Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's About the Kids

You would have to be living 100 feet under a rock not to have heard anything that has happened in recent days at Penn State University.  Amid growing accusations of sex-abuse coverups, the university president and long-time foot ball coach have both been fired for not doing what any decent human being would do: protect the children.  Instead of going to police, these men decided to let the sex-crimes of ex-assistant coach Jerry Sandusky go on for over a decade.  Countless boys were raped in the showers of Penn State locker rooms, and no one said a thing.

It is human nature to look for a fall guy, someone who can take all the blame.  Penn State officials have rightly terminated the two men who hid the most, who could have done more.  However, in the media blitz on the school's campus there is a topic that many reporters do not cover enough: the children.  The biggest part of this story in mainstream news is the Joe Paterno was fired after 46 years of coaching football there (that's twice as long as I've been alive).  A secondary headline would be that the governor himself was involved in the firings of both Paterno and the university president.  The headline that no one is writing about is the children these men failed to protect.  Who can possibly imagine what they are going through right now?

The most unfortunate aspect of this media frenzy is that these boys, once again, are slipping under the radar.  Of course newspapers and magazines will run their stories if they come forward, but for what purpose?  To sell issues?  To raise awareness?  What does raising awareness now do for them 10 years ago when they were crying themselves to sleep every night after another Sandusky sodomy session?  I am not saying that raising awareness about sexual abuse towards children is wrong; all I am saying is that we need to be doing something to help these kids now.  In my opinion, Penn State should be taking care of these boys' (now men's) psychological and physical needs for the rest of their lives.  No one should feel sorry for Joe Paterno; everyone should feel sorry for the boys. 

If we are going to focus on how to make sure these things never happen again, then we really need to expand the net of who was at fault.  A controversy that has stemmed from the initial wave of accusations is that assistant coach Mike McQueen, who as a graduate student witnessed Sandusky raping a 10-year old boy in the shower, is still left on the coaching staff.  He did what he needed to at the time and told Coach Paterno, but when nothing was done, when no measures were taken, when the next boy was brought on campus by Sandusky, McQueen did nothing.  He is just as guilty as Paterno; he needs to be held responsible. 

There have got to be more than just these three men that knew about what was going on, and all of Sandusky's victims deserve justice from each of them.  It is their lives who have been ruined.  Ruined by a monstrous pedophile and a hidden, shameful group of adults who refused to reveal what was happening.  If they had come forward 10 years ago, countless numbers of victims could have been saved and the boys who had already suffered could have received attention and therapy while they were still young enough for it to make a difference on their futures.  Now they are grown men, haunted by doubt and questions of whether anyone would have ever believed them.  Studies show that boys who are molested are more likely to be drug addicts and alcoholics; this is what they are facing now.  What good does apologizing now do for them?

Joe Paterno, the president of Penn State, Mike McQueen, and the other cowardly bastards who did not come forward when this first came to their attention are just as guilty as Jerry Sandusky.  Furthermore, the Penn State students who rioted in protest of Joe Paterno's firing should be ashamed of themselves.  What they do not realize is that the boys molested on campus where their age, or close to it, when the attacks happened.  If one of the victims had been their brother, or cousin, or them personally, would they be rioting?  This is not about anyone who has lost their job.  It is about a too high number of boys who lost the prospect of a normal life.

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