The Penn State scandal hits home for two reasons, first I graduated from Penn State. And for the first time in my life I am embarrassed and ashamed to admit that I went to the institution. The whole situation makes me sick to my stomach and leaves a bitter pill to swallow. I have no issue with how the Board of Trustees acted by firing anyone who knew of the sex abuse. A university, like a corporation, must rebrand itself and eliminate any links to a scandal – even if the judicial process has not played out. Otherwise the media will constantly place Penn State under a microscope during the entire judicial process further tainting and ruining their image. I was a proud Penn State alum and most proud of the fact that ethics and education came first. Up to this point in time, Penn State is the only Division I program to have never received an NCAA sanction against it for ANY sport. This is quite an accomplishment, but when a scandal occurs which hurts children, there is public outrage and rightfully so. Joe Paterno is and was a good man. Unfortunately, this sex scandal will overshadow all the good Joe did in his lifetime dedicated to college football and education (the media coverers more stories that are bad in nature than good ones). Joe’s legacy was not about having the most college wins in NCAA history, it was about ethics and doing what was right. His salary was modest, but his donations back to the university and charities were massive. Joe made a costly mistake and it will tarnish him forever. It is an unfortunate situation for everyone involved.
The second reason the Penn State scandal hits home is because I too was abused. But I was lucky, I was merely physically abused and I will take the broken bones over even the thought of being sexually abused. My mother would call for my help when my stepfather was abusing her, but when the dust settled and authorities showed up – my mother and the police would take the side of the inebriated man who was twice my size. Times have changed and authorities are not always that quick to take the side of the adult, but in many aspects society remains unchanged when it comes to child abuse, especially when it comes to law enforcement. Nothing angered me more about the Penn State story than when Pennsylvania law enforcement workers such as the Attorney General and police officials publically stated that Joe Paterno and those involved “did not do enough”. How’s that for irony, Joe Paterno followed the law and the people who write and enforce the laws were not satisfied. What’s worse, these same law enforcement officials have done nothing to lobby for stricter and better laws to help protect our youth. If law enforcement does not like the law, change it! Instead, law enforcement decided to blame their shortcomings on someone who merely followed the laws they wrote. Hence, Pennsylvania law enforcement is where the blame lies; not Joe Paterno – he is merely a scapegoat. Law enforcement is the entity that “is not doing enough!” when it comes to child abuse.
The accused, Jerry Sandusky, has already come out saying he too was abused as a youth. I believe him; many abused youths turn into the monsters that abused them. I, like my stepfather, became an angry alcoholic who frequently went to bars looking for fights. I never hit women or youths, but I did hit innocent people. I feared I was becoming my stepfather, and finally turned my life around. Once I quit drinking the anger and violent tendencies subsided. I am still angry, but I do not act on that anger. This is another major fundamental issue with the laws of our society, we are more focused on rehabilitating monsters but we do very little to help rehabilitate victims of crimes. And what’s worse, our court system is designed to help protect child predators. Judges hand out lenient sentences and allow for defenses that protect predators by making them look like the victims. Sandusky will probably plead some sort of mental anguish, but what happen to him during his youth does not give him any right to be a predator and hurt children.
Predators that attack women and children are very common. There is most likely one of these predators within a stone’s throw from your home. What have you done to stop this? Have you lobbied for tougher laws against predators? Probably not, which means you are just culpable as Joe Paterno. You, like Joe, did not break the law, but turned a blind eye to the situation. However, I solely place the blame of the Penn State situation on our law enforcement system because laws and sentences are much too lenient for child and spousal predators. This needs to change, not finding innocent scapegoats who were merely in the wrong place at the wrong time.
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