In light of the headlines coming from Penn. State University and the horrific events which appear to have happened, I’d like to relay a quick story and the lesson I learned when it comes to the suspected abuse of children.
I don’t want to assume everyone knows this story so here’s the short version. An assistant coach named Jerry Sandusky is being charged with sexually abusing minors in the locker room of Penn State. These actions happened on several occasions over the course of years. Coach Joe Paterno was notified of what was going on but to what extent isn’t clear. It was enough though for him to report the matter to his athletic director. What happened afterwards is nothing short of a major cover up. The weeks and months ahead though will most likely shed more light on what is already a heinous tragedy. Here is a timeline as to what has happened. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/09/penn-state-scandal-timeline-jerry-sandusky_n_1084204.html
In my opinion, this is a sad time for Paterno because of the legacy he built at Penn State. But, it also reminds me of a story that happened in my teaching career which could have served Paterno well.
I had an elementary school student who came in with some unusual bruising on her face. She said she had fallen. That may have been true but I was still suspicious. I talked to one of my superiors (a counselor) just like Paterno. She said that Child Protective Services has to be called if I even suspected abuse. To clarify, I asked my counselor if she should call or if I should do it. My counselor was very clear that I should do it and failure to do so could land me in some legal trouble. Obviously, I called Child Protective Services and let them take the case. I have no idea of how the problem was handled from there but I never saw any bruising on the child’s face again.
When it comes to protecting children, it’s better to go overboard than to not do enough. I’ll bet the sheer guilt Paterno must be feeling is overwhelming. In the event any person who reads this article suspects abuse, please call child protective services. It can be done anonymously. The children who went through this tragedy are scarred for life. The truth is the horror of abuse is not contained within the boundaries of Happy Valley. If we, as a society, turn a blind eye to abuse, more tragedies will occur even if they don’t make it to the next Sports Center telecast.
I’ll be back next Friday with another article. Until then, feel free to link up with me on Facebook (claytonpaulthomas) and on Twitter (@claylauren2001)
Best wishes to you and your family!