults who were abused as children want to put their stories behind them, concerned that that talking about such a negative subject will turn others off. Note the current age of Sandusky’s youngest victims–boys who were eight years old when the abuse occurred are now in their twenties–and because of their shame they kept silent even as other young boys became victims. Certainly, child abuse isn’t appropriate cocktail party conversation and details should be shared with therapists and those closest to the victim. But for the civility of our society, it’s important that those who secretly abuse children be exposed for their acts of cruelty. That is the only way the Sandusky’s of the world can be brought to justice and kids can enjoy their childhood without suffering the indignity of child abuse.

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