In light of this week’s disturbing new allegation about former music teacher Shawn Miller raping a young student in 2015, uneasy conversations may now be popping up in your home.
“This is a really difficult subject to talk about. Anything having to do with our children getting hurt in any way is such a struggle for parents.”
That’s what Erika Brosig, the Chief Operating Officer at Victim Services,
“It’s okay to talk about these things,” she says.
Their organization provides free crisis counseling, trauma therapy, legal services, and education opportunities for victims of abuse in Cambria and Somerset counties.
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“Open that space up for them to be honest with you. Even if they don’t feel comfortable in that moment, just letting them know, hey I’m here if you ever do want to talk about something. If anything ever does happen to you, I’m right here for you. I’m going to support you through it,” Brosig advises parents.
She says you can use the situation about Miller to start that discussion with your children.
“You can talk to the kids about just being uncomfortable. Did he ever make you uncomfortable? Does anybody ever make you uncomfortable and why?” Brosig said.
According to Child USA, the average age of disclosure for child sexual abuse is 52 so “delayed disclosure” is common.
More alleged victims have come forward with new allegations since this story broke, according to John Blake, the Acting Police Chief for the Upper Yoder Township Police Department.
“I have had victims come forward in the past 24 hours. I have completed one interview with one of those victims already. We’re going to be scheduling more interviews here in the near future,”
In the meantime, these officials say that education and communication between parents and children are key.
“We can never tell kids that nobody will ever hurt them again. We can never say I’ll protect you from everything, but that’s not the truth. But we can say I believe you, and I’m going to reach out to the right people to get help,” Brosig said.
Ways to report child abuse incidents:
Contacting your local police department ..
Call the Cambria County non-emergency line at (814) 472-2100
Contact the District Attorney’s office and ask to speak with detectives
Call the Pennsylvania “Childline” number at 1 (800) 932-0313
Call the Victim Services 24-hour hotline