Penn State Child Sexual Abuse Scandal

January 27, 2012 by staff 

Penn State Child Sexual Abuse Scandal, The fallout from the Penn State child sex abuse scandal – arrests, firings and the disgrace of a sports icon – has also promoted a heightened awareness of child sexual abuse.

Since the scandal broke in November, national child abuse and neglect hotlines have reported steep spikes in calls from parents, educators and victims asking questions and seeking help.

Fairfax County has also felt the impact.

According to statistics kept by Fairfax County Police Department’s (FCPD) Child Abuse Unit, reports to the department’s seven-member Child Abuse Squad have doubled since December 2010 – from 19 to 39 reported cases.

During 2011, officers investigated 329 cases covering child rape, sod*my, aggravated sexual battery and indecent liberties with a juvenile.

Fairfax County’s Office for Women’s Domestic and Sexual Violence also reports an increased number of calls asking for advice and counsel since the scandal broke.

“Child sexual abuse is more common than many people think, but there is also a lot of shame and a hesitancy to come forward and talk about it,” said Lucy Caldwell, an FCPD officer who spearheaded an online forum to the topic on Wednesday, Jan. 18. She said national attention surrounding the Penn State allegations coupled with the rise in local reports and concerns provided the impetus for the online discussion.

“We felt it was important to reach out to tell people that they are not alone. There are resources available,” Caldwell said. “In some cases, victims can take police action against their offenders We do suspect, however, that many cases go unreported for many, many reasons.”
The online discussion was originally scheduled for one hour, but there were so many questions from posters – all of whom chose to remain anonymous – that the discussion continued for more than 90 minutes.

Kathleen Kelmelis, program manager for the county’s Office for Women’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Services and 2nd Lt. Josh Laitinen, supervisor of the FCPD child abuse squad, answered a wide range of questions from those who identified themselves as victims, as well as parents and educators seeking information about how to help children and when to report suspected cases of child sexual abuse.

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