I just watched this ESPN interview about sexual abuse allegations brought forward by two men against Amateur Athletic Union President Bobby Dodd. In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky story, they decided to speak up about what happened to them in the ’80′s when he was their YMCA coach and they were young teens. According to USA Today, the AAU removed Dodd from his position days after it found out about the allegations and weeks before it was contacted by ESPN last month.
I remember the surge of news stories about sexual abuse in the early 1980′s. The first book about child abuse by our Kidpower Founding Board President Ellen Bass, who is also co-author of The Courage to Heal, is titled I Never Told Anyone and was first published in 1983.
What other child abuse survivors say about why they didn’t tell is sadly similar to what Ralph West says in the interview about his experience. “I was freaked out. You don’t know what to do. Are you going to blow the lid? All you want to do is pretend it didn’t happen. You want to hide and bury it.”
Ralph describes barricading his room to keep his coach out but obviously never thought to ask his adults for help. It is terribly sad that this happened – and even more sad that, even all these years and stories later, too many kids today STILL don’t know what to do. They don’ t know how to set boundaries. They don’t know how to leave and get help. They don’t know Kidpower’s Founding Principle that their “safety and healthy self-esteem are more important than anyone’s embarrassment, inconvenience of offense” including their own. Kids need active guidance from the adults in their lives to know that they can tell about any safety problem they have.
Kidpower’s Founding Principle: The safety and healthy self-esteem are more important than anyone’s embarrassment, inconvenience of offense.
Make SURE that all young people in your life know: what kinds of behavior are unsafe; that when someone abuses them, it is NOT their fault; how to resist emotional coercion and bribes; how to get help everywhere they go; that, no matter HOW important someone is to them, problems should NOT be secrets; that it is NEVER too late to tell; and that you will listen and help.
Two resources from the Kidpower Articles Library:
Irene van der Zande is the Executive Director and Founder of Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International
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