Today I am veering off the topic of all things breast cancer and delving into the subject of the Penn State sexual abuse scandal. I decided to do so because as an educator, mother, cancer survivor and human being I have been greatly disturbed by the story that has unfolded there in recent days. Some issues I care too much about to not speak out about. This is one of those issues.
First of all as an educator, I want to say ‘shame on you’ to all involved in any way at Penn State for your lack of timely and thorough action and/or investigation. As a long-established and revered institution of higher learning, you have let us all down. And if there was indeed a cover-up, well, don’t even get me started…
In many states educators are bound by law to report abuse to outside authorities, but it is my understanding this is not the case in Pennsylvania where it is only required to report incidents to a superior in the “chain of command.” Law or no law, in my opinion, all educators are morally bound to protect the well-being of our youth. No matter how you try to spin this story, it comes back to that.
Individuals at Penn State failed in this responsibility. Adults failed to protect children.
As a mother, I am even more appalled by this story. Coaches, teachers and all authority figures are entrusted to watch out for our children. We expect such role models, above and beyond all else, to provide a safe environment for learning and growth.
As a cancer survivor and human being, I empathize with the victims and I wonder how those children who were abused are ‘surviving’ today. I wonder how they feel about the labels ‘victim’ and ‘survivor.’ I wonder how they have struggled with this burden they have been forced to bear. I wonder if they have been able to move on. I wonder what they think should be done.
During the last few days I’ve listened with interest to discussions about what should be done now. I’m not talking about the legal ramifications. Others will address those, and there will undoubtedly be many. I’m referring to the football realm of things.
Some believe the game last weekend with Nebraska should never have been played. Some believe the rest of Penn State’s football season should be canceled. Some believe stiffer sanctions should be imposed and the 2012 season (and perhaps beyond) should be canceled as well (my view if allegations are proven). Some on the other hand, firmly believe the games must go on no matter what. The players, after all, were not at fault and do not deserve to be ‘punished.’ This is true, but…
A child’s innocence and dignity is a precious thing.
Adults have tremendous power and influence over children on a daily basis, literally affecting the trajectory path of each child’s life they come in contact with. Obviously, this influence can result in varying degrees of benefit or devastation for those children.
That’s why in my opinion, if it is proven there was an attempt to cover up this travesty, if it is proven those in power did use that power to protect the reputation of a sport or an institution instead of to protect children, there should be serious sanctions against Penn State.
Penn State would survive. Football would survive. The players would too.
More facts are coming out daily. The story is yet unfolding. We don’t know who knew what or when they knew it. I’m willing to wait and see.