WORDS (noun) /wərd / ~ a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning
After watching the Matthew Sandusky and Oprah Winfrey interview (you can watch some of it here, along with thoughts from the D2L blog), it is clear that one of the key things missing in young Matt Sandusky’s life was WORDS. No one had given him the WORDS to label his body. No one had given him the WORDS to say NO to unwanted advances from an adult. No one had given him the WORDS to describe his emotions and the confusion he was feeling when an adult was sexually abusing him. And no one used their WORDS to speak up when they thought something wasn’t right in his relationship with Jerry Sandusky or when they witnessed sexual abuse happening. There was one person who had WORDS though – Jerry Sandusky himself. He had the words to instill fear in Matt that if he spoke up or told someone what was happening then the police would take him away and bad things would happen to him.
All Matt knew was that he came from a poor and broken family and he so desperately wanted a father in his life. He wanted it so badly that he was willing to live through the sexual abuse and justify it in his young mind. This is no excuse though. There are many adults who came in and out of Matt’s life that could have given him the WORDS to feel empowered, it didn’t have to be from a mother and father who failed him. There were many chances for healthy and safe child-adult connections that simply did not happen.
Make sure you know the 5 Steps to Protecting Children:
Step 1: Learn the Facts
Step 2: Minimize Opportunity
Step 3: Talk About It
Step 4: Recognize the Signs
Step 5: React Responsibly
WORDS are powerful. Let’s make sure that every child has the WORDS they need to grow up safe, healthy, and happy.
– Tracy Leonard
p.s. Interested in learning more about SCAN’s work with Darkness to Light and how we provide trainings in child sexual abuse prevention across Northern Virginia? Please contact me today: 703-820-9001.