Now is the Time for All Good Men and Women to Act…
The Penn State situation continues to evolve, and it is difficult to keep up with all of the emerging information. The Freeh Report was recently released and brought widespread attention to the role of the institution and several key individuals regarding the protection of children. Then we had the saga of the Joe Paterno statue and whether it should stay or go. And now we learn of the dramatic sanctions announced by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). What is next? Will there be more news?
Let’s slow down and not get caught up in the continually expanding story and its impacts. There are several truly important perspectives we should take from each of these three newsworthy events:
- The Freeh Report – This report contains a dramatic amount of detail, key findings, and recommendations and should be a call to action for everyone in ourWhile there has been much debate about various details of the report and its salacious content, there is one overriding message – the protection of children is an adult responsibility. It is not the responsibility of children to protect themselves from child sexual abuse. Adults throughout the United States and the world have a moral imperative to protect children, and it is time for all good men and women to act.
- The Statue Removal – Earlier this week, the Penn State leadership made the difficult decision to remove the Joe Paterno statue from outside the footballWhile this is completely their decision, I do have a cautionary word related to this decision. The removal of the statue should not allow our society to forget about the issue of child sexual abuse. It is highly likely that keeping the statue in place would serve as a reminder of the child sexual abuse scandal and act as a focal point for continued dispute about the great work done by Paterno over his career and the grave missteps he made in regards to the child sexual abuse committed by Jerry Sandusky. For those who have experienced child sexual abuse, it is not possible to remove a statue and make things better, it does not go away; and neither should our vigilance to protect our children. The best reason for keeping the statue in place is that it could serve as a constant reminder of the need to protect our children. So what should go up in its place? Maybe a statue of children playing, with a message stating that the well-being and protection of children requires all good men and women to act.
- The NCAA Sanctions – The latest discussion is occurring in response to the NCAA sanctions against PennBefore we consider their sanctions, what about the “sanctions” that have been placed on the victims in this case? Who will recover first – the Penn State Football program or those numerous survivors harmed by Jerry Sandusky and the neglect of numerous Penn State staff members? As we consider the Penn State sanctions, how much is too much? How much is not enough? These are difficult decisions, and countless perspectives have been offered, but the one sanction that has not been challenged is the $60 million Endowment Fund for child abuse prevention and intervention programs. Further, Penn State has accepted responsibility for creating this endowment, and I would like to see this endowment become more than just the Penn State Fund – what if their $60 million could serve as seed funding for a National Child Protection Endowment Fund which could receive additional contributions and truly become a significant force of positive change?Everyone who is outraged and wanting to support and protect children could contribute to this fund which will serve all future generations of children – now is the time for all good men and women to act.
What does all of this mean, and how should we go forward?
Number one, protecting children is an adult responsibility, and now is the time for all good men and women to act. This means protecting children before protecting an institution, and always asking, “What would I want done if that were my child?” Here are some specific recommendations:
- Funders – require that Youth Protection policies are fully implemented before awarding funds to any youth serving organization;
- Parents/Consumers – demand that Youth Protection policies are fully explained and implemented at youth-serving programs before involving your children in these activities;
- All Adults – become aware, informed and willing to report suspected child abuse, and also support programs in your community or nationally which seek to protect children.