Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime. — Herbert Ward
HOUSTON, June 24, 2012 — Friday night I was spending time with a friend when I heard the news, Jerry Sandusky found guilty! This was emotionally moving for me, not only because of it stirring up memories from my own past, but I was so happy for the families and the victims that they could see justice.
It was also emotional because most sexually abused children don’t get to see this kind justice. One out of four girls and one out of six boys are sexually abused, a terrifying number.
Although our legal system does need some reforming in order to prosecute these monsters, we as a society must do more and take action. Enter Joe Paterno, coach of the Penn State football team. Nicholas Goralka in his Sports View column wrote a startling piece yesterday, calling the treatment of Joe Paterno “awful.”
What’s awful is that Joe Paterno only did the minimal in 2001 when it was brought to his attention. He was ultimately fired for not taking enough action. Imagine the victims over the last decade that would have been spared had Paterno done the right thing.
Goralka seems to think it’s okay Paterno didn’t call the police because it wasn’t in his contract to do so and that this was, “a tough ending for the most storied coach in history.”
The most storied coach in history? That’s the takeaway from this?
My takeaway is that Sandusky is a monster and Paterno’s lack of actions allowed this monster to continue his reign of terror on children. Goralka then continues stating that evidence of Paterno being fired was an overreaction because America celebrated when Sandusky was found guilty, but rioted when Paterno was fired.
PSU students rioting over the firing of their beloved coach is not a litmus test for the rest of America. The fact that people are still defending Joe Paterno after we know Sandusky is guilty is the exact mindset we have to avoid in this society if we are going to change the horrific aforementioned statistics.
It doesn’t matter that Paterno was a great leader, if he ignored the abused. Football, coaching, or any other profession does not take precedence over a lack of actions to protect innocent children.
All too often when a child speaks out on being sexually abused, it gets swept under the carpet, depending on whom they say abused them. If it is the creepy stranger down the road, then it’s easy to take action.
When it is a family member, trusted friend, or upstanding member of the community, like Sandusky was believed to be for so long, the abuse gets ignored.
It’s easier to believe that a child is stretching the truth or lying than it is to accept the fact that these monsters, whether they are relatives, leaders in our communities, pastors, doctors, or coaches are preying on children.
It is scary as hell to think of how well these predators blend in. It is aslo important to remember that when it comes to being sexually molested and abused, children do not lie. Which is not to say it has never happened, but the percentage of children lying about being sexually abused is so low that it is practically nonexistent.
That’s not to say that just because a child claims something, we should automatically sentence the accused as guilty, but it should definitely be looked into immediately and that the police should be called.
Just like Paterno should have called the police in 2001 when he was told what was happening.
Most Americans don’t know how many children are sexually abused. They don’t want to read the statistics or hear about it. It’s depressing as hell and they would rather ignore the taboo subject. Herein lies the problem: society must become educated if we are going to make a difference for the sexually abused.
My fear is now that Sandusky is found guilty, this taboo topic will be buried again. People will go on with their lives, not thinking about these predators that hide amongst us. Not speaking out about their own abuse because the victims are afraid of how society, family, or friends will respond.
Justice was served Friday night, but it can not stop there.
We have to continue to educate ourselves, help others, and take action by calling the police when we suspect abuse. Otherwise another child’s innocence will be taken.
Carter Lee is a sexual abuse survivor, the author of When Jonathan Cried for Me, President of Innovative Social Dynamics LLC., is a professional speaker, and is the co-host of Really Genius Radio. To learn more about his media appearances, radio show, book, or to schedule an appearance or speaking engagement visit www.innovativesocialdynamics.com
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