For those of you who might not know, I’m a proud Penn State alumnus. Recent allegations of sexual abuse at my alma mater has really shaken me to my core. As more information came to light last week, my initial feelings of disbelief evolved into complete anger and then lastly into utter sadness. While I am still struggling with these intense emotions, I feel like I need to do something to channel my anger and sadness for something productive and educational. The courts will ultimately decide the guilt and innocence for those involved but I think one observation is clear from the information released so far: more could have been done to protect the victims. This week, rather than feature some innovative instructional tool, I’m going to highlight a few online resources for keeping students safe. As educators, I believe that’s our most critical mission.
Coordinated by the US Department of Justice, this website contains a searchable database for registered sex offenders across the country. Following Megan’s Law, people convicted of sex crimes against children are required to notify local law enforcement of any change of address or employment after release from custody. Different states disclose different information about sex offenders but the information is house in local and national databases. Both can be accessed through the NSOPW. Besides the searchable database, the NSOPW also contains important educational materials for preventing sexual abuse and warning signs for identifying possible abuse and offenders.
Parents for Megan’s Law (PFML) is a tremendous resource dedicated to the prevention and treatment of sexual abuse through “the provision of education, advocacy, counseling, victim services, policy and legislative support services.” PFML provides links to a multitude of sites and services that can support victims, parents and educators. Funded through a not-for-profit agency, PFML also maintains a 24-Hour hotline which can assist victims and refer them to necessary services. The hotline is based in New York state and can be reached at 1-800- ASK- PFML.
Stop it Now! provides resources and publications to address key concerns around child sexual abuse. It provides materials to help identify warning signs of victims and offenders and resources to educate parents and community members on how to prevent child abuse. While copies of publications can be ordered through the site, free downloads are also available. Besides these materials, the site also provides links to different advocacy groups and several support lines. The site even offers an Online Help Center which walks visitors through a series of questions to gauge individual situations and provide information, guidance and support based on the responses provided. In addition to these services, the site also maintains a Helpline at 1-888-PREVENT. While the Helpline is not manned daily, it does provide an outlet for those in need.
Childhelp maintains the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD. This service is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and serves the United States, its territories, and Canada. The Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with professional crisis counselors who, through interpreters, can provide assistance in 170 languages. The Hotline offers crisis intervention, information, literature, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous and confidential.