Local reaction to Penn State sex scandal - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Local reaction to Penn State sex scandal

Megan Jones-Williams, Program Coordinator for Rape Crisis Services at The Women's Center, says often child sexual assault goes unreported. Megan Jones-Williams, Program Coordinator for Rape Crisis Services at The Women's Center, says often child sexual assault goes unreported.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) -

For the first time in nearly a half century, Penn State has a new football coach. Former defensive coordinator Tom Bradley replaces Joe Paterno who came under fire in a sex scandal that's rocking the university.

Graham Spanier and Paterno are being criticized for not doing more after learning in 2002 that former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly sexually assaulted a boy in a campus shower. Sandusky is charged with sexually assaulting 8 boys over a course of 15 years. He denies the charges and is free on bail.

But those shocking allegations at Penn State have some in the Heartland looking twice at the protections in place to keep children safe.   Anna Jonesboro Community High School Superintendent Jim Woodward says he spoken with the athletic director and a few board members about taking a look at what polices are in place.  

"We're just going to review with our people some general protocol, not necessarily are we going to develop any new policies or anything like that, but just to make sure that we're doing the things that we need to be doing," Woodward said.  

But Megan Jones-Williams, Program Coordinator for Rape Crisis Services at The Women's Center, says often child sexual assault goes unreported.

"It's really difficult for victims to not feel ashamed or to not feel embarrassed, you know, to feel like they are alone in the situation," Jones-Williams said.

The statistics are staggering; one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. For girls, that reality jumps up to one in four.  But Jones-Williams says many times, those children don't talk about the abuse until years later.

"There's so many implications when the person who is the abuser is the one in power whether it's a parent or whether a teacher or coach, you know, someone who has influence over that child's life," Jones-Williams said.

Jones-Williams says while there are laws in place about reporting child abuse, more importantly there's the moral obligation to protect a child from harm.

"It's not just about full filing the obligation to make the report but about telling and keep telling until someone listens, until there is help," Jones-Williams said.  

She adds it's important for victims to speak up, in order to get help and start the healing process. 

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