Clearly, most of us were completely taken back by the allegations, testimony, television reports, the firing of Joe Paterno, and everything else related to the Jerry Sandusky case. Now that he has been convicted of 45 of the 48 charges and is incarcerated, we are probably asking ourselves “How did this happen?” or “Why didn’t anyone know what was happening?” or “Why did this happen?” There simply is no answer. The only thing we can do as parents is to protect our children, and as professionals, we must make sure that everyone is educated about the signs and symptoms.
In light of the incident, I feel that it is imperative to create a broader awareness and a more thorough understanding of sexual abuse. I will be posting a new blog on the topic each day this week, beginning with the following: Why Don’t Kids Tell? I hope you’ll take a few minutes each day not only to educate yourself but also to invite your friends and colleagues to join in as well.
Why Don’t Kids Tell?
For starters, children are afraid no one will believe them. Why? Because many abusers brainwash and “groom” their victims into thinking that no one will believe them. The offender may even threaten the victim, or the child molester may tell the victim that his or her parents or family members will be physically harmed or killed if the child tells anyone about the abuse.
Children also don’t tell because they feel guilty, embarrassed and ashamed, having been “groomed” by the offender over a period of time to believe they are just as guilty as the offender. Pedophiles use a variety of “grooming methods” to befriend and get close to families with children in order to molest a child. Children may feel guilty if they get an abuser “in trouble”, or they may be afraid of getting in trouble for telling.
Children often feel they are somehow responsible for their abuse, and abusers often tell their victims that they will be taken away from their home and family and will never see them again.
The victim of child sexual abuse is almost always told not to tell, and children tend to believe what adults say. If you thought no one would believe you if you told, and you knew that your offender would be extremely angry at you—even threatening harsh punishment—would you have the courage to tell? What if your offender told you that you would go to jail because you were just as guilty as he or she is? The child who tells is incredibly brave and very rare. Most sexually abused children do not tell anyone they were abused, even when directly asked by parents or other authority figures.