Penn State Child Abuse: The Coverup Is Worse Than The Crime
So many times the cover-up seems to me to be worse than the crime. It might be something as President Nixon and Watergate or as trivial as Sarah Palin and her … um … improvisation on the ride of Paul Revere.
(Don’t try to fool a Boston girl – I know all about Paul Revere).
I think most of us can agree that the alleged sexual abuse of a young boy by a college football coach is definitely on the more serious side. And in addition to whatever reputed sexual trauma may result, there is another severe trauma.
Have you ever lived in fear?
I’ve seen it too many times in my career. Grownups can suffer this fate too – abused spouses, play-things of rich and powerful politicians or sports figures. But it is horrible to be a child and know this kind of fear. The grown-up abusers have a pattern of combining inappropriate behavior with threats – either veiled or overt. “Don’t tell anybody – or else!”
The transgressions of the Catholic priests and their bishops and other superiors (maybe even the Pope) in covering up child abuse was a sever blow to me. Not because I’m Jewish and have anything against Catholics – but because I’m from Boston and that was one of the “ground zero” sites for long-term and massive child abuse.
I’m proud to be a Boston girl – because of me like Paul Revere. Though I haven’t lived there for many years, it’s where I was born, and where I spent so many wonderful life experiences with my family and friends.
Did assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky think he was doing something innocent at the time? He told NBC that “any activities in a campus shower with a boy were just horseplay, not molestation.”
By now, there have been more incidents reported than the so-called “bear hug in the shower.”
As of this writing, the former coach is free on $100,000 bail for being charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse. I suppose the blame game comes first. Whose fault is it anyway? Coach Sandusky should not have been in any situation that would even lead to the appearance that he was behaving inappropriately (such as showering naked with underage boys who were not students at the university or members of the football team) — that part is easy.
Should the institution have questioned all children after the fact? Although that is standard procedure now, nobody thought of it back at the time of these infractions – some of which allegedly go back 15 years.
Ideally, parents should train their children to report if anyone touches the private parts that nobody is supposed to touch. But who is going to teach parents how to do this? Parents have enough pressures — financial, social, emotional – and I’m sure it is painful to most parents to even imagine their children being handled, groped, fondled – or worse.
I’ve been training and teaching people many things most of my professional life. I’ve done it formally as a college professor and as doctor teaching patients how to take care of themselves. I’ve done seminars and workshops on various topics.
But what I usually find is that the people who need education and training the most in a certain subject are definitely NOT the ones who show up. In my long-running seminar series “How to Locate and Marry Your Lifetime Love” I seldom get very many males to show up. Most of the females have had a marriage – maybe two – and a few relationships that didn’t go the full distance, but I don’t think I’ve ever had those people you hear about who have had half a dozen trips to the altar.
Human nature seems to rebel at the thought that one does not have the native intelligence or instinct to do something right – everybody is self-taught or a do-it-youselfer.
Parenting is one of the most sensitive fields. I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone who considered themselves poor parents. And I’ve encountered plenty of them professionally. No matter how atrocious they are, they think they are among the best.
Some people are dead set against government “throwing money at a problem” (NO NEW TAXES!) but what about private donations to organizations devoted to “preventing and treat all forms of child abuse by creating changes in individuals, families and society that strengthen relationships and promote healing?”
Well meaning folks most likely, but relying a little much on financial factors in their arguments. They won’t be getting my check, but few people do, as I have already given out a great deal of blood, sweat — and tears.
There are folks who at least have some FAQs and some definition of terms. But once we have definitions and agree on terms, we still haven’t taken any steps to make the problems better. In my view, we simply don’t seem to have enough data, from my reading of the academic data, to know what the hell we are doing.
If science has not yet got the answers, let’s start with common sense. Third-person observers and monitors should be present when anybody gets naked in public or institutional settings. Teaching appropriate behavior – and what to watch out for or report – should be introduced in all tax-payer supported schools, early on.
“Just Tell About It” should be the message we spread to children, the way “Just Say No To Drugs” was back in the 1980s – free buttons, T-shirts, backward ball caps or whatever else the children will accept and identify with.
Likewise for the grown-ups — “Be a responsible adult. Protect a child” on bumper stickers and key chains and whatever else you can get adults to carry with them at all times. Take the fear out of being a tattle-tale: Make reporting praiseworthy, even attractive. Give medals and awards like we do with whistle-blowers. I don’t know – I’m just throwing out everything I can think of.
The important thing is to do something now. Penn State should jump to the front, taking positive action, now. Somebody needs to and it would be a good start to repair the damage some of their athletic staff has caused.