Today the much anticipated report of the Penn State scandal was released. The 267 page report details the layers of conversations, emails, actions and inaction, that allowed the abuse of children to continue with so many adults' knowledge. No one, not one of them stepped forward to protect the kids,(other than Mike McQueary). The President, VP, Athletic Director and football coach of Penn State, all looked the other way. Why? That is the million dollar question, or maybe it is the million dollar answer. Penn State had so much money at stake for keeping a pristine image of its program and staff. Would they jeopardize their endorsements, sponsorships, booster donations, etc. if this was reported? If not this, then why? Why didn't the adults step in, step up and speak out to protect the kids? Of course only those who didn't report the abuse can answer that. Unfortunately their silence cost many children (at least 10 that we know of) their childhood and their innocence. There will be costs though to the university after all, via civil suits from the victims.
I would like to think that this is just one horrible isolated incident, but it isn't. Institutions (military, universities, clubs, organizations) are known for covering up adult and child sexual assault/sexual abuse to protect their "image". Universities don't want to admit that sexual abuse is occurring and don't want to disclose it in their Cleary Act report. Towns don't want to have "high" sexual assault/abuse findings so they won't appear to prospective businesses, etc that the town is "unsafe" or "unsavory".
These cover ups have a way of eventually coming to the surface and when they do everyone has to scramble to do damage control. The cost in the long run for the lack of addressing the issue head on and by the book, is often more expensive (in dollars and human toll) then doing the right thing up front.
While we can't turn back the hands of time on what happened at Penn State, the lesson is clear for the future...if you suspect or are concerned that a child is being abused you personally have a responsibility to report it directly to child welfare or the local police department; both preferably. It is not acceptable to tell a boss, a friend, or a neighbor, hoping they will report. If an adult reports abuse/assault it needs to be investigated by law enforcement with total objectivity. The concerns for any fall out to the institution/community should not be a factor in this investigation.
What happened to the victims of Jerry Sandusky (and those who didn't report) is tragic. What happens to all victims is tragic.
Abuse won't stop by looking the other way. Abuse won't stop by well meaning people trying to intervene themselves. Abuse will only stop when it is reported to the authorities and the offender held responsible.
So it comes down to 267 pages...the closure for the investigators, but not for the victims.
To report suspected child abuse in Missouri call: Missouri Children's Division child abuse hotline: 800-392-3738