Recently, there have been stories all over the media about the events at Penn State regarding the sexual abuse of children at university-related facilities by staff. Having read the Grand Jury Report and media coverage, I share the sickening feeling expressed by many others. I do worry that the most important message from the standpoint of someone who works with abused children is being missed. Several boys were molested and for the rest of their lives, they will be left suffering in silence. And nothing can change that.
It’s quite true that grown-ups did not take action. People in authority failed to report the incidents to the authorities, and then apparently covered it up. Others followed the letter of the law, but perhaps not its spirit which ultimately is to protect children. Others witnessed events, and took no action that could have prevented additional harm to these children. It was in fact the children who paid the real price. Emotional trauma of being raped at age 10 versus losing one’s job…
The message that I hope people take from this is that we are responsible for the safety of children, whether we are “mandated reporters” or not. It’s about doing what is right when it really matters. When one is in the position to prevent a child from being abused, that person is really in a position to save the world. When one stops abuse, they allow the healing to start. That didn’t happen at Penn State — and that’s the real tragedy.
To report abuse or neglect to a child, please call the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services at 800.252.5400.