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Prevention Institute

December 6, 2011

Lifting the Veil of Secrecy: Stopping Sexual Abuse in Sports and Every Institution

"When you have a veil of secrecy, you have the potential for abusive behavior whether it's in the Catholic church, a school or whatever, and that applies to all of us, not just the NCAA," National College Athletic Association President Mark Emmert told reporters Monday in Indianapolis.

In today’s  Huffington Post, Larry Cohen’s “Lifting the Veil of Secrecy: Stopping Sexual Abuse in Sports and Every Institution” examines the national college child sexual abuse tragedies. The post explains Prevention Institute’s  work on the societal norm of silence and how it contributes to child sexual abuse, enabling institutions to stand by rather than act. Larry makes recommendations for how institutions—not just individuals—can change policies and institute practices that lift the veil of secrecy.

“In the case of Syracuse and Penn State, this norm of privacy was solidified into bedrock and bolstered by the power of reputation, power and institutions. The few who dared to break the code of privacy--a victim of an assault, a witness of a child rape--were subtly but quickly silenced. It's unconscionable that institutions don't act immediately on child sexual abuse as a matter of course, and it's even more unsettling when they seem to prefer to not notice or react, because their stature, their profits, or their business would be affected.”

Read the full piece.

More Resources

Read research and critical thinking on child sexual abuse and exploitation in Transforming Communities to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation: A Primary Prevention Approach.

Find effective primary prevention activities to reduce the incidence of sexual violence, with emphasis on the importance of changing norms, in Sexual Violence and the Spectrum of Prevention: Towards a Community Solution.

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