Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Prevent Child Abuse America's response, including suggested next steps, to ESPN regarding their possession of a taped conversation pertaining to the Bernie Fine sexual abuse allegations for almost ten years before coming forward with it.

November 30, 2011 

George W. Bodenheimer, President 
ESPN Inc. 
935 Middle Street 
Bristol, CT 06011 

Dear Mr. Bodenheimer, 

I am very concerned after reading yesterday’s story that ESPN possessed a taped conversation pertaining to the Bernie Fine sexual abuse allegations for almost ten years before coming forward with it. The mission of our organization is to prevent child abuse and neglect before it ever occurs. This mission is helped when we engage individuals, organizations and “institutions” to recognize a collective responsibility to ensure our nation’s children have an opportunity for healthy child development. 

When abuse is not prevented, or there is reason to believe that abuse is occurring, we all have a collective responsibility to report the abuse or suspicion of abuse, provide support to the child victim and develop protocols and strategies to decrease the likelihood of a subsequent incident to the child or other children. 

We all play a role to ensure that these strategies exist in the communities and neighborhoods in which we live. The recent incidents at Penn State and Syracuse University indicate that there is some confusion about the appropriate response by individuals and organizations when allegations such as these arise. This confusion must be eliminated through deliberate actions by responsible adults who share a common vision that all children have the right to a happy and abuse-free childhood. 

I believe the controversy around these cases and how they have been handled provides both of us with an opportunity to join forces and advance this cause and further educate the public that we not only all play a role in children’s lives, but that all adults are responsible for the prevention of child sexual abuse. Given this, I would like to propose that our respective organizations partner to: 
  • Provide both sexual abuse prevention training to your staff and reporters; 
  • Develop a special episode of Outside the Lines that provides parents and communities with vital sexual abuse prevention information and tips; and/or, 
  • Create a series of public service announcements to advocate for public policies that support sexual abuse prevention programming. 
I believe that together we have the chance to make a meaningful impact in the lives of children. We will follow-up in the near future to explore the ways in which we may accomplish this. In the meantime, feel free to contact me at (312) 663-3520, extension 810. 


James M. Hmurovich
President & CEO

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