Reevaluating our Expectations

Now that Jerry Sandusky and Msgr. William Lynn have been convicted and revelations of child abuse at Horace Mann Academy have come forward, it’s time for us to stop for a moment and take the pulse of our American society on these issues.

Though sex abuse cases have been in the headlines for decades, it has only been recently that the focus has shifted to victims who are boys.

Why is that? And why now? I believe that the reason is partially related to our expectations as a society that boys do not have to deal with this type of abuse, that they should be able to defend themselves against attack. We expect boys to be “stronger.” We call a young boy who complains a “cry baby” and tell him to “be a man.”

Moreover, sexual abuse against boys often goes unnoticed or ignored because society has yet to recognize the tell-tale signs.

Also problematic with many of these abuse cases involving young boys is that the perpetrator is very often a male figure of great power and stature in the community, thus making it more difficult for the boy to report the abuse and for the family or authorities to believe it. Who would think a priest, a football coach, an established educator or another trusted authority would abuse a child?

Though society has come far in recognizing and reporting child abuse, we need to be more aware that sexual predation does not only affect young girls. It now appears that many people had seen, heard or experienced “unusual occurrences” with Jerry Sandusky, but because of his stature in the community, and the uncomfortable nature of the case, it was shunted aside and excused away.

Children are easy fodder for all types of predators, especially one who is in a respected postion and who parents and the community at large hold up as paragons.

– Harry Leibowitz

World of Children Founder

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