Silence Broken: The Penn State Scandal

                        The news that “just” broke that Penn State University Coaches, Administration and just about everyone involved with the football team knew that Jerry Sandusky, their former Penn State Defensive Coordinator was abusing children and turned a blind eye. By not calling the police and reporting this criminal behavior these children were abused a second time.

              We are disgusted, saddened and outraged that this abuse continued to go on unchecked for decades.When the “situation” about Sandusky came up to Joe Paterno, he told Sandusky he “was not to bring children to Penn State.”  What does that mean? Why? He knew child abuse was happening and just did not want it happening on his “turf.”

           All of these men are culpable and all deserve to go to jail. Adults need to stop protecting the pedophiles and start protecting children. Our children are no match for a “Well revered, smart, savvy child molester,” especially when the good ‘ole boys network is keeping his secret. The only positive aspect about this story is that it is out in the open and the world can wake up and realize the scope of this man’s destruction of innocent lives, maybe save some children from abuse – and perhaps it will bring some healing to the victims. It is unfortunate that it has to take big headliners for this to make the news as a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds.

                           The focal point here for this blog is about ALL the people who knew and did nothing. To know that something is wrong, to even have been a direct witness of child abuse and yet not report is almost as criminal as the abuse itself. What kind of world have we become that we will go to such great lengths to protect pedophiles before protecting our children?  Across our nation we are asking kids to “report” bullying abuse so they can get the help they need before things get out of control. How can we expect kids to have the courage to report abuse when adults can’t even report – and many of them are mandated reporters?

                                We know from research that many child molesters are seemingly “upstanding citizens” often married with children. They lead a double life. This is a complicated psychological issue as to how savvy these child molesters are – in their own way they groom not only the child they are abusing but the entire community they are in.  Dottie Huck, a board member of the nonprofit Sandusky started called Second Mile, an organization for children who need additional support and who would benefit from positive human contact,  stated, speaking personally, Sandusky has “done some wonderful things in his lifetime and we should try to help him. … We all make little mistakes in our lives.”

                       Really? If these allegations prove to be true…which we believe they will be… these are not ‘little mistakes.’  “HE RAPED CHILDREN.”  We believe Sandusky founding a charity to help children is like giving kids the key to the candy store.

                  In an institution such as Penn State there are politics that surround the world of athletics. Joe Paterno is a beloved Coach and they win games and bring in money. It seems that money and politics ranked higher than protecting children.  So whose voice did it take to be the brave one, the whistle blower so to speak in this tragedy? A 15 year old boy (in 2009). This brave boy did not report to save himself, but reported to save another boy from being abused. This boy deserved the right to be safe and the adults let him down.

               We believe that by providing Prevention Education to both children and adults we can help break the cycle of silence that surrounds child abuse and stop it in its tracks. I know it sounds simplistic – but “Adults and children don’t know…what they don’t know” and we need to educate adults on the dangers, empower adults to listen to their instincts and always err on the side of protecting children (which we know is hard because often the adult knows the offender too). We need to educate children that they have the RIGHT to be safe, the RIGHT to have a voice and the RIGHT to access help.

              So after you read this blog, we ask you to search your soul. We ask Joe Paterno, Athletic Director Tim Curley, and interim Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz, when you lay your head to rest at night – can you sleep well knowing you have done the right thing and you have protected children? We think not! You will have to live with the fact that you played a huge part in killing who these children could have been.

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Testimonials

"Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be included in the KidSafe program. I highly recommend this program to other schools. We hope that we will be given the same opportunity for our Kindergarten and 2nd grade students to be a part of this wonderful program during the 2016-2017 school year."

Mrs. Keelyn Meselsohn 2nd Grade Teacher/Team Leader Tradewinds Elementary School

"The Safe and Smart Series Book My Body Is Special and Belongs To Me is kept in my middle school clinic and has been a tool that has opened many conversations for me between students that have experienced a difficult situation and were unable to talk about it. Through the illustrations and nonjudgmental verbiage the author has allowed kids permission to share their feelings about invasion of their personal space. Thank you so much."

Nurse Connie, PBC School Nurse 6.8.2016

"I'm so grateful that KidSafe has partnered with my daughter's school.  I learned so much in the parent training--how to recognize potential sexual predator behavior; how to quiz my child about what they would do in different scenarios; and how to explain safe and unsafe touch.  In addition, knowing that my daughter is receiving weekly trainings on these topics gives me great peace of mind.  I have confidence that I can reinforce what she is learning in school in order to prevent her from ever being a victim of such a heinous crime.  Thank you KidSafe for your dedication to protecting our communities' most vulnerable citizens."

Christina Kranick

“It was a normal Saturday and I was at the rink with my 7 and 8 year old. My son asked me if he could use the Men’s Restroom by himself.  Without hesitation, my daughter said,  Absolutely not! I was in KidSafe today and you cannot go to the restroom alone.  It is very important that Mommy is with you.. with us.   I was so proud of my little girl!  We are so blessed to have Debbie Miller at our school teaching our children the importance of safety. Many thanks to you all!  Your program and instruction is absolutely amazing.  Keep up the great work!"  

Tara Henley Admissions Assistant, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and School, Ft. Lauderdale

I am a parent of two Pine Crest children and I attended your program on Monday night. I just wanted to thank you so very much for the very informative seminar. As hard as it was to hear all of those things, it was very needed. We were thrilled that you were able to come and share that very important information with us and our children. So again...thank you.

Elisa Aronberg

Today’s training was awesome! It was very informative. Sally was a very good resource, she motivated us a lot! We want to pass on this information to parents, teachers and students! Thank you for offering workshops like this. These are tools we use to continue serving our children and families.

Participant from Children’s Services Council of Broward Seminar

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