AUTHOR: Sean Savage | POSTED: November 10, 2011 | COMMENTS: 4 Comments
CATEGORIES: Daddy on The Fly,
We watch a lot of ESPN in this house. Most days, the stories are about stunning upsets, amazing feats of athleticism, or last weekend’s controversial call. Of course, athletes are notorious for behaving badly, so there are also occasions when the sports news-of-the-day is scandalous. We don’t shelter our teenage boys from these stories. Instead, we try to use the poor choices that precipitate most scandals as teachable moments about impulse control, the dangers of greed or the importance of honesty and integrity. This week’s college football scandal has been a challenge, however. How does a parent explain to their kids that not one…not two… but several Penn State coaches and administrators turned a blind eye to a man who was sexually abusing children?
As I drove my 14 year old son to school this morning, we listened to the Penn State updates and discussed what was happening. I expressed how hurt I was for the young victims and their parents; how angry I was towards the rapist and all who enabled him for such a long period of time. I wondered aloud if any of the enablers allowed their children or grandchildren to be around Jerry Sandusky over the past thirteen years? I bet they didn’t. “Who cares about everyone else’s children,” seems to have been their motto. Then, I explained that those who turned away and did nothing to prevent the victimization of the next child, are complicit. As a society, we must hold the enablers responsible in the same way we would hold the driver of a get-away car responsible.
It was tough and, frankly, sad to watch my fourteen year old try to understand how so many adults could fail to do the right thing. It was also rewarding to see that he clearly understood that every adult has a moral obligation to step in and stop any crime against a child, regardless of personal consequences. We cannot turn our backs on any child—EVER. Every adult who learned about Jerry Sandusky’s crimes should have moved heaven and Earth to see that justice was served and every other child was protected from this sexual predator.
I shudder to think of a society where selfish concerns—like a football program, a job, or the reputation of a university—trump the safety and well-being of children. As the details of the Penn State cover-up unfold, however, it seems as though we are on the cusp of living in such a world. Instead of rushing to the defense of the enablers, or rioting in the streets because a beloved football coach was fired, the students and faculty at Penn State should be taking action to support the real victims; the eight boys that we know about, and the others that may never come forward.
It’s the victims who have my prayers, support and sympathy. I can only hope and pray that everyone else involved, gets what they deserve.