Saturday, November 19, 2011

What's Wrong With Us?

I haven't posted for a few weeks.  When I looked at my blog, I was surprised to see how long it actually had been since I posted anything.  I haven't  been absent from the online community, I've been reading the blogs I subscribe to, but I haven't been writing.  I've had a few topics roaming around my head, but the issue I needed to write about, I couldn't bring myself to write.  Over and over  my thoughts have been drawn to the horrible events at Penn State.  Jerry Sandusky, football defensive coordinator, is accused of raping young boys.  That by itself is horrific, but the scandal has brought down many others who are charged with not taking any action to protect the children that Sandusky preyed upon.  The abuse went on for years and those in power did nothing.  They turned a blind eye and maintained the status quo...and more children were abused.

I would like to say that I'm surprised at how those around Sandusky ignored his perverted behavior for so many years, but I've become far too cynical in my old age.  Every day, in every community, atrocities like those that happened at Penn State are going on.  What is wrong with our society that we can't protect our children?

I know that I couldn't say that something like what has happened at Penn State would never happen in my community, because it has.  It is not unusual to read in the court report in the local paper of another conviction of child molestation.  But there are also those incidents that are never reported.  And don't get me started about the fourteen and fifteen year old girls who get pregnant by older boyfriends and don't call it sexual abuse because they're "in love." 

Oregon has a mandatory reporting law that requires educators to report abuse.  There was a time when inappropriate behaviors were overlooked.  When my daughter was in high school a coach suddenly left his teaching position with the school district for "family reasons."  On Friday he was working and on Monday he was gone.  Some time later when he came up in conversation, my daughter told me he was having a relationship with a student.  It was never reported.  He still holds a teaching license. 

It was not an isolated incident, but in the fifteen years since  my daughter was in high school, we've implemented some safeguards.  Oregon now requires school officials to report investigations of inappropriate teacher behavior to the state licensing agency.  TSPC maintains a public list of teachers who have been disciplined.  It's quite an eye opening read.  Click here to visit the Oregon TSPC discipline list. 

There was a time when our society was somewhat tolerant of drunk drivers.  Our perception of that crime has changed over time.  Perhaps it's time for us to raise the awareness of child sexual abuse to the same level as drunk driving.  Our children are our future.


  1. I don't think it was this bad when I went to school. Is it because there are so many more of us that perverts get away with this? I agree that the whole Penn State story is horrific.

  2. I suspect it's not a lot more common than it used to be, but we hear about it more often.

    When my older boy was in middle school, he was befriended by his bus driver. I grew suspicious when the guy started calling my son, and when he offered to babysit when I went out. I reported him to the district. The guy's route got changed, as I recall. And I got burglarized - mattresses moved off my bed and my son's, all my black lingerie thrown on the floor. These things do happen. I wrote a story about it but never could find a market.

  3. Oh, I think it's been going on forever, and in every permutation possible. Almost everybody I know has a story about something similar. If it didn't happen to them (and it did happen to a good many people I know) it happened to a friend or a sibling. I suspect that angry fathers took care of some of the problems, and that the good old rumor mill took care of some others.
    And some just went on and on.

    I don't like that my sister (retired now from elementary school teaching) could not, by law, hug any of the children in her class because it would have been inappropriate touching. It's a fine line, and it becomes problematic when you try to institutionalize good judgment.

  4. Your last para. hits the nail on the head.

  5. Even with mandatory reporting too many people don't want to get involved and look the other way.
    A sad day indeed when this kind of crime occurs in schools.

  6. A friend and I were just talking about this topic today, and wondering the same thing. Is there more abuse now, or do we just hear of it more because of the instant media? It's hard to say.

    As an elementary school teacher, I am cautious about kids who want hugs. I try to "high five" when at all possible. Still there are some who just want a hug. Then, it's always a "side hug" and a brief one! And never alone!

    I hate hearing about these things happening. As DJan said, "It's horrific."

  7. your horror and disgust are the most natural reaction to such news. I am sure you realise that abuse of young people has been going on ever since mankind has existed and will continue, whatever we do to stop it. Vigilance and honesty and protection are the key elements to observe.

  8. It's such a shame that, given the publicity about child molestation, teachers hesitate to hug their students, but I certainly understand why they feel the way they do. Hugs meant so much to me when I was in elementary school.
    I agree that child molestation probably isn't more prevalent today, just more publicized. I was molested (quickly groped) by a stranger on the street when I was 10 years old. I ran home and told my parents and they called the police. They found and arrested the man -- who had previously served prison time for child molestation -- and he went back to prison. There was never anything published about this -- or countless other incidents, I'm sure. I became much more cautious about talking to strangers after that. I think that, as much as we would like to protect our children from all harm, we can't always. But we certainly ought to do everything we can to keep them safe from such predators, including calling the police.

  9. I'll take it a bit further. I think everyone at Penn. State who knew about it and didn't report it should be arrested and charged. That includes Paterno. To me he's nothing but a scumbag now...

  10. I thought I had commented already! I guess this is so horrible that it just is incomprehensible that nothing was done.

  11. I've been as absent as you my friend, for many of the same reasons that I have so much I want to talk about but no clue how to just put it all down. Twitter and its tiny character limit has been a big appeal to me of late, I feel like its just too much to verbalize all of the other stuff in any kind of coherant message.

    This issue made me virtually sick and you're right that it happens everywhere not just among high profile individuals like him. It is nice to read that Oregon has those protections in place, at least its something.

  12. Frightening and horrific. To think such things are not reported. How can those who know walk through each day with that knowledge and not act?


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