Dale Hansen: 'Thank God for Kids' 2011

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by DALE HANSEN

WFAA

Posted on December 18, 2011 at 11:55 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 23 at 12:08 AM

It has been more than a month now since the sex scandal at Penn State stunned the Happy Valley and changed the lives of so many forever.

Former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky has said he's innocent of the charges he faces for sexually abusing so many young kids, but he stood silently by while the Penn State president, the athletic director and the legendary coach Joe Paterno lost their jobs in disgrace.

Is that really the action of an innocent man?

But then, they stood silently by while being told that Sandusky was abusing the children he says he was trying to help.

Nobody's innocent here, and those kids have lost their innocence forever because nobody talks about the abuse of a child.

The victim of a sexual crime is the only victim we don't talk about, and maybe it's time we do.

The Congresswoman from Arizona, Gabby Giffords, the victim of a gunman's bullet to the head, became a TV show.

She was reduced to a shell of her former self. She couldn't walk and she couldn't talk. And when she eventually could, she thought her chair was a spoon.

And we saw it all because she was a victim and now a survivor, and we shine a light for all to see.

But the victims of sexual abuse? They stay hidden in the darkness, a reminder of the shame so many of them feel... and nobody should.

Sexual abuse of our children is the cancer that lives and walks among us, but a cancer survivor wears their ribbon proudly and we all stand to cheer as they walk by in their annual parade.

But who stands to cheer for the victim of a sexual assault? And much like cancer, we all know a victim.

It might be a child in your family... a cousin or a brother... the kid on the corner... a kid in your class.

We all know somebody. You might not think you do, but I know you do.

Because you all know me.

I was 10 years old in my little Iowa town. It really was the Mayberry of the Midwest. Everybody knew everybody (at least we thought we did).

A 16-year-old boy said, 'Let's ride our bikes to the ball field at the edge of town,' but there was nobody there. He then started what Sandusky would describe as "horsing around" until he threw me to the ground and pulled at my pants.

I can still take you to the spot on the ball field where it happened. I know exactly where it was.

But then it was only 53 years ago.

He had my pants below my knees before he decided to let me go, and I don't know why. My screams couldn't have been heard. There was nobody there.

Maybe he was afraid of my dad, because in my hometown, everybody was.

But I never told my dad.

I never told anybody.

And too many times in the last month, I've had to ask myself how many little boys didn't get away? How many lives did that monster ruin because I didn't tell.

If he had stolen my bike... the glove on the handlebar... the dollar in my pocket... or simply punched me in the face and blackened an eye.. I would have told everybody.

Instead, I told nobody.

Because even then I knew no one talks about the sexual abuse of a child.

And maybe it's time we do.

No one knows who actually said it, but we need to remember it now: The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.

The good men at Penn State University didn't, and the innocence of a child was lost forever.

Talk to your children, and — more importantly — make sure that your children aren't afraid to talk to you.

The innocence of a child is worth fighting for. The innocence of a child is worth the job of a coach. The innocence of a child is worth talking about.

That's why I choose to talk about it tonight.

And it's why at this time of year, every year, I want the Oak Ridge Boys to remind us all: "Thank God for Kids."

E-mail dhansen@wfaa.com

 

 
 

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