Those were the haunting words of a janitor at Penn State University who reportedly told coworkers he had seen Sandusky performing oral sex on a boy in 2000. The report that was released yesterday suggests that some of the most influential leaders at Penn State knew about the allegations of sexual abuse and kept that information from authorities. It is painful to think about the abuse to kids (and the number of victims) during that span of time insofar as what might have been prevented with the appropriate intervention and report to authorities. It is a sobering reminder that it is possible to elevate people and programs to a point where they are treated as untouchable, if that is what happened.
Of course, I don’t know for certain what happened. We are all just reading the same reports. But in the interim we can look for good resources on the issue of child sexual abuse, which is what is at the center of this whole scandal. Real lives have been affected; kids who should have been kept safe were sexually abused.
I mentioned in a previous post that a book that was published recently is dedicated to the topic of sexual abuse, so I wanted to highlight it again. It is titled, The Long Journey Home: Understanding and Ministering to the Sexually Abused. It is an explicitly Christian integrative resource in that it brings together the state of our knowledge about sexual abuse to equip ministers, educators, counselors and other in how to provide care and ministry to those who have been victims of sexual abuse.
Here are a couple of endorsements:
I highly recommend this book to any person who seeks to help sexual abuse survivors on their journeys toward healing. I especially recommend this book to church leaders and spiritual directors, as people in these professions are often on the front lines of the battle involved in helping sexual abuse survivors heal. Psychotherapists and other helping professionals interested in integrating Christian theological perspectives into their work would also greatly benefit fro this book, as it provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary discussion of sexual abuse within a Christina framework.
— Christine Gomes, as reviewed in the Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care
The Long Journey Home is an impressive gathering of over twenty-six specialists who band together to bring clinical experience, academic depth, theological competence, compassionate hearts, and spiritual maturity to bear on the painful plague of sexual abuse. The expertise compiled in these chapters was summoned to speak boldly to those who minister to the broken in the healing power of the Gospel of Christ. The result is a significant compilation of definitions, insight, story, wisdom, and pathways to recovery. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts for this journey; so this is no naïve portrayal of a complex issue. The One who created human beings male and female is ever faithful, always available, and sufficient to provide an escort home. Pastors, counselors, and people helpers who love others for Jesus’ sake are indebted to those who share their journey and counsel in these pages.
-Stephen P. Greggo
Professor of Counseling
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
As a disclaimer, I should point out that I contributed a chapter (with Dr. Elisabeth Suarez), titled “The impact of sexual abuse on sexual identity.” We examined how childhood sexual abuse complicates sexual development and can lead to questions about sexual identity.
Although institutionalized evil may not be a focal point of the book, there are chapters that address a theology of sexual abuse and the nature of evil. These can be considered fairly unique contributions to the scholarship and practical resources available to people who minister to victims (and their families) of sexual abuse. Overall, I see this as the kind of resource you would want on your bookshelf.
If any good can come out of the scandal at Penn State, I hope it is toward shining a light in areas that have been darkened by attempts to coverup abuse, the failure to prevent abuse, and bringing helpful resources to the victims and their families.