The news has been inundated this past week with the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Everywhere you turn, it is the topic of conversation. Personal emotions were at an all-time high with the termination of Joe Paterno from Penn State University.
And whatever side of the fence you fell on regarding the university's handling of the situation - the tragedy lay with the real victims - the forgotten boys that were abused. The 23-page grand jury report was detailed enough to warrant a couple trips to the trash can during viewing.
These children (and adults) and their stories are what is important throughout this ordeal. Their innocence and trust forever tarnished.
Although their traumatic tales are finally being highlighted due to the high-profile nature - child abuse is nothing new or uncommon.
According to Childhelp, more than five children die a day in America due to child abuse. And approximately 80 percent of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4.
Child abuse is not just limited to physical or sexual abuse.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children & Families reports that child abuse mainly consists of:
More than 75 percent suffered neglect;
More than 15 percent suffered physical abuse;
Less than 10 percent suffered sexual abuse; and,
Less than 10 percent suffered from psychological maltreatment.
And the consequences are absolutely devastating. Childhelp reports that 80 percent of 21-year-olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder. A staggering 30 percent of those abused and neglected as children will later abuse their own children - continuing the cycle.
The organization also found that children who experience abuse and neglect are 59 percent more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 27 percent more likely to be arrested as an adult and 30 percent more likely to commit a violent crime.
While abuse of any nature is atrocious, it is found in every part of society - many times right under our noses. And it isn't reserved for people of certain means or backgrounds.
I remember with clarity the day that I found out that a child I loved dearly had been sexually abused. The child was from a wonderful family and the abuse was by a young friend that had been hurt by a family member.
It was heartbreaking. There is nothing else to say about it. You saw this little person - so beautiful and innocent - who did not understand what was going on, or why it had happened. After finding out what "bad touching" was through a school program, the child alerted family members to the situation.
What are you supposed to feel after learning that a child is suffering at the hands of another? Whether you know them or not -it is an emotional upheaval of your entire body. I wanted to scream. Throw up. Cry. Hit something. It's absolutely disgusting that someone could think of ruining an angelic creature with such disgrace.
So while we continue to argue whether it was right for the Penn State board of trustees to commit to a clean sweep of its administration and beloved staff - that should not be our focus.
It should be on those boys and men who are standing up, speaking out and taking their lives back.
Whether you are a mandatory reporter or not - if you currently know of any child being abused, report it to law enforcement immediately. It is your duty as a moral human being.
We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.
- Nelson Mandela