Keep our keiki safe
“Cherish our keiki”: Again and again we see the headlines about neglected children, sexually abused children, and physically abused children. It is good and important that these horrendous crimes are being reported. Our community must be made aware that child abuse and neglect remain very serious problems. This is a local problem as well as a global problem. We are talking about local child abuse within our neighborhoods as well as the more nationally known cases such as Sandusky at Penn State.
So what can we do within our community to prevent child abuse?
The sentencing of Jerry Sandusky marks the end of that criminal case, but it can be the beginning for all of us to transform our outrage into actions that will change lives and make our communities much safer for our children. Sandusky’s abusive behavior and Penn State’s initial response have been painful reminders of ways in which adults and organizations fail to protect our vulnerable children. The unprecedented NCAA sanctions against Penn State and the more general condemnation of some colleges’ “over the top, win at any cost” culture of sports has been an eye opener. Our surprise has not been that this culture exists, but with the fact that it can so dramatically compromise the safety of our children.
The courage of the young men who came forward and talked about the details of the abuse done to them demands that we match that courage with our own. What does that mean? We can require that every youth-serving organization establish clear policies to protect children and youth. We can ask every organization working with children and teens if they know how to report an allegation of abuse or a situation that they suspect is abuse. We can also ask what they would do if they see behaviors in an adult or teen that might be abusive as well. Imagine a world where every parent routinely questions every organization before they send off a son or daughter to an after-school program or youth activity. Imagine if our policy makers began to require these policies.
The Sandusky case and those we see here in our community remind us that we need to do more to educate parents and the public about the every day role that they can play in creating safer environments for children.
Additionally, we need to do more to educate our children about reporting abuse. For more information, contact the Children’s Justice Center of East Hawaii at 933-1505, YWCA-Sexual Assault Support Services 24 hour crisis line at 935-0677, or visit these websites: www.satchawaii.org or www.Onewithcourage.org.
Take time today to find out what you can do in your community to make the world safer for all of our children.
Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of East Hawaii.