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UNK conference

March 22, 2015

For the past 26 years, the University of Nebraska at Kearney has hosted a Criminal Justice Conference. March 17, 2015, marked the eighth year that UNK has invited high school students to the conference and career fair. Four students from Clarkson High School attended the conference last Tuesday: Colby Becker, Maddie Cerv, Camille Koehn, and Megan Svehla. Mrs. Jennifer Kappel and Mrs. Lynn Morfeld sponsored the students on the trip. 

Keynote speaker that morning was Matthew Sandusky, adopted son of convicted serial child molester Jerry Sandusky. Matthew told the audience about his history of sexual abuse. The “grooming” process (breaking down a child’s barriers and building dependency on a perpetrator) began when Matthew was six and escalated throughout his teenage years. After testifying against his perpetrator in 2012, Matthew, his wife, and children faced immense backlash from his community and extended family. During the second half of his talk at UNK, Matthew discussed the healing process and a non-profit organization he and his wife began called Peaceful Hearts Foundation. 

Clarkson students had an opportunity to talk to Matthew before leaving campus. He encouraged them to “start the conversation” about child sex abuse. He reminded them that these crimes cannot be pushed away or ignored, and everyone must be an advocate for children and teenagers. In Nebraska, everyone is a mandated reporter. If you suspect child abuse/neglect, call Nebraska’s Child and Protective Services hotline: 1-800-652-1999.

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