About One DNP

I earned my "terminal practice" degree in nursing from the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in a journey of excitement and challenge. It inspired me to advocate for an all encompassing clinical credential rather than continuing the hodgepodge of nonsensical initials. I hope these entries will provide entertainment and insight into the Doctor of Nursing Practice experience, which will soon be the entry standard for all advanced practice nurses.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Sandusky Teaching Moment: Unfortunate Silence

It started with a many suspicions and a random post of the Penn State fan forum.

Perhaps more accurately, it started with molestation and loyalty to the institution over the community.

The ongoing reports out of Penn State for the past two weeks have brought forth discussions and elicited strong emotions from those in every sphere of my life.  At first, I started quoting the standard mandatory reporting regulations for sexual assault and how Child Protective Services, at least in Kentucky, do not accept third-party reporting - it has to come from the victim, the witness, or the individual the victim or abuser discloses to. I thought Joe Paterno's retirement at the end of the season announcement was bold and bordering on arrogant, and was exceedingly irritated that many news reports focused on his firing and the unfortunate silence that led to the end of a great coach's career. I did not graduate from a university with a BCS championship-claiber football program, so I have a hard time relating to the initial student protests of his ousting in light of the allegations.

More details concerning the access Jerry Sandusky had to the facilities after his employment immediately brought forth the thought "this is beyond cover up - there are probably others paying in kind to have access to these boys or to keep quiet." With records missing from Sandusky's charity Second Mile, non-communication with the university lawyer following McQueary's report to Paterno, District Judge and Second Mile contributor Leslie Dutchot letting Sandusky go home without bail, Sandusky's interview with Bob Costas where he admitted to showering with the boys appropriately, and police reports on victims going back to 1998, the rabbit hole gets deeper and deeper.

Teaching Moments
In the real world, these kinds of stories are opportunities for all of us to open the dialogue on healthy relationships. Since this story broke, I have asked many of my patients with young children if they have had these conversation and if this story has affected the family in any way. Most report a heightened sense of awareness and want to introduce or re-empasise body rights and choice. This article provides several useful tips: How to Talk to Your Child About Molestation For the teen or tween: Talking to Teens about Paterno, Penn State, and the High Price of Bystanding.

Every state is different, however mandatory reporting for teachers, healthcare professionals, and law enforcement are generally standard. Some states extend the duty to report to all residents, but this is not typically well known. To look up the statues that apply to you, visit State Laws on Reporting and Responding to Child Abuse and Neglect.

The "coach" position is a gray area, as evidenced by Penn States's policy that you report to your superior before reporting to the police or emergency teams. While it is in the rhelm of possibility that a federal mandatory reporting act could pass as a result of this tragedy, the Center for Ethical Youth Coaching posted an excellent guide for action when a coach, or anyone, witnesses child abuse: Procedures for Handling Abuse

May communities have domestic violence and sexual assault shelters that provide community outreach.  The Center for Women and Families is one of our city's greatest gifts and they provide information on spotting, preventing, and healing from these traumas: Educational Brochure Library

Of course, no OneDNP post would be complete without a nursing mention. When stories of abuse break like this, many victims relive their own traumas and can experience setbacks, especially when in the midst of therapy. It is important when providing care that nurses are aware of the effects of vicarious trauma and transference issues. To learn more about preventative healing and self-care, visit Reveal, Release, Reconnect

Remember that silence kills mind and body. The arguments many nurses make to avoid reporting peers for issues such as substance abuse  - ruining a peer's career, not wanting one's name connected with the report, fear of retaliation or disbelief, looking bad on the profession, practice, or organization - are the same reasons the powers at Penn State rationalized their silence. And no, it's not different.

1 comment:

  1. At the risk of making a less than substantiative Blackboard post...Outstanding!