It's Open Season on Children in Pennsylvania
In light of the Penn State sex abuse scandal, Pennsylvania really needs to change its nickname from the Keystone State to the Child Abuser State.
The shameful moniker fits. After a decade that has already included the Archdiocese of Philadelphia priest sex abuse scandal and the Luzerne County judicial scandal featuring "kids-for-cash," how can anyone argue that it isn't a fitting label?
In all three instances, powerful people and powerful institutions failed to protect the most vulnerable and innocent in society: children.
In all three instances, authorities were made aware of harm or wrongdoing being committed, and did nothing.
In all three instances, people have made excuses for those in power who failed to act, either by failing to report or investigate, allegations of misconduct.
As with the previous two scandals, in the wake of the Penn State disgrace, there will be much hand-wringing and demonizing of a few, along with committees and panels appointed. Inevitably, recommendations will be made that will largely be ignored.
There will be a push to put more laws on the books and stiffen penalties, but those largely will be punitive and after the worst has already been done. We're not hurting for prosecutors bringing high-profile cases and getting convictions. But again, that's about seeking justice after the worst has happened, not about protecting kids in advance.
We, as a society in Pennsylvania, have failed to protect our kids.
Protecting children is not just about things like Megan's Law. It's having every citizen, regardless of job title or position, conditioned to understand that there is no higher duty than to protect the young.
If you see a 10-year-old boy, his little hands pressed against the wall, being anally raped in the shower, you call the cops. Not your dad or your boss. That's, of course, if you haven't already kicked the rapist's ass yourself.
I apologize for using the graphic language above with regard to the one alleged attack in the Penn State debacle, but we need to confront the ugly truth here. "Sexual assault," while hardly a cheery term, just doesn't deliver the awful gravity that the details do.
Some will argue: "That's Penn State, not everywhere else. That's what happens when football coaches and jocks aren't held accountable."
To which my scholarly retort is: Bullshit. Look at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Luzerne disaster. Religious and legal institutions also failed to protect kids.
The Penn State scandal hit me hard last weekend, leaving me sickened and angered. My father went to Penn State, and I was raised a Penn State and Joe Paterno fan. As a kid I joked that the chain of command I was supposed to follow went God, my parents, the pope, then Joe Paterno ... and actually Joe Paterno was number three.
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