Sandusky case increases awareness of child abuse signs, reporting requirements

5:01 PM, Oct 9, 2012   |    comments
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(NEWS CENTER) -- Those who work with victims of child sex abuse say the case of Jerry Sandusky has gotten more people talking about their own obligations when it comes to protecting kids against abuse.

Maine has a law mandating people who work with kids on a regular basis to report any suspicions of abuse to Child Protective Services. The person does not need hard evidence of abuse, and there is no penalty for a false report.  Joyce Wientzen, who teaches a class for mandated reporters through Spurwink, says she's had a lot more interest in her class lately.  She says some mandated reporters are concerned that they may wrongly accuse someone or that they could harm their relationship with the child's family.  They also can fall prey to stereotypes that abuse doesn't happen in families that appear "normal."  She says she tells people that they need to protect the child first, and the state will determine what has happened.  The hotline for Child Protective Services is 1-800-452-1999.

Both Wientzen, and Allegra Hirsh, a clinical coordintor at Community Counseling Center say they are unaware of any increase in reported abuse as a result of the Sandusky case.  Hirsh says it is a good opportunity for parents to talk to their kids, though.  She says parents should make sure kids know they can talk about anything with their parents.  And if someone tries to touch them inappropriately, the child should say "No!" should get away as soon as possible, and should tell a trusted adult.  Hirsh said, "And if that adult doesn't listen, or isn't able to help, keep telling until an adult listens to you and helps you."


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