The recent Penn State scandal concerning the issue of non-reporting childhood sexual abuse by Joe Paterno and others, who failed to report their knowledge of Jerry Sandusky‘s abuse of eight young boys to law enforcement was a shock to many people. But those of us who have lived through sexual abuse and care about these issues were not so shocked. Many of us lived through times when sexual abuse of children was swept under the family rug and frequently went unreported. The perpetrator simply moved on to new victims because he wasn’t reported by those who knew of his prior victimization.
What many people fail to acknowledge is that there is a federal law against non-reporting of any kind of child abuse, including the sexual abuse of a child. There is simply no excuse for the non-reporting of childhood sexual abuse in today’s society. It’s against the law! Those in leadership at Penn State who failed to report it to law enforcement, whether they reported it to their superiors or not, are still responsible for not reporting the offenses. They broke the law and should be held accountable for breaking that law. More children were victimized needlessly because of their ignoring of this law. And those children’s lives will never be the same for it.
The Penn state cover-up is inexcusable. As leaders in the sports community, their failure to do the right thing sets a bad example for those who follow them. Their attempt to protect the reputation of the University and possibly themselves, was likely all about the money, that is the donations that Penn State receives from the public. Some people may in fact have withdrawn their support at the knowledge of allegations of childhood sexual abuse, but I believe many would have given even more money to the University if they had done the right thing.
But since they failed to do what was right when they knew the facts, I think both the people involved and the University should suffer some legal and financial consequences for their lack of reporting it to the proper authorities, their lack of leadership, and blatant negligence of issues of morality. Whether or not it was against the law, they should have reported it out of concern for the children involved. The University only fired people when they were clearly forced to, for fear it would cost them something. If the allegations had not come to light, rest assured that Joe Paterno and the other coaches would still be there. I believe that under the circumstances, withdrawing of gifts to Penn State would be totally appropriate at this time. We need to show them and others that cover-ups of childhood sexual abuse will not be tolerated by anyone, especially by leaders in our community!
For God will bring everything done into judgment along with everything done in secret, whether it is good or evil.
Apparently there is some confusion over this law and it doesn’t apply to coaches, which means they get off easy.
- “Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation”; or
- “An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”
Two Landmark Cases of Childhood Sexual Abuse
- Please, No Excuses or Misplaced Empathy for Jerry Sandusky’s Enablers (pjmedia.com)
- National Advocate for Sex Abuse Survivors Comments on Syracuse University Basketball Sex Abuse Investigation (prnewswire.com)
- States Consider Mandating Sex Abuse Reporting After Penn State Scandal (usnews.com)
- A Former Penn State Assistant And Survivor Of Childhood Sexual Abuse Blasts Joe Paterno: “Joe Knows Everything That Goes On In That Program” [Penn State Scandal] (deadspin.com)
- No Penn State Repeat: Not Reporting Child Abuse Should Be a Crime (our-compass.org)
- Download Adult Survivors of Childhood Emotional, Physical, and Sexual Abuse: Dynamics and Treatment book (caaqisp.typepad.com)
- Sex Abuse Scandal Cost US Catholic Church Over $2 Billion and Counting (prleap.com)