While advocates are pleased with the NCAA’s unprecedented $60 million fine against Penn State, it may not be enough to make a significant dent in empowering and protecting victims.
The NCAA hit Penn State’s football program with a number of serious punishments Sunday for its role in the Jerry Sandusky scandal, according to the AP. Though the hefty fine will be put into an endowment for programs that fight child abuse, such programs are hurting for much more funding.
"Really, in terms, of indirect and direct costs of child sexual abuse, it is the second most expensive crime to murder," Sandy Runkle of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana told the indychannel.com. "The United States spends $35 billion a year on child sexual abuse, but $60 million is a step in the right direction."
Penn State hasn’t yet indicated how it will specifically allocate the money, which is equivalent to one year of football revenue, the Chicago Tribune reports. But nonprofits and survivors have echoed that every aspect of the issue requires more financing.
Chris Kirchner, executive director of Philadelphia Children's Alliance, told Philly.com that his organization receives an estimated 1,800 sex abuse reports a year, but can only handle 1,000 cases. To take on the rest, Kirchner said he would need another $1 million. Susanne Mitchell, who works at the Children's Justice Center of Salt Lake County, told KSL that the same amount of money in Utah could help an estimated 20,000 sex abuse victims.
"Children are a vulnerable population, and it is our community responsibility to protect them," Mitchell told KSL, “and for (the) NCAA to take a stand and say ‘we won't tolerate that' really sets the bar for everybody to follow suit."
When it comes to breaking down how the money will distributed, advocates and survivors agree that intervention and healing programs need more funding dollars.
John Salveson, of the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse, told Philly.com that education is critical right now.
"People need to be educated on the signs of child abuse, just like a nurse in the ER needs to know her responsibility when a kid comes in with a broken arm and a black eye,” he told the news outlet.
Keith Morris, 55, a sex abuse survivor, hopes other victims won’t have to face the same overwhelming medical bills he did.
"I was elated to think someone is going to have to pay for what they do," Morris told indychannel.com. "Too often, we survivors have to pay for our own recovery. For years, I was denied medical insurance to pay for my healing. I think it is wonderful."
But what all advocates can agree on, is that the focus needs to steadfastly remain on preventing such gruesome sex crimes.
"It's not enough," Mitchell told KSL, "if it doesn't turn into saying, ‘We want to be known as advocates for children and making sure that this never happens again.'"
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