How to talk with kids about doctor abuse


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Many parents are alarmed by a report released Friday about an Ohio State doctor, as well as the growing list of accusers of Dr. William Vollmar. 

Ohio State says a now-dead team doctor sexually abused more than 175 male students. The school says the abuse happened over decades, and university officials knew about it.

This news comes as Pennsylvania law enforcement continue to investigate Vollmar, who worked at several local schools and hospitals. He is facing sex assault charges against adults and minors.   

The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape says parents need to use these cases to begin an open conversation with their children about appropriate and inappropriate behavior by doctors. 

Because doctors are specialists, children may question whether something that made them uncomfortable is abuse or a legitimate medical measure.

The coalition says if a child says they aren’t being abused, be sure not to act relieved. Instead, leave the conversation open-ended in case they need to come forward later.

Kristen Houser of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape recommends asking questions like, “Does this happen in your school? How does that make somebody else feel?”

Houser says victims may not be ready to come forward but may hint at a problem. She says rumors, especially in schools, are something to investigate. 

“They may not be outright allegations, but when you have those kinds of rumors that are persistent, this is when you need to pay attention,” said Houser. 

Friday, Ohio State said Dr. Richard Strauss sexually abused male athletes for decades.

Strauss, who died from suicide in 2005, worked with more than 15 university teams. 

“One of the things about the Ohio case, the Sandusky case, the Vollmar case, to be aware that for men and boys who have been victims of sexual abuse or unwanted sexual touching, that homophobia is an additional barrier,” said Houser. 

Pennsylvania’s Attorney General says Vollmar groomed his patients in his office and at local schools before abusing them.

“This isn’t about sexual attraction. This isn’t about a relationship,” said Houser. “This is an abuse of power.”

The state attorney general’s office says the tip line for Vollmar victims to report abuse is still active. It’s 1-800-332-6039.

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