Football & Secrets: Nothing Should Go Before Child Protection


The scandal that has rocked the Nittany Lions football program and Penn State University itself will not leave the public consciousness for a long, long time. And it shouldn’t. So many people, from sports columnists to psychologists to the President himself have commented on something that should never have happened. If you’ve been hiding under a rock, or are simply a person who (understandably) finds so much of the news full of darkness that you cannot bear to tune in, you can read about the facts here.

I’m not sure I have anything new or profound to help make sense of this situation, which will only get worse for the people involved, but one thing many, including me, want to make clear: this must scare all of us adults into doing a better job of protecting children. A large number of people — Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, the university’s president, the assistant coach who witnessed a horrible crime — did not do what should have been done in the interest of those boys who were being hurt by Sandusky. They should have prioritized above everything else — above the football program, their own reputations, the university, friendship, whatever — the security of those boys.

Now, more facts about this case will become clear. And I do hope that my own doubts about the morals of those who did not act more strenuously to see that those children were helped will be cleared with evidence that shows that the bystanders actually did more than they did. However, so many details have been revealed that there is no way this could have gone on for all the years it did without some serious negligence.

As a man, I am so profoundly ashamed that anyone could be so otherwise preoccupied to let harm come to children. In this time of uncertainty, in an election year in which we are all politicizing our values, I believe we must prioritize our children above all else. We must educate them — give them the power to believe in themselves and their intellectual abilties — so that they can be less susceptible to manipulation. We must educate and support all parents — whatever their background or economic status — so they can be better equipped to provide for and protect their children. So much of this is about communication in order to keep kids far away from those who would manipulate and prey upon their weaknesses. If we do these things, in addition to better and more prompt legal protection, then we can put a dent in these kinds of terrible consequences.

If you are inclined, please comment and keep the discussion going. I believe a lot will be done by the authorities to help the victims now. What we all can do, though, is help prevent more children from becoming victims.

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2 Responses to Football & Secrets: Nothing Should Go Before Child Protection

  1. Teach them that they can tell an adult anything – even the worst thing in the world. Tell them over and over again that if they don’t feel comfortable talking to you as their parent, they can talk to… and then give them a hundred other grownups. For boys, make sure some of those grownups are men. For girls, make sure there are some women to talk to. I know several people (men and women) who were molested as children. None of them – not one – has ever told a parent, to this day. We have to create a village.
    And we have to silence idiots who say, “Oh, but this will tarnish an old man’s legacy.” but being vocal and unforgiving. Too much of what is going on now looks to me like the Nazi criminals in the late 40s: “Sure, I saw what happened in the shower, but my superior was okay with it, so who was I to say anything?”

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