Children's Hospital: Use Sandusky trial to talk to kids about sexual abuse

CINCINNATI - Cincinnati Children's Hospital is reaching out to Tri-State families to warn them about the signs of child abuse in the wake of the child sex abuse trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

The high-profile Sandusky case — which jurors are deliberating Friday — is a teachable moment for the area, according to information Children's Hopital released Thursday. Sandusky is accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period

"Awareness that abuse is not uncommon is a necessary first step in learning to recognize abuse and stop it," Dr. Robert Shapiro, director of the Child Abuse Team at Cincinnati Children's Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children said in a news release. "As parents, neighbors, and citizens, we need to be alert to the signs of abuse and be willing to report reasonable concerns of abuse."

Shapiro recommends local parents use the Sandusky case as an opportunity to talk to their children about abuse and recognizing the warning signs. Parents should start talking to kids about the boundaries of proper and improper touching as soon as the child has verbal skills, he added.

Other recommendations from the Mayerson Center include:

  • Talking to kids about proper and improper touching
  • Reassuring children that they can always tell you things they've done or things they've had happen to them and that you will love them no matter what.
  • Explaining that sometimes abuse occurs even if you try to stop it, and that it isn't their fault.
  • Telling them that no one should ever ask them to keep a secret about touching from their parents or caregivers.

The Mayerson Center also offers behavioral warning signs that can alert to possible abuse, such as:

  • New fears of people or places
  • Withdrawal from friends or favorite activities
  • Sexual curiosity beyond what might be considered normal for the child's age
  • Regression or baby-like behavior
  • Sleep disturbances or nightmares
  • Wariness of adult contact and apprehensiveness with others

"Discussions of child abuse should not be a taboo subject with our children. Rather, open discussion with children of all ages should be the norm. Should they become victims, they need to know whom they can turn to for help," Shapiro said in the release.

If you suspect abuse in Hamilton County, call 241-KIDS. In Butler County, contact Butler County Children Services at (513) 887-4055. In Clermont County, call (513) 732-STOP.

For more information about the Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children, go to

To read the full release, go to

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