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Create safety policies that protect youths

Published: Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

As the trial and sentencing of Jerry Sandusky comes to an end, I can honestly say that I am relieved. Some form of justice has been done.

Moreover, the details of this case have been spread across the front page, sports pages, magazines, radio and television and through all forms of social media. The image of his face is now seared across my imagination. I feel done, and I am ready to move on.  

But in good conscience, I can’t do that. The courage of those young men to come forward and talk about the details of what was done demands that we match that courage with our own.

What does that mean?

We can create policies that require every youth-serving organization to establish clear policies to protect children and youths.

We can ask every organization working with children and teens whether they know how to report an allegation of abuse or a situation that they suspect is abuse.

We can also ask what they would do if they see behaviors in an adult or teen that might be abusive as well.  

Imagine a world where every parent begins to ask those questions before they send off a son or daughter to an after-school program or summer camp.

Imagine if our policymakers began to require these policies. Although that would not make up for the way Sandusky harmed those boys and young men, it would help protect other children from similar situations. It might make it harder for someone to sexually abuse boys or girls.  

The sentencing marks the end of the case, but it can also be a beginning for all of us to transform the pain this one man caused into actions that will change lives and make our communities a little safer for our children.

Note to readers – Katie Murray is a victim advocate at Shining Star Children’s Advocacy Center.

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