As I ready myself for the holidays, planning and creating my culinary contributions for my large Irish family, the headlines about the heinous Penn State Child Sex Abuse scandal continue to galvanize broadcast and print news and the victims lay heavy in my heart.
The second those headlines came through my kitchen t.v. a week back I had a sense of panic. My son Bryan and a few dozen Kings Park athletes from the high school went to Penn State to attend a track and field camp in the summer of 2005. I rang Bryan and spoke to him in his Binghamton dorm room and he said he saw nothing unusual in his short 4 or 5 day stay at the famed university.
The headlines coming out of Penn State are shocking for a myriad of reasons and leave so many of us asking – how could this have happened and even more so, how could this have happened so many times?
About seven years back while on the board of St. Joseph’s CYO, all the board members and coaches were asked to submit to a background check as are most people who work with children today. We all welcomed the new protocol.
I am happy to say that in the last twelve years since I’ve resided in Kings Park, there has a been an enormous commitment to educating parents about child sexual abuse. Our former superintendent provided the Apple of My Eye program from Parents for Megan’s law. My parent organization comrades and I also ran the program through Council of Schools and the Mary DeRose Parent Center and Senator John J. Flanagan brought it to the district in 2009 as well.
A child-protective phenomenon, Parents for Megan’s Law is a local non-profit that give parents and children the tools to protect them from the monsters who carefully and methodically hunt their victims.
PFML tells us that 90% of all sexual abuse occurs with someone a child has an established and trusting relationship with, whether known or not by the parent and who is often a person of authority. They also provide ten rules for safety for children and teens and a gamut of helpful information on their website www.parentsformeganslaw.org.
I’m thrilled to see the commitment to educating parents about preventing childhood sexual abuse remains steadfast. Council of Schools will be providing an important seminar by the Director of the Coalition for Child Abuse and Neglect at Kings Park High School on January 24th from 7-9 p.m. for parents of all ages. They will offer information on keys issues surrounding preventing child sexual abuse including critical data from Parents for Megan’s Law. They will offer parents warning signs and preventative strategies, it is a must see for all parents and grandparents.
Unfortunately in my forty-seven years I have known several people dear to me who have had the same fate as the Penn State victims. I can tell you it forever changes the person and their family.
When it comes to our children, we cannot be too careful; we must arm ourselves with every piece of information available to ensure their safety. BRAVA to the women at Council of Schools for their dedication to this critical issue. There are a lot of reasons Kings Park is a great place to raise a family but the collective commitment to our children is undoubtedly number one.
Maureen Ledden Rossi