Lessons from Penn State
As a survivor of child sexual abuse, the shameful story of Penn State and the abuse and subsquent cover up, have been more than unsettling, they have been triggers to my past and to the path of millions of other child survivors of sexual abuse. I say millions because according to the CDC, almost 1 out of every 4 of our kids in this country are sexually abused before the age of 18.
My triggers were elsewhere, my triggers were in the comments in the New York Times and discussions on Facebook, my triggers were ESPN and others and the discussion, the endless discussion of how this could be allowed to happen.Penn State happened because we have a culture that allows it to happen.
The studies that show 25 percent of girls and 17 percent of boys are abused are consistent and thorough, they are not in doubt. They are reinforced anecdotally by the experience of survivors, like me, who go public. Given time and a safe environment thousands of people have revealed their own personal stories to me, each one as sad as the last.
Who is the sick Sandusky on your block? Who is the protective Paterno putting the short term interests of the powerful ahead of the interests of the child and of society. How does the then President of Penn State, Graham Spanier, hearing the allegations of child rape, come to the conclusion that it is OK to not report it to authorities and not investigate?