-- My View -- Freeh Report on Penn State University
By Karen Baker
By Karen Baker
Director National Sexual Violence Resource Center
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) appreciates the thorough and fact-based approach of the report released by former FBI director Louis Freeh and Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP.
We applaud the Board of Directors of Pennsylvania State University for requesting this internal investigation, and for their efforts to learn from the tragic events of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse incidents that spanned at least 14 years and included multiple victims.
Like many in the Penn State community and throughout the country, we are sad, disappointed and angry at the documented lack of regard shown toward child victims by former Penn State senior officials. The priority placed on the reputation of the university and football program, at the expense of protecting vulnerable children, is alarming.
According to Freeh, "there were more red flags than can be counted," and there was "active concealment" by some. This is how perpetrators get away with their crimes for so long - and this is why victims often feel discounted and disrespected.
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, founder of the NSVRC, has been working with Penn State during the past year, as they have begun a significant process of self-examination and positive change. We are encouraged by the commitment of the current leadership and their sense of urgency in making improvements in policies, trainings, and the overall University culture.
To date, personnel with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape has assisted Penn State in training over 2,000 university staff and volunteers on the appropriate response to suspected incidents of child sexual abuse and other forms of sexual violence. Additional trainings are planned.
The NSVRC supports the recommendations made to Penn State in the Freeh report. We encourage them to go even further to ensure that the University becomes a more open, safe, and respectful environment for all people - children, students, faculty, staff, volunteers and visitors.
Lasting change will take time and many forms - there are opportunities for improvements in policies, procedures, screening, supervision, accountability and oversight. It is fundamental for any organization to effectively prevent sexual violence that the leadership set the tone and reinforce values and priorities that encourage people to speak up and raise important questions.
We believe a change in culture has already begun and will continue at Penn State. We ask other institutions and organizations to critically examine their own environments. Child sexual abuse, and other forms of sexual violence, can be addressed promptly and responsibly. It can even be prevented in many cases. This is also an opportunity for all adults to make a commitment to be more attentive and responsive to one another and to the children whose paths we cross.
(Founded by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape in 2000, NSVRC identifies, develops and disseminates resources regarding all aspects of sexual violence prevention and intervention. For more information, visit www.nsvrc.org, www.facebook.com/nsvrc and www.twitter.com/nsvrc.)