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PNS Daily Newscast - November 14, 2018. 


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Daily Newscasts

Penn State Case a Teachable Moment

November 14, 2011

CHARLESTON, W.V. - One thing that should come out of the Penn State situation, where an assistant coach is accused of sexually abusing children, is more understanding of how to prevent such incidents from happening, according to West Virginia child advocates. They say not only should the alleged child abuse have been reported earlier, it could well have been prevented in the first place.

Jim McKay, state coordinator of Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia, says there are proven ways to stop child sexual abuse from happening, such as organizations having policies designed to keep kids safe.

"They should make sure the adults have appropriate background checks. Another key factor is to minimize situations where children are in a one-on-one situation with an adult."

McKay says sex abusers in over 90 percent of cases are not strangers - they have a previous relationship with the victim or the child's family. Rules making sure adults are not alone with kids have been proven effective, he adds.

"If we make sure there are always at least two adults with one child, or more than one child with one adult, we could reduce more than half of the instances of child sexual abuse."

McKay urges parents to ask if an organization requires background checks.

"You want to ask those questions, as a parent. Does the local youth sports organization have background checks for coaches and assistant coaches who will be working with the children?"

West Virginia law clearly requires people like educators and doctors to report possible cases of abuse, he says.

"It's not enough for them to report to their supervisor their suspicions. They must directly file a report to child protective services."

The effects of maltreatment can damage a child for life, cause physical or mental problems and result in drug abuse or other criminal behavior, McKay says, adding that the U.S. spends more than $100 billion per year treating the effects of child abuse.

Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia will host a "train the trainers" workshop for mandated reporters on preventing and reporting child abuse and neglect. It is scheduled for Nov. 16 at the John XXIII Pastoral Center, Charleston. More information is available at www.preventchildabusewv.org.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV