This has been a very disturbing week in college football but an even more disturbing week for me as a mom. I love college football! I follow coaches and players and I have to admit that I bleed Tennessee orange. You can’t be a fan and not know Penn State and the legacy of Coach Paterno. The fact that students are rioting over his dismissal is evidence of our failure as a society to raise the next generation. What do we value? Wins or the safety of a 10 year old boy and all of the other victims? There were witnesses to the abuse and rape of children and police were not involved. This is not about sports, it is about basic human decency. We need to stop sexualizing our children and start accepting responsibilty for and instilling a moral code in our children. Instead of becoming victim to media, we need to expect and demand more. It is up to us to protect our children and to teach them that if they experience or witness abuse to report it to the POLICE and to make sure the victims are protected. In America when did it become OK to walk away and to not stand up for the little ones among us?
The below was passed on to us from a Smarty Reader and was compiled by the Illinois Coalition against Sexual Assualt. I think these are great taliking points and really sum up the issues. The most precious thing we have are our children. It is our job to protect them!
Penn State Child Sex Abuse Case
This is not a sex scandal – It’s a sexual abuse scandal and a scandal on the conspiracy to cover up the abuse. Stop calling it a sex scandal. It is about an adult raping multiple children over decades. It’s about the leaders of an institution protecting the rapists instead of the victims. It’s about bystanders failing to step forward and stop abuse. This is what this story is about.
Victims not Football – This is not about winning or losing a Saturday afternoon football game in Happy Valley. This is about numerous victims of child sexual abuse. We all must remember the victims and how their lives were forever altered by the abuser and the conspiracy to cover up the abuse by the powerful people in a powerful institution. The story should be about those victims and how the public must demand that powerful institutions protect the victims ahead of abusers.
Bystanders must act – We must all make the pledge that when you see abuse taking place, you must do everything you can to stop it. We can’t afford to respond to sexual abuse in slow motion. We tell victims to tell and keep telling. Bystanders should heed the same rule, tell and keep telling until the abuse stops. Every one of us, no matter our position or our age, has a profound obligation to protect one another from sexual abuse. We have to protect the victims and not the powerful. If a bystander acted almost a decade ago, future victims would have been spared and help could have been given to previous victims.
Leaders must lead – The Penn State travesty, following on the heels of the Catholic Church sexual abuse debacle, has shown that a failure of leadership results in further abuse. If you are a leader of an institution, you must demonstrate zero tolerance of sexual abuse. The leadership of Penn State should have spoken to the student rallies Tuesday night to honor the victims, denounce sexual violence and spearhead a call for immediate bystander action when abusers harm others. Leadership can’t stand back and hope that something will end. If that is the course, as Penn State learned, abusers continue to abuse. Sexual predators have to be stopped as soon as possible and Institutional leaders must set the tone. They must hammer home the message that sexual abuse is wrong and it is a crime. They need to emphasize that helping victims and stopping perpetrators is an emergency and should be dealt with like one.
Don’t be shocked – Abusers can be anyone and the vast majority of abuse cases are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. We must understand that the stranger rape scenario is not the norm.
Rape Crisis centers are there – Rape crisis center services are available 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year. Centers offer counseling, advocacy and prevention education. Communities must utilize these services to help victims of sexual abuse recover and to work to prevent future abuse.
I can’t stop reading about this scandal. What strikes me most is that there was not one, but TWO witnesses on two different instances of a child being raped by this monster. The second thing that I just cannot believe is that the students at Penn State are rioting to bring back Paterno. Really? Is that all they can see in this muddled mess? A football game led by a man who should have retired a decade ago? Do they not see that he is just as guilty by NOT acting when a heinous crime was brought to his attention? What a tragedy. I hope justice will be served to those families who have suffered so much.
Jen and Courtenay, I am so with you. I just can’t believe that all of this destruction, abuse, betrayal was covered up for so long. Is a football game really more important than these poor children? It’s unbelievable that more than one person turned a blind eye and didn’t report this, but condoned it. I’ve been thinking this week about this and how we, as parents, need to keep our children aware of such issues. I would love to see if we could have a smarty mom who is also a child psychologist to maybe write a post on the best ways to approach these kinds of subjects with our kids and what sort of verbiage to use for both boys and girls for each age?