The Courage 2012 Tour seeks to raise awareness of A Long Walk Home's unique approach of using art to help survivors heal from sexual and domestic violence and inspire leader to join and support the movement to end gender based violence. Courage, which combines the French root for heart, cour, and 'rage' is the foundation needed to engage in a process of transforming rage and pain into healing and recovery. Learn more about A Long Walk Home

Pennsylvania Overview

ISSUE FOCUS: Child Sexual Abuse and Higher Education

In 2011, several high profile cases of sexual abuse at institutions of higher education dominated the national media. This worrying trend has aroused suspicion concerning places of higher education being used as an avenue for committing such acts against the nation's children. Of particular concern is the rise in sexual abuse of young boys left in the charge of university officials. This slew of highly publicized higher education sexual abuse cases has also led to allegations that school officials have mishandled reports of abuse.

The most infamous case of alleged child sexual abuse occurred at Pennsylvania State University (PSU).  In November 2011, Jerry Sandusky, former assistant football coach, was accused of sexually abusing 10 boys who were participants in programs administered by the Second Mile, a charity started by Sandusky. The former coach faced more than 50 counts of alleged sexual molestation, and counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse activity, among other charges. Sandusky continues to deny the allegations.

As a result of the investigation, legendary head football coach Joe Paterno and other university officials, such as Former Vice President Gary Schultz, were dismissed by the PSU’s Board of Trustees for failing to adequately report allegations of Sandusky’s alleged abuse to authorities.  Schultz and former PSU Athletic Director Tim Curley also face criminal charges for lying to a grand jury during the course of the Sandusky investigation. 

On June 22, 2012, a jury found Sandusky guilty on 45 of 48 child sex abuse charges.  The jury convicted him of 25 felonies and 20 misdemeanors. The conviction came on the same day another landmark child sex abuse case was decided in Pennsylvania. A jury in Philadelphia found Monsignor William Lynn guilty of one count of endangering the welfare of a child, making him the first senior U.S. Roman Catholic Church official to be convicted for covering up child sex abuse.

In the wake of the PSU scandal, Syracuse University also faced allegations of sexual abuse in their athletics program. Bobby Davis and his stepbrother Mike Lang brought accused former assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine of sexually assaulting them when they worked as ball boys at the university. They also filed a defamation lawsuit against the university and longtime head basketball coach Jim Boeheim. The lawsuit was filed days after Boeheim made an apology to the brothers after accusing them of fabricating their allegations. In addition to these two cases, 2011 also brought allegations of child sexual abuse at The Citadel, University of Oklahoma and even the Amateur Athletic Union.

Children, such as the ball boys at Syracuse, are exposed to athletics and higher education institutions to follow role models and be inspired to establish their goals and dreams. However, victims of sexual abuse are instead faced with a world of pain and a sense of betrayal. Instead of self-confidence, victims have to grapple with issues of trauma, fear and emotional numbness, shattered trust, loss of control and a lack of belief in their ability to make sound judgments about the people around them.

These cases of sexual abuse against our children continue to flourish due to the lack of proactive effort and an effective response from the state, school officials, parents and guardians. It is time for us to get off the fence and become more than just bystanders while our children suffer. We need to join forces and deal with this rising monster that threatens the well-being of our children.



Champion Profile
Karen Baker

One in every five women in the United States endures rape. Countless others suffer through sexual abuse and violence. For many, this victimization occurs during childhood. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), 44% of sexual assault and rape victims in the US are under the age of 18. 

Advocates like Karen Baker dedicate their lives to ending sexual abuse. Since earning her master's degree as a social worker from the University of Kansas, Baker has worked tirelessly to educate the public about sexual violence. She helps courageous women regain their voices and gives them a chance to heal their scars.

Baker currently serves as Vice President of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), one of the largest sexual assault organizations in the country. She is also the Director of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, an organization founded by PCAR that serves as a national source of information on sexual violence. In these roles, Karen Baker aims to reduce and erase sexual violence by utilizing a variety of resources.

Recognizing education as a key component in fighting sexual abuse, she uses social media such as the, as an innovative way to reach the public. Baker realizes that a change in attitudes is crucial to ending the problem of violence against women and thus she organized It’s Time to Talk About It!, a Facebook campaign designed to create a network of supporters during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Baker has also promoted new legislation and more funding for family services because she recognizes the need for community resources to combat sexual abuse of children like those assaulted by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.  On June 22, 2012, the Pennsylvania jury found Sandusky guilty 45 of 48 child sex abuse charges, ending a trial that rocked U.S. college football and renewed attention on pedophilia in America.

Because PCAR was in a unique position of being so physically close to PENN State, Baker writes that she felt the impact personally and professionally. Penn State invited PCAR and NSVRC to partner with them in their journey of healing, self-evaluation, and ultimately becoming part of the solution. They wanted to work with an organization that has initiatives at the local, state and national levels; and that is committed to long-term prevention strategies. Spearheaded by Baker, this partnership involves a variety of activities over the next few years. NSVRC will collaborate with advocates throughout the country, workshops, and using social networking to incorporate a broad range of expertise into this work.

In addition to speaking at conferences around the country, Baker often writes as a way to influence and inform the public. In one of her articles, Educate Others to Help Curb Sexual Violence, Baker remarked, "By working together and sharing our expertise, we can begin to reshape our communities into ones that are more safe, respectful, inclusive, and honoring of each and every person."

Lost Boys and Childhood Sexual Abuse

by Dr. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy

All of our children need protection.

I recently had the pleasure of sitting among 20 Black men in Harlem brought together by Ebony Magazine’s Manifest series on Black masculinity. We came together to discuss a variety of issues facing Black men and after not too long the role of “protector” came up. Not surprisingly, brothers suggested protecting daughters was essential given sexual predators and violence against women and girls. Many men nodded along in agreement but before long an elder in the room broke the sentiment by sharing, “When I was growing up I wanted someone, anyone, to protect me.” He shared he never had a father figure that identified him as a son. He never had someone there who cared about protecting him from the many hazards that boys face. As the United States celebrated Father’s day two weeks ago, it’s important we remember our responsibility to protect all children, not just girls and especially our sons. As adults, what we have to offer can save and shape lives, if we’re bold enough to show we care.

Less than a year ago, the nation was shocked to hear that Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State football’s Defensive Coordinator, was charged with 52 accounts of child sexual abuse of boys over a 15-year period.  This June, he was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts of sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period.  Sadly, the sexual abuse of boys is more common than people often think. A number of studies estimate that 1 in 6 males were sexually abused before they were 18. You read that right! 16% of males are survivors of sexual abuse and that is conservative estimate! The effects of sexual abuse can be deeply troubling for boys and men because we seldom talk about abuse’s occurrence and the even more rarely take the time to heal our boys and men. If we want to create healthier communities we need to have the courage to make sure all our children are protected from predators and create spaces in our community for the process of healing.

Dr. R. L'Heureux Lewis is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Black Studies at the City College of New York. His work concentrates on race, education and gender. He is the creator of A Long Walk Home’s BROTHERS Leadership Institute, an art-based program for adolescent boys to prevent violence against women and girls. You can follow him on Twitter at @dumilewis or visit his official website

The Role of an Institution in Child Sexual Abuse

All institutions have a role to play in preventing child sexual abuse. Should it happen, these institutions should report to the relevant authorities in a bid to punish the transgressors. They have a responsibility to help the victims recover from the traumatizing experience by offering support and seeking justice. These organizations should be in a position to take stern measures against the perpetrators.

Schools, churches and governments have an obligation of training their staff to recognize signs of child abuse, providing well structured systems of dealing with child abuse, promoting a culture where children cannot be sexually abused as well as helping abused children. These institutions have to be accountable.

Child sexual abuse is a crime that is punishable under the law. It is the duty of institutions to ensure that offenders are arrested and charged in a court of law. Guaranteeing security to each child, educating children on how they can avoid sexual abuse, creating a good reporting system and giving sexually abused children all the aid they need are direct obligations of governments.

Why then do institutions shy from doing what they are obligated to do?

Everyone values a good image and institutions are no exemption. Coming out in the open to declare that a child they should have protected was sexually abused is admitting failure. Failure spoils a reputation. A bad reputation means that prospects of making a profit in the future are slim.

Most of these crimes are committed by people in a position of power or by someone who is invaluable to the institutions. They are thus usually faced with a dilemma. Doing the right thing may be the sane thing to do, but faced with such circumstances, the interests of the businesses prevail. In the case of the church, owning up to such crimes would translate to open lack of spiritual direction. Many people would lose their faith. For the sake of many it chooses to turn a blind eye to a vice that takes place right under its watch. Plunging the world into spiritual darkness is something the church fears. The truth however, is that it is all deceptive.



Issue Facts

  • Globally, approximately 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10-20 men report being sexually abused as children  *
  • 44% of sexual assault and rape victims in the US are under age 18 while 15% are under age 12 (RAINN)
  • Girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. (RAINN)
  • 20 to 50% of adolescents who have sexually abused children were themselves victims of physical abuse and approximately 40 to 80% were victims of sexual abuse. **
  • In as many as 93 percent of child sexual cases, the child knows the person that commits the abuse.***

 *( WHO Child maltreatment Fact sheet N°150 August 2010

 ** Hunter, J. and Becker, J., "Motivators of Adolescent Sex Offenders and Treatment Perspectives," in J. Shaw (Ed.), Sexual Aggression, American Psychiatric Press, Inc. (Washington, DC, 1998).

  ***Douglas,  Emily and D. Finkelhor, Childhood sexual abuse fact sheet,, Crimes Against Children Research Center, May 2005


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