These past couple of weeks have been riddled with news coverage about the Sandusky child sexual abuse case. The news media has been covering this case diligently, perhaps because of the involvement of legendary head coach Joe Paterno who knew about assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s perpetration of sexual abuse and chose to do nothing about it. This month’s article is about what the author is calling, the Paterno Effect.

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It begs the question, are those who witness an act of violence and oppression but do nothing about it, equally as complicit as those who perpetrate it?

This case in particular challenges prevention advocates in profound ways. It challenges us to train entire school systems and not just individual students about how sexual and domestic violence look and the obligation of adults in particular to put a stop to it. It challenges us to see the rage and hurt that is coming through from individuals who have been directly or indirectly affected by this case who find themselves on both sides of the fence. From the mother of the first victim to come out against Sandusky to students rioting at Penn State University because they didn’t agree with the school’s decision to fire Paterno. Finally, it challenges us, through the overwhelming criticism that Joe Paterno is facing for his unwillingness to act, to see that our communities are staunchly against child sexual abuse and see their need to put a stop to is as a moral imperative.

The larger question that we must ask ourselves is how we can rally our communities to prevent any form of violence from happing in the first place? It is too scary to stare into the face of child sexual abuse, however, this case has not allowed us to look away. It has reminded us of how we have failed as a community and how we need to do better.

How can we talk to our communities about this case? How can we impulse them to take action? How can we create mechanisms for safety and healing?