The Friday Rant: Penn State

This will not be a humorous rant. Warning you right now, so if you were looking for levity, hit the road/other blogs now.

I am PISSED! When are we going to take protecting our children from predators seriously?

People are rioting about Joe Paterno being fired. He’s a nice guy, they say. He coaches a mean game of football. He’s a legend at that school. Everyone idolizes him. He is, according to my husband (I wouldn’t know), the face of Penn State.

But when he was told in 2002 by a first-hand witness that the witness had seen, with his own eyes, Jerry Sandusky performing anal sex on a 10-year-old child in the Penn State locker room shower, he did not pick up the telephone and dial 911. He waited a day, then told the athletic director. Not the chancellor. Again, not 911. And then he let it go.

Folks, this was not the first time Sandusky did something like this. According to an op-ed by Maureen Dowd, which I read in the KC Star on November 10, the grand jury report says he had been seen showering with little boys in the Penn State locker room in 1998 and had been told not to shower with little boys any more by campus police. According to the grand jury report, two years later, a janitor said he witnessed Sandusky performing oral sex on a boy, again in the locker room, and told his supervisor, who did not report it. I don’t know if it was reported to Paterno and the upper-level management of the school. My guess is they knew.

So after the previous two incidents, how did Penn State deal with the shower assault in 2002? They took away Sandusky’s locker-room keys and told him not to bring his little boys to the Penn State campus anymore. That’s it. You can keep molesting kids, just not here. They did inform the charity Sandusky was using to find these kids, The Second Mile. Apparently they did nothing either.

He was not banned from the university himself. He was seen working out in the team’s weight room just last week, according to Dowd. How in God’s name could anyone stomach the man around? How did they talk to him, shake hands with him, say “hi” in the halls? How did they allow him to be around the Penn State students?

Paterno says he didn’t know the details. Bull-hockey. The grad student went to him first, directly to his house, and told him. If he didn’t get “details,” it would be because he asked the grad student not to tell him. This wasn’t a hear-say story he couldn’t verify. This was first-hand knowledge from a witness, and I don’t believe he didn’t know about the previous two episodes either. Paterno was a big cheese at Penn State. He would have known.

He chose to look the other way. He chose to do nothing. He passed the buck and washed his hands of it. I can only presume it was because protecting Penn State’s reputation was more important to him than protecting a child being assaulted.

Now the grad student, a coach himself at Penn State, is getting death threats. I hope the threats are coming from angry parents who don’t understand how he didn’t charge into that shower, beat the living shit out of Sandusky, cover the child with a blanket, and call 911. I’m afraid it’s because they’re blaming the whistleblower, wishing he’d kept his mouth shut so they could go on enjoying those great football games. They’re angry about Paterno being fired and need someone to blame. This guy ain’t the one to blame. Yeah, I have problems with how he handled it. But he was a grad student, the tiniest minnow in a sea of big fish, and he thought they’d handle it properly. He idolized Paterno. He was young and stupid and trusting.

Paterno was older and wiser and should have known better. 

And if we fire the whistleblower, why will anyone ever blow that whistle in the future?

People, it’s just football! One child is more important than a football game, a career, a team, an entire university. If you’re successful in sports, you get away with killing and fighting dogs, raping children, raping women, cheating and lying, even murder. That’s the really sick part of this. They’re just guys who play games well. Stop idolizing them. Stop excusing them.

****

For the kids who might read this: If someone is hurting you, tell an adult. That adult might not believe you. They might call you a liar. They might say that if it did happen, it was your fault. They’re wrong. Tell a different adult. Keep telling until someone listens to you and helps you. Never stop telling, never stop fighting back, and never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. Even if you didn’t fight back, it’s not your fault. Make someone help you. Tell your parents, your grandparents, your teacher, your best friend’s mom. Call 911. Don’t stay in the situation. You can’t just hope it will end soon. It will tear you up inside, even when you’re older. Make it stop now. There are stupid people in this world who don’t like to think about things that make them uncomfortable. It makes them pretend they didn’t hear you, or didn’t understand you, or didn’t believe you. But there are also people who will believe you and help you. Keep telling.

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About alisaacarter

I am a writer of young adult novels, wife, mom of three, lover of animals, former magazine editor, reader of anything paranormal, and coffee fanatic.
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