For years crimes against children have been perpetrated. For years domestic violence has existed, but not until our sports heroes were revealed as perpetrators has it caused a national media storm like it has right now.
Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, and Adrian Peterson are just some of the athletes who have been revered and looked up to by millions of fans and we now know are the same men who have allegedly committed horrendous crimes against women and children. And because of their celebrity, they have been allowed to get away with it for far too long. It makes you wonder, how many others we don’t know about.
Say what you want about the dangers and damage of social media, but in these cases it has helped the country to “see” the abuse in real time. It would be another whole blog to discuss why people have to actually “see” abuse to believe it is happening and do something about it, so we will save our comments about that…..the fact is that the world has now seen through video and pictures, horrific abuse of women and children and we can no longer turn away and say it does not exist. Domestic violence and child abuse exist, are happening right now and we must work now to end the epidemic.
Let’s discuss the reason for this blog: the real heroes….the doctors who reported child abuse in the Adrian Peterson case. As we have seen through decades of abuse, many mandated reporters have looked the other way and remained silent when it came to celebrities. Money, fame, status, and celebrity have come before the protection of our children. We see it every day and until the media takes hold of the story the world forgets.
It was not that long ago that Penn State and the Sandusky child abuse scandal made the front page and was the lead story on every news program but it slipped out of the forefront. No one wants to think about it, no one wants to talk about it and the inaction is what causes child abuse to continue.
So again, back to the real heroes in this case – the doctors who put the protection of children over the celebrity of an NFL player. They saw abuse before they saw “celebrity”, they reported the abuse. If they didn’t report we would never know about this one case of alleged child abuse by NFL celebrity, famed “Community man of the year” Adrian Peterson.
What will happen now? Will these celebrities lose their jobs and go to jail? Will the heads of the NFL and the owners and staff of the sports teams be held culpable for the part they played in hiding criminal activity? Will the world make a statement by not supporting these teams, athletes and institutions that look the other way when it comes to their players’criminal behavior? Up to now, money, fame and winning have come before the protection of our children and the safety of women. We have the chance now to change how we react to child abuse and domestic violence. We need to be proactive not reactive. We the fans need to show the world that we will not support, attend or pay to watch celebrities who are criminals play their sport. Until the NFL and other major league organizations feel it in their pocket, the silence of child abuse and protection of their players will continue.
Written by Sally Berenzweig, MEd, MA & Cherie Benjoseph, LCSW – Child Safety Experts, Mental Health Therapist, Educators, Authors, Public Speakers and Cofounders of 501(c)3 nonprofit KidSafe Foundation www.kidsafefoundation.org