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Posts Tagged ‘Penn State’

I’m not into college football. I’ve never snapped towels in the shower. But I continue to be blown away by the distorted reality of this subculture.

The email McQueary sent to a friend — obtained by the Associated Press, reads as follows:

“You are the first person I have told this … and I don’t know you extremely well … and I have been told bye (sic) officials to not say anything ….”

“I did stop it, not physically … but made sure it was stopped when I left that locker room … I did have discussions with the official at the university in charge of police … no one can imagine my thoughts or wants to be in my shoes for those 30-45 seconds…trust me.”

“Do with this what you want … but I am getting hammered for handling this the right way … or what I thought at the time was right … I had to make tough impacting quick decisions.”

What is “tough” in the decision to stop the rape of a child and report the crime to police? Am I missing something?

Sandusky went on national TV with Bob Costas. The Washington Post reports:

On Monday night, Sandusky said in an NBC television interview that he showered with and “horsed around” with boys but was innocent of criminal charges, a statement that has stunned legal observers. Sandusky’s comments, they said, could be used by prosecutors trying to convict him of child sex-abuse charges.

“Mr. Sandusky goes on worldwide television and admits he did everything the prosecution claims he did, except for the ultimate act of rape or sodomy? If I were a prosecutor, I’d be stunned,” said Lynne Abraham, the former district attorney of Philadelphia. “I was stunned, and then I was revolted.”

“I could say that I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them, and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact,” Sandusky told Bob Costas. “I am innocent of those charges.”

When Costas asked him whether he was sexually attracted to underage boys, Sandusky replied: “Sexually attracted, no. I enjoy young people, I love to be around them, but, no, I’m not sexually attracted to young boys.”…

“What was especially astonishing about Sandusky’s interview is — and this will be the big moment in court — is when he stumbled over the question about whether he was sexually attracted to children,” said crisis management expert Eric Dezenhall, who runs a Washington consulting firm. “That may not be legal proof that he’s guilty, but it is certainly not helpful, to struggle with the question.”

As with Paterno’s offensive and shocking retirement statement, none of these men seem to have much of a clue about right and wrong.

Strategies on how parents can help to prevent child abuse here. The basic message is talk to your kids.

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What if every time sex abuse was discovered it got reported to police? What if people stopped reacting to it as a “private” matter? What if that reaction included other sex crimes, rape and domestic abuse? How much progress could be made towards actually making a dent in stopping these secret crimes?

On Saturday, the acclaimed military school the Citadel disclosed that it failed to report to police allegations of sex abuse against a summer camp counselor in 2007. Last month, the accused man was arrested on separate charges of abusing five other boys.

CBS News reports that Citadel President John Rosa now says that the school is bringing in an outside company to review the procedures in handling such situations with an eye toward making improvements.

“We regret we did not pursue this matter further,” Rosa said.

So the Citadel publicly discloses sex abuse charges and then takes action to make change. This is good and why the silence at Penn State was so egregious. Keeping quiet gives others permission to keep quiet; going public gives others permission to go public.

Last week, of the Penn state scandal, I blogged:

The events at Penn State– the hubris, the network “brotherhood” of powerful men who covered up, the vulnerable kids in the ‘charitable’ organization Sandusky founded– should be examined to deeply understand how conditions that allow sexual abuse are created, supported, and institutionalized. The Penn State bubble was finally punctured at least for the Trustees last night, but look what it took: an arrest, a public scandal, and the threat of losing millions. And still Paterno and the Penn State students who are rallying and rioting for him fail to prioritize the victims.

Statistics show that 1 in 6 men is sexually abused before age 18. Where do these “bubbles” exist right now that we’re not all talking about? If we don’t start working harder to stop the sexual abuse of kids, if we don’t make that a higher priority, it will continue at these high rates.

Obviously, another bubble is the Citadel which shares conditions listed above. Rosa is disclosing the sexual abuse now for the same reasons he chose to keep kept it secret before: to protect his job and the reputation of the institution. This reflects an important shift. Now Rosa knows that to go public is better for him in the long run and for the institution he runs. Hopefully, he also understands that he needs to take action in order to protect victims and potential victims.

The horrible events at Penn State provide a national platform to acknowledge and change the way we react to sex abuse. Sexual predators won’t stop on their own and kids need someone to protect them. Sex abuse is widespread. Typically, a kid has to tell multiple adults he was abused before one helps him. Those are the kids who actually tell. Until more adults stand up and protect these kids, take the risk– sadly and remarkably it is a risk– to say that sex abuse is happening and is wrong,  we give it permission to go on.

Here are some ways you can help to prevent child sex abuse. These recommendations are from Family Services. Similar lists are all over the internet, the basic message being the first step is don’t ignore that sex abuse happens; talk to your kids.

Talk openly with your children about sexual development, behavior and abuse. Include molestation or secret touching in a discussion of safety issues in general such as answering the phone, fires, injuries, getting lost.
Praise and give your child affection and develop the kind of relationship that would allow your child to come to you for help or support for any kind of problem they might need help with, for themselves or a friend.
Tell your children that touching other people’s private parts is not ok for children to do or for adults to do with children. Tell them that you do not want them to do secret touching with other people but that you will not be mad at them if they tell you it has happened.
Instruct your children to tell you or another supportive adult if anyone touches or tries to see their private parts, tries to get them to touch or look at another person’s private parts, shows them pictures of or tries to take pictures of their private parts, talks to them about sex, walks in on them in the bathroom, or does anything provocative that makes them feel uncomfortable.
Help your children understand that it is possible that they may know or meet someone with a touching problem who will try to make secret touching look accidental. Encourage your children to tell you even if it might have been an accident.
Tell your children that touching problems are wrong, like stealing or lying, and that the people who have those kinds of problems need special help.
Let your children know that molesters try to get children to keep the abuse a secret by giving them candy, money or special privileges or by making threats or making the children feel bad.
Help identify and encourage your children to have support people they can talk to at home, at school, in their extended family, neighborhood or church. Have them pick out three people and tell you who they are. Put the phone numbers next to your phone and let them know that, if for any reason, they cannot talk to you that they should call or go see one of these people.
Don’t let young male children go into a men’s public restroom by themselves.
Be cautious about who you allow to baby-sit or spend time alone with your children. Try to bathe and dress your children before you leave. Routinely quiz your children about what happens while you are gone. Ask questions like,”What did you do that was fun?” Was there anything that happened while I was gone that worried you or that I should know about? Don’t always tell your children to mind the babysitter.
Get to know the people and homes where your children play.
Periodically check on your children, especially when they are playing with other kids in your home. If you know that one of your children’s friends has been sexually abused, be more attentive to their playtime.
Know your neighbors.
Supervise all Internet activities closely. Consider subscribing to an ISP that screens for obscenity and pornography. Instruct your children to never give out their phone number, address or school name to anyone they meet over the Internet. Periodically, ask your children to see the kinds of chat room conversations that take place.
Demonstrate loving, respectful intimate relationships in your home. Children should not observe direct sexual contact or any type of pornography.
Be aware that forms of sexual play or experimentation are normal and developmentally appropriate in young children; but if your child engages in any type of sexually inappropriate behavior, especially with a younger, smaller or less mature child, get professional help right away. Try to overcome denial and defensiveness. If your child does have a problem that goes untreated, it may become worse and create many more problems for your child, family, school and community. This includes date rape or sexual assault between preteens and teenagers. Boys who sexually assault girls frequently grow up to molest their own children or engage in domestic violence.
If another child engages your child in sexually inappropriate behavior or talk, tell their parents what happened so that they can get help. If you do not think that the family is seeking professional help, contact your local child abuse hotline.

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Last night, years too late, Penn State finally did the right thing and fired Joe Paterno and Penn State President Graham Spanier. But CBS News is reporting that Paterno is stunned at his firing. He still doesn’t get it. The persistent disconnect was obvious in Paterno’s offensive and shocking retirement statement issued yesterday morning.

This is what I posted after reading it:

Joe Paterno’s retirement statement blows me away.

“I  have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care.”

Does that include sitting by while they’re being molested?

“At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can.”

So he’s separating himself from the crime and acting like he’s being magnanimous in doing so.

“With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

A ten year old was raped in the shower. What does he know now that he didn’t know then except that he’d be exposed for his negligence?

“My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this University.”

So he’s going to show up on the sidelines keeping his commitments? What about the dignity of all those boys who were molested? Clearly, still, all Paterno is doing is thinking about himself and the reputation of the University. This is the kind of twisted thinking that allows sex abuse to go on.

Not only are Paterno’s words appalling in all the ways listed above, but Paterno also arrogantly tells the trustees what they “should” do. Could his awful retirement statement have been the final push the Trustees needed to get rid of him immediately?

The events at Penn State– the hubris, the network “brotherhood” of powerful men who covered up, the vulnerable kids in the ‘charitable’ organization Sandusky founded– should be examined to deeply understand how conditions that allow sexual abuse are created, supported, and institutionalized. The Penn State bubble was finally punctured at least for the Trustees last night, but look what it took: an arrest, a public scandal, and the threat of losing millions. And still Paterno and the Penn State students who are rallying and rioting for him fail to prioritize the victims.

Statistics show that 1 in 6 men is sexually abused before age 18. Where do these “bubbles” exist right now that we’re not all talking about? If we don’t start working harder to stop the sexual abuse of kids, if we don’t make that a higher priority, it will continue at these high rates.

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Joe Paterno’s retirement statement blows me away.

“I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care.”

Does that include sitting by while they’re being molested?

“At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can.”

So he’s separating himself from the crime and acting like he’s being magnanimous in doing so.

“With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

A ten year old was raped in the shower. What does he know now that he didn’t know then except that he’d be exposed for his negligence?

“My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this University.”

So he’s going to show up on the sidelines keeping his commitments? What about the dignity of all those boys who were molested? Clearly, still, all Paterno is doing is thinking about himself and the reputation of the University. This is the kind of twisted thinking that allows sex abuse to go on.

You don’t look the other way when sexual molestation is happening. As long as people in power– respected leaders, “father” figures — continue to do so, whether they are in religious institutions, universities, or governments, kids will continue to be abused at the high rates they are. Who is going to protect them? Not the molester, obviously. Sane adults need to step in, but Joe Paterno acted more like a passive spectator to a crime.

Technically, Paterno did nothing illegal. In 2002, when Paterno’s heir apparent, Jerry Sandusky, was seen raping a ten year old boy in a shower, the eyewitness reported the incident to Paterno. Paterno told the Athletic Director and did nothing more when Sandusky was allowed to stay on.

Joe Paterno is Penn State. There is no one in that institution revered more than he. Paterno let Sandusky stick around to molest more kids. Sandusky is being charged with molesting eight boys from 1994 – 2009. There are probably many more.

How could fans show up at a game on Saturday and cheer on Paterno’s team? How could Penn State allow him to stay on through the season? What message does that send to those boys who Paterno failed to protect? And when the season is over, then and only then, the 84 year old is ‘retiring’? Penn State should do the right thing and fire Paterno now.

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