HOUSTON The child-sex abuse scandal at Penn State has prompted a surge in phone calls to at least one Houston-area child advocacy group.

The Children s Assessment Center says the media spotlight shining on the case of Jerry Sandusky and Penn State has led more Houstonians to report cases of suspected molestation and abuse.

Child advocates say whenever a case like Sandusky s generates nationwide publicity, it also generates awareness.

If you don t have motivation and this, I think, has provided motivation to some people but I think when you don t have any motivation, you don t want to report something uncomfortable. So yes, indeed, this has given us permission to say, Well, I heard about the Penn State thing, so maybe that s happening next door, Robert Sanborn, President of Children at Risk said.

And maybe, that suspected abuse is happening with someone like Sandusky someone who is known and trusted, even revered.

What s difficult about, especially, child sexual abuse, is that really it s not the guy in the trench coat by the park that you re afraid of. This is a kind of abuse that happens at home with family, with people you trust, with coaches, with clergy, with uncles, with stepfathers, R.J. Hazeltine-Shedd with the Children at Risk said.

And perhaps, it s evidence of a huge problem that s tragically under-reported.

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