Penn State: The Shame of it All

Post edit: There seems to be some confusion by some to my statement that I won’t allow my children to be alone with anyone outside of family members or friends who have earned the highest level of trust.  The operative word in that statement is alone. My kids will, and do, go to homes to play with people that I don’t know well.  But there is still a level of trust that I’ve developed even with those families and I know that my kids are in a group and are safe.  There are also a number of wise, godly men that have no relation to us that have earned such a level of respect with me that I want and desire them to have an influence on my boy’s lives.  But even those men would agree that taking my kid on a weekend trip alone would be unwise and outright foolish.  When my boys are teenagers, a little more freedom will be given to them to meet with godly men who have earned my trust.  But, in my mind, no matter how trust worthy a man (and yes, I have singled out men in this case because I am specifically talking about male leadership and its effect on my boys) there is never any reason for my boys to be meeting with him in private some place.  Not only does it open the door to speculation, but it leaves them vulnerable.  I won’t do that to them.  I don’t distrust men.  In fact, most people I meet earn my immediate respect and trust after just a few minutes.  That doesn’t change the fact, however, that I don’t want my boys alone with them.

Did I explain that more clearly?  Carry on…

I read the Grand Jury report against Jerry Sandusky the other day.  I wish I hadn’t.  I’m not linking to it here on purpose, but if you want to read it for yourself it’s a short Google search away.  But I’ll warn you that it is both graphic and disturbing.  So disturbing, in fact, that I was sick to my stomach for most of the day after reading it.

I am not a big college football follower so to be really honest, I had no idea that Joe Paterno was a college football coach.  I knew his name by the mere fact that I live with Lee Stuart who is pretty much an expert on all things sport.  I just figured Paterno was some famous Pro-team coach.  That’s how deep my level of college football expertise runs.

Today, however, I know more about Mr. Paterno and the things that I know, I do not like.  Great football coach?  I guess.  But he’s also a man that put football before a child.  He put a game and a program before a little boy.  He and several others chose silence and somehow they were able to sleep at night.

I don’t have a lot of repect for Joe Paterno.

The devastating details of abuse at Penn State go beyond football obsession.  It is more than just money and prestige that kept numerous people from doing the right thing and going to authorities and making sure Sandusky never had access to small children again.  The problem is deeper than that.

Lack of love.

The root of the issue is a selfishness so dark and wicked and ugly that it allows a man to remain silent after witnessing an act so heinous.  Love of a game?  Nah.  Love of life?  Nope.  Love of self?  I do believe so.  The very idea that Sandusky was caught more than once makes me so deeply angry I find it hard to see straight.  What stops someone from going to the authorities after seeing such evil?  What resides in our hearts that allows us to choose right over such wrong?

Where was the respect for human life?  Where was the simple act of putting the interests of someone else – a child, no less – above your own?  It’s baffling to me and yet somehow I know that I possess the same ability to cover up wrong to protect…me.  Perhaps not to this horrific of a degree, but that type of self preservation resides in all of us.  And I hate it.  With every fiber of my being, I hate it.

Reading the report only confirmed to me the thing which I had already determined in my heart the second I found out I would birth a boy.  My sons will never, under any circumstances, be alone with another man other than their father or close family members in whom I have placed my fullest trust.  No youth worker, no teacher, no pastor or leader – no one at all will do anything alone with my boys.

I’ve long since held this position, but reading the report confirms it and then some.  Jerry Sandusky gave every appearance of being trustworthy and good.  Heck, he seemed downright admirable.  Look at all the work he did for underprivilieged and at risk kids!

Yes, look at all the work he did for underprivileged and at risk kids.

There are kids who will never be the same because of Jerry Sandusky and the network of men who silently supported his sick addiction.  How can we sit silently through this madness? At what point does our silence add to the problem?

How did those boys feel, knowing someone saw but nobody came?  Silence can be deafening, you know.

I can understand why those young boys were allowed to spend time with Jerry Sandusky.  Most of them were in need of a male figure and why not let your child spend the night in the home of a seemingly upright man with a heart of gold?  I don’t really blame the parents, though I wonder why they missed the signs.  One mother tried.  She noticed, she knew and she reacted but to what end?

Where was the justice?!

For my part, I won’t ever leave my child in the care of a man alone.  My children won’t sleepover at anyone’s house unless I know the people extremely well, I know what goes on in that household and I have the topmost amount of respect for the people in whose care I’m placing my child.

The risks simply don’t outweigh the benefits.

My sons won’t go to lunch alone with another man.  They won’t participate in Bible studies where they are alone or secluded with another man.  A public place?  A group?  Yes, provided I know and trust the person they’re with.  But alone?  Never.  It just won’t happen.  You see, these boys?  They’re mine.  And I’ll protect them at all costs.

So here I remain, a woman who knows little about college football but too much about a “legendary coach.”  I pity Joe Paterno, but I do not feel sorry for him.  My heart breaks instead for the young men who were violated by his silence.  Young men who were shown as boys no more than a blind eye and a blank stare.

What are your thoughts?  What rules and guidelines do you have for your children regarding who they spend their time with and how they protect themselves from predators?

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