words and art by w a l t e r w s m i t h

Posts tagged “Sexual Abuse

Penn State and Sexual Abuse: What Does It Say About Who We Are?

Sports and personal integrity

I am a native of Pennsylvania (having been born and raised in Philadelphia), and have over the years felt connected to Penn State and its football program. It was not hard to love Penn State. It was something about their attitude towards winning and the “team concept”. It showed even down to their uniforms; plain with no names and giving no sense of individuality to the players. For years, Penn State has been a testimony to team sport and the higher moral ground when it came to football and academic ethical standards.

Now as I hear the reports of sexual abuse, misconduct, cover-up, and the institutional sanctioned deception and rape of a community, I am outraged. It appears that one individual stood by while an act of gross depravity was perpetrated on a young boy. To think of the fear, the hurt, the humiliation that child and the other children felt pains me and I search for answers. How does a society allow this to happen? The shame and anger of the family of that child, and the others who were violated over the years to come—without question—is agonizing to the core. And that was only the beginning; the denial by Penn State officials, inadequate investigations, and lack of prosecution for all those involved has led to a dark and troublesome scandal. And well it should; we need things to be out in the open. We need to face ourselves.

But what also grieves me are the rioters and those who feel the need to voice their anger at the firing of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. I mean give me a break, Joe Paterno had a moral responsibility (if not legal) to go directly to law enforcement. I do not want to just point the finger at Paterno, because the failure runs deep. But the mob mentality that emerged the other night in defense of Paterno shows the lack of an understanding, and empathy for what the true victims of these acts have endured.

What do you think? How do you feel about the sport mentality, the “good old boys club” especially in the high-end, money-making machine of professional and college sports? And last, but not least, has our society forgot about the victim and what it means to be victimized? And what are the consequences for a society that does not protect its children?

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