Wednesday, November 9, 2011

London's Run


Hi everyone, ready for another race?  This time we are getting a group together down in Queen Creek, AZ for London's Run.  You have the option to run a 2 mile race, a 10k, or a half marathon.  Our goal is to raise awareness of the problem of childhood sexual abuse.  The run is on January 28th, 2012.  If you are interested in running with our team, please contact us at info@runforinnocence.org. 

Help us spread the word!  Change the world... one race at a time!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thoughts on the Jerry Sandusky Case


I was watching a Penn State football game earlier this season and fount myself thinking, "Wow, Penn State is one of the only big national programs that doesn't seem to have any NCAA violation or scandals surrounding it."  I was impressed with how successful they have been, but even more so in the manner in which they did it.  All of that has changed with the recent developments in the Jerry Sandusky case.

(Please note: the following is my opinion on the case.  For detailed information, please refer to the Grand Jury Presentment.)  For those that don't know, Jerry Sandusky was an assistant football coach at Penn State University from 1966 to 1999.  Even after his retirement, he stayed close to the program.  In his years as a linebacker coach and defensive coordinator, he coached many outstanding defensive squads, and Penn State gained a reputation for outstanding linebacker play.  During his time, Penn State produced 10 first-team All-Americans at that position, and acquired the nickname "Linebacker U".

In 1977, Sandusky founded "The Second Mile," a non-profit organization with the mission to help children who need additional support and would benefit from positive human interaction.  According to the Grand Jury Presentment, the Second Mile gave Sandusky "access to hundreds of boys, many of whom were vulnerable due to their social situations."  It seems that exactly what Sandusky did.  So far eight boys has come forward admitting that they were victims of Sandusky and without a doubt there are many more.

Sandusky was first investigated back in 1998.  This investigation involved Victim 6 (mentioned in the Grand Jury Presentment), but it yielded no criminal charges.  Who knows how many boys could have been saved if Sandusky could have been convicted back then.  Even though he admitted to the mother of Victim 6 that his contact with her son was inappropriate (read the interview with the mothers of two of the victims here), Sandusky as never charged.

In 2002, Jerry Sandusky was seen in the locker room showers engaged in sexual activity with Victim 2 in the Grand Jury Presentment by a Penn State football graduate assistant.  The graduate assistant reported the incident to Head Coach Joe Paterno.  Paterno reported the incident to the Athletic Director Tim Curley.  Eventually others in the Penn State hierarchy were also made aware of the situation.  However the authorities were never notified, and another opportunity to stop a predator was missed.  So what was Sandusky's punishment?  He was just restricted from bringing children to Penn State Campus, as if that could really be monitored that closely.  However the restriction did not stop him.  Sandusky has several confirmed victims after this incident and "investigation."

A big question surrounding this case is Joe Paterno's involvement.  Legally Paterno did what he needed to do, he reported the incident to the AD.  But is doing the bare minimum enough?  Legally he is innocent, but morally, I believe he should have done more.  If he in fact knew that sexual acts between Sandusky and a young boy had taken place, how could he not see that the police were notified?  How could he allow Sandusky to come back onto campus and still be around the Penn State football program?  Is Paterno a bad guy?  I don't think so, but if he did know what took place, he should have done more.  If he would have, many boys could have been saved from Sandusky.  

I am sure over the coming days and weeks much more information will come to light.  If all of the allegations end up being true, I hope that Sandusky receives the punishment that he deserves.  I also hope that if anyone one at Penn State was in fact involved in a cover up, they are punished to the full extent of the law.  

This case is just another illustration that when it comes to sexual abuse, a child's accusation should not be taken lightly.  Most kids, especially young ones will not lie about something of this nature.  To dismiss an accusation as "the child just wanting attention" is unacceptable.

Jerry Sandusky carefully picked out his targets.  He tested the "water" with each victim seeing how far he could go.  He know which ones would give in.  We as parents must talk candidly to our kids about sexual abuse and let them know what to do if ever in those situations.

Society tends to put too much emphasis on "stranger danger."  I think this is because it is the easy way out.  Putting a "stranger" type pedophile away for life isn't hard.  When most of us imagine a pedophile it is the "stranger" type.  But the one who is least understood, least talked about, and the most likely to get away with molestation is the "nice guy."  The "nice guy" molester is a babysitter, a next-door neighbor, a Boy Scout leader, or even a family member.  It seems like the nicer you are, the longer you can get away with it.  On the outside they seem like normal people, but the "nice guy" molester is manipulative and cunning.  They are able to groom their victims to the point where they don't need to use force.  Because of this the child is more likely to feel at fault and feel guilty.  They will be less likely to talk and in turn causing the abuse to continue.

As parents we must do everything we can to prevent this.  We need to talk openly with our children and make sure they understand.  Although we can be there ever moment of the day protecting them, we need to be involved in their lives.  We need to know who they are with.  We need to develop a relationship of trust and communication with them so that if something like this happens they know they can come to you.

It is up to us to help our children, to keep them safe, and to protect their innocence.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Break the Silence

On October 16, 2011 Suzanne LeDuc ran the Baystate Marathon in Lowell, MA to help raise awareness about childhood sexual abuse.  The following are some of her thoughts from the race and her experience:

I ran the Baystate marathon this year in hopes of raising awareness about Childhood Sexual abuse. An issue that has affected millions of adult survivors, their families and loved ones. The number of survivors of childhood sexual abuse are greater than any one disease, and there is a cure. Yet, as a society we choose to ignore this issue, perpetuating the silence and the shame. It is my hope that by talking about CSA, having the conversation, we can make a change.

I had imagined that by wearing the Run for Innocence logo on the front of my shirt, and the Safe Kids Strong Teens on the back during the marathon, I would at least get a question or two, and have the opportunity to share the knowledge I've gained about the issue.  But I didn't. Not a word. In fact, this was  the quietest race I'd ever run.  Other than a few spectators cheering us on, there were no runners conversing during the race. Only an "excuse me" or "Sorry", when navigating for water or Gatorade at the hydration stops.

I certainly noticed the quiet, but I understood it. Once I started running, I forgot about the logo's on my shirt, and could only focus on finishing the race. Running a marathon Is not a team sport. You become engrossed with your own thoughts and the pain coursing throughout your body. You constantly question if you'll be able to finish, if you have what it takes - each mile marker a congratulatory flag, yet indicating the beginning of the next, forcing you to summon up the energy to push through yet another one. The pain was crippling,  I resolved to just keep moving  - lifting my head and focusing on something ahead of me to take my mind off of the pain. The memories of finishing my past marathon's were enough to give me the courage that I could finish.  Which I did, in 4 hours and 20 minutes - a personal record for me.

I can only imagine that recovering from CSA is much like the marathon. The similarities of being within yourself, questioning, dealing with pain yet persevering.  But those would be the only similarities. People are inspired when I tell them I've run a marathon; Survivors fear telling their story. They fear telling their story because society still refuses to acknowledge this problem.  It is too uncomfortable to talk about, it doesn't really happen. With this attitude, the problem continues, more children are hurt , their innocence taken away from them.  There lives forever affected, changed  without having any choice in the matter.

I may not have opened anyone's eyes during my marathon, but when I tell the story of my marathon I'll be telling them I did it for CSA, and use that opportunity to disrupt the silence.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thoughts from the Cougar Run


I just wanted to say thank you to everyone that run the Cougar Run 5k with us last Saturday.  We ended up having 20 people run with us (we are missing 3 in the picture above).  Although it was a little chilly, it was a lot of fun running with everyone.  Even the kids had fun.


This was only our second team run, but it was truly inspiring to see how many people joined us.  The subject of childhood sexual abuse is no a happy one.  It's not one that people generally like to speak about.  But to see all these runners who are willing to stand up and fight to end CSA was wonderful!



During and after the race we had several people ask about our team and organization.  It was a great opportunity to share our mission and message.  Although just running a race may seem like a simple thing, it is a step in the right direction, and another little blow against CSA in our society.


Thank you again to everyone that ran with us!  It is people like you that will make a difference in our world.  Let's keep it up and continue to change the world!

-If you are interested in running with us in our next race, please email us at info@runforinnocence.org

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

If you could go back...


To all of those that have survived or know someone how survived sexual abuse: if you pulled out a photo of the age you/the person you know were when you were abused, and you were able to jump into that photo and talk to that child, what would you say?  What would you do?


Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Cougar Run



Hi everyone, ready for another race?  We are getting a group together to run and raise awareness of the problem of childhood sexual abuse in the upcoming Cougar Run in Provo, UT on October 8th.  If you are interested in running with our team, please contact us at info@runforinnocence.org.

Help us spread the word!  Change the world... one race at a time!



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Changing the world... one race at a time

From left to right: Esther, Crytal, Lisa, Dave, Maria, Hailee, James, Danette, David, Emily, and Shane.  (Photo taken by Dehn Craig)

On behalf of the Run for Innocence team, I just wanted to say thank you to all those that joined us on our first run at the Pioneer Day Classic 5k & 10k.  It was a ton of fun, we raised some money, and we even got to answer a few questions from other runners at the race.  Here are a few pictures from the race:



I also wanted to give a special thank you to Dehn Craig, who ran the 5k with a camera to get some of these shots.  If you would like to see all the pictures from the race, click here.

Although we all ran at different paces and some ran the 5k and others ran the 10k, it was a very cool experience to see all of these amazing individual running together for a purpose.  Putting an end to childhood sexual abuse seems like an impossible task.  Many people out there may want to help make a difference, but don't know what to do.  You don't need to be a therapist, psychologist, a politician, or a millionaire to make a difference.  Doing something as simple as running can help make a difference, and ultimately create a better world for our children.

Thank you again to all those who ran with us and to those who donated to our cause!  Let's continue to change the world... one race at a time.

If you are interested in supporting our cause or running a a future race with us, please contact us at info@runforinnocence.org.



Monday, July 11, 2011

Life is too short for bitterness and rage


I had the chance to watch Diane Sawyer's interview with Jaycee Lee Dugard, the girl that was kidnapped at age 11 for 18 years.  During this time she was severely abused, sexual, physically, and mentally.  What she endured is unimaginable.  I highly recommend watching the full interview here.  It is simply amazing that she was able to survive and be as happy as she seems in spite of everything that she went through.

There was one thing in Jaycee's interview that really stood out to me.  Her mother said that Phillip Garrido, Jaycee's abuser, stole Jaycee's childhood, adolescence, her high school proms, etc.  Then Jaycee said something that really hit me.  She said, "I don't feel like I have this rage inside me that is building...  I refuse to let him have that.  He can't have me... [if I felt rage] it means that he won."  He may have stole all those things Jaycee's mother mentioned, but because of Jaycee's attitude, it's as she says in the interview, "he didn't get all of me."

Sexual abuse, however serious or seemingly not, is a terrible thing.  The abuser steals part of the victim's life and possibly murders the person they may have become, but victim doesn't have to lose everything.  With hope and the right attitude victims of abuse can with Jaycee, "he didn't get all of me," and that little bit of "me" is all I need to make a better life for myself and for my loved ones.



Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Erin's Law


Erin Merryn, 26 years old, from Illinois is a childhood sexual abuse survivor.  She has had two books published.  One, "Stolen Innocence," is about her journey through the pain and confusion cause by rape and abuse to ultimately finding strength to overcome.  Her second book, "Living For Today," is about her journey after the abuse and touches on her mission to get a law passed that mandates children be educated by law in schools on sexual abuse in a child friendly manner.

Erin went on a crusade to get Erin's law passed in Illinois. Erin testified to the Senate in May 2010 and all voted for Erin's law SB2843. November 2010 she testified to House and Erin's law was passed 110 yes votes. Erin's law was signed by Governor Pat Quinn February 14 2011.

Erin is now working to pass this law on a national level.  She will be speaking in DC next month.  We wish her the best of luck and pray that this law will be passed.  It is amazing what one person can do!

Erin's website: www.erinmerryn.net
Erin's Law Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ErinsLaw


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Murdered

After watching the two hour interview Oprah conducted with four child sex offenders, I was left with many different thoughts and emotions stirring around in my mind.  I felt sick from hearing about these individuals acts, but I also felt a little more enlightened about how I can protect my children.  Within all these thoughts and emotions, there were three things said in this interview that were especially poignant.

The first thing said that stood out to me was something Oprah said about the way predators work.  She said, "When an abuser does his/her job well, it leaves the person who was victimized feeling like they were responsible for the abuse...  A good molester will take his time..."  Although I felt like this was something I already knew, hearing Oprah say it the way she did was very eye opening.  In my opinion, I believe this is why so many victims never tell, they not only feel guilty, they feel responsible for the abuse.  It breaks my heart to think about how many people are out there suffering, and torturing themselves because they feel like they were responsible.

The second thing that really struck me was something that one of the sex offenders said.  In talking about the girl that he took advantage of and victimized, he said, "I killed who she could have been."  I have never really thought of it that way before.  For a long time I have recognized how people, their personalities, emotions, etc. are changed because of abuse, but I have never thought or it in the sense of the abuser murdering the person a little girl or boy could have become.  But in reality that is what it is.  I look at people I know that were sexual abused as a child and I can see how there entire life was changed because of the abuse.  I can only imagine what their life would have been like if they would have never experienced it.  Oh how different their lives would be.  But that person they could have become was "murdered" by their abuser.

The last thing that stood out to me was when one of the sex offenders was asked if he was abused when he was a child.  He broke down in tears and said he was.  He then went on to say that "we need to break the cycle."  Abuse is a cycle.  A cycle that is fueled by silence.  We need to stop ignoring the problem, address is as a society and make a change.  It is a daunting task, but if we sit by the wayside and hope that someone else will do something, nothing will change.  But if we just open up our mouths, talk openly with our loved ones about the issue, educate our children, and try and be more aware, we will be able to one day live in a world free of these silent "murders."


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thoughts from the shoot

 
Again, I just want to give a special thanks to our friends at Mango Film Productions.  They did a great job and from the shots I've seen, it looks like everything is going to turn out great!  My cousin was able to coordinate things with a few neighborhood friends and was able to round up close to 20 kids.  My son was able to join the fun too.  Although he had fun playing at the playground, I think he enjoyed running up and down the street for one of the shots even more.  Click here to see some pictures from the shoot.

I am truly grateful for the great people who have supported us in our cause.  We wouldn't be able to do anything without you.

-James


Upcoming RFI Video


We just wanted to give a special thanks to the Mango Films crew, Janelle, and all the kids for helping out with the upcoming Run for Innocence video.  Can't wait to see the finished product!