A Mother’s Open Letter to Jerry Sandusky
Guest Post by Elisabeth DeLeon
Jerry Sandusky, you are almost without doubt, guilty of sexually abusing children and there is no doubt your reputation is ruined.
However, there is one path you can take that could bring some good into this otherwise devastatingly tragic situation: You should come clean. You should admit your problem. You should apologize to each and every victim. Then, you should use your public notoriety to shine a neon spotlight on this dark, dank secret that many, many men and some women, carry with them like a shadow with claws that not only never, ever goes away, but also pulls in more victims every hour of every day. My daughter, at age 6, was one of those victims.
Why should you, Mr. Sandusky, take this path? Pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder listed in the DSM IV manual and it currently has no cure. So once a pedophile, always a pedophile. The millions of people suffering from this disorder need help lifetime help just as a schizophrenic or an alcoholic needs lifetime help and support.
If we decide as a society to ignore the fact that pedophilia is a medical condition and choose only to criminalize it instead, most individuals who understand they have pedophilic tendencies will not seek help and the most glaring problem about pedophilia is that, by definition, the trauma is passed on from one generation to the next in a sordid mix of blood, tears, guilt, shame, blame, anger and sorrow.
When I discovered my 6 year old (and another child) had been victimized by a pre-teen neighbor boy who himself had been victimized by his adopted father, I started researching pedophilia and discovered that many pedophiles were victims in their own childhood. These pedophiles do not go from victim to victimizer in one fell swoop. This transition usually happens in baby steps which means there is time, as in the case of our neighbor boy, for meaningful intervention.
Furthermore, pedophilia is not as rare as most people assume. Pedophiles are everywhere. Yes, everywhere and especially where children gather. Pedophiles are old, young, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, non-professional, professional, heterosexual, homosexual, male, female and of any race. In self-reported studies, up to 62 percent of men from the general (non-criminal) population acknowledge sexual fantasies and attractions to children. Most of these men don’t act upon their attractions. Yet, too many of these men do – and crossing the line from desire to intent is where the danger lies. Psychology Today estimates that a whopping 20 percent of American children have been sexually molested, mostly by men. Another commonly cited statistic is that one in three girls and one in four boys are sexually abused before the age 18!
According to the FBI, over two-thirds of all victims of sexual assault reported to law enforcement are juveniles under the age of 18 with one in seven victims under the age of 6! Unfortunately, it gets worse: More than a third of all sexual assaults involved a victim under the age of 12. Most alarmingly, one in four sexual assault victims who experienced forcible sodomy or assault with an object were 5 years old or younger.
The majority of these crimes were perpetrated by someone the victim knew and trusted.
So, if we, as a society, want to protect our children and the precious innocence of childhood, then we need to encourage pedophiles, whom usually hold a world of hurt in their hearts and bodies, to come forward with impunity especially before a crime is committed. We must offer treatment and non-judgmental support (as stated, there currently is no cure, but there are successful mitigation therapies) and just as a serious alcoholic must be kept away from alcohol, a pedophile must be kept away from children.
Mr. Sandusky, you can lead the way. As a famous football coach and an otherwise normal, affable guy, you can begin to educate our society that pedophilia is a medical condition, an addiction, and needs to be treated as such. You can also encourage others to come forward, shed their secrets, get help, and end this inter-generational sexual abuse. You can also request that Penn State, an accomplice in your crimes, establish and fund a world class research center to study pedophilia with the greater goal of treating people with this medical condition, helping victims and educating the public. It seems fair to me that some of this funding should come from the Penn State Football program, as well as, the individuals that protected you even when they knew you were doing wrong.
So, Mr. Sandusky, everyone knows what you did, you know what you did and there is no backing out. The only way for you to reclaim any semblance of your honor and dignity is to embrace the truth, share it with the world, and help others do the same. Yes, you are needed on the defense team, but this time you will be defending rather than offending America’s children.
You will, of course, still have to stand trial for the criminal acts you committed and likely spend time behind bars, but a jail sentence combined with community service is arguably in everyones best interest, especially that of the next generation.