On Monday, Nov. 16th, 25 child protection organizations met in front of the White House to announce a coalition seeking a National Commission on Child Sex Abuse, along the lines of the groundbreaking Australia Royal Commission on Institutional Abuse. Their mission has been to inquire into and report upon responses by institutions to instances and allegations of child abuse.
American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC)
— (Michael L. Haney)
American Humanist Association (Roy Speckhart, Matt Bulger)
Bishopaccountability.org (Terry McKiernan, Anne Barrett Doyle)
Catholic Whistleblowers (Rev. Jim Connell, Tom Doyle, etc.)
Child Friendly Faith Program (Janet Heimlich)
Child Justice, Inc. (Eileen King)
Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse (FACSA) (John Salveson)
Foundation for Survivors of Abuse (FSA) (Deondra Brown)
Horace Mann Action Coalition (HMAC) (Peter Brooks)
Justice4PaKids (Maureen Cislo)
KidSafe Foundation (Sally Berenzweig)
Lauren’s Kids (Lauren Book)
MaleSurvivor (Christopher Anderson)
National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAACSA)
— (Bill Murray)
National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) (Rev. Anthony Evans)
National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC)(Jeff Dion)
National Organization of Forensic Social Work (Viola Vaughan Eden)
National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan (NPEIV) — (Sandi Capuano Morrison)
National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) (Kristine Ward)
Peaceful Hearts Foundation (Matt Sandusky)
Road to Recovery (Robert Hoatson)
SNAP (David Clohessy, Barbara Blaine)
Speaking Truth to Power (STTOP) (Ruth Moore)
Stop the Silence (Pamela Pine)
Survivors and Clergy Leadership Alliance (Peter Isely)
Together We Heal (David Pittman)
Turning Point Women’s Counseling and Advocacy Center
— (Kristen Woolley)
Vertigo Charitable Foundation (Valerie Gibson)
Voice Today (Angela Williams, Marlan Wilbanks)
Scroll the logos of groups supporting this call and Click to read their statements
The statement by the HM Action Coalition is at this link and included below:
Horace Mann Action Coalition Nov. 16th, 2015, Washington, D.C.
The American public is learning what the advocates and abuse prevention groups here have known and confronted over years in their work to support survivors: the role of institutions in enabling most sexual abuse.
Behind the vast majority of incidents of sexual abuse are repeated sets of crimes the justice system overlooks in many states and by doing so, perpetuates continued abuse and harm.
It’s time to recognize the pattern we see in repeated abuse rather than react to each new revelation.
“We hope it goes away” isn’t a prevention strategy, it’s an obscene free pass for organizations hiding abuse and worse, a deadly message to unspoken victims everywhere which shouts “we don’t want you to speak up.”
From our research, we see a clear pattern again and again: When an abuser is reported, organizations most often cover it up. The victim is stalled. The abuser isn’t confronted or is moved, allowing further abuse. The abuser continues to operate. How? By running out the clock, using the state’s SOL as a roadmap. The institution takes advantage of that perverse incentive, games the system and claims no accountability for creating the majority of abuse.
I know. In my own school, sexual abuse on an unimaginable scale continued for more than 35 years, despite repeated reports made by victims, students, parents and teachers to the administration. Some victims committed suicide. Most suffer life-long wounds.
Add many further failures to the covering up of reports and the intimidation of those reporting:
· Not alerting authorities
· Not investigating or documenting accounts received so subsequent abuse would be obvious
· Not looking for the likely other victims
· Not counseling those harmed
· Not informing parents of abuse reported of their own children
· Not confronting abusers
· Not alerting schools where abusers moved on to teach
At each step, they hurt victims already wounded, hide abusers, and stall justice – all to put reputation over safety with impunity. Even years later, with a fresh opportunity to help heal, they stonewall and re-injure.
Why do we still allow schools, religious groups and other institutions to betray trust and subvert accountability? Why is the same abuse confronted quickly in one state and invisible next door?
A national commission would have the power to investigate and would recognize what we all have seen. Our colleagues in Australia had the courage to examine historic and nationwide abuse with enough perspective to see it as it really is. They concluded:
“We need to move from an understanding of institutions as merely places where child sexual abuse may occur to places where the institution itself is conducive to crime. And if institutions or organizations are directly or indirectly responsible for criminal behaviour such as child sexual assault, the law should hold them to account.”
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Links for further information:
About our group of concerned alumni and national experts:
Tools to help parents and teachers:
Our Report, with recommendations and best practices:
How schools with recent accounts of abuse compare — NY state vs. Others
News and updates:
“Great is the Truth,” by Amos Kamil with Sean Elder:
Podcast on NPR, “Lessons On Abuse, Secrecy And Justice From The Horace Mann School” :