One year ago this month, the scandal at Penn State reminded us of the realities of sexual abuse.
Fortunately, there's a much greater awareness about child sexual abuse than there was in my youth.
In fact, there's a much greater awareness than there was just 12 months ago, before former Penn State University's football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was accused of sexually abusing ten boys over a 15-year period.
(Sandusky was convicted in June of 45 counts of child sexual abuse.)That horrifying case has sparked a national conversation about child sexual abuse, as well as a significant increase in calls to hotlines from people seeking support and guidance about preventing or stopping it.
In just the first two weeks after the allegations surfaced, the national organization Stop It Now!
, which works to prevent child sexual abuse, experienced a 130 percent increase in contacts.
What many parents now understand is that sexual abuse is quite common.
One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
Roughly 90 percent of offenders are relatives of their victim, or acquaintances such as neighbors, family friends, teachers, and coaches.
"Child predators can appear to the outside world to be warm, caring, loving, and respectful," says Robin Sax, author of Predators and Child Molesters and a former Los Angeles prosecutor who specialized in sex crimes against children.