Students launch drive to fight child sexual abuse

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Throughout the month of April, Penn State students will be banding together to raise awareness and funds for the prevention of child sexual abuse. The One Heart Campaign will secure contributions for the Vision of Hope Fund of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR).

“Studies suggest that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday,” said Dan Rost, a founder of the One Heart Campaign and a sophomore finance and accounting major from Waynesboro, Pa. “This issue has shaken the Penn State community, and I have spoken to so many students who want to take action. Our goal is to build upon the relationship that the University has already established with PCAR and reach out to alumni, corporate partners, and other individuals and groups across the country who believe that Penn State and Penn Staters can make a difference for victims and families.”

In December 2011, the University formed a partnership with PCAR and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, national leaders in the field of sexual assault response and prevention. Among PCAR’s many initiatives is the Vision of Hope Fund, founded in 2005 to protect children from the devastation of sexual abuse by increasing adult responsibility and accountability. Gifts to the fund have supported Internet safety programs for parents, continuing education for family physicians, and training for professionals who are mandated reporters of child abuse.

“The first step toward ending childhood sexual abuse is increasing awareness about how to recognize and stop it, and the Vision of Hope Fund is vital in that effort,” said Kristen L. Houser, vice president of communications and development for PCAR. “Through the One Heart Campaign, the students of Penn State are challenging alumni and friends to join them and to join our organization and the University in the fight to protect children.”

The One Heart Campaign is encouraging corporate partners to hold “Blue-nited We Stand” events on Friday, April 13, with employees dressing in navy blue to show their support. More information about how alumni, friends and business can become involved with the campaign is available at http://www.facebook.com/OneHeartPSU. Gifts can be made online at www.visionofhopefund.org.

The founders of the campaign, in addition to Rost, include Tori Smith, a sophomore finance major from Yardley, Pa.; Anand Ganjam, a freshman finance and accounting major from York, Pa.; and Zack DeVoti, a sophomore finance major from Fort Salonga, N.Y. They are working with the group One Heart: Penn State Students Against the Sexual Abuse of Children and other student organizations.

“The students who have committed themselves to the One Heart Campaign embody all that’s best about Penn Staters: their sense of personal responsibility, their desire to help others, and their belief that they can achieve change,” said Damon Sims, vice president for student affairs. “By supporting the campaign, our alumni and friends can encourage Penn State students to be active citizens and communicate to the victims of abuse that our community wants to help.”

Last Updated April 12, 2012