Stepping Up and Speaking Out Takes Courage
By Susan Steffen-Kraft
Yamashiro a Japanese-American raised in California is a gymnast has spoken of the sexual abuse she went through for several years with her coach Don Peters. Katherine Starr formally Annabelle Cripes is a swimmer, born in Madison, Wis., to British parents. She too endured sexaul abuse over her 10 year career. The gymnast is small and soft spoken and described as meditative and spiritual. The swimmer outspoken, imposing, and has been described as a "bulldozer" of a woman. Yet when they met they had one thing in common; as both been caught in the chain of sexual abuse! Katherine Starr formed a group called safe4atheles.org. in order to help other athletes who have suffered.
Children need advocates for their welfare and this is just one example of someone who stepped up and stepped out to tell her story. There should be help for all who have suffered from this heinous act. It can happen anytime and anywhere to anyone.
I do not care what party or religion the abusers belong to. I do not care what party or religion Jerry Sandusky belonged to. I cried over what he did to his victims at Penn State. No one told and some people knew or had suspicions. Why were they silent as this man did what he did over the years? Sandusky was a graduate assistant in 1966 under Paterno at Penn State. He then left but later came back in 1969 as an assistant coach in 1999. From that point on he was the host to many football camps and was active in a children's charity he had founded. It was called The Second Mile.
President George Bush praised this endeavor as a "shining example" of charity work in a 1990 letter and then Senator Rick Santorum awarded Mr. Sandusky with an Angels of Adoption award in the year 2002. Mr. Santorum later stated while he was running for Republican nomination for President that he had been "devastated" by the scandal. Sandusky fooled many people including a President and a Senator!
Mysteriously during the investigation of the Office of Attorney General several years of records from 2000 to 2003 came up missing; that is three years worth. One year was found eventually but the others never were. The search was for the records of the boys who had been through the Second Mile program from and for other information as well.
Jerry Sandusky had a respectable facade which in the end masked his manipulation and abuse of children. "It is the remarkable ability to conceal that makes these crimes so heinous," Judge John Cleland said. And yes, many times the facade and position they hold from a coach to a bus driver is what many child abusers hide behind. It is why so many children and adults when they grow up are afraid to speak out for fear they will not be believed.
And I feel I can say all this without any reservation as I was a victim for an entire year in the 5th grade. I still do not care what political party or what church my abuser was part of nor do any victims of this heinous crime care either. They just want and need justice, care, love and understanding.
Know your child's friends, parents, teachers, babysitters, and always always make sure your child understands what is appropriate and what is not. It is so sad that adults like teachers, as an example, cannot give even hugs anymore without suspicion of behavior because of other adults actions. It should never have come to this because many times a child needs that comfort and show of love from an adult. A simple act of caring now casts a shadow over simple acts of kindness and we have to wonder why this has happened.
Now cynicism and suspicion reign supreme so many times and children do not know what to think because of all the warnings against this insidious evil. It affects even we adults as now we have to fill out paperwork even for being a teacher in a children's church class so they can check we adults out to see if we have a record. I know I had to do that and it upset me because I am not a molester. Yet, because others have done these acts of molestation, I along with others have to be checked out through no fault of our own.
Sometimes there are things in life more important then politics and yet in some ways this is a political topic. Yet the sickness in a person's head and heart cannot be fixed by more laws and government! Some of the answers lie in what we must do which is to always be careful, watchful, and ready to protect the innocent among us! We must be vigilant in our duty and if somehow the unthinkable happens, then the court system must step in and justice hopefully prevails.