I am shocked and appalled, as is the rest of the country, by the gang rape of an underage girl in Steubenville, Ohio. I am even more horrified by the actions of bystanders who did nothing to help the victim, and instead texted, Tweeted, Facebooked and Instagramed photos of the assault with crude, victim-blaming commentary.
I wish I could say that another incident like this will not happen, but after years of meeting thousands of survivors of sexual assault, witnessing scandals like Penn State, Syracuse and the Boy Scouts unfold and seeing hundreds of stories in national, state and local news, I know the sad truth is that something like this certainly will happen again if our legislative leaders do not take action.
During and after the Penn State scandal, my father and I traveled to Washington to testify at a committee hearing, and we have continued to push for state and national legislative changes to better protect children, and adults, from sexual assault. It is our continued hope that our legislative successes that have happened in Florida will also happen at the Capitol as we continue to push for changes to prevent sex abuse.
In Florida, we have started a pledge to end the abuse and exploitation of children. I urge you to sign the pledge and let our legislators know that it is time to proactively address the issue of sexual assault. Let’s make our voices heard.