Cultural denial and child sex abuse

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November 14, 2011 — Alleged incidents of child sexual abuse brought to light at Penn State are disturbing. University stakeholders have been ousted. The campus remains a live wire of anger and confusion. As our hearts go out to children and families who have come forward with their stories, we find ourselves wondering, why did so many people fail to report what they saw or heard about? Dr. Dan Gottlieb asks: why the cultural hesitation and denial in sexual abuse cases, in general, when the well-being of children is at stake? We take a look at the psychology of institutional betrayal as well as prevention of abuse with Jennifer J. Freyd, Michael Stinson, Ken Singer,and Kelly Moore.

Jennifer J. Freyd is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon. She has published extensively on topics that include child abuse, memory, and mental health, as well as ethical issues related to trauma research and conceptualizations. Her current research includes investigation of the impact of institutional betrayal. She is finishing a new book called Betrayal, co-written with Pamela J. Birrell.

Michael Stinson is the Director of Prevention Services at The Joseph J. Peters Institute in Philadelphia. He develops community education programs to address the prevention of child sexual abuse. He sits on the Sexual Assault Advisory Committee for the City of Philadelphia and represents JJPI on the Law Enforcement Child Abuse Project (LECAP).

Ken Singer, MSW, treats perpetrators and victims of childhood sexual abuse. He’s written Evicting the Perpetrator: A Male Survivor Guide to Recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse. He’s executive director and past-president of NJ ATSA (Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers).

Kelly Moore has written When Men Are Cowards: Sex, Crime and Cover-Up at Penn State College Football for the Huffington Post.

Photo credit: AP Images

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