I don’t usually get serious, but for this post I shall.
Penn State. Sex scandal. Jerry Sandusky. Ten year old boys. Showers. Sex abuse. Police. Joe Paterno fired.
This is what my seven year old has been exposed to over the last few weeks. My husband and I can’t resist watching the news–riveted to this extraordinary story of alleged abuse and failure of campus figures to report the abuse to police. We have no ties or loyalty (or vengeance for or ill will toward) Penn State, and we understand that all parties are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
But let me tell you this: Standing idle while someone of authority abuses, molests, or otherwise makes a subordinate uncomfortable is not something I teach my kids to do. This is a topic which has come up previously when teens on the news are found to have committed suicide because they were bullied. The lesson of those stories is usually regarding how devastating bullying is and how kids shouldn’t do it–but I never let a teachable moment pass before I explain to my kids their obligation to not only not bully, but to not allow someone else to bully a peer without reporting it to a nearby adult.
My kids ask why a man named Joe Paterno is on my television every morning on the news. They ask what a “Penn State” is. My oldest asked me what a pedophile is. I have explained it all, in age appropriate terms, but I cannot ignore what a teachable moment this presents.
Standing up for people who can’t stand up for themselves is not just a value for the grade school playground, and it’s not just a line from a (admittedly, pretty great) Tom Cruise movie. It’s truth. In this case, I don’t care what our written laws say–if my kids know to tell their principal when a peer is being pushed around, we should reasonably expect highly paid university employees to report when they witness men of power raping young boys. Period.
Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl. Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at byrdsforacure.org.