What We Can Learn from the Penn State Scandal

On occasion, I discover that I live under a rock. I didn't hear anything about the Penn State Sex  Abuse scandal until this week. I finally caught the gist of it yesterday, and sat down to read the whole story today. I thought this summed it up pretty well. (Thank to Dana McNulty for sending it my way!)
I am blown away.
 There are several things that strike me about this whole thing. One: Why is there so much focus on Joe Paterno? Why did I know his name before I knew Sandusky's? Is it because he is was such a successful football coach? Because he is so beloved? These reports were ignored over and over and over again, bymultiple individuals. Paterno did report what he had been told to Penn State Security. It was the right first step. And then he went on his merry way, absolved of any legal responsibility.  Should he have reported it the police? Absolutely. Should he have made enough noise that the reports couldn't be ignored and had to be investigated fully? ABSOLUTELY. But what about the two men who were the heads of security and failed to report if to the police? All they did was basically say "If you're going to be raping, molesting and sodomizing boys, please don't do it here! Stick to your organization for at-risk youth (The Second Mile)!" They turned a blind eye. It seems obvious that they knew something was going on, since they took enough action to cover their own butts, and failed to do even that. Yes, they are being charged with a felony, but where is the media coverage of all this? What about the eyewitnesses? Why didn't they report it to the police? 
One of the other things that horrified me was when I discovered that Sandusky started and remained an active participant in The Second Mile, a non-profit organization for at-risk youth. I'll give you a second to let that sink in. Got it? Ok. It's horrifying to think that he was using this group as his own personal harem of young boys. With that in mind, I think this is an excellent time to visit things parents need to be on the lookout for. Sandusky was someone that it appeared could be trusted. After all, he was trying to help children. Surely he wouldn't hurt them, right? We can trust him to be alone with our children without any questions or scrutiny, right? WRONG. I'm not blaming the parents of these boys. Someone who should have been trust worthy took advantage of his position. But we can learn from this and prevent it from happening to other children. Jen Bushore-Barry, Director of Heartford House, a neutral, child-friendly place in Lafayette for children to be interviewed when there have been abuse allegations, directed me to "Darkness To Light". It is an excellent program aimed at preventing child sexual abuse. They offer 7 "common sense" steps that we all need to be reminded of. PLEASE take a moment to check it out. You don't have to be a parent to utilize some of it. We all need to watch out for each other and each other's children. If you don't have time to read it now, bookmark and come back to it as soon as you can. Please make it a priority
I hope Sandusky is put away for a long time. Actually, I think a life sentence in these cases is not extreme. I hope Penn State is fully investigated to see who all knew about these allegations and chose not to act or to cover it up and are punished accordingly. I hope other institutions, not just universities, take this opportunity to investigate how they handle these kinds of situations and in-service their staff on it. 
Finally, I'll leave you with this thought from the Journal and Courier:
"Here's a hypothetical situation. What would do if you're walking through your factory floor or office hallways and you spot a supervisor jabbing a knife into one of your customers or the mailroom clerk?
If you said anything other than call 911 or do something else to immediately make the carnage stop, you might want to check your priorities - and perhaps your spine.
So why is it when someone spots a colleague or a supervisor - or anyone else, for that matter - committing an act of sexual violence against a child, the instinct is to follow some sort of workplace protocol?"




"We cannot hold a torch to light another's path without brightening our own." -Ben Sweetland



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