Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I want to comment on the heinous new/grand jury report that was announced on Sunday. Growing up in Delaware, a few hours from Penn State, I know a good number of people who are connected to the university. I have many friends, including a good friend from high school, who graduated from Penn State. I also know a lot of people through the Y who live in the State College area. This child sex abuse scandal is really hitting home for me... it's showing up all over my FB newsfeed, and is being discussed all around me. And I'm having a really hard time hearing what some of these people are saying. The urgent jump to defend the University and Joe Paterno seems a little strange to me. My friend S (who lives and works in the State College area) put it best in her status on Facebook last night:

I guess at this point, and maybe because I did not attend school or grow up here, but I feel pride is not an emotion that should have a place in our immediate discussions. Perhaps soon, but for now, I worry less about Joe Paterno and Penn State and more about how those innocent children and their families feel when they hear or see somebody defending or supporting the institution and those involved.

That's exactly how I feel as well. Maybe its the social work/child-centered part of me that makes me feel this way. It was announced this morning that Joe Paterno will be retiring at the end of the season (the man is 84 years old anyway). While I understand how many are feeling that "this is not how it was supposed to happen", I think that entirely too much attention is being given to him. Students at Penn State are rioting, with picket signs and everything! Calling for him to stay. I'm in no place to judge whether or not Joe Paterno should stay or go. I do have my opinion of whether I believe he acted right or wrong, legally and morally - I think that yes, he acted legally correctly IN THE MINIMALIST OF WAYS, as in, he could have done so much more. But morally... morally, he was 100% in the wrong. No questions. And he will have to live with that for the rest of his life. He could have saved a handful of kids (or more... the number of victims has doubled since Sunday, with more potential victims coming forward everyday since the news was announced) from the heartache and horror of sexual abuse, had he initially gone to the police when the situation was presented to him.

Yes, I do believe that Jerry Sandusky is the abuser, the bad guy, the evil one. But, those who knew something was going on and did not go directly to police? Curley, Schultz, Paterno, the janitor who witnessed the shower incident, the superior he reported it to who kept his mouth shut, and especially the eyewitness, the graduate assistant MaQueary. Those people are the ones who are going to have to look at themselves in the mirror every day for the rest of their lives and see the reflection of someone who KNEW, who KNEW and allowed a grown man to abuse his power and status for many years and corrupt innocent children, altering their lives forever. There is one question I just keep asking myself. How did not a single person go to the police with this information? I also wonder just how many people knew... it had to be a lot more than just those 5 or 6 men.

So, with so many people not going to the police with such a pressing, devastating, life altering matter, one has to question, why? As I posted on my Facebook status, with a link to an interesting article in the NY Times today, the sense of secrecy must have been fueled by something. The urge to protect the prestige of the program, the money flow (Penn State brings in millions of dollars each year from football games), salaries and pensions, and the good name that Penn State has in our country and with college football fans. The 'Grandfather of College Athletics' as JoePa is often referred to, obviously wanted minimal tarnish to his program's name, a program that he has been in charge of for 45 years. And covering it up at the cost of children and their innocence is beyond me...totally beyond me.

Everyone is so worked up about it. People have all these opinions and, as with most high profile sex abuse scandals, the attention is being thrown to the wrong places. In my opinion, these nameless boys that have come forward and bravely given information about their abuser are the ones who deserve our attention and our support. Not Penn State Athletics, and certainly not the Coach-God who knew that it was happening and did not do enough to stop it.

How do these boys feel right now? Yes, their abuser will receive punishment for his crimes. But, showing support for the man who didn't do enough, who could have done so much more... that's embarrassing. The message being sent it, "It wasn't okay for Jerry Sandusky to abuse you, but it was okay for Joe Pa to know about it and let it happen".

The least that can be done is to turn the support those nameless boys who have come forward. They are the victims.

Not an 84 year old football coach who may be forced to retire from his job.

Support the real victims in this case.

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