It's critical that we take the opportunity presented by the Penn State University scandal to focus on just how often children are sexually abused, and how infrequently adults are ready, willing and able to report this abuse. Statistics show that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday. Less than 10 percent of these children will ever tell anyone what happened to them. In the Penn State case, someone witnessed the abuse, and yet it was never reported to the police, who could have investigated and taken whatever action was needed.
The Children's Advocacy Centers of Oklahoma Inc. are committed to these children by providing a safe environment for assessment of the referral and or disclosure of abuse. Additional support of their circumstances through advocacy is a hallmark of our centers. Can we not gather this moment as an opportunity to act? It's amazing to hear the discussions about child sexual abuse in the most unlikely places such as sports call-in shows, sports programs and among men who have never really talked about child sexual abuse before.
If we just take the time to learn about abuse and take the courage to report suspicions, we can save thousands of children from a life of pain and humiliation.
You don't have to be able to prove the abuse is happening. If you suspect, you must report. It's as simple as calling the Child Abuse Hot Line at (800) 522-3511.
Sherri Snyder, Ardmore
Snyder is executive director of Children's Advocacy Centers of Oklahoma Inc. in Ardmore.