Shock, anger, disbelief were some of the range of emotions felt when the nation and world learned of the Penn State sexual abuse scandal. Many, including me felt helpless and were saddened for the victims and their families. As an alumnus, there were feelings of shame in the light of the scandal that hovered over the pride of being a Nittany Lion. No amount of shame could compare to the amount felt by each victim and those close to them.
As time went on, resilience began to show its face in the form of social media support groups for victims of sexual abuse and causes that provide supports to this population. Penn State alumnus, Nakia Henderson started a Facebook group, Penn State Alumni Against Sexual Abuse that has provided encouragement and national networks of information on this admittedly reprehensible topic. Current Penn State students held a candle light vigil for the victims on November 11th and invited the nation to awareness of sexual abuse and to stand in solidarity with the victims associated with the scandal.
Child Advocacy Center statistics report that 95,120 children reported being sexually abused in fiscal year 2011. The latest statistics given by the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy state that in 2007, they conducted forensic interviews for 656 sexually abused children. The identified 656 children does not account for the number of unreported acts and victims of this form of abuse.
An Atlanta Journal Constitution article entitled, “Advocates Say State’s Sex Abuse Reporting Law Should be Broadened”, discussed in detail the state law’s areas for growth and listed the titles of current mandated reporters. The current Georgia law on mandated reporting of abuse includes: Doctors; nurses; dentists, hospital and medical personnel; licensed psychologists; professional counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapists; school teachers, guidance counselors, psychologists and social workers; child welfare agency and service organization personnel; and law enforcement officers and personnel.
Locally, there are Metro Atlanta based supports for adult and child victims of sexual abuse where private citizens can become involved in the advocacy, awareness and other volunteer efforts. If there has been a disclosure or information about the sexual abuse of a child, the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) in your Metro area county can be contacted. Additional supports in terms of prevention, intervention and treatment for children can be facilitated through the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy. The Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault provides information on what to do in the event of and a support network for victims of sexual abuse and assault.
Be empowered as a citizen to become active in the work against sexual abuse!