Transcript for Sheldon Kennedy Tells Congress More Education Needed to Fight Child Sex Abuse
I dreamed of playing in the National Hockey League. And fortunately for me the dream came true. -- played for the Detroit Red Wings the Boston Bruins Calgary Flames. But it's not my dream that I'm best known for -- my nightmare. As a junior hockey players suffered years. Of abuse and harassment at the hands my coach Graham James. Despite the nature of the abuse heard experienced. -- -- -- they knew what was being done to me was wrong. It took me over ten years to come forward to the authorities. Why didn't say anything. This is the question that I asked myself again. And again and again. It's a question I know everyone else was asking. And it's the question that plagues the millions of sexual abuse victims -- -- the world. Even though I wrote a whole book on the subject the answer is quite simple. Because I didn't think anyone would believe me. In my case my abuser was international hockey man of the year in Canada but gave them almost god like status. Sound familiar. The man who preyed on me took advantage of his position as a coach to look for children who are especially vulnerable. Single parent households families with drinking problems boys who needed a father figure except her. These kids and often their parents to looked up to him as a hero. This was someone who could make their dreams come true -- use that trust to hurt them. This imbalance of power and authority -- a deeper problem. And it's the one that I think this subcommittee has to deal with -- on if you truly want to prevent child abuse. In every case a child abuse certainly in my own. There people people who had a gut feeling that something was wrong but didn't do anything about it their attitude was. I don't want to get involved. It's not my problem. He couldn't possibly be doing not. The authorities will take care. And that's what -- -- files and predators are counting on -- counted on public's ignorance or worse yet there indifference. -- what keeps child abusers in business and -- senators is what we have to address. For my experience. The child -- is being abused has to tell on average seven people before their story -- taken seriously. Seven. That's completely unacceptable. When my story became public in 1997. There -- people who refuse to believe it. Many were angry that I exposed an ugly side of their beloved sport. Fortunately. Hockey Canada responded seriously to my situation. And made abuse prevention education mandatory. For -- 70000. Coaches. And this is the positive message that I want to leave you with -- smarting. Too often society's response to child abuse is to focus on punishing the criminal. If the teacher priests or coach is sent to jail for a long time -- we feel that we've done our jobs as citizens are is politicians. Punishing the bad guys makes us feel good but it does not fully solve the problem. Senators you need to give all adults working with youth and all parents the tools to recognize. And respond to abuse when it first arises. If we're gonna go to mandatory reporting. You know if you see something say something if -- if you know something do something. Which is kind of a policy position I would like to take but I'm just trying to get and -- the ground reality. Well I I think that we brought -- -- and we can forward two your colleagues. Com. I think that the people the kids are telling there's lots of education it's in the schools. -- -- polling about abuse -- your kids understand these issues along more than we do as adults we've never been given the tools to recognize the stuff. But yet when it comes right down to -- we're all expected to do the right thing. How can we expect their adults in positions of power to understand what sexual abuse is -- went around this rumor -- on the streets in Washington -- Penn State we asked the adults. Veteran leadership position can you give me the definition of abuse bullying and harassment -- responsibilities around at the -- to get the right answer very good but yet we're expect them to report. So that's why we say that mass education. -- to give people the tools so they -- report these issues -- fear. So we can eliminate that fear and give people confidence to act on their gut feeling we're gonna get a lot more. Of these parents in these coaches in these leaders -- these teachers. -- wording and listening to -- kids are kids are talent. We're not --
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